Household chemicals linked to cancer and developmental disorders
Arash Hekmat - Mar 2013
When it comes to health and cosmetic products, one of the main reasons that all natural products are so popular is because they ease fears about exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals.
Even in cases where studies have been undertaken into the effect of these substances, it is not always clear what precise impact they have on people's health, especially when exposure occurs over a number of years or decades.
It seems that these concerns are shared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has warned in a major new report that everyday chemicals found in products around the home may be contributing to a range of health problems, including cancer, asthma, reduced fertility and birth defects.
The global health organisation warned that these synthetic chemicals have "serious implications" on human health, with everything from toys to credit cards and PVC flooring containing the potentially harmful compounds called endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), which can effect hormone levels.
One of the main problems is that the effects of these chemicals are still not fully understood. Dr Maria Neira, Director for Public Health and Environment at WHO, said: "We urgently need more research to obtain a fuller picture of the health and environment impacts of endocrine disrupters."
The study, which was carried out in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme, explains that good health requires a well-functioning endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating the release of various hormones that control processes such as metabolism, growth, sleep and mood.
Synthetic EDCs can be found in everything from pesticides and electronics to personal care products, cosmetics and additives in food. Alarmingly, exposure to these chemicals is also linked to breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, nervous system problems in children, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and thyroid cancer.
Achim Steiner, UN Under Secretary-General, said: "Investing in new testing methods and research can enhance understanding of the costs of exposure to EDCs, and assist in reducing risks, maximizing benefits and spotlighting more intelligent options and alternatives that reflect a transition to a green economy."
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