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U.N. Report Examines Links Between Man-Made Chemicals, Health Issues

“Man-made chemicals in everyday products are likely to be at least the partial cause of a global surge in birth deformities, hormonal cancers and psychiatric diseases, a U.N.-sponsored research team reported on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. “The international group, academic experts working under the umbrella of the United Nations environmental and health agencies UNEP and WHO, issued their findings in a paper (.pdf) updating a 2002 study on the potential dangers of synthetic chemicals,” the news agency writes (Evans, 2/19). “The panel of 16 scientists from 10 nations in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia found that endocrine-related diseases and disorders are on the rise,” according to Scientific American, which adds, “There is now ’emerging evidence for adverse reproductive outcomes’ and ‘mounting evidence’ for effects on thyroids, brains and metabolism, according to the report summary” (Bienkowski, 2/19).

“The report highlights some associations between exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and health problems such as breast cancer in women, prostate cancer, attention deficit and hyperactivity in children and thyroid cancer,” the U.N. News Centre writes (2/19). “A few countries — including the United States, Canada and some European Union members — have already banned the use of some of them in certain products, especially those destined for the use of children,” but, “the report said, ‘many hundreds of thousands’ are in use around the world and only a small fraction had been assessed for their potential to spark disease,” Reuters notes. “The researchers said their report had been based largely on studies in the developed world. But the size of the problem in developing countries had yet to be adequately assessed due to a lack of data from Africa, Asia and Latin America,” the news service adds (2/19).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.