Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival?
Dr. Carol Kwiatkowski is the Executive Director of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) and an Assistant Professor Adjunct at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Department of Integrative Physiology. Dr. Kwiatkowski oversees the development and execution of all of TEDX’s programs, which are dedicated to compiling and disseminating scientific evidence on the health and environmental damage caused by low-level exposure to chemicals, primarily those that interfere with hormone, or endocrine, action, otherwise known as endocrine disruptors. Carol begins with an overview of the endocrine system and function and details the three main routes in which endocrine disruptors enter the body. We discuss how the increasing daily toxic burden our bodies are subjected to is leading to increasing rates of chronic disease and disorders. Carol explains the website tool she developed for TEDX, the Critical Windows of Development, which presents a timeline of how the human body develops in the womb. She describes some of the animal research that shows how low-dose exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as those found in plastics, during development results in altered health outcomes, including the feminization of boys, diabetes and obesity. We consider the health effects of water pollution, synthetic fragrances in household and personal care products, fossil fuel extraction processes, and exposure to pesticides. Carol emphasizes the simple strategy of learning more and using less when it comes to the array of chemical laden products that are made abundantly available for mass consumption. Further, she stresses the fact that we can’t afford to wait for science to conduct the studies that will lead to legislation based on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals.