We are inundated regularly with messages about chemicals in our consumer products and the ones that scientists regularly measure in our bodies. But in news coverage of these issues, we are often told that exposures are low, suggesting that the possibility of harm is similarly low. Human and laboratory animal studies are starting to challenge the idea that low levels don’t matter, and have identified some reasons why we’ve been taking the wrong approach for so many years.
In this session, I will discuss the latest research on endocrine disruptors and “low dose effects”, dispelling some myths while highlighting where the latest science is headed. Attendees will have a better grasp of their sources of chemical exposures, and which ones should be the most concerning. I will also discuss what we can do to protect ourselves from exposures, highlighting where personal responsibility ends and better chemical policies and industry practices should have important new roles.
Dr. Laura Vandenberg is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. She earned her BS degree from Cornell University in 2003 and her PhD from Tufts University School of Medicine in 2008. Dr. Vandenberg’s work focuses on how developmental exposures to environmental chemicals can lead to adult diseases including breast cancer, infertility and obesity. She is specifically interested in a group of chemicals termed ‘endocrine disruptors’. Her work also critically evaluates issues that affect risk and hazard assessments for endocrine disruptors including low dose effects, non-monotonic dose responses, critical windows of susceptibility, and routes of exposure. Dr. Vandenberg is an author on more than 50 peer reviewed papers and five book chapters and has served on a number of US and international expert panels to assess endocrine disrupting chemicals.