Frogs at risk and possible implications for humans?
Why EU chemicals legislation needs updating to address chemicals that damage the immune system highlights serious concerns for the health of frogs (amphibians) in the UK.Scientific research suggests that exposure to man-made chemicals in our environment may be playing an important role in disease because some chemicals can weaken the immune system and increase susceptibility to infections and disease.There are likely to be implications for human health too.
CHEM Trust is working to raise awareness of the role chemical exposures may play in ill health, to improve chemicals legislation and to protect future generations of humans and wildlife. From a human health point of view we are working to ensure future generations are as healthy as possible and can live up to their full potential in terms of behaviour, intelligence and ability to have children.
The Chemical Problem – to which we are all exposed
Man-made chemicals are an integral and vital part of our modern lifestyles. They are found in a vast range of consumer products – from furniture, clothing and toiletries to electrical appliances, car interiors, food packaging and cleaning products. While many have undoubtedly improved the quality of our lives, some possess undesirable properties.
They can be harmful to health and many can persist in the environment and bioaccumulate in the bodies of wildlife and people. These properties have resulted in ecosystems all over the world being contaminated with a cocktail of man-made chemicals. Examples include the chemicals DDT (an insecticide) and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls – used in electrical components), which despite having been banned for decades, are still found throughout the global environment, including in our own bodies.
In more recent years, modern chemical compounds, still in use today, such as brominated flame retardants (used to prevent fire in plastics e.g. TVs, computers and textiles e.g. furniture, carpets) and perfluorinated “non-stick” chemicals, (used for waterproof and stain-proof coatings) have followed PCBs and DDT to all corners of the globe.
Some chemicals can also interfere with hormone processes in the body – these are known as hormone disruptors or “endocrine disrupting chemicals” (EDCs). Examples include phthalates, used to make hard plastics soft and found in numerous consumer products, from vinyl flooring, shower curtains and toys to cosmetics.
Many chemicals with hormone disrupting properties have been detected in young children as well as adults, and in some cases at higher levels in children than in adults.
More and more research scientists are becoming concerned that harmful chemicals are beginning to affect our health. We are exposed to a cocktail of many chemicals all the time and worries are now being expressed as to how this mixture may affect our health. Another major concern is exposure to chemicals whilst developing in-utero and how they may cause disease in later life. Diseases that we now think may be linked to exposure to certain chemicals include some cancers, reproductive problems, birth defects, asthma, allergies, behavioural problems, disruption of infant brain development, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
CHEM Trust will highlight the relevant wildlife and human research. We will summarise the data making it widely available, clearly explaining how chemicals in our environment may contribute to the disease burden.
CHEM Trust has been in operation since 2007, and we have already had many successes by positively influencing decisions made on chemicals legislation in both the UK and the EU. This is good news for future generations of both humans and wildlife.