LETTER : Damaging complacency of Government inaction on oestrogen

Share
From Dr Andrew Watterson

Sir: Concerns about the reduction in the quality and quantity of human sperm are timely ("Watch out, oestrogen about", 26 July). Further research is clearly needed but some conclusions can already be drawn and some actions should be taken now.

Since the 1970s, certain pesticides, such as kepone and DBCP, have been known to cause sterility in humans. Since that time, too, the very large gaps in our knowledge of the potential toxic effects of the 60,000 or more chemicals widely used in many industrial societies have been noted.

In 1995 we now have a list of chemicals that have oestrogenic effects and which may adversely affect human sperm. Some of these chemicals have been withdrawn but, even so, several still persist in our environment.

The policy and regulatory questions that arise are:

1. Why have government departments not acted since the Seventies to include effective and automatic tests of old chemicals and new chemicals with regard to their effects on human sperm?

2. Why have government departments not openly acknowledged to both users and consumers that the vast majority of chemicals now cleared for use in the UK lack complete toxicity data?

3. Why have governments and some scientists been so concerned to ensure that there have not been false positives (ie, finding safe chemicals to be dangerous in toxicity testing)? The primary concern should be with avoiding false negatives (ie. finding dangerous chemicals to be safe in toxicity testing).

4. Why have government departments accepted industry arguments that the UK needs more cost-benefit analysis and risk assessments, when such methods have proved notoriously unsuccessful at picking up known or suspected health hazards in our environment?

What is needed is a clear policy of toxics reduction, preventing exposures to known and suspected hazardous substances and also to chemicals with unknown effects, rather than debating endlessly theinadequacies of the UK risk-assessment system.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Watterson

Director

Centre for Occupational and

Environmental Health Policy

De Montfort University

Leicester

26 July

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Why it won’t be the i wot won it – our promise to you

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A relative of dead Bangladeshi blogger Washiqur Rahman reacts after seeing his body at Dhaka Medical College in Dhaka on March 30,  

Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left

Rory Fenton
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor