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 Some of these chemicals have been withdrawn but, even so, several still persist in our environment.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

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

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron addresses No campagn supporters in Aberdeen  

Scottish independence: Cameron faces a choice between destroying his country or his party

Matthew Norman
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week