High exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals found among officer workers
This month a new study was published showing that officer workers in the UK, US and India are routinely being exposed to mixtures of harmful chemicals that may be interfering with their hormonal functions.
The study carried out by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, asked 243 workers to wear silicone wristbands while carrying out their normal work duties in their office space on four consecutive workdays. They then analysed the wristbands for 99 known chemicals and over 1000 chemical signatures for unknown chemicals. Chemicals identified included plasticizers, fragrances, flame retardants, and pesticides, which are found in a variety of everyday products
The chemicals were extracted from the wristbands and studied in the lab to observe how they interacted with different hormone receptors found on human cells.
In our bodies the hormone system regulates critical functions, including our growth and development, metabolism and reproduction. Any interference with this delicate system could lead to serious health consequences.
The lab analysis, conducted by lead author Anna Young and colleagues, found that every chemical sample taken from the wristbands disrupted the receptors for either thyroid or sex hormones in human cells. Higher concentrations of chemicals were often associated with higher levels of disruption.
The study showed some differences between gender and geographical location. For example, women were on average exposed to chemical mixtures with more different kinds of chemicals, and with higher sex hormone interference, than men. The authors suggest this may be due to women using more personal care products than men.
The authors note that their study does not provide evidence of negative health effects of these chemical mixtures, but it does provide valuable evidence on how buildings and personal products can affect our overall exposure to toxic chemicals. Even exposures to low levels of chemicals can have a cumulative effect in our bodies which contribute to what is known as the cocktail effect.
CHEM Trust is calling on the UK government and EU authorities to protect their citizens from harmful chemicals by introducing robust legislation to phase out the most harmful chemicals from consumer products by 2030.
Find out more about the cocktail effect in our recent report