Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers


  Foster, W, S Chan, L Platt, and C Hughes. 2000. Detection of Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in Samples of Second Trimester Human Amniotic Fluid. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 85: 1-1.

Foster et al. analyzed the amniotic fluid of 51 women in the Los Angeles basin undergoing routine amniocentesis between weeks 15 and 23 of their pregnancies, determining the concentrations of several contaminants known to be endocrine disruptors, including common PCB congeners, the DDT metabolites p,p'-DDE, and o,p'-DDE, hexachlorobenzene (HCB); and three forms of hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH).

They detected HCH and p,p'-DDE at levels significantly above the lower limits of detection of their equipment. Other contaminants were less frequent and near or beneath detection limits. Overall one in three amniotic fluid samples tested positive for at least one environmental contaminant

They conclude that "approximately one in three fetuses in the Los Angeles area are exposed to endocrine modulatory environmental contaminants in utero, the consequences of which remain unknown at this time."

Coincidentally, this study has been published just as another by Ulrich et al. reports on low level impacts of DDT and HCH in laboratory mice. The average contamination level reported here by Foster et al. is just below levels found by Ulrich et al. to cause statistically significant changes in mice. Two crucial differences: Ulrich et al. worked with DDT, an estrogenic substance, whereas the current study reports on p,p'-DDE, a metabolite of DDT but an anti-androgen. Second, Ulrich et al.'s experiments were with adult mice whereas this study is focused on fetal exposure.

The fact that Ulrich et al.'s lowest-observed-effect-level is within shooting range of contamination levels seen in one of three pregnant mothers is, at the very least, disconcerting. Even without reference to Foster et al.'s report on pregnant mothers in Los Angeles, Ulrich et al. considered their findings "alarming."





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