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