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US expert warns on feminisation of boys

© Professor Shanna Swan, a leading US scientist and expert on phthalates, was at EU Parliament on 12 April 2012 to present EU decision makers with her latest research findings on the health impacts of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

Professor Swan highlighted her work linking exposure to phthalates and a feminisation of boys exposed in utero. Author of more than 160 scientific papers, in 2005, along with her colleagues, Professor and Vice-Chair Shanna Swan at the Research and Mentoring of the Department of Preventive Medicine in Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York (USA) published groundbreaking research linking mothers’ phthalate levels with altered genital development in their baby sons. The research findings soon influenced US policy debate and legislation in major ways, resulting in the ban of phthalates from children articles in 2008. Phthalates are chemicals widely found in cosmetics, pesticides, PVC plastics – including some tubing used in intravenous drips, pharmaceuticals, and indoor air.

Cristel Schaldemose, Member of the European Parliament, hosted the very well-attended breakfast briefing organized by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Reseau Environnment Sante (RES). Prof. Swan’s concerns were supported by talks from André Cicolella, a toxicologist and scientific adviser to the French National Institute of Environment and Risks (INERIS) and chair of RES, who emphasised recent bans on EDCs in France. Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Adviser for Chemicals and Chronic Disease Prevention at HEAL, laid out the potential opportunities for EU policy action on EDCs for better public health protection.

Prof. Swan’s visit comes at an important moment as the EU Parliament has recently announced an own-initiative report on EDCs, a clear sign of concern on public health regarding EDCs, the existing levels of the population’s exposure and the need for appropriate legislation.

Additional information:

- Dr. Swan’s article from 2005, “Decrease in Anogenital Distance among Male Infants with Prenatal Phthalate Exposure” Environ Health Perspect 113(8):1056–1061 (2005); doi:10.1289/ehp.8100

- Endocrine Disruptors Website, Directorate General of Environment, European Commission


Published on 13 April 2012

Last updated on 21 May 2012

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