It’s practically impossible to avoid the chemicals that are prevalent in everyday household goods, from water bottles to furniture and toys to personal care products and cosmetics. And those same chemicals can potentially harm human health by disrupting the body’s endocrine system.
It’s concerning for every demographic, but especially so for pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive, since endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been linked to pregnancy-related complications, including gestational diabetes, maternal obesity, miscarriage and preterm birth. And despite those links, the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate cosmetics, perfume or makeup.
A panel of experts at The Forum at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston joined Erin Schumaker, senior healthy living editor at The Huffington Post, to discuss these issues on Tuesday, and to explain last year’s changes to the Toxic Substances Control Act, the first update of its kind in 40 years. The updates increase pre-market testing requirements, close trade secret loopholes and put a specific emphasis on evaluating the safety of personal care products used by vulnerable populations.
The panel also explored racial disparities in environmental chemical exposure and how those disparities negatively impact the health of minorities.
The hourlong event took place at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and featured Russ Hauser, acting chair of the department of environmental health and professor of reproductive physiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Tamarra James-Todd, assistant professor of environmental reproductive and perinatal epidemiology, at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Nneka Leiba, deputy director of research, at the Environmental Working Group; and Pete Myers, founder, CEO and chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences.