What is an Environmental Chemical?

Environmental chemicals are those which surround us and which we absorb through the air we breathe and via food, beverages, and physical contact.

CRECH focuses primarily on a subset of the chemicals that are active in very low concentrations: parts per billion and parts per trillion. These chemicals alter body functions in two primary ways:

  1. By altering hormone functions. These are called endocrine disruptors.
  2. By altering the proper function of genes. These areĀ  epigenetic disruptors.

Because endocrine andĀ epigenetic disruptorsĀ  (EEDCs) are active in such small quantities, traditional toxicology techniques used for chemical regulation are obsolete and ineffective at assessing their dangers

In the United States,the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that many EEDCs are continually stored in our bodies. The CDC tracks many of these chemicals through their National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Current Research Focus

In order to better focus research on EEDCs that are well-study, CRECH will focus its first efforts on those chemicals that:

  • NHANES data says are carried by 90-100% of American
  • Are biologically active in very low concentrations, and
  • The average person can avoid through individual actions that do not require government or other regulatory action.

The Problem Of Traditional Regulation

In high concentrations, some chemicals are potent poisons that produce outright disability and death. Traditional toxicology tests various levels of these starting with lethal doses in lab animals and reducing the amounts until it reaches the No Observed Adverse Effects Level (NOAEL). Federal regulators then take a guess and set the accepted level of exposure at some fraction of NOAEL.

Traditional toxicologists have failed to recognize that some of those same poisons are often subtly active — below the NOAEL level — in very small concentrations — parts per billion or even parts per trillion.

At those very minuscule concentrations, the chemicals act within cells to alter their internal functions in ways that do not kill immediately, but which can stealthily mimic diseases and syndromes such as cancer, diabetes, reproductive issues and developmental effects.

Those may seem harmlessly dilute concentrations, but human hormones — which have a massive daily influence on our bodies — are active in the same tiny amounts.

In some cases, these chemicals disrupt proper hormone function and are known as EDCs — Endocrine Disrupting Compounds.

Other chemicals can act to prevent the proper creation of proteins in cells, or can alter the ways that genes function without causing an outright mutation in the DNA. That latter effect is known as “epigenetic.”

More Reading:

This is why you need to be concerned about tiny doses of environmental chemicals like BPA

The Dose Is The Poison (Not!)