The American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical companies, did not have time to fully review the new research program on Wednesday so it had no comment, according to a spokesperson.
However, the chemical association in March cited Michigan State University toxicologist Michael Kamrin, who said in a 2007 paper that low-dose effects have not been proven and should not be applied to real-world conditions and human exposures.
The EPA’s newly announced effort was in part spurred by the March report and a failed congressional bill in 2009 that would have bolstered endocrine disruption research.
Vandenberg, lead author of the March report, said the new federal effort is a step in the right direction, but she said she was worried about the conflation of two concepts: low dose and “non-monotonic dose responses.” The EPA’s website includes both.
“Non-monotonic” dose response occurs when humans’ or animals’ responses to chemicals do not necessarily go up or down with the dose – effects can occur at any level. Low dose effect means you see an effect below a certain cutoff.
“They’re two very different things,” Vandenberg said. “I hope they will address both issues – but address them separately. It’s unclear from the website if they will.”
University of California, Berkeley’s Tyrone Hayes, also a co-author on the report, said testing of chemicals “should look at a range of doses. Something may have an effect at a low dose, but you could go even lower, or higher, and find more of an effect, or a different effect altogether.”
In tackling the research, the EPA will work with scientists from the FDA, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences’ National Toxicology Program and the National Institute of Child and Human Development.
The EPA has requested that a panel of the National Research Council review its "state of the science" report, which is expected in late spring.
“Results from epidemiological studies suggest an association between environmental (‘low dose’) concentrations of endocrine active chemicals and reproductive or developmental health outcomes,” EPA officials said on its website. “These effects have been examined and reported with mixed results in a wide range of animal studies.”
“EPA is committed to basing its decisions on sound science and to developing this state of the science paper in an open, public participatory and transparent process,” the EPA said.
Nanomaterials are tiny materials – about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair – that are increasingly used in clothing, cosmetics, electronics and building materials. The EPA will work with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to examine if nanomaterials are released from products and how they interact with people and the environment.
“These tiny nanomaterials are widely used in products ranging from clothing to sunscreen, but the need for additional research and knowledge on how they affect consumers is great,” said Dr. Treye Thomas, a program manager for the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, in a prepared statement.
This article originally ran at Environmental Health News, a news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.