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Researchers develop chemical testing system for product manufacturers

By Joe Whitworth , 11-Dec-2012
Last updated on 11-Dec-2012 at 15:12 GMT

Scientists propose safety testing system for development of chemicals

A five-tier testing system aimed at ensuring manufactured products are free of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC), such as BPA and phthalates, has been developed by a group of scientists.

The 23 authors of the study, from North America and Europe said that recent product recalls and bans indicate that manufacturers do not have adequate tools for avoiding the introduction of endocrine disrupting chemicals into their products.

To verify the system the researchers identified six known EDCs that work through different hormonal mechanisms. They found BPA would be identified as an EDC in Tiers 2, 3, 4 and 5.

The study, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Green Chemistry, admits the system will not detect all possible mechanisms of endocrine disruption, but new assays will be incorporated as new scientific advancements are made.

How it works

The Tiered Protocol for Endocrine Disruption (TiPED) allows manufacturers to jump and start at any of the tiers, except the mammalian tier, to test their products based on their needs.

It includes computer-based, targeted cell, cell processes, fish and amphibian and mammalian tiers.

Dr. Heather Patisaul, an associate professor of biology at North Carolina State and co-author of the paper, explained to FoodProductionDaily.com how each tier works.

Essentially the computer-based tier uses computer models to help predict if the chemical of interest might interact with hormone receptors and thus act as an endocrine disruptor. 

“The targeted cell and cell processes tiers are in vitro systems to explore the endocrine disrupting potential of the chemical of interest. 

“The fish/amphibian and mammalian tiers use whole animal models to determine if a chemical is an endocrine disruptor.”

Prior to market entry

Patisaul said the idea is to catch problematic chemicals before they enter the market, so that the choice can be made not to pursue development of a candidate chemical that has EDC characteristics.

In doing so we hope the TiPED process will ultimately save companies time and money because, with TiPED, questions about safety are asked far earlier in the design and development process than they are now.

Through our collaborative consortium of environmental endocrinologists and green chemists, we will monitor the implementation of TiPED and re-evaluate it when necessary to ensure that it always employs the most effective and state-of-the-art science.”

Regulatory failure

The researchers said that governments have not come up with adequate methods for regulating against endocrine disrupting chemicals.

When asked about regulators such as the US Food & Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority currently evaluating substances such as BPA, Patisaul said the process is painfully slow and can go on for decades.

The process is also fairly closed to public scrutiny and evaluation, which has created a climate of mistrust. 

“The TiPED system augments their capacity to do that by providing a mechanism by which chemicals can be tested for endocrine disrupting activity before they come to market.

“Screening chemicals before they are used will ultimately reduce the burden on regulatory agencies to identify problem chemicals once they are ubiquitous in our bodies and our environment.” 

The research was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Cedar Tree Foundation, the Johnson Family Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, the Marisla Foundation, the John Merck Fund and the Passport Foundation.

Source: Green Chemistry

Designing endocrine disruption out of the next generation of chemicals

Authors: T. T. Schug, R. Abagyan, B. Blumberg, T. J. Collins, D. Crews, P. L. DeFur, S. M. Dickerson, T. M. Edwards, A. C. Gore, L. J. Guillette, T. Hayes, J. J. Heindel, A. Moores, H. B. Patisaul, T. L. Tal, K. A. Thayer, L. N. Vandenberg, J. C. Warner, C. S. Watson, F. S. vom Saal, R. T. Zoeller, K. P. O’Brien and J. P. Myers

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