LETTER : Damaging Complacency of Government Inaction on Oestrogen

Article excerpt

From Dr Andrew Watterson

Sir: Concerns about the reduction in the quality and quantity of human sperm are timely ("Watch out, oestrogen about", 26 July). Further research is clearly needed but some conclusions can already be drawn and some actions should be taken now.

Since the 1970s, certain pesticides, such as kepone and DBCP, have been known to cause sterility in humans. Since that time, too, the very large gaps in our knowledge of the potential toxic effects of the 60,000 or more chemicals widely used in many industrial societies have been noted.

In 1995 we now have a list of chemicals that have oestrogenic effects and which may adversely affect human sperm. Some of these chemicals have been withdrawn but, even so, several still persist in our environment.

The policy and regulatory questions that arise are:

1. Why have government departments not acted since the Seventies to include effective and automatic tests of old chemicals and new chemicals with regard to their effects on human sperm?

2. Why have government departments not openly acknowledged to both users and consumers that the vast majority of chemicals now cleared for use in the UK lack complete toxicity data? …