Low doses matter hugely, say scientists

Kristin Shafer

It’s been the official mantra of pesticide companies for decades: “The dose makes the poison.” While it makes intuitive sense — you’d think that the more of chemical you’re exposed to, the sicker you’ll get — the science has, in fact, been saying otherwise for years.

A team of 12 scientists recently released a report calling on EPA to completely revamp the way they evaluate chemicals, to better reflect this now fully understood reality: Tiny amounts of certain chemicals can have devastating effects on human health.

It’s all about the hormones. Our systems are largely regulated by these powerful chemical messengers, and the intricate processes of fetal development are all but completely orchestrated by them.

The bad news is, some synthetic chemicals look a lot like our natural hormones to the “hormone receptor” trigger cells that turn many functions on and off in our bodies. Particularly for the developing systems of infants and children, it’s often the timing — not the dose — that matters most.

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