Harmful substances in personal care products?

Environmental Health Perspectives is one of the better peer-reviewed environmental science journals around but even so it is unusual for GallonDaily to highlight several EHP articles in a row. This month, however, it seems that this is the way the cookie crumbles.

An article in EHP last week asks the question Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment: What are the Big Questions? Prepared by a large team of scientists, including some Canadians and two from Environment Canada, the article answers the question as follows:

  • What approaches should be used to prioritize PPCPs for research on environmental and human health exposure and effects?
  • What are the environmental exposure pathways for organisms (including humans) to PPCPs in the environment and are any of these missed in current risk assessment approaches?
  • How can the uptake of ionizable PPCPs into aquatic and terrestrial organisms and through food chains be predicted?
  • What is the bioavailability of non-extractable residues of PPCPs?
  • How can pharmaceutical preclinical and clinical information be used to assess the potential for adverse environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals?
  • What can be learned about the evolutionary conservation of PPCP targets across species and life stages in the context of potential adverse outcomes and effects?
  • How can ecotoxicological responses, such as histological and molecular-level responses, observed for PPCPs, be translated to traditional ecologically important endpoints such as survival, growth and reproduction of a species?
  • How can ecotoxicity test methods, which reflect the different modes of actions of active PPCPs, be developed and implemented in customized risk assessment strategies?
  • How can effects from long-term exposure to low concentrations of PPCP mixtures on nontarget organisms be assessed?
  • Can non-animal testing methods be developed that will provide equivalent or better hazard data compared to current in vivo methods?
  • How can regions where PPCPs pose the greatest risk to environmental and human health, either now or in the future, be identified?
  • How important are PPCPs relative to other chemicals and non-chemical stressors in terms of biological impacts in the natural environment?
  • Do PPCPs pose a risk to wildlife such as mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians?
  • How can the environmental risks of metabolites and environmental transformation products of PPCPs be assessed?
  • How can data on the occurrence of PPCPs in the environment and on quality of ecosystems exposed to PPCPs be used to determine whether current regulatory risk assessment schemes are effective?
  • Does environmental exposure to PPCP residues result in the selection of antimicrobial resistant micro-organisms and is this important in terms of human health outcomes?
  • How can the risks to human health, arising from antibiotic resistance selection by PPCPs in the natural environment, be assessed?
  • If a PPCP has an adverse environmental risk profile what can be done to manage and mitigate the risks?
  • What effluent treatment methods are effective in reducing the effects of PPCPs in the environment while at the same time not increasing the toxicity of whole effluents?
  • How can the efficacy of risk management approaches be assessed?

Regular readers of GallonDaily and its partner policy periodical Gallon Environment Letter may not be surprised that all of these questions share an essentially  common answer: We don’t know!

For more details view the abstract at http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1104477 and the full article by clicking on Download.

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