As with every living creature, human beings grow, develop, and change within an environment that is constantly shaping us. In our case, we are steeped in hidden chemicals that support contemporary lifestyles. Over 80,000 man-made chemicals in use have never been tested for their effects on our health. In this colloquium we will focus on those chemicals that mimic the hormones that are essential to development, fertility, immune function, and cognitive development. Questions that we will address include: How do researchers discover these chemicals? What benefits or risks do they present? How do we know what is safe and what is harmful? What roles do industry, government, communities and the individual play in causing chemical exposures? What actions can we take to promote environmental health in sustainable ways? We will approach these questions from many perspectives: ethical, economic, behavioral, spiritual, biological, sociological, psychological, political, and the unique experiences you bring to the course. Our sources will include works such as Carson’s Silent Spring, and Colborn, Dumanoski, & Myers’ Our stolen future, as well as documentaries such as Men In Danger: Environmental Effects on Fertility. We will also take a field trip or two to local organic and nonorganic forms to better appreciate how pesticides are used.
Source: College Colloquium Page
Wikipedia: Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that, at certain doses, can interfere with the endocrine (or hormone) system in mammals. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors. Specifically, endocrine disruptors may be associated with the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems; deformations of the body (including limbs); breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid and other cancers; sexual development problems such as feminizing of males or masculinizing effects on females, etc. The critical period of development for most organisms is between the transition from a fertilized egg into a fully formed infant. As the cells begin to grow and differentiate, there are critical balances of hormones and protein changes that must occur. Therefore, a dose of disrupting chemicals may do substantial damage to a developing fetus. The same dose may not significantly affect adult mothers.
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