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Dr. Theo Colborn, pioneer on Endocrine Disruption, Passes

Hi everyone!

It is with great sadness that I inform you of Theo Colborn’s passing.  I urge you to read the brief biography by Elizabeth Grossman in the link below.  It speaks with great force and clarity about Dr. Colborn’s critical work.  Theo was literally the mother of endocrine disruption and beyond a doubt the Rachel Carson of our time.

In 1995 RRWPC put on a conference with the help of Dr. Howard Bern (UC professor at Berkeley).  Dr. Bern happened to be a supporter of ours, but I didn’t discover that until I called him to ask about a speech he was giving at the Bodega Marine Lab on the topic of endocrine disruption. Towards the end of our conversation, I boldly and unexpectedly (even to myself) asked if he would help me get speakers for a conference on the topic to be held in Santa Rosa.  He agreed to help and on May 13, 1995, Dr. Bern, Dr. Colborn, Dr. Lou Gillette (of Lake Apopka, Florida alligator fame), Dr Michael Frye (from UC Davis and endocrine disruption expert on sea gulls and other birds) and two others made presentations at our all day conference.  Everyone who came raved about the quality of the conference for years to come.  I am proud to say that our conference is listed in Theo’s CV (link below also) along with her many, many, many other accomplishments.

I too have felt frustration at the lack of serious response to the of low dose impacts of endocrine disrupting chemicals by State regulators.  It reassured me to read that Theo had similar issues with the EPA. (It is isolating to push an issue no one wants to deal with.)  Here is a major point made in the Bio below, “It’s hard to overstate what a sea-change in regulatory toxicology endocrine disruptor research implied….The prevailing regulatory testing regimen-the basis for judgments about the safety of chemicals introduced into the marketplace—pays little or no attention to metabolic changes, outcomes for development and behavior and the transfer of scrambled chemical messages that affect subsequent generations.  What Colborn and her colleagues proposed, that very low levels of chemical exposure—levels that might be present in the daily environment—could prompt subtle changes in cellular chemistry potentially resulting in a range of adverse health effects, was utterly radical to traditional toxicology.”  (emphasis added)

There is a clear and concise description in the Bio about endocrine disruption and low dose effects.  I also urge you to explore the TEDX website (link below).  Among other things, the site has a list of endocrine disrupting chemicals and the studies that have established their affects.  This science represents an already documented sea change in human and animal biology.

The notice of Theo’s passing came to me just as I was beginning to write a commentary on an article that appears to promote toilet to tap (direct discharge of highly treated wastewater into San Diego’s future drinking water supply).  Thus far, it appears that the State is requiring only limited testing of endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Brenda Adelman

Colborn bio short version