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New study links pesticides to endometriosis

Earlier today, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published a new study linking pesticide levels in blood to increased rates of endometriosis in women. The same class of pesticides know as organochlorines has also been linked to increased rates of asthma and obesity in studies published last month.

Dr. Emily Marquez, an endocrinologist and staff scientist for Pesticide Action Network, issued the following statement:

Several organochlorine pesticides are known to be endocrine disruptors, causing impacts on reproduction. In addition to these effects, some OCs have been linked to other health problems such as asthma, diabetes and obesity.

Today's study examined associations between the estrogen dependent disease endometriosis and several OCs, and found significant associations with two pesticides  — hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) and mirex —  that have been targeted for global elimination under the Stockholm Convention. This is a UN treaty that gathers scientific evidence on chemicals that are toxic, persistent, bioaccumulative and can be transported across national borders on wind and water currents.

This study calls attention to the underlying problem of so-called legacy pesticides. Organochlorine pesticides can last for decades in the environment, and health impacts of these chemicals continue. However, HCH — while targeted for global phaseout — is still in use in the United States in pharmaceutical products and is a breakdown product of lindane, commonly found in soaps, lotions and shampoos. However, FDA has failed to take action to remove products containing lindane from the marketplace, despite a successful state-level ban that's been in place in California since 2001. It's time for the agency to institute better protections from this harmful chemical."