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Daily News Archive
From March 6, 2001

Arsenic is an Endocrine Disruptor

Today, an article from the Environmental News Network reported that arsenic, number one on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) list of the nation's most toxic chemicals, might play a role in endocrine disruption.

Endocrine disruptors confuse the normal activity of hormones that are responsible for normal growth, development, and function of various tissues in wildlife and humans. A team of researchers at the Dartmouth Medical School has discovered that, unlike most other endocrine disruptors that block or mimic the estrogen hormone, arsenic disrupts the glucocorticoid receptor, which regulates a variety of biological processes.

Scientists have also recently discovered that low-dose exposure to arsenic may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, diabetes and vascular disease. Arsenic in drinking water was confirmed to cause bladder, lung, and skin cancer, and suspected to cause kidney and liver cancer in a 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences.

Arsenic is used as a poison in pesticides and is found as an ingredient in pigments and wood preservatives. It is the first metal to be linked to endocrine disruption. It is a major factor in groundwater and well water contamination, and is found at many toxic waste sites, including 70 percent of the Superfund sites, from industrial and mining practices. There are eight metals of concern on the EPA's toxic chemicals list, a number of which could have the same effects.