An important, but understudied area in environmental health sciences is the potential adverse health affects of exposure to organic chemicals and pollutants. Although modern chemistry and the subsequent birth of synthetic chemicals date back many decades, we continue to have a limited understanding of the potential public health impact of these ubiquitous chemicals of modern life. They are used in plastic products to make them soft and flexible, in personal care products to hold scent and as a preservative, and in many building products. They are found in food packaging and processing materials, and in a wide variety of toys and products for babies and young children.
Among the 80,000 or so such chemicals, there is a subset that interacts with our own hormone systems, altering endocrine signaling even at low levels of exposure. These “hormonally active” chemicals can cause adverse effects on human development and reproductive health, including fertility, pregnancy and birth outcomes.
Under the leadership of Dr. Russ Hauser MD, ScD, MPH, the Organic Chemicals Research Core brings together investigators with diverse backgrounds and interests to address the health effects of organic pollutants across the lifespan, with primary focus on fetal development through puberty. Their work spans many levels of inquiry from basic science to clinical studies, and continues to be critical to addressing the public health impact of organic pollutants.