Baby with bottle

Campbell’s Soup’s recent move to discontinue use of the controversial chemical BPA (bisphenol-A) in its soup cans shed more light on the growing concern over hormone-disrupting chemicals found in a wide variety of household products. And the hotly debated issue shows no sign of slowing down as a new scientific paper published in the journal Endocrine Reviews suggests that even very low levels of exposure to these toxins have profoundly adverse effects on human health.

The paper, titled “Hormones and Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: Low-Dose Effects and Nonmonotonic Dose Responses” reviewed some 800 scientific studies and found that, in particular, low dose exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals can cause major health issues that may not occur at higher dose exposures.

Among the major points in the study is the discovery that even seemingly minor exposure to the chemicals at certain points in one’s development can trigger health problems, such as reproductive complications, cognitive and neurological disorders, immune suppression, thyroid issues and insulin imbalances, that could effect both the individual and their future generations.

The study’s findings have incited controversy within the scientific community as some experts question whether enough conclusive proof exists to say with certainty that these chemicals can have varying effects at different levels of exposure. But, concern about the hundreds of hormone-mimicking chemicals that have become so ubiquitous — used in everything from agricultural pesticides applied to conventionally raised food and fiber crops, as preservatives in cosmetics and personal care/household products, as ingredients in antibacterial hand sanitizers and soaps, and in items including baby bottles and toys — have fueled bans on such chemicals around the world and even here in the U.S. (DDT and PCBs, for example).

With the BPA controversy heating up, countries including China, Canada and France have taken major steps in restricting its use. And after immense pressure from concerned citizens and consumer groups forced the issue, the FDA has recently announced plans to determine its safety and if regulations are necessary here in the U.S.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: nerissa’s ring