The U.S. currently has more than 85,000 chemicals in commerce. There are approximately 2,500 “high production volume” (HPV) chemicals, which are manufactured at a rate of more than one million pounds annually, with nearly 45 percent of these HPV chemicals lacking adequate toxicological studies conducted to evaluate their health effects on humans and wildlife. Further, about 2,000 new chemicals are introduced into commerce annually in the U.S., at a rate of seven new chemicals a day.
Because of the many chemicals in commerce, the improved methods for detecting chemicals in environmental and biological media, and the increased interest by scientists and the public in understanding the types of toxicity that chemicals may pose, more and more scientists and toxicologists are identifying “emerging chemicals of concern,” or ECCs. Recent studies have shown that some of these chemicals can act as endocrine disruptors, disrupting normal hormone function, and can produce effects at the parts per billion or parts per trillion level. Also, effects of some ECCs can be transgenerational - when animals are exposed in utero, effects are transmitted not only to the offspring, but are inherited for many generations thereafter, from exposures to the grandmother or the great-grandmother animal. In addition, scientists are worried about the effects from exposures to mixtures of these ECCs and/or other chemicals.
ECCs reflect limitations in the chemicals regulatory systems at the state, national, and international level. ECCs are chemicals that have appeared on the radar screen because scientists have discovered that these chemicals have some new toxicity, are found to be building up in the environment, or are being detected in humans or other living organisms, and may have the potential to cause adverse effects on public health or the environment.
Some examples of ECCs include bis-phenol-A, phthalates, arsenic, perchlorate, nonylphenols, synthetic musks and other personal care product ingredients, nitrosodimethylamine, brominated flame retardants, nanoparticles, pharmaceutical wastes, and industrial chemical additives, stabilizers and adjuvants.