Americans Exposed to Fertility-Lowering Chemicals in Cheerios, Quaker Oats

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In the pilot study1,2,3 A survey conducted by the Environmental Working Group and published in the February 15, 2024 issue of the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology found that 80% of Americans believe that chemicals used as pesticides and plant growth regulators It has been revealed that a test for chlormecat chloride, a pesticide used in Japan, showed a positive reaction. .Four

Additionally, the chemical was found in 92% of oat-based foods examined, including popular brands such as Quaker Oats and Cheerios. As reported by EWG:Five

“A groundbreaking analysis of chlormequat in the bodies of people in the United States is alarming, as the chemical has been linked to reproductive and developmental problems in animal studies and poses similar harms to humans. This is because it suggests the possibility of

EPA considers expanding use of chlormequat in crops

In the United States, chlormequat chloride is currently only registered for use as an ornamental plant growth regulator (PGR), but the Environmental Protection Agency recently extended the registration to It was proposed to expand this to include hybrid grains. wheat and rye) and wheat, giving farmers another tool to increase yields.6 According to the EPA, chlormequat:7

“…it works to control plant size by blocking hormones that stimulate growth before flowering. In small grains such as wheat, barley, oats, and triticale, lodging (where the stems of small grains bend) This is a major problem in production.

Lodging can significantly limit grain yield and harvestability and negatively impact grain quality. As a PGR, application of chlormequat chloride can reduce stalk height in cereal plants, resulting in reduced lodging and increased grain yield. ”

However, doing so may come at the expense of consumers’ health. The EPA claims that there is “no risk of concern for dietary, housing, or congregate gatherings.”8 E.W.G.9 It cites evidence to the contrary.

Toxic effects of chlormequat revealed in animal experiments

According to EWG, historical and recently published animal studies demonstrate that:Ten

Reduced fertility in pigs fed chlormequat-treated grain.The sow’s estrus cycle was disrupted and mating became difficult.

Decreased fertilization ability of male mouse sperm

Decreased sperm motility in male rats

Delayed onset of puberty, decreased male genital weight, and decreased testosterone levels in male rats

Dysregulation of fetal head and bone growth

metabolic dysregulation

Chlormequat has also been shown to affect the endocrine system in animals, although the exact mechanism is still unclear. Previous research suggests that chlormequat does not act like most other endocrine-disrupting chemicals. For example, it does not use estrogen or androgen receptors and does not alter aromatase activity.

Instead, the researchers suggest that it may affect the endocrine system by altering steroid biosynthesis and causing endoplasmic reticulum stress.11 As noted by EWG,12 “While these studies focus solely on the chemicals’ potential effects on animals, they raise questions about whether they may also harm humans.”

Exposure to chlormequat is increasing

As current testing shows, people are already encountering chlormequat through food, primarily imported grains. EPA decision to allow import of grain treated with chlormequat in 201813 contributed to this exposure.

Extending its application as a plant growth regulator to staple crops in the United States would clearly increase exposure levels and potentially lead to significant adverse effects. As reported in a featured study:14

“Chlormecat chloride is a plant growth regulator whose use in grain crops is increasing in North America. At certain doses, these studies suggest that exposure to chlormequat may reduce fertility and harm a developing fetus.

Here we report the presence of chlormequat in urine samples collected from people in the United States, with detection frequencies of 69%, 74%, and 90% in samples collected in 2017, 2018-2022, and 2023, respectively. %Met.

Chlormequat was detected at low concentrations in samples from 2017 to 2022, but concentrations increased significantly in samples from 2023 onwards. We also observed a high detection frequency of chlormequat in oat-based foods.

These findings and chlormequat toxicity data raise concerns about current exposure levels and warrant more extensive toxicity testing, food monitoring, and epidemiological studies to assess the health effects of chlormequat exposure in humans. It is something to do. ”

Data shows continued exposure

Researchers also found that in urine samples collected from individuals in the United Kingdom and Sweden, chlormequat was detected in nearly 100% of participants, and that its frequency and concentration was higher than that of other pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, pyrethroids, thiabendazole, and mancozeb. It is also emphasized that it significantly exceeds metabolites. This suggests that individuals are probably ingesting higher amounts of chlormequat compared to the aforementioned insecticides.

This chemical has also been found in serum and milk in animal experiments. Additionally, although no human body sampling has been performed to confirm the presence of chlormequat in human serum or breast milk, the authors conclude that “chemicals associated with reproductive harm in serum and milk may be present during pregnancy and in infants.” “It has a significant impact on the exposure of

The half-life of chlormequat in the body is approximately 2 to 3 hours, and a significant portion of the dose is eliminated within 24 hours. Therefore, the detection of the chemical in his 80% of urine samples indicates that the majority of people are continuously exposed throughout her day.

In terms of quantity, the concentration of chlormequat in the 2023 samples ranged from 0.27 micrograms to 52.8 micrograms per gram of creatinine, with a median of 1.4 micrograms.

High concentrations are also detected in food samples

The researchers also sent 25 conventional food samples and eight organic oat-based food samples for testing, along with nine conventional wheat-based food samples. All food samples were purchased at grocery stores in the Washington, DC metropolitan area between June and August 2022 and February and May 2023.

All but two of the 25 non-organic oat-based products contained detectable levels of chlormequat. As the authors noted, the maximum levels detected reached 291 micrograms per kilogram, indicating a significant presence of chlormequat in oats. One organic oat product also contained low amounts (17 micrograms), and two wheat-based breads also contained 3.5 micrograms and 12.6 micrograms, respectively. As noted in a featured study:15

“It is not yet known whether levels of chlormequat in U.S. urine and food samples will rise in the coming years. In the U.S., chlormequat is currently only allowed in imported oat and wheat products; Agricultural use on non-organic crops is currently under review by the US EPA.

If approved for such domestic use, and if agricultural practices utilizing chlormequat are widely adopted both internationally and domestically, levels of chlormequat in oats, wheat, and other grain foods will continue to increase and become more prevalent in the national population. Exposure levels may be high. General population of the United States.

Current urinary chlormequat concentrations from this and other studies have been determined by individual sample providers to be consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published reference dose (RfD) (0.05 mg/kg body weight/day) and acceptable levels. This suggests that patients were exposed to chlormequat at levels several orders of magnitude lower than the average daily dose. Intake value (ADI) published by the European Food Safety Authority (0.04 mg/kg body weight/day).

However, we note that published toxicological studies on chlormequat suggest that re-evaluation of these safety thresholds may be warranted. For example, animals exposed to doses lower than the current HeRfD and ADI of 0.024 mg/kg body weight/day and 0.0023 mg/kg body weight/day in mice and pigs, respectively, showed decreased fertility.

Another toxicity study showed that exposure during pregnancy at a dose equivalent to the no observed adverse effect level (NOAEL) of 5 mg/kg used to derive the US EPA reference dose was associated with adverse effects on fetal development, metabolism, and body composition. caused change. Newborn mouse.

Furthermore, regulatory standards do not take into account the negative effects of mixtures of chemicals that can affect the reproductive system. Chemicals have been shown to cause additive or synergistic effects at lower doses than exposure to individual chemicals, raising concerns about potential health effects associated with chemicals. “Current exposure levels, particularly among the most exposed individuals in the general population in Europe and the United States.”

EWG opposes plans to expand use of chlormecat

Given its findings, EWG strongly opposes EPA’s proposal to allow the application of chlormequat to domestic oats, barley, wheat, and triticale.

Alexis M. Temkin, lead author of the EWG study, expressed concern about the widespread presence of chlormequat in both food and urine samples, calling it “alarming.” Temkin advocates for additional research into the issue and urges the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to include chlormequat in its annual pesticide monitoring of grains.

“The Environmental Protection Agency should take full account of the potential risks to children’s health from exposure to chlormequat and reconsider its recent decision to allow chlormequat in children’s foods.” Temkin told Newsweek magazine.16

Other organizations have also voiced opposition, including the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).17 It gathered more than 10,000 signatures calling on government agencies to reject the proposal. In a comment on EPA’s proposal last year, PIRG wrote:18

“Research shows that chlormequat chloride impedes fetal development and has negative effects on the reproductive system. Its use on food crops should not be allowed until it is proven completely safe. In particular: Because we know we can farm without it…

This chemical is used to make the stalks of small grains a little stronger so they are less likely to bend or break. It’s not worth risking our health for a slightly larger harvest. ”

Oatmeal has a metabolic toxin: linoleic acid (LA)

Like most grains except white rice, they contain linoleic acid (LA). It’s a small amount, about 1g per cup of oatmeal, but it accumulates over time. Ideally, you should aim to keep your LA intake below 2g per day, but definitely below 5g per day.

It is important to monitor your total LA intake from all foods and decide which to eat to keep your LA levels within this range. Oatmeal is more nutritious than white rice, but the latter does not contain LA. Oatmeal contains minerals, the amount of which varies depending on cultivation, but still in relatively small amounts.

Choose organic oat products

In an interview with the New York Post,19 EWG Vice President for Scientific Research Olga Naidenko advised consumers to choose organic oat products that are grown without the use of harmful pesticides such as chlormequat and glyphosate.

To find the cleanest foods, consider downloading EWG. healthy life app. This resource provides ratings for over 120,000 food and personal care items. Get a rating simply by scanning the product with your mobile phone.

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