Other Areas of Concern
Other health problems that may be caused or exacerbated by exposure to
environmental health hazards include reproductive problems, endocrine
disruption, and complex immunologic and/or multifactorial disorders such as
autoimmune diseases, diabetes, multiple chemical sensitivity and chronic fatigue
syndrome. In general, the environmental component of these disorders is poorly
understood but a growing body of evidence suggests a important role.
Reproductive and Endocrine Disorders
Exposure to hormone "mimickers" such as PCBs, dioxin, organochlorine pesticides
and perchloroethylene, have been associated with an increase in infertility,
decreased and/or less viable sperm, and an increase in endometriosis. These
chemicals may also be implicated in certain hormonally driven cancers, such as
breast and testicular cancer. See also Birth Defects.
Although probably all of the other environmental health concerns discussed in
this website have an immunologic component, with asthma
and allergies both being fundamentally disorders of
the immune system even though their symptoms are often respiratory, the immune system can also be the target of some environmental
toxins. Some immune-specific disorders that may be caused or worsened by
environmental exposures include:
- probable autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, scleroderma or diabetes;
- cancer of the white blood cells (leukemia) or lymph system (lymphoma and
- multiple chemical sensitivity; and
- chronic fatigue syndrome.