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Science Advisor Gibbons Discusses Environmental Issues

John H. Gibbons, President Clinton's assistant for science and technology, told the NIEHS-sponsored Conference on Estrogens in the Environment IV recently that the White House is making hormone-like chemicals and other endocrine disruptors one of its five top priorities for environmental research investment.

Other priorities, he said, are climate change, followed by environmental monitoring aimed at producing a report card on the health of the nation's ecosystems by the turn of the century (an effort initiated by Vice President Gore), natural disaster reduction to reduce the toll from floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, and reductions in ozone emission.

NIEHS director Dr. Kenneth Olden (l) welcomes White House science advisor Dr. John Gibbons to his institute.

Gibbons said the White House goal on endocrine disruptors "is to determine whether scientific evidence indicates that humans or animal (domestic and wildlife) populations are affected."

NIEHS has collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test blood and urine samples from a representative group of Americans for environmental estrogens. By showing which of these chemicals people absorb, the tests will provide a priority list of chemicals to test for adverse effects. NIEHS director Dr. Kenneth Olden has proposed that the testing be expanded to cover other chemicals as well, for an initial total of 200, "to make environmental health research findings more applicable to human risk assessment." He told Congressional appropriations committees earlier this year that this basic information could be gathered through expansion of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. "We can measure chemicals in body tissues such as blood and urine. Such 'real world' exposure assessment would be far more useful than estimations of exposure based on the Environmental Protection Agency's toxic release and production information, as is currently done."

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