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Importance of Research Into the Effects of Contamination on Reproductive Health

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Ms. SCHAKOWSKY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the importance of federally supported women's health research; especially reproductive health research in regions of the country that have high contamination such as Superfund sites.

The reproductive health effects of environmental toxins can have significant ramifications for bone, cardiovascular, neurological, and sexual health, resulting in serious health conditions such as osteoporosis, heart attack, and stroke. In the state of Illinois, we currently have 70 Superfund sites that could pose a health threat to nearby communities. While the Federal Government supports a strong portfolio of research into the health implications of exposure to chemicals at these sites, there is a noticeable lack of reproductive health research in this area. It is essential that Congress supports this important area of research.

Northwestern University is developing one of the first major studies on the impact of Superfund contaminants on our reproductive health. The study will examine the reproductive health impacts of exposure to metals including zinc and lead that are present near a former zinc smelter site on the Illinois River near the Village of DePue, Illinois. The site is one of over 30 similar zinc and lead smelter sites across the country, so understanding the health impacts at DePue will help determine best practices for future disposal of those toxic chemicals.

Northwestern has also spearheaded an effort to update the scientific guidelines that the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, uses to determine the threat of environmental toxins to our reproductive health. The Guidelines for Reproductive Toxicity Risk Assessment have not been reviewed or revised since 1996. I strongly support their effort to ensure that the scientific guidelines adequately account for the reproductive health threats posed by toxins to both sexes and across the lifespan. This will help ensure that the EPA has the most comprehensive and up-to-date scientific guidance to assess the risks of chemicals in our environment on our reproductive health.

The environmental effects of toxins threaten the health of more than 10 percent of men, women, and children. It is critical that we increase support for research into the reproductive health implications of different environmental exposures.


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