New approaches to cope with possible harms of low-dose environmental chemicals

Duk Hee Lee, David R. Jacobs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Low-dose environmental chemicals including endocrine-disrupting chemicals can disturb endocrine, nervous and immune systems.Traditional chemical-focused approaches, strict regulation and avoidance of exposure sources, can help protect humans from individual or several chemicals in the highdose range, but their value in the low-dose range is questionable.First, exposure sources to problematic environmental chemicals are omnipresent, and many common pollutants present no safe level.In this situation, the value of any effort focusing on individual chemicals is very limited.Second, critical methodological issues, including the huge number of environmental chemicals, biological complexity of mixtures and non-linearity, make it difficult for risk assessment-based regulation to provide reliable permissible levels of individual chemicals.Third, the largest exposure source is already internal; human adipose tissue contains the most complex chemical mixtures.Thus, in the low-dose range, a paradigm shift is required from a chemicalfocused to a human-focused approach for health protection.Two key questions are (1) how to control toxicokinetics of chemical mixtures to decrease their burden in critical organs and (2) how to mitigate early harmful effects of chemical mixtures at cellular levels.Many lifestyles can be evaluated for these purposes.Although both the chemical-focused and human-focused approaches are needed to protect humans, the human-focused holistic approach must be the primary measure in the low-dose range of environmental chemicals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-197
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of epidemiology and community health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
funding This work was supported by The Environmental Health Action Program (2016001370002), funded by the Korea Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 BMJ Publishing Group. All rights reserved.


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