Cover image for Hormonal chaos : the scientific and social origins of the environmental endocrine hypothesis
Hormonal chaos : the scientific and social origins of the environmental endocrine hypothesis
Krimsky, Sheldon.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xiii, 284 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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RC649 .K75 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In Hormonal Chaos, Sheldon Krimsky traces the emergence of an unorthodox hypothesis that casts new suspicions on a broad range of modern industrial chemicals. At the heart of his story is the "Environmental Endocrine Hypothesis," the assertion that a class of chemicals called "endocrine disruptors" are interfering with the normal functioning of hormones in animals and humans. Krimsky describes how this controversial theory was first elaborated and explores the complex factors that have contributed to its increased legitimacy and continued controversy.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

For decades, Americans' concern about environmental chemicals has been essentially fear of cancer. Krimsky, a Tufts University professor of urban and environmental policy, examines the complex path through which another theory--"that chemicals in the environment can interfere with hormonal messages in living organisms (including humans), affecting reproduction and development, and also giving rise to disease" --was developed and drew the attention of scientists, legislators, regulators, and the public. The environmental endocrine hypothesis has roots in studies of the impact of the synthetic estrogen DES, Great Lakes wildlife studies, and research on the quality and quantity of human sperm; it draws on multiple disciplines and can explain a range of biological phenomena. But it poses problems for regulators, because proof of causality is elusive. Policy-makers must decide whether to deny industry and agriculture useful chemicals based on a "precautionary principle," which suggests that they may cause harm rather than scientific proof that they do. A fascinating study of the hypothesis and of the interface between science, media, and policy. --Mary Carroll

Library Journal Review

The environmental endocrine hypothesis claims that a diverse array of industrial and agricultural chemicals can interfere with the body's normal hormone functions and cause reproductive, neurological, and developmental abnormalities in humans and wildlife. Based upon a sizable body of literature and research initially documented in Theo Colborn & others' Our Stolen Future (LJ 2/15/96), this hypothesis quickly gained both supporters and critics among various organizations, government agencies, scientific bodies, and trade groups. Krimsky (urban and environmental policy, Tufts Univ.) explains the development of the theory, response of the scientific community, challenges facing policy makers, and attitudes regarding public safety. This is a fascinating look at the motivations and responsibilities of scientists, politicians, journalists, and industries, who rush to defend their turf when new controversies arise regarding public safety. It also details the complexity of scientific communication. Recommended for environmental and public health collections. - Irwin Weintraub, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.