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Taking the Long View on Toxic Chemicals

Emily Monosson chats with Karen Weintraub of the Boston Globe

Karen Weintraub, Q. What do you mean when you say we need to take an “evolutionary perspective” on toxic chemicals? Emily Monosson, A. I think adding an evolutionary perspective to the science of toxicology might help us better understand how chemicals interact with living things. Toxicology has done pretty well at protecting the public, but we know that it needs to improve. [There are] a lot of problems today that we’re not quite addressing.   Q. Why is it so hard to figure out which chemicals we need to worry about? A. There are tens of thousands of chemicals we’ve put into the environment over the last 100 or so years. Toxicology as a science came into being around the same time and evolved itself as a regulatory, management, top-down approach to figure out which chemicals were harmful and which weren’t. [At a time] when exposures were high, and there were fewer chemicals, it did pretty well with identifying and regulating the most obvious problems.   Q. But that’s not enough anymore? Read the rest here.