Our environment is now largely man-made. There are at least 85,000 chemicals in commerce today. The CDC now measures 148 chemicals in human blood and urine and many of these have the potential to affect our health through subtle pathways. These pollutants are everywhere – in our water, in our air, in our food – usually in tiny amounts. Even those that pass through our bodies rapidly (the “non-persistent” chemicals, like those in plastics) are of concern, because our exposure to them is ongoing. And those that cause changes when a fetus is developing may well be affecting health in childhood and beyond.
Traditional epidemiology measures effects of high exposures to a single agent (e.g. smoking), or with exposure occurring over a short time period (e.g. an industrial accident). We are only now learning how to measure effects of low-exposure/long-term factors, singly and in combination, and starting to identify substantial impacts on health. Cumulatively, the current chemical burden we are experiencing may pose one of the greatest risks to human health that we have faced. Dr. Swan’s work is to understand how to measure the effects of these environmental pollutants, and to document their effects on the health of the developing fetus, the child and the adult.
In this site you’ll find information about Dr. Swan, an archive of research papers, and links.