Environment, Endocrine Function and Embryos: How Exposure to Environmentally Compromised Regions Impact Critical Steps of Human Development and the Disproportionate Impacts of these Effects on the Global South
Endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDC’s are chemical compounds that interfere with the functioning of the endocrine system; a feedback loop of hormonal compounds released by the human body to regulate system functioning. This ranges from support for mood/emotions, development, growth, and plays a critical role in the development of human life. Through the context of pregnancy, hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen experience large fluctuations in their levels, and the placenta, a critical organ for a healthy pregnancy, functions as a temporary endocrine gland throughout the duration of gestation. The delicate balance of hormones from the pregnant individual to the developing embryo is essential to ensuring healthy psychological and physiological development. However, as our plant and our environment continue to become more polluted and shift into more extremes, these particularly specific and rather sensitive hormonal pathways of communication can be easily disrupted, compromising the ability for mother and fetus to transmit information, and creating potential increase of risk for subsequent issues in the time between fecundation through birth and onward. Toxic chemical exposures through air, soil, and water pollution, utilizations of endocrine disrupting materials such as specific plastics, textiles and personal care products, and other sources of contact to EDC’s can all facilitate these disturbances. Through this paper, the effects of these exposures through the sensitive windows of pregnancy will be explored, as well as recognizing the disproportionate impact of these exposures on the global south from both a frequency and rate of EDC protection/production standpoint. Finally, an argument for the significance of these impacts paired with the lack of research surrounding these issues will be made, and advocation will be done to support the notion that these issues should be further investigated.