Karim Ahmed studies the ways that pollutants in the air and water–such as toxic substances in agricultural chemicals and consumer products–impact the health of both adults and children. His work, like the work of many of the Chemical Entanglements speakers who combine scientific, medical, and policy-related expertise, lies at the intersection of environmental health sciences, natural resource management, and technology assessment. For his presentation at Chemical Entanglements, Dr. Ahmed will take a multi-generational view on the changes in health risks confronted by past and contemporary generations of people worldwide. Policy makers in the 1960s worked on phasing out highly toxic carcinogens and mutagens from persistent use. Today, the proliferation of such chemicals in the marketplace, as well as ones newly discovered, pose threats to individuals in a myriad of contexts, including homes, workplaces, and through daily product consumption. At the heart of Dr. Ahmed’s argument is a critique of the way that risk has been measured in the past when it comes to toxic chemicals. He argues that the risk-analysis paradigm used by policy makers in the 1960s is now obsolete in the context of hormone-mimicking chemicals, or endocrine-disrupting chemicals. This is because a typical dose-response relationship, where the amount of the dose correlates to the level of the response, does not occur in EDCs (endocrine-disrupting chemicals). According to Dr. Ahmed, EDCs “are observed at very low dose levels, much greater than those seen at intermediate doses.” His talk will pose the question: how do policy-makers “develop a health-based regulatory standard or set safety guidelines to protect the public from harm?” Dr. Ahmed is Director of International Program and Board Member at the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) in Washington, DC. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) in Farmington, CT.
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