Chemical Entanglements: Gender and Exposure

May 4-5, 2017


FREE and OPEN to the public!


Symposium Mission Statement

The Chemical Entanglements Symposium brings together scientists, community based researchers, artists, documentarians, and policy makers to update the public and each other on the gendered impacts of chemical exposures. In what ways have sex, gender, and reproduction become sites of intense interest for those studying the effects of toxic chemicals on human health? What models, methodologies and mechanisms have been developed to understand the role of environmental exposures as a factor in non-communicable diseases and chronic illnesses? While women have been at the forefront of environmental activism, they have also been marginalized and ridiculed when raising the alarm regarding the incautious circulation of untested and poorly tested chemicals. Furthermore, through feminized roles, women have been disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals that have been explicitly marketed to women and structured around the reinforcement of gender and racialized beauty norms. How have economic and racial disparities as well as global North/South divisions rendered certain populations more vulnerable to exposures from pesticides, carbon emissions, ambient formaldehyde, polluted waterways, and personal care products, to name a few sources? Through discussion of these intersectional issues, the Chemical Entanglements Symposium develops tools to educate clinicians, workplaces, and the next generation on the state of the science, barriers to effective regulation, models of activism and community outreach, under-recognized sources of exposure to EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) in the built environment, and best practices to address non-communicable diseases that such chemicals induce as well as social barriers to accessibility.

Topics for discussion will include:


David & Goliath

  • Women’s role in environmental activism
  • Struggles for robust regulation
  • Social justice movements in alliance and conflict with environmental activism
  • First-person and thickly described accounts of body burden

Everyday Life, Everyday Labs

  • The role of endocrine disruption in noncommunicable diseases
  • Mechanisms, models, and methodologies
  • Race, class, gender, and environmental justice
  • Developed and developing worlds’ access to safe and environmentally friendly products

Transgenerational Effects, Timelines of Activism and Regulation, Pedagogy for the Next Generation

  • Critical periods of plasticity and longevity of toxic exposures across the life course
  • Transgenerational impact of chemicals
  • Juvenile populations’ exposure to self care products, including body sprays
  • Pregnant women and caretakers of children as interested audiences

Why Women, Sexuality and Chemicals; Diagnosis and Destigmatization

  • Sex, gender, and reproduction as sites of intense interest for those studying the effects of toxicants
  • Precautionary consumerism and individual decision-making
  • Everyday exposures through personal care and cleaning products, often marketed as “fresh”
  • Toxicology’s gold standard: the uterine/estrogenic assay