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EPA Targeting Gender Benders

More than a decade after Congress told the Environmental Protection Agency to begin testing chemicals that may upset the balance of hormones in people, the agency is finally getting around to doing it. Yesterday, EPA released a list of the first 67 pesticides that will be tested starting this summer as part of its screening program for so-called endocrine disrupters.

The testing mandate was folded into the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 at a time of escalating public concerns about hormonelike chemicals in the environment. These endocrine disrupters can cause reproductive problems in wildlife, and scientists suspect they are contributing to cancer and infertility in humans. Environmental groups have been frustrated by the delay in the testing program. EPA says it has taken so long in part because scientists had to develop assays for endocrine disruption.