Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene may have endocrine disrupting properties at exposure levels below reference concentrations issued by the US EPA, according to a review by NGO The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX).EDC's released to the atmosphere via vehicle emissions- because these chemicals are added to the fuels- Why? I would bet anything they aren't necessary. Like fluoride their just a way for chemical companies to maximize use and profits from a product that would be better used in a very, very, limited fashion, if at all.
The chemicals, commonly known as BTEX, are used as solvents in consumer and industrial products, and as intermediates for synthesising organic compounds. They are also used in fracking (CW 10 December 2014).
The substances have been found globally in human blood samples. Although most commonly released to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and from vehicle emissions, they are also present in indoor air from consumer cleaning products, says TEDX, resulting in sorption to various indoor surfaces, which contributes to persistent background levels after cleaning.
More info on these products here
Toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes are primarily synthetic chemicals. These compounds are mainly found in petroleum hydrocarbons, such as gasoline and diesel fuel, or used as industrial solvents or as intermediates in styrene or benzene production
Studies have linked occupational BTEX exposure to endocrine disruption, says TDEX, and research also suggests that ambient concentrations of the chemicals can affect endocrine systems, especially during prenatal exposure.
“To our knowledge, neither BTEX as a mixture, nor the individual compounds, have been tested for regulatory purposes at ambient levels of exposure,” the NGO says.
“US EPA safe levels are supposedly set low enough to account for uncertainty in the data, but endocrine-based science is revealing that they are often not protective enough for the health of the general population,” says lead author Ashley Bolden.
The review authors suggest that in vitro and in vivo models should be used to help understand the possible effects that ambient BTEX exposure may have on human endocrine systems. The information could be used to “inform the creation of more accurate regulations,” says Ms Bolden. “The main sources of indoor emissions should be studied more aggressively so measures can be taken to reduce exposure.”