Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products: Human Health Implications – Prof Jim Heffron, University College Cork
Many synthetic and natural chemicals are present in a very wide range of consumer products, for example, perfumes, cosmetics, household cleaning agents, furniture, carpets, food containers, toys, fuels and hardware equipment. Some of these chemicals entered the food chain accidentally as in the 2008 Irish pork crisis or deliberately as happened recently with baby food manufactured in China. Some of these chemicals have toxic properties and may cause various adverse human health effects depending on the dose/amount and the duration of exposure. The new EU chemical safety assessment system REACH aims to prevent harmful chemicals being used in industry generally and to protect the consumer from harmful exposure. In this review, I will comment on the nature of these chemicals and their toxic potential in exposed humans, and how exposure can be reduced or prevented.
Jim Heffron has enjoyed a distinguished lecturing and research career at University College Cork. He held academic positions at Mayo Clinic and Graduate School of Medicine, USA, the Witwatersrand University Medical School, Johannesburg, South Africa and was Royal Society-Royal Irish Academy Research Fellow at University College London. His research on the human genetic disorder Malignant Hyperthermia led to discovery of the MH gene and to advances in biochemical toxicology of anaesthetics and pollutants. He served as Dean of the Faculty of Science, was elected member of Governing Body and has long established research links with the pharmaceutical industry. He was adviser and contributor to the World Health Organisation’s Air Quality Guidelines for Europe(2000), elected Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, member of the American Chemical Society and Chartered Scientist(UK). He graduated with a First Class BSc in Biochemistry at University College Dublin (1964) and PhD(1969). He publishes widely in Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of USA, British Medical Journal etc; was awarded DSc by NUI and Royal Irish Academy Silver Medal for distinguished biochemical research.