Endocrine Disruptors

Chemicals and Health

Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors (EDs) are chemicals that can affect the human endocrine system when reaching harmful concentrations. These chemicals impact the natural hormonal function of the body either by altering the normal hormonal production process or by blocking the way hormones travel through the body. Numerous chemicals are known to have endocrine disrupting effects such as diethylstilbestrol (DES), dioxins, PCBs, DDT, etc.

EDs sources are mainly man-made and can be found in various products such as plastics, food, cosmetics, pesticides, metallic food cans, different industrial chemicals and other by-products. All of these products are widely spread out in the environment and we are in contact with many endocrine disrupting chemicals on a daily basis. In humans, there is strong evidence indicating that exposure to EDs may result in infertility, genital malformations, cancers or metabolism disruption, which can lead to obesity or diabetes. The most vulnerable groups to EDs exposure are pregnant women and children because EDs affect the body’s development processes. The effects of exposure can become evident later on during adulthood.

At the international level, the interest of learning more about EDs is rising and further research is being conducted in order to gain a better understanding of its effects. A more recent publication by the Inter-Organization Programme for the Sound Management of Chemicals (IOMC) represents the State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. In 2012 during the third International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) held in Nairobi, Kenya, the question of including EDs into the list of emerging policy issues of SAICM was discussed. The decision at the Conference was to consider the issue further and make appropriate decisions once more research about the harmful consequences of EDs has been done.

Additionally, at the European Union level, there have been several studies reported (see in Downloads & Links). A priority list of substances has been established for further evaluation and for further analyzing the selected chemicals. The results are assembled into a database, whereas the chemicals are categorized in this  [Öffnet externen Link in neuem Fenster] report according to their endocrine disruptive properties including scientific information related to their prioritization.

Best Practice / Case Studies / Reports

german cooperationFederal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Developmentsupported by The State Government of North Rhine-Westphalia