Hormone disruption is not a new issue, it has been debated for over 20 years, when scientists started ringing the alarm bells about pollutants in the environment that could interfere with natural hormones [i]. In 1995, the Institute for Environment and Health, which was established by the UK Medical Research Council, held workshops and published a report on estrogens in the environment [ii].
The initial concern about EDCs was focussed on man-made chemicals that could mimic the female hormone, estrogen, but during the last 20 years that concern has broadened to include all hormone disruptors, particularly those that can block the male hormone androgen or disrupt thyroid hormone.
Some industrial chemicals – including Bisphenol A (BPA) – were identified as female hormone mimics back in 1938, more than 70 years ago [iii].
In 1999 the EU adopted a Community Strategy on Endocrine Disrupters and subsequently funded over €110 million worth of research projects leading to provisions for EDCs in different pieces of EU legislation, e.g. the REACH law addressing industrial chemicals and the laws on pesticides and biocides [iv]. However, there has been insufficient action on individual chemicals.
This page is part of CHEM Trust’s Hormone Disrupting Chemicals FAQ – Full list of questions here.
The next question is “What sort of chemicals are hormone disrupters, what are they used for?“.
[i]. T. Colborn, T. Clement: “Chemically induced alterations alterations in sexual development: the wildlife/human connection” including Wingspread Consensus Statement, 1992, Princeton Scientific Publishing, Co.,
[ii]. MRC Institute for Environment and Health, “Environmental Oestrogens: Consequences To Human Health And Wildlife”, 1995
[iii]. Dodds, E. C.; Lawson, W., “Molecular structure in relation to estrogenic activity. Compounds without a phenanthrene nucleus”. Proc. Royal Soc. Lon. B. 1938, 125, 222-232.