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Why is there concern about hormone disrupting chemicals?

Concerning wildlife, EDCs and suspected EDCs are frequently found as contaminants in Europe’s fresh and marine waters [i]. Impaired reproduction and development linked to EDCs has been reported in many species. Fish, birds, otters and even polar bears have been affected in polluted areas all over the world [ii],[iii].

In humans, EU biomonitoring studies have shown that the general population is exposed to many different EDCs via food, water, indoor air & dust and consumer products [iv],[v]. At the same time, we are faced with an alarming increase in hormone-related diseases in people.

Health concerns related to EDCs include fertility problems, birth defects of the genitals, hormone-related cancers (including breast, testicular and prostate), impaired brain development, and obesity & diabetes. This has been highlighted in a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and many other studies [vi],[vii],[viii],[ix],[x]. Numerous laboratory studies and worrying adverse epidemiological trends have strengthened the concern that the increase in the incidence of reproductive problems, hormone related cancers and other metabolic diseases are partly linked to exposure to EDCs.

Leading scientists in the field around the world have repeatedly raised concerns and called on the EU Commission to adopt more effective measures for reducing exposure to EDCs [xi],[xii].

This page is part of CHEM Trust’s Hormone Disrupting Chemicals FAQ – Full list of questions here.

The next question is “What’s so special about hormone disrupting chemicals?“.


[i]. European Environment Agency (EEA): Hazardous substances in Europe’s fresh and marine waters, EEA technical Report No 8/2011, ISSN 1725-2237

[ii]. CHEM Trust report by G. Lyons: “Males under threat – Effects of pollutants on the reproductive health of male vertebrate wildlife”, 2008.

[iii]. CHEM Trust report by E. Kean et al., “Persistent organic pollutants and indicators of otter health: other factors at play?” 2013. http://www.chemtrust.org.uk/Publications_wildlife.php

[iv]. See e.g. EU Biomonitoring project DEMOCOPHES: http://www.eu-hbm.info/democophes

[v]. WWF, “Generation X – Results of WWF’s European Family Biomonitoring Survey”, 2005

[vi]. UNEP and WHO: “State of the Science of Endocrine Disruptors 2012” http://www.who.int/ceh/publications/endocrine/en/index.html

[vii]. A. Kortenkamp et al, “State of the Art Assessment of Endocrine Disrupters, Final report, Annex 1 – Summary of the State of the Science, 2012”

[viii]. Diamanti-Kandarakis et al., Endocrine disrupting Chemicals, An Endocrine Society Scientific Statement 2009. http://www.endo-society.org/journals/scientificstatements/upload/edc_scientific_statement.pdf

[ix]. CHEM Trust report by M. Porta and D.-H. Lee, 2012: Review of the science linking chemical exposures to the human risk of obesity and diabetes

[x]. EEA Technical report 02/2012: The impacts of endocrine disrupters on wildlife, people, and their environments, The Weybridge +15 (1996-2011) report, 2012, ISSN 1725-2237

[xi]. The Berlaymont Declaration, 2013: http://www.ipcp.ch/activities/the-berlaymont-declaration-on-endocrine-disruptors

[xii]. The Prague Declaration, 2006 http://ec.europa.eu/research/environment/newsanddoc/article_2826_en.htm