Health risks associated with combined exposures to endocrine disruptors are systematically underestimated, shows EU research project
Findings from the European research project EDC-MixRisk released today  highlight that the health risks associated with the combined exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are systematically underestimated under current assessment methods in the European Union. Researchers behind the project now call for a shift in risk assessment to better reflect real-life exposure to multiple chemicals throughout life.
EDC-MixRisk is an EU Horizon 2020 research project
that investigated how prenatal exposure to mixtures of 54 suspected EDCs
affects the development and health of children. Using epidemiological data to
create and test real-life mixtures of EDCs associated with adverse health
effects, the project has developed new tools to enhance current risk assessment
EDCs are ubiquitous and lifelong human exposure to
this large class of chemicals has been linked to a series of serious health
conditions  that bear a heavy cost on wellbeing and the economy .
However, the focus on single substances in current risk assessments and
regulations has been recognised as an important shortcoming in Europe’s
approach to endocrine disruptors and remains a challenge when it comes to
crafting public policies that effectively prevent diseases .
Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director at the Health and
Environment Alliance (HEAL) said: “Just when
the European Commission is expected to roll out its action plan to overhaul
Europe’s approach to endocrine disruptors, these findings call for an urgent
reform of the methods used to assess and regulate these chemicals, to reflect
real-life exposure and truly protect the health and future development of our
Chemicals identified in the
project came from different sources and fall under different regulations;
Exposure to mixtures of EDCs at
the prenatal stage has been associated with adverse health and development
effects of children in three domains: sexual development, neurodevelopment and metabolism
Tested mixtures affected
hormone-regulated and disease-relevant outcomes in various models at the same
concentrations found in pregnant women;
Using the assessment approach
developed through the project indicated a higher risk for exposed children than
when using methods focusing on single chemicals.
Researchers highlight that
health risks associated with combined exposures to EDCs are systematically
The newly developed methods
should already be used to better inform European risk assessments and the
regulation of EDCs in the most health-protective way, when epidemiological data
In the absence of
epidemiological data, these findings can inform current discussions and efforts
to reform risk assessments in a way that takes into account mixtures and combined
exposures in the future.
As these findings are being presented and discussed, the European Commission is soon expected to launch a fitness check of all EU regulations related to endocrine disruptors in the coming weeks. This fitness check will form the backbone of a planned revision of the European strategy on endocrine disruptors .
Contact: Natacha Cingotti, Senior Health and Chemicals Policy Officer at HEAL, email@example.com, tel.: +32 (0)2 234 36 45
“Reduce our EDC daily cocktail: Replace the substance-by-substance
approach by including all possible sources of exposure to multiple chemicals
• Prioritise the identification and regulation of the most
problematic groups of hormone disrupting chemicals and swiftly act on known coexposures
to harmful chemicals from various sources (e.g. indoor air pollution, dust, food
• Move from a single substance risk assessment to cumulative
assessments for chemicals acting on the same adverse outcome and similar chemicals.
Sweden and Denmark are looking at this issue in the context of their national work.
• Respond more swiftly to early warning signals from new scientific findings
about potential health or environmental damages in re-approvals and authorisations
of substances. When concerns show up in one chemical use, a risk evaluation should
automatically be triggered across legislative ‘silos’ to fully assess the impact
of cumulative exposures and to ensure swift action in the absence of full scientific
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