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WHO report calls endocrine disruptors a ’’global threat’’

Information release

Brussels, 19 February 2013 – In a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) entitled State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, a group of international experts say that evidence linking hormone-mimicking chemicals to human health problems has grown stronger over the past decade, becoming a "global threat" that should be addressed.

HEAL is very pleased that this report has been published.

It reiterates the reason that we need swift action on EDCs: because they could be having significant impacts on public health (contributing to reproductive problems in boys, breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, developmental effects on the nervous system in children, attention deficit /hyperactivity in children and thyroid cancer), not to mention wildlife and ecosystem health.

A key point of the report is that reducing people and wildlife’s exposures to EDCs in various ways is an important focus for action. Previous government measures to reduce exposures have been effective and helped decrease the frequency of disorders in humans and wildlife.

To reduce these exposures the report makes clear that we sorely need better testing of chemicals, because current methods capture only some of the endocrine disrupting effects of the potentially 800 plus endocrine disrupting chemicals out there. At the same time the report underlines that we need more and better monitoring of the EDC chemicals in our bodies (human biomonitoring) in order to know and tackle our exposures. The EU for example does not have any established systematic monitoring that is representative and comparable across countries, and therefore does not have EU-wide information on people’s exposures for chemicals that are being used in the EU-wide market.

The report is a timely confirmation that the EU is facing a crucial opportunity to effectively deal with EDCs - the Commission has forthcoming proposals – first, on how the EU should tackle EDCs in a coherent overarching policy (the EU EDCs Strategy); and second how the EU should identify EDCs so that they can be banned, phased out or otherwise properly managed (the criteria to identify, risk assess and test for EDCs). The response to and application of the EU strategy and criteria by Member States and the companies which produce or use these chemicals will also be vital to reducing people’s exposures.


Lisette van Vliet, Ph.D., Senior Policy Adviser, Chemicals and Chronic Disease Prevention, HEAL, Email:, Tel: +32 2 234 36 45. Mobile: +32 484 614 528

Genon K. Jensen, Executive Director, HEAL, Email:, Tel: +32 2 234 3642, Mobile: +32 495 808 732

Notes to editors

Originally posted on 19 February 2013

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