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A CHEM Trust and HEAL briefing: Regulating chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties

Chemicals should be defined as endocrine disruptors (EDs) on the basis of whether or not they have the ability to disrupt the functioning of the endocrine system in laboratory studies. The evidence should be drawn not only from all internationally agreed tests but also from other studies, including reviews of published scientific literature.

Some argue that the level of potency of the endocrine disrupting properties should be used as a first filter to decide which EDCs should be addressed, with low potency ones being excluded from further consideration. This is not acceptable for several reasons. First, the EU political agreement mandated the identification of EDCs per se, without consideration of potency. Second, the potency filter presumes a ‘safe threshold’ which is unlikely. Even small amounts of a weakly potent EDC may cause adverse effects because it may add to existing exposures of synthetic hormones or act together with natural hormones. Third, a semi-potent endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) may be produced in large amounts leading to high and widespread exposure. Fourth, the exposure may occur at a time of special human vulnerability: in utero or during puberty, for example. A further feature is that some EDCs are known to have stronger adverse effects at lower doses than at higher ones.

HEAL and CHEM Trust have produced the following briefing that explains these issues in further detail. These important ED properties should be taken into account to ensure that EDCs are correctly identified for further regulatory action.

The briefing is available in English, German and French.

Last updated on 20 December 2012

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