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Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

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About Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are a class of chemicals that can mimic our own hormones and interfere with the endocrine system of people and wildlife.   They can disrupt healthy development and are thought to play a role in a range of disorders: from birth defects, reproductive disorders, cancers.  Over 800 hundred chemicals are known or suspected EDCs.  They can be found in food and in thousands of other products (WHO, 2013).  Known endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) include, among others, PCB, DDT, PBDE and some phthalates.  However, no commonly accepted criteria for the identification of EDCs are yet available.

While uncertainties remain, a number of laboratory and epidemiological studies have suggested associations between exposure to certain EDCs and adverse effects in humans, including reproductive dysfunctions, cancers, neurodevelopmental disorders, diabetes and metabolic disorders, among others. Some studies also suggest that certain chemicals have endocrine-disrupting effects on wildlife, including feminization of some species (GCO II, UNEP 2019).

As indicated in the GCO II, EDCs have become a topic of significant international interest. Substantial efforts have been made over the past decades to develop a better scientific understanding, to identify EDCs and develop scientific approaches to support risk management. An important milestone was reached in 2012, when the third session of the ICCM recognized EDCs as an emerging policy issue (EPI).

 

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Hazardous Substances Undermine Human Rights to Health, Life: OHCHR and UNEP
Feature

Hazardous Substances Undermine Human Rights to Health, Life: OHCHR and UNEP

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  • Article
    Hazardous Substances Undermine Human Rights to Health, Life: OHCHR and UNEP

    Article

    Hazardous Substances Undermine Human Rights to Health, Life: OHCHR and UNEP

    The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Environmental Programme have issued a set of Key Messages to highlight human rights obligations and responsibilities for preventing and remedying the harmful effects of hazardous substances. Pollution is the largest source of premature deaths in developing countries. Human rights laws, norms, and standards must be applied to ensure those responsible for the harmful impacts of hazardous substances are held legally accountable, the authors stress.

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    Gender equality to make mercury history

    Video

    Gender equality to make mercury history

    On International Women’s Day, the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention on Mercury launched a video on how women are more negatively impacted by mercury and what needs to be done to better protect...

  • Report
    Chemicals of Concern for the Health Sector

    Report

    Chemicals of Concern for the Health Sector

    This document includes a list of chemicals of con­cern to human health and the environment. The list is based on systematic evidence reviews from author­itative sources, which identify chemical and material hazards of concern that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disrupting and reproductive hazards (health hazards) and bio- accumulative and persistent to the environment and/or listed in International Environ­mental instruments (Conventions).

  • Article
    Household Plastic Products Disrupt Endocrine System, Threaten Human Health

    Article

    Household Plastic Products Disrupt Endocrine System, Threaten Human Health

    Many of the plastics used every day are exposing us to a “harmful cocktail” of EDCs. Plastic production is projected to increase by 30-36% over the next six years, which will exacerbate EDC exposure and increase endocrine disease rates. Biodegradable plastics, often promoted as more ecological than conventional plastics, contain similar chemical additives and have endocrine-disrupting effects.

  • Policy document
    Revised Guidance Document 150 on Standardised Test Guidelines for Evaluating Chemicals for Endocrine Disruption

    Policy document

    Revised Guidance Document 150 on Standardised Test Guidelines for Evaluating Chemicals for Endocrine Disruption

    The OECD releases the Revised Guidance Document 150 on Standardised Test Guidelines for Evaluating Chemicals for Endocrine Disruption originally published in 2012 and updated in 2018 to...

  • Factsheets and brochures
    OECD Work on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

    Factsheets and brochures

    OECD Work on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

    The Organisation for Economic Co‑operation and Development (OECD) is a multi‑disciplinary inter governmental organisation, tracing its roots back to the post‑World War II Marshall Plan. Today, it...

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    Plastics Pose a Threat to Human Health

    Report

    Plastics Pose a Threat to Human Health

    Plastics Pose a Threat to Human Health: ...

  • Article
    UNEP Assesses Eight Issues of Concern for Chemicals and Waste Management

    Article

    UNEP Assesses Eight Issues of Concern for Chemicals and Waste Management

    The report argues for integrating efforts on sound chemicals and waste management with other priorities, such as climate change, biodiversity, human rights, and labor standards. The authors suggest addressing a wider range of issues of concern, to include those that have previously received insufficient attention, rather than specific hazardous chemicals or groups of chemicals. The report is intended to support further discussions at UNEA-5 in February 2021.

  • Academic article
    Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the aquatic environment: implications for the drinking water industry and global environmental health

    Academic article

    Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the aquatic environment: implications for the drinking water industry and global environmental health

    This paper reviews the current knowledge on the sources, properties, occurrence and health impacts of EDCs and PPCPs, and their removal from drinking water using ozonation and ozone/hydrogen peroxide-based advanced oxidation. The paper also examines the potential threats posed by these chemicals to drinking water and public health. While these compounds are known to have adverse effects on ecosystem health, notably in the fish population.

  • Academic article
    Occurrence, Treatment, and Toxicological Relevance of EDCs and Pharmaceuticals in Water

    Academic article

    Occurrence, Treatment, and Toxicological Relevance of EDCs and Pharmaceuticals in Water

    Over the past decade a great amount of interest has arisen regarding the occurrence and fate of trace organic contaminants in the aquatic environment. Of particular concern are human hormones and...

  • Report
    The impacts of endocrine disrupters on wildlife, people and their environments

    Report

    The impacts of endocrine disrupters on wildlife, people and their environments

    Rates of endocrine diseases and disorders, such as some reproductive and developmental harm in human populations, have changed in line with the growth of the chemical industry, leading to concerns that these factors may be linked. For example, the current status of semen quality in the few European countries where studies have been systematically conducted, is very poor: fertility in approximately 40 % of men is impaired. There is also evidence of reproductive and developmental harm linked to impairments in endocrine function in a number of wildlife species, particularly in environments that are contaminated by cocktails of chemicals that are in everyday use.

  • Report
    State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals - 2012

    Report

    State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals - 2012

    This document done by a group of experts for the United Nations Environment Programme and World Health Organization provides the global status of scientific knowledge on exposure to and effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).