In a statement of principles unveiled June 26, The Endocrine Society proposes a streamlined definition for endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and offers recommendations that will strengthen the ability of current screening programs to identify EDCs.
An endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) is a chemical or mixture of chemicals in the environment, that can interfere with any aspect of hormone action. The Endocrine Society's Scientific Statement published in 2009 provided an exhaustive summary of the scientific background that justifies concern for the effects of EDC exposures to humans and wildlife.
"Because of the interest and expertise of our members, The Endocrine Society is in a unique position to help inform the ongoing debate about the health effects of endocrine disruptors," said R. Thomas Zoeller, PhD, of the University of Massachusetts and lead author of the statement. "The new statement outlines key issues related to identifying EDCs and protecting humans and wildlife from their adverse effects."
The current statement addresses the importance of having an accurate definition for endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The definition is critical because it dictates the evidence required to identify a chemical as an EDC and informs the subsequent steps of assessing the risk of EDC exposures.
In the statement the Society proposes an EDC be defined as an exogenous chemical, or mixture of chemicals, that interferes with any aspect of hormone action. This definition purposefully omits reference to adverse effects, as there is lack of agreement on what constitutes an adverse effect. According to the statement, the ability of a chemical to interfere with hormone action is a clear predictor of adverse outcome if exposure occurs during critical periods or developmental processes.
Recommendations in the statement include:
The statement also provides a list of principles intended to enhance the ability of current screening programs to identify EDCs. Principles in the statement include:
Other authors of the statement include: Terry Brown of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD; Loretta Doan of The Endocrine Society; Andrea Gore of The University of Texas at Austin; Niels Skakkebaek of Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark; Ana Soto of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA; Tracey Woodruff of the University of California San Francisco; and Fred vom Saal of the University of Missouri in Columbia.
The statement, "Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Public Health Protection: A Statement of Principles from The Endocrine Society," appears in the September 2012 issue of Endocrinology.
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