Endocrine disrupters

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Endocrine disrupters are substances, man-made or natural, which can interfere with the hormone systems of humans and wildlife, with potentially adverse effects, for example, on fertility and neural development.

Metabonomics: UPLC-MS/MS (Ultra-Performance Liquid Cromatography with tandem Mass Spectrometry) operator - DSC_5377.jpgThe endocrine system is a network of glands in the body, each of which secretes a type of hormone into the bloodstream to regulate the body. Certain substances – termed endocrine disrupters - interfere with the functioning of the endocrine system, in at least one of three possible ways:

  • by mimicking the action of a naturally-produced hormone, such as oestrogen or testosterone, and thereby setting off similar chemical reactions in the body;

  • by blocking the receptors in cells receiving the hormones (hormone receptors), thereby preventing the action of normal hormones; or

  • by affecting the synthesis, transport, metabolism and excretion of hormones in the organism, thus altering the concentrations of natural hormones.

 

Devising test methods

It is important to have effective methods for testing if a chemical has endocrine disrupting properties.

Assessing the risks posed by chemicals is a long and complex process. Our scientists work on a combination of computer methods and automated laboratory in vitro tests to help predict the toxicity of chemicals. Potentially hazardous substances could thus be identified and prioritised for further testing, thereby speeding up the application of protection measures for the most hazardous substances.

This activity supports the European Commission's work on the implementation of the Community Strategy for Endocrine Disrupters, as well as the development of criteria and methods for the assessment of the endocrine disrupting properties of chemicals.

 

See also the section dedicated to the Endocrine Active Substances Database

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highlights

Regulators adopt mechanistically-based non-animal test methods to assess the potential of chemicals to cause skin allergy Regulators adopt mechanistically-based non-animal test methods to assess the potential of chemicals to cause skin allergy - Apr 26, 2016 EURL ECVAM validated methods adopted by the OECD paved the way for the revision of regulatory requirements for skin sensitisation under REACH
Joint JRC-NIEHS Workshop on Low Dose Effects of Endocrine Active Chemicals Joint JRC-NIEHS Workshop on Low Dose Effects of Endocrine Active Chemicals - Sep 20, 2013 Risk assessors, toxicologists, endocrinologists, and epidemiologists met on 11-13 September in Berlin to discuss whether the current data on low dose effects and non-monotonic dose response curves for endocrine active substances are sufficient to re-examine the ways in which chemicals are tested for endocrine disrupting properties and how risk to human health is managed.
JRC releases report on key scientific issues for the identification and characterisation of endocrine disrupting substances JRC releases report on key scientific issues for the identification and characterisation of endocrine disrupting substances - Mar 01, 2013 The report will be used by the Commission, with other input such as the recently issued opinion of the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Scientific Committee, to provide the scientific basis for criteria for the identification of endocrine disrupting substances, to be applied, as appropriate, across all relevant pieces of legislation concerning the control and risk management of substances (including pesticides, biocides, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, controls on water quality, occupational exposure, etc)
5th meeting of the Expert Advisory Group on Endocrine Disruptors (ED EAG) 5th meeting of the Expert Advisory Group on Endocrine Disruptors (ED EAG) - Feb 04, 2013 4-5 February 2013 - Scientific advice on the development of criteria for identification of endocrine disrupters