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JRC releases report on key scientific issues for the identification and characterisation of endocrine disrupting substances

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Mar 01, 2013
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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)

Asked in 2011 by the EC Directorate General for Environment to set up and chair an Endocrine Disrupters Expert Advisory Group (ED EAG), the Joint Research Centre publishes today a report that captures the experts' detailed reflections on scientific issues relevant to the identification of endocrine disrupting substances (EDs), with the aim of supporting future Commission’s decisions on the establishment of horizontal criteria for the identification of EDs.

The ED EAG proposes that the elements for the scientific identification of endocrine disrupting substances should be demonstration of an adverse effect for which there was convincing evidence of a biologically plausible causal link to an endocrine disrupting mode of action and for which disruption of the endocrine system was not a secondary consequence of other non endocrine-mediated systemic toxicity.

coverRelevance of the data to humans should be assumed in the absence of appropriate data demonstrating non-relevance. In relation to wildlife populations, data on all species are generally considered relevant; relevance is instead applied in the context of identified adverse effects being relevant at population rather than individual level.

The publication of this report follows a recent stakeholders' meeting organised in Brussels on 20 March by the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA), where EFSA presented its own opinion on hazard assessment of endocrine disrupters. Complementary to each other in many aspects - the ED EAG report being more focused on the specific requirement to describe the level of evidence needed to characterise endocrine activity, adverse effect and the plausible link between the two and the EFSA opinion focusing more on the tools and methods available - these two pieces of work will both contribute to future Commission activities on defining criteria for the identification of endocrine disrupters.

The Report is downloadable below. See its full reference in the JRC Publication Repository.


The ED EAG is composed of toxicologists and ecotoxicologists with regulatory and/or endocrinology backgrounds, nominated by Member State Competent Authorities, relevant industry associations and non-governmental consumer/environmental protection organisations.


Image: Estrogen receptor beta complex with DNA – by Doxepine (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons.