Endocrine disruptors (ED) are substances that disturb the functioning of hormones and have negative effects on human health and wildlife. EDs can act at very low doses, and are especially dangerous during pregnancy and in infancy. Combinations of substances can have different effects to the same substances in isolation. Despite intense research efforts, there are still major gaps in understanding of endocrine disruption phenomena.
The OECD coordinates the challenging task of defining internationally accepted test methods for EDs that can identify their adverse effects.
The registration and authorisation of EDs falls under the EU Chemicals Regulation (REACH). Other EU legislation restricts the use of EDs in toys, pesticides and biocides. The European Commission has started a review of the EU’s Endocrine Disruptor Strategy, with the aim of establishing criteria for regulation. The EP’s ENVI committee is working on an own-initiative report.
While the chemicals industry and some Member States propose to regulate only substances that are proven to cause adverse effects, NGOs advocate banning suspected EDs also. The Nordic countries have made a proposal to deal with the combination effects.