Endocrine disrupting chemicals

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can be either a single chemical or a mixture of chemicals that are able to interfere with any aspect of hormonal action. They are generally man-made and can be found, for example, in pesticides, industrial waste, metals, additives or contaminants in food, cosmetics, fragrances and personal care products, toys, medicines and food packaging, food containers, and plastics as well as being found throughout the environment.  Known EDCs include bisphenols, perchlorate and phthalates.

Fracking can also introduce EDCs into the air, water and soil. More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of these have been found to interfere with hormone function.

EDC-related weight gain involves more than just adding a few pounds. EDCs can alter the way our bodies consume food and store energy, even effecting individuals across generations.

However, weight gain is only one effect of EDCs. The hormone insulin is necessary to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes. Certain EDCs can hinder these functions, increasing the enzymes that make glucose and at the same time reducing the ability of the pancreas to secrete insulin in response. Countries who still use DDT for example have seen a dramatic increase in the incidence of diabetes and it is thought that this may, at least in part, be due to environmental exposures.

EDCs are also suspected to be associated with altered reproductive function in males and females, an increased incidence of breast cancer, abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopmental delays in children, as well as changes in immune function.

Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals occurs via ingestion of food, dust and water, via inhalation of gases and particles in the air, and through the skin. They can also be transferred from a pregnant woman to the developing foetus or child through the placenta and breast milk. The effect of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in children may not become evident until later in life. Medical scientific research has also shown that EDCs may also increase the susceptibility to non-communicable diseases.

The Endocrine Society’s 2018 position paper on EDCs in the European Union states “The Endocrine Society is concerned that the European public may be placed at risk because critical information about potential health effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals is being overlooked in the development of guidelines and regulations, hindering the efficient identification of EDCs.” Please click on the link below for the full version of the Endocrine Society’s position paper on EDCs in the European Union:


For further information on EDCs please click on the link below:



Leave a Reply