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Hot Topic 
The ABC of EDCs 
 
2009/06/11 
 

Over the past two decades there has been growing concern, public debate and lack of scientific consensus about the potential effects of a number of chemicals that have the potential to alter the normal functioning of the endocrine system.

We are surrounded by chemicals in our everyday lives, and every person will probably be exposed to a cocktail of potential EDCs through various agents in their lifetime. Suspected EDCs can be found in pesticides, fertilisers, pharmaceuticals (e.g. birth control pills), personal care products (medicines, lotions, cosmetics, sun block) and industrial substances (plasticisers, fabric softeners, fire retardants, cooling agents).

They find there way into the environment and water resources. We are exposed to these chemicals through the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat and through contact with our skin.

Most of the studies for endocrine disruption in wildlife has come from studies on species living in or closely associated with, the aquatic environment. These field and laboratory investigations indicate that exposure to adverse effects in some wildlife populations. Health effects vary from subtle change in the physiology and sexual behaviour of species to permanently altered sexual differentiation.

Despite these examples of endocrine disruption in nature there still remains much debate surrounding the potential affect of EDCs on humans. It is assumed, however, that since these chemicals are affecting animals, they must be affecting humans too.

The best way to defend ourselves against this onslaught of chemical influences is to improve our knowledge of EDCs and their presence and effects on the environment. This information can be used by decision-makers to ensure these chemicals are controlled effectively through legislation to reduce risk of exposure

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