Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can be found in your sofa, cans in your pantry, fast food packaging and the pans on your stove. Five years ago a panel commissioned by The Endocrine Society laid out 15 associations between exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals and adverse health effects. A new study adds to that list, more than doubling it.
When researchers from the NYU Grossman School of Medicine reviewed the findings of hundreds of studies on endocrine disruptors published in the five years since the report, they found an additional 17 associations linking exposure to endocrine disruptors and negative health effects. “We felt it was time to update the findings. We found evidence that confirmed the findings of 2015, and a number of new exposure-health outcome relationships that we believe are supported by significant evidence,” Linda Kahn, first author of the study, told TheDoctor.
The researchers focused on studies of endocrine disruptors in household and industrial products. These chemicals include perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are found in non-stick pans and waterproof clothing, and bisphenols, which are used in plastics and the linings of metal-based food and beverage cans. “What was really novel was the emergence of research that PFAS were associated with a number of health effects in adults and children,” said Kahn, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of pediatrics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
Certain flame retardants and pesticides were also associated with a lowering of IQ and attention-deficit disorder.
They also found evidence that PFAS, bisphenols and organophosphate pesticides can damage semen. Certain flame retardants and pesticides were also associated with a lowering of IQ and attention-deficit disorder.
Some of these chemicals have been regulated in recent years and taken off the market, but Kahn and her team report that it was often the case that chemicals developed to replace dangerous endocrine disruptors had the same effects as the chemicals they replaced. These so-called unfortunate substitutes have often undergone little testing before being put to use.
A second policy paper published in the same issue of the Lancet addressed this problem. It recommends that regulators treat chemicals as classes, not as individual compounds. “These chemicals have been regulated chemical by chemical, and they really should be regulated by chemical class, because they can be very similar, and there is no reason to expect similar chemicals to behave differently in the body,” explained Kahn.