Introduction to Hormone Disrupting
These pages provide an introduction to the
effects of hormone disrupting chemicals on man and the environment, and
the response of Governments and industry to this problem. Other terms
used to describe these chemicals include xenoestrogens, oestrogenic
(estrogenic), hormone mimicking and endocrine disrupting chemicals.
These pages are aimed at anyone interested
in the subject, and include references to other research and reviews
for those interested in investigating the field further.
July 2009 update: Links to other sites
& my new blog
1) Revised links
This site has not been updated for some years.
want to know what is happening now with chemicals policy in Europe, try
the following sites:
2) A new
blog on European Environmental Policy
2009 I started a new personal internet project (the first since this
web site), a blog on European Envronmental Policy, find out more at:
NB: This site is currently in 'maintenance
mode' only - I updated broken links in November 2002, but have not done
any significant text updating since 1999.
Human health concerns
Testicular cancer is increasing rapidly,
whilst sperm counts are falling. Breast cancer is increasing, and girls
are reaching puberty earlier. More details here.
The chemicals involved include pesticides
such as DDT, lindane and vinclozolin and industrial chemicals such as
phthalates, bisphenol A and alkylphenols. The pesticides can be found
in residues on food, phthalates are in many PVC plastics and bisphenol
A is present in the linings of many food cans. More
The role of the endocrine system
The endocrine (or hormonal) system controls
many crucial aspects of the working of the body, for example
development of sexual characteristics, and development of the brain.
Chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system by a range of mechanisms,
but the impact of this disrupt is often influenced by its timing, with
development the most crucial time. More
Some controversial issues
As a fairly new area of science, with
economic significance to the chemical industry, there are some very
controversial issues, including the significance of low doses,
deficiencies in chemicals regulation and the lessons of BSE. More details here.
The response of Governments and industry
Governments in several countries have
started to develop policies towards hormone disrupting chemicals. Most
of these policies involve reasearch and screening of chemicals, rather
than regulatory action on individual chemicals. The chemical industry
is unwilling to accept that endocrine disruption is any more than a
'hypothesis'. More details here.
There is also more information on chemicals
policy available at Friends of the Earth's 'Safer Chemicals Campaign'
site & the chemical reaction and WWF Detox sites (see top of
There are many actions that consumers can
take to reduce their exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals, both
through buying different products and by pressurising companies and
governments to phase them out. It is virtually impossible, however, to
avoid all exposure, as these chemicals are extremely widespread.
For more information, see Friends of the
Earth's 'Safer Chemicals
Campaign' site & the chemical reaction and WWF Detox sites (see
top of page).
Other sources of information
A range of other websites cover hormone
disrupting chemicals and chemicals policy. I would particularly
recommend the Tulane University 'Environmental Estrogens
and Other Hormones' site; there's more links here, on the Friends
of the Earth site.
About this site
This site started in July 1995 (which is
why it looks a little dated these days), and is written and produced by
Dr A. Michael Warhurst, an environmental chemist who now works for
Friends of the Earth in London. For a brief history of this site, and
why I created it, see about this site. To
find out more about me & my work, see my brief cv.