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Are the effects of EDCs seen in the laboratory reversible?

Some people have argued that adaptation mechanisms (homeostasis) prevent the occurrence of permanently damaging effects and that the human body should be able to deal with exposure to weak EDCs.

However, they overlook the fact that during development in-utero, one of the periods most sensitive to endocrine disruption, the homeostatic control mechanisms that can operate in the adult are not yet fully formed and are far from being fully functional.

During foetal development detoxification mechanisms and endocrine feed-back loops are immature or absent as has been discussed in the context of the Commission’s JRC Expert Advisory Group on EDCs [i]. When exposure occurs during this “programming window” in early life it can cause irreversible harm. These effects are permanent and sometimes only become apparent in later life [ii]. This sensitivity applies to humans and animals (though sometimes differing between humans and animals depending on the animal and chemical in question).

This page is part of CHEM Trust’s Hormone Disrupting Chemicals FAQ – Full list of questions here.

The next question is “What effects are adverse?“.


[i]. JRC report: Thresholds for Endocrine Disrupters and related Uncertainties, Report of the ED expert Advisory Group, published August 2014

[ii]. Barouki et al.: Developmental origins of non-communicable disease: Implications for research and public health, Environmental Health 2012, 11:42. http://www.ehjournal.net/content/11/1/42