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Aren’t pharmaceuticals with EDC properties the main cause of environmental impacts, rather than industrial chemicals from consumer products?

It is well-known that several pharmaceuticals with endocrine disrupting properties have been found in the environment and represent a threat to wildlife [i]. It is also true that in some locations natural hormones (from humans/animals) have been identified as important pollutants. Addressing estradiol and pharmaceutical emissions (from the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy) to rivers is certainly needed and would to a degree alleviate the problem for fish and aquatic organisms in some areas.

However, in some rivers it is not just natural estrogens and pharmaceutical estrogens that are the problem; other synthetic substances have been found to be contributing to the demasculinisation of fish. Research has identified many other synthetic chemicals as important pollutants, including pesticides, industrial pollutants and personal care products [ii].

In addition, addressing river discharges of pharmaceutically used synthetic hormones would not be sufficient to solve the problems of human exposure to EDCs via food, water and indoor air.

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

The next question is “Is it a problem that some pharmaceuticals have EDC properties?“.


[i].    European Environment Agency (EEA): Hazardous substances in Europe’s fresh and marine waters, EEA technical Report No 8/2011, ISSN 1725-2237

[ii].   Egina Malaj, Peter C. von der Ohe, Matthias Grote, Ralph Kühne, Cédric P. Mondy, Philippe Usseglio-Polatera, Werner Brack, and Ralf B. Schäfer: Organic chemicals jeopardize the health of freshwater ecosystems on the continental scale, PNAS 2014 ; published ahead of print June 16, 2014