A wide range of chemicals in different applications are known to have endocrine disrupting properties. Here are some of the most important:
- PCBs (used in transformers), dioxins (by-products of industrial process) and some brominated flame retardants, restricted under the global Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants
- Bisphenols used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic bottles, food can linings as well as on thermal paper e.g. cash receipts. Read CHEM Trust’s “Toxic Soup” report on regrettable substitution of bisphenols.
- Certain phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make hard plastic soft (e.g. plasticisers for PVC) to make flooring, and as additives in other products such as inks.
- PFAS (Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances) are a large chemical family of over 4,700 highly persistent synthetic chemicals that are often used in food packaging materials (paper and card), non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, and cosmetics.
- Alkylphenols, such as octylphenol and nonylphenol. Octylphenol or octylphenol ethoxylate (which breaks down to octylphenol) is used in the manufacture of tyres, printing inks, paints and textile processing. Nonylphenol and nonylphenolethoxylates are already restricted in the EU due to their EDC properties and additional restrictions for remaining uses are currently under discussion (see also this question).
- Pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, vinclozolin and atrazine (now banned in EU)
- The biocide triclosan, used as antibacterial ingredient in soaps, antiperspirant and toothpaste and also used in food contact applications.
- PBDEs are a type of brominated flame retardant that are used in furniture, textiles and electronics to reduce flammability. They are known to accumulate up the food chain, and are so persistent that they are now found worldwide. In animal studies, this group of chemicals have shown to disrupt the thyroid, cause neurological impairment and have been linked to some forms of cancer.
How can I check if a chemical is an EDC?
In June a new website compiling lists of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) was launched by a collaboration of authorities in Denmark, France, Belgium, The Netherlands and Sweden.
Other lists that are currently available include:
- A more comprehensive list of EDCs hosted by The Endocrine Disruption Exchange(TEDX); the TEDX list of potential endocrine disrupters contains over 1400 suspected and identified EDCs.
- ChemSec’s detailed assessments of the science led to the identification of at least 32 EDCs relevant for REACHas part of their SIN list.
- In 2018 UNEP published three overview reportson worldwide initiatives on EDCs, including a non-exhaustive list of identified and potential EDCs.
This page is part of CHEM Trust’s Hormone Disrupting Chemicals FAQ – Full list of questions here.
The next question is “Why is there concern about hormone disrupting chemicals?“.