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What sort of chemicals are hormone disrupters, what are they used for?

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
  • Bisphenol A (BPA), used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic bottles, food can linings as well as on thermal paper e.g. cash receipts
  • 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
  • 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 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


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?“.