Workers Health & Safety Centre

Impact of endocrine disruptors in Europe costs billions annually, study says

However, the study concludes the burden of disease related to EDCs is likely of a similar magnitude in other jurisdictions. The study, Estimating Burden and Disease Costs of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in the European Union, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, was led by an international panel of experts.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can interfere with the body’s hormone system which regulates various aspects of growth, development and reproduction. EDCs are found in many consumer products, plastics, personal care items, electronics and agricultural pesticides. As such, potential exposure to EDCs is great.
The study found the strongest relationship between IQ loss and intellectual disability and exposure to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE), often used in flame retardants, and pre-natal exposure to organophosphate pesticides. The second strongest link was exposure to phthalates (in many plastics and consumer products) and adult obesity. They also found probable EDC causation for other health conditions including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, childhood obesity, adult diabetes, male infertility and male birth defects.
Hoping this work will inform further preventive and regulatory actions the authors write, “The approach we have taken will potentially transform decision-making in environmental health by providing a new model for evaluating environmental health risks and permitting a complete assessment of the potential costs of failing to prevent chronic disease through the use of safer alternatives to EDCs.”
Enacted in 2006, the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of Chemicals or REACH attempts to remedy these prevailing policy failures that allow tens of thousands of chemicals to be used without adequate knowledge about their environmental or public health effects. REACH has the potential to trigger cleaner technologies and safer products globally. Already many companies in Europe and North America have started phase-outs of certain high concern chemicals.
Canada was the first country to ban the sale of baby bottles that contain the well-documented EDC, bisphenol A (BPA). However, BPA is still widely used including in the lining of metal food and beverage cans and in cash register receipts. Many Canadian health and environmental groups have called for a broader ban on BPA but also for strengthened chemical management laws and mandatory labelling of products known to contain EDCs.
Other related resources:
Canadian study on occupational exposure to EDCs
National Network on Environments and Women's Health
Toxins, Hormone Disruption and Women's Health
WHO resources on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
For our part, the Workers Health and Safety Centre assists workplace parties through training programs and information services aimed at raising awareness about hazardous exposures, including endocrine disrupting chemicals, and targeting prevention at the workplace level.
To learn more contact the WHSC and ask to speak with a training services representative.
Call:   1-888-869-7950