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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)

There is global concern about the possible harmful consequences of exposure to chemicals that are capable of affecting the endocrine system. Known as endocrine disrupting chemicals or EDCs, these chemicals came to public attention after Our Stolen Future: Are We Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival? by Theo Colborn et al was released in 1996. It reported that high exposure to EDCs had resulted in feminisation, masculinisation, infertility and birth defects in species of fish, birds, reptiles and some mammals, and provided some evidence of harmful human health effects, particularly the possibility that some chemicals with weak EDC activity may act together to produce a synergism. Extensive recent research and scientific investigation have examined many of the authors’ claims.

 

In 1996, the United States legislated for the screening and testing of chemicals for endocrine disrupting properties and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members including Australia are developing a harmonised testing strategy for EDCs. In 1998 the Australian Government produced an information paper (PDF 177Kb) on the subject, following it with an updated policy paper (see below) outlining awareness/knowledge of the health and environmental impacts of EDCs and Australia's regulatory position (with links to other relevant sites) in 1992. Australia continues to seek national and international opportunities for risk reduction related to endocrine disrupters.

 

Updated EDC policy paper

A document was prepared by Commonwealth Government agencies. Contributing organisations included: NICNAS and Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) within the Department of Health and Ageing, Environment Australia (EA) within the Department of the Environment and Heritage, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (ASCC) within the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. 

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