Monday, December 16, 2019Dossiers

Endocrine disruptors: the dossier

Dossier Perturbateurs endocriniens

Endocrine disruptors are substances likely to interact with the endocrine system, causing an impact on health, in particular the development of cancers or human reproductive disorders. They can be found in many everyday consumer goods, including cosmetics. They raise much concern and give rise to multiple reactions, both from the general public and political and health authorities. All this implies many uncertainties as regards a number of ingredients widely used in cosmetics formulas. This dossier provides an update on what should be known about endocrine disruptors.

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What we know about endocrine disruptors

When we first started to hear about endocrine disruptors, very little was known about them. It was soon widely acknowledged that they were likely to be harmful for human and animal health and for the environment. But through which action processes, in what quantities, under which conditions, for what type of populations… that was much more confused. Then, knowledge got more and more accurate over time, until scientists were able to set up a list of substances whose endocrine-disrupting potential was proven or suspected, and whose properties are now closely examined, in particular through ‘strategies’ defined on the national and European levels.

How to identify an endocrine disruptor

What goes for endocrine disruptors also goes for all substances suspected of being toxic. To regulate them and ensure their use – or ban – under conditions that guarantee consumer safety, first, we need to be able to define them in order to decide whether an ingredient is concerned or not. The prerequisites to identify endocrine disruptors triggered many debates and controversies. If Europe eventually managed to make some progress (though only for biocides and phytosanitary products), the problem is far from being solved. And there …

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