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An approach to classifying occupational exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals by sex hormone function using an expert judgment process

Abstract

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are exogenous substances that interfere with the endocrine system and cause adverse effects. We aimed to classify the effects of 24 known EDCs, prevalent in certain occupations, according to four modes of action (estrogenic, antiestrogenic, androgenic, and/or antiandrogenic). A literature search, stratified into four types of literature was conducted (namely: national and international agency reports; review articles; primary studies; ToxCastTM). The state of the evidence of each EDC on sex hormone function was summarized and reviewed by an expert panel. For each mode of action, the experts evaluated the likelihood of endocrine disruption in five categories: “No”, “Unlikely”, “Possibly”, “Probably”, and “Yes”. Seven agents were categorized as “Yes,” or having strong evidence for their effects on sex hormone function (antiandrogenic: lead, arsenic, butylbenzyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, dicyclohexyl phthalate; estrogenic: nonylphenol, bisphenol A). Nine agents were categorized as “Probable,” or having probable evidence (antiandrogenic: bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, nonylphenol, toluene, bisphenol A, diisononyl phthalate; androgenic: cadmium; estrogenic: copper, cadmium and; anti-estrogenic: lead). Two agents (arsenic, polychlorinated biphenyls) had opposing conclusions supporting both “probably” estrogenic and antiestrogenic effects. This synthesis will allow researchers to evaluate the health effects of selected EDCs with an added level of precision related to the mode of action.

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Fig. 1: Summary of the expert panel evaluation.

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Acknowledgements

VH holds a Sex and Gender Science Chair in Cancer Research from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. She is currently supported by the Cancer Research Society, Fonds de recherche du Québec—Santé (FRQS) and Ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation du Québec (MESI).

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Funding for the study was provided by Canadian Institutes for Health Research (Funding Reference Number 156077).

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JH declared working relations with the styrene industry and users, thus, did not contribute to the review on styrene. All other authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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Prichystalova, R., Caron-Beaudoin, E., Richardson, L. et al. An approach to classifying occupational exposures to endocrine disrupting chemicals by sex hormone function using an expert judgment process. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 31, 753–768 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-020-0253-z

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Keywords

  • Endocrine disruptor
  • Estrogenic
  • Antiestrogenic
  • Androgenic
  • Antiandrogenic
  • Occupational exposures

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