Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances generated by human industrial activities that are detrimental to human health through their effects on the endocrine system. The global societal and economic burden posed by EDCs is substantial. Poorly defined or unenforced policies can increase human exposure to EDCs, thereby contributing to human disease, disability and economic damage. Researchers have shown that policies and interventions implemented at both individual and government levels have the potential to reduce exposure to EDCs. This Review describes a set of evidence-based policy actions to manage, minimize or even eliminate the widespread use of these chemicals and better protect human health and society. A number of specific challenges exist: defining, identifying and prioritizing EDCs; considering the non-linear or non-monotonic properties of EDCs; accounting for EDC exposure effects that are latent and do not appear until later in life; and updating testing paradigms to reflect ‘real-world’ mixtures of chemicals and cumulative exposure. A sound strategy also requires partnering with health-care providers to integrate strategies to prevent EDC exposure in clinical care. Critical next steps include addressing EDCs within global policy frameworks by integrating EDC exposure prevention into emerging climate policy.
Poorly defined or unenforced policies can increase global human exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), contributing to substantial human disease, disability and economic damage.
Regulatory bodies have drawn from leading scientific and health organizations to define EDC properties but have not operationalized a consistent definition.
Current risk-based paradigms do not consider the non-linear and/or non-monotonic properties of EDCs: default toxicology methods to measure minimum levels do not adequately protect from EDC exposure.
Policies also need to account for latent EDC exposure effects that do not appear until later in life.
EDC testing paradigms should reflect real-world mixtures and cumulative exposures.
Many EDCs are manufactured from fossil fuels, linking their fate with our ability to develop sound policy to address the grand societal challenge of climate change.
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Duh-Leong, C., Maffini, M.V., Kassotis, C.D. et al. The regulation of endocrine-disrupting chemicals to minimize their impact on health. Nat Rev Endocrinol 19, 600–614 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41574-023-00872-x