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Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: economic, regulatory, and policy implications

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) substantially cost society as a result of increases in disease and disability but—unlike other toxicant classes such as carcinogens—have yet to be codified into regulations as a hazard category.

This Series paper examines economic, regulatory, and policy approaches to limit human EDC exposures and describes potential improvements. In the EU, general principles for EDCs call for minimisation of human exposure, identification as substances of very high concern, and ban on use in pesticides. In the USA, screening and testing programmes are focused on oestrogenic EDCs exclusively, and regulation is strictly risk-based. Minimisation of human exposure is unlikely without a clear overarching definition for EDCs and relevant pre-marketing test requirements. We call for a multifaceted international programme (eg, modelled on the International Agency for Research in Cancer) to address the effects of EDCs on human health—an approach that would proactively identify hazards for subsequent regulation.