Thresholds and Endocrine Disruptors: An Endocrine Society Policy Perspective

Journal of the Endocrine Society
From Barbara Demeneix, Laura N Vandenberg, Richard Ivell and R Thomas Zoeller



The concept of a threshold of adversity in toxicology is neither provable nor disprovable. As such, it is not a scientific question but a theoretical one. Yet, the belief in thresholds has led to traditional ways of interpreting data derived from regulatory guideline studies of the toxicity of chemicals. This includes, for example, the use of standard “uncertainty factors” when a “No Adverse Effect Level” (or similar “benchmark dose”) is either observed, or not observed.

In the context of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), this approach is demonstrably inappropriate. First, the efficacy of a hormone on different endpoints can vary by several orders of magnitude. This feature of hormone action also applies to EDCs that can interfere with that hormone. For this reason, we argue that the choice of endpoint for use in regulation is critical, but note that guideline studies were not designed with this in mind.

Second, the biological events controlled by hormones in development not only change as development proceeds but are different from events controlled by hormones in the adult. Again, guideline endpoints were also not designed with this in mind, especially since the events controlled by hormones can be both temporally and spatially specific. The Endocrine Society has laid out this logic over several years and in several publications. Rather than being extreme views, they represent what is known about hormones and the chemicals that can interfere with them.

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European strategy aims to rein in EDC exposures

Endocrine Today
From Regina Schaffer



The European Commission this month unveiled their new chemicals strategy for sustainability, designed to protect the public from exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and their health effects.

The chemicals strategy, part of the European Green Deal, is designed to be the foundation for the biggest update to Europe’s chemical regulations in more than a decade. The chemical strategy commits to a hazard identification for EDCs, including strict measures to prevent their use in consumer products. The strategy also calls for stricter data requirements for EDCs across all relevant legislation and to accelerate the development and adoption of better test methods. In a statement, the Endocrine Society praised the new strategy, and urged “further details and concrete actions” to protect public health.

Healio spoke with Barbara Demeneix, PhD, DSc, chair of the Endocrine Society’s EDC advisory group, about the latest push in Europe to assess EDCs, the risks of combination chemicals and how endocrinologists can become better advocates to rein in EDC use in the United States.

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Endocrine News Podcast 23 : EDCs and the EU

Endocrine News Podcast
By Caitlin R. Ondracek


Caitlin talks about the European Union’s recent resolution on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. She is joined by Rémy Slama, PhD, an environmental epidemiologist and senior investigator at INSERM, France’s National Institute of Health and Medical Research, and Barbara Demeneix, PhD, professor in the Comparative Physiology Laboratory within the Natural History Museum in Paris.

>> Listen to the podcast

Chemicals used to make everyday items linked to brain disorders in children, study finds (The Independent)

The Independent
By May Bulman

Exposure to chemicals used to manufacture everyday items such as cosmetics, furniture and plastics could be linked to brain development disorders in children, a medical review has found.

A report published in Endocrine Connections found that a number of common chemicals can interfere with thyroid hormone actions – which are essential for normal brain development of children – in pregnant women.

>> Read the full article


© Getty

Reference: Bilal B Mughal, Jean-Baptiste Fini, Barbara Demeneix. Thyroid disrupting chemicals and brain development: an update. Endocrine Connections, 2018; EC-18-0029 DOI: 10.1530/EC-18-0029 

How chemicals can result in autism and IQ loss in developing children (ECHA)

Echa2Nowadays, there is concern about endocrine-disrupting chemicals, especially their interference on the thyroid gland. The impact on thyroid hormone levels, especially for pregnant women during the first three months of pregnancy, may result in neurodevelopmental diseases, autism and IQ loss in the unborn child. We spoke to Barbara Demeneix, Professor from the French National Museum of Natural History, to ask why these chemicals affect the signalling of thyroid hormones and what we can do to protect our children.

>> Read European Chemicals Agency’s newsletter (February 2018)

Identification of Endocrine Disruptors – Open Letter to the EU Ministers of Environment, Health and Agriculture and EU Health Commissioner

Subject: Open Letter to the EU Ministers of Environment, Health and Agriculture and to the EU Health Commissioner regarding the identification of Endocrine Disruptors in the EU. Date: 6 Apr 2017.

>> Read the open letter

“History is the sum total of things that could have been avoided”. These words of Konrad Adenauer, a founding father of the European Union, are especially pertinent today. For the last four years the European Union has been wrangling over the definition of endocrine disruptors, thereby blocking the application of long-standing European legislation on these chemicals, including the Pesticides (Plant Protection Product) and Biocides regulations, designed to limit their health and environmental impacts. However, as early as 2002 the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a definition of endocrine disruptors. Here we call on the EU’s Environment, Health and Agriculture Ministers and on the Health Commissioner to heed the scientific community not to attempt bending scientific definitions for political or economic purposes. In practice this implies to abandon the derogation that would not allow pesticides and biocides developed in order to affect target organisms via their endocrine systems to be recognized as endocrine disruptors.

First signatories: Rémy Slama (Environmental Epidemiologist, Inserm, France), Barbara Demeneix (Endocrinologist, Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle, France), Jean-Pierre Bourguignon (Pediatric Endocrinologist, Belgium), Andreas Kortenkamp (Toxicologist, Brunel University, UK), Andrea Lenzi (President of the Italian Society of Endocrinology, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy), Giancarlo Panzica (Neuro-endocrinologist, University of Turin, Italy), R. Thomas Zoeller (Endocrinologist, Amherst University, USA), Leonardo Trasande (Environmental Epidemiologist, New-York University, USA), Russ Hauser (Environmental and reproductive epidemiologist, Harvard University, USA), Richard Ivell (Endocrinologist, Nottingham University, UK), Ezio Ghigo (Past president of the Italian Society of Endocrinology, University of Turin, Italy), Martine Vrijheid (Environmental Epidemiologist, ISGlobal, Spain), Cécile Chevrier (Environmental Epidemiologist, Inserm, France), Merete Eggesbø (Environmental Epidemiologist, NIPH, Norway), Joseph Braun (Environmental epidemiologist, Brown University, USA), Ana Soto (Endocrinologist, Tufts University, USA), Carlos Sonnenschein (Tufts University, USA).