Our endocrine system controls or regulates many biological processes through hormones that act as chemical messengers. These chemical messengers move through the bloodstream and can act on an organ in another area of the body. This system is sensitive and can be interrupted or shifted by very small amounts of exogenous compounds. According to the World Health Organization, an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) is "an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations." Identifying exactly which chemicals fall into this category is a contentious, lengthy and in-depth process of research and review.
In 2016, UN Environment commissioned the International Panel on Chemical Pollution (IPCP) to review existing research and regulation on EDCs. The international network of scientists evaluated different approaches and identified three different initiatives that used the most robust and transparent selection criteria. In June 2018, the three final reports were made public and downloadable, highlighting the difficulty of creating accessible, clear, and consistent criteria for EDC identification and regulation. They identified a lack of consistency across countries, including a difference based on economic development.
Following the thorough review, the IPCP identified forty five chemicals under eighteen chemical groups as EDCs or potential EDCs. These include phthalates, bisphenols, triclosan, and parabens, all chemicals that are found in popular consumer products, furniture, and medical devices.
Health Care Without Harm’s Safer Chemicals Program supports the health care industry in removing these chemicals of concern from their facilities and provides resources for safer alternatives.
[Source: Chemical Watch]