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J Epidemiol Community Health 68:4-5 doi:10.1136/jech-2012-201508
  • Editorial

Trends in human concentrations of endocrine disruptors: possible reasons and consequences

  1. Bo A G Jönsson
  1. Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Lars Rylander, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Lund University, SE-221 85 Lund, Sweden; lars.rylander{at}med.lu.se
  • Received 5 October 2012
  • Revised 18 February 2013
  • Accepted 19 February 2013
  • Published Online First 13 March 2013

Endocrine disruptors are exogenous substances that alter the functions of the endocrine system and consequently cause adverse health effects in an intact system, its progeny and the larger population. During the last century, many endocrine disrupting compounds have been synthesised and released into the environment. The production of several of these compounds has been phased out, because of either legislation or voluntary action by the companies that manufacture the compounds. In many cases, this has led to a reduction of exposure in humans and the environment. However, negative health effects might still be present at these lower levels. For several groups of endocrine disruptors, there have been substitutions of one compound for other compounds with similar chemical structure. The toxicity of the newly introduced compounds is often less known than the effect of the one originally used, which can lead to adverse health effects with eventual restrictions of the new compounds. We discuss here the government and private sector actions that have been taken in the Scandinavian countries (Sweden, Denmark and Norway) regarding some groups of endocrine disruptors and the consequences for human exposures. In addition, we will stress the issue of mixed exposures at all levels and the importance of new legislation addressing the mix of chemical compounds at all levels.

Persistent organochlorine pollutants (POCs) include man-made chemicals, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) with specific useful properties and also combustion products such as dioxins. POCs are lipophilic compounds with extremely long half-lives, and were one of the first groups of endocrine disruptors identified in the environment.1 Experimental as …