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Peer-reviewed and unbiased research, rather than ‘sound science’, should be used to evaluate endocrine-disrupting chemicals
  1. Leonardo Trasande1,2,3,4,5,6,
  2. Laura N Vandenberg7,
  3. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon8,
  4. John Peterson Myers9,
  5. Remy Slama10,
  6. Frederick vom Saal11,
  7. Robert Thomas Zoeller12
  1. 1Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  2. 2Department of Environmental Medicine and Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  3. 3Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA
  4. 4NYU Wagner School of Public Service, New York, New York, USA
  5. 5Department of Nutrition, Food & Public Health, NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, New York, New York, USA
  6. 6NYU Global Institute of Public Health, New York, New York, USA
  7. 7Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health & Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts—Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
  8. 8Pediatric Endocrinology, CHU Liège and Neuroendocrinology Unit, GIGA Neurosciences, Universite de Liege, Liège, Belgium
  9. 9Environmental Health Sciences, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  10. 10Inserm, CNRS and Univ. Grenoble Alpes joint research center (IAB), Team of Environmental Epidemiology, Grenoble, France
  11. 11Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, Columbia, Missouri, USA
  12. 12Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Leonardo Trasande, Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine, 227 East 30th Street, Rm 109, New York, NY 10016, USA; leonardo.trasande{at}


Evidence increasingly confirms that synthetic chemicals disrupt the endocrine system and contribute to disease and disability across the lifespan. Despite a United Nations Environment Programme/WHO report affirmed by over 100 countries at the Fourth International Conference on Chemicals Management, ‘manufactured doubt’ continues to be cast as a cloud over rigorous, peer-reviewed and independently funded scientific data. This study describes the sources of doubt and their social costs, and suggested courses of action by policymakers to prevent disease and disability. The problem is largely based on the available data, which are all too limited. Rigorous testing programmes should not simply focus on oestrogen, androgen and thyroid. Tests should have proper statistical power. ‘Good laboratory practice’ (GLP) hardly represents a proper or even gold standard for laboratory studies of endocrine disruption. Studies should be evaluated with regard to the contamination of negative controls, responsiveness to positive controls and dissection techniques. Flaws in many GLP studies have been identified, yet regulatory agencies rely on these flawed studies. Peer-reviewed and unbiased research, rather than ‘sound science’, should be used to evaluate endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

  • Environmental epidemiology

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  • Twitter Follow Leonardo Trasande at @leotrasande

  • Contributors LT wrote the first draft with LNV. All other authors provided thoughtful insights and revisions, and contributed to final review.

  • Funding LNV was supported by Award Number K22ES025811, and LT was supported by R01ES022972 and R01DK100307 from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) of the National Institutes of Health. J-PM was supported by the Broad Reach Fund, the Fund for the Carolinas, the Marisla Foundation and the Wallace Genetic Foundation for work on endocrine-disrupting chemicals. FvS was supported by NIEHS grants (ES020952 and ES021394).

  • Disclaimer The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

  • Competing interests LNV has been received travel reimbursement from Universities, Governments, NGOs and Industry, to speak about endocrine-disrupting chemicals. J-PB, RS, LT and RTZ acknowledge the support of the Endocrine Society for travel and participation in meetings about incorporation of endocrine science data in regulatory management of EDCs. FvS received an honorarium from Nipro Medical Corporation to present a lecture.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.