In a commentary published on November 22, 2016 in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, Leonardo Trasande, associate professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, U.S., discusses the role of science in shaping the regulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs “are everywhere — in food, personal-care products, electronics and furniture — and are widely detected in human blood and urine at levels known to affect health,” Trasande explains. “Research has suggested a more than 99% probability that these chemicals contribute to disease and disability,” and the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Council on Chemical Management recognize EDCs “as an emerging public-health concern,” Trasande further informs. The annual health costs of EDC-caused disease amount to $217 billion in Europe and $340 billion in the U.S. (FPF reported). Yet, there has been ongoing debate and controversy about the state of the science on EDCs (FPF reported). A small group of scientists with industry ties have manufactured “a level of doubt that is out of proportion to the level of scientific disagreement” (FPF reported), and the EDC critics “dismiss low-dose, nonlinear and non-monotonic exposure–response relationships for EDCs, even though they are well documented,” Trasande writes. Therefore, he highlights the importance to “stand firmly to defend scientific norms,” because “the alternative is that public mistrust makes anti-scientific alternatives acceptable.”

Regarding the revised criteria for identification of EDCs recently published by the European Commission (EC) (FPF reported), Trasande expresses concern about the high burden of proof and the requirement for human data on health effects. He also stresses that “potency is not relevant to the identification of hazards such as EDCs,” in line with a consensus statement on the scientific principles for the identification of EDCs, produced at an expert meeting in spring 2016 (FPF reported). Ahead of an upcoming review of the EC’s proposal, he urges the European Parliament to “use science-based criteria to protect human health.”

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Leonardo Trasande (November 22, 2016). “Stand firm on hormone disruptors.Nature 539:469.