On September 9, 2020, the Danish Technical University (DTU) reported on a new study published in peer-reviewed journal Environment International by scientists from its National Food Institute finding that an EU guidance document intended for assessment of pesticides and biocides according to endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) criteria can also be used to assess other types of substances to identify EDCs. In the EU, all pesticides must be checked for endocrine disrupting effects before they can be approved, however this requirement does not necessarily apply to chemicals with other uses. “A person who is exposed to a chemical from food or the environment won’t care what the chemical is used for if it is harmful to human health,” argues Terje Svingen, head of the study’s research group.
The researchers used the guidance developed by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to assess the substance butylparaben (CAS 94-36-8), a preservative used primarily in cosmetics, for endocrine disrupting properties. The study found that “based on scientific evidence of adverse reproductive effects and endocrine activity, the open literature suggests that butylparaben is an EDC.” Although “available data [for butylparaben] is markedly different from that for biocides and pesticides, it was possible to reach this conclusion.” Given this outcome, the authors propose that this approach can be used to reliably assess other chemicals as well. “Such use of the guidance document could be a first step towards a more harmonized assessment of the endocrine disrupting effects of chemicals, which is independent of the chemical’s intended use. In theory, the guidance could be applied to all chemical substances to which humans are exposed,” commented Julie Boberg, lead author of the study.
DTU (September 9, 2020). “More chemicals can be assessed for endocrine disrupting effects.”
Boberg, J. et al. (August 6, 2020). “Using assessment criteria for pesticides to evaluate the endocrine disrupting potential of non-pesticide chemicals: Case butylparaben.” Environment International