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Endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the Australian environment

Discussion Paper - Background and current research in Australia

  • Report
  • Innovation
  • Product ID ER071304
  • PublishedMay 2007

Product Information

The endocrine system in humans and other organisms regulates the production of hormones that, in turn, control many important biological functions, such as reproduction. Endocrinedisrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances that, upon entering an organism, interfere with the normal functioning of hormone systems.

Chronic, low-level exposure to EDCs has been linked with a number of reproductive disorders in both humans and wildlife. In wildlife these can include abnormal sex-organ development, imposex (females developing male reproductive organs), intersex (presence of both male and female reproductive organs), uneven sex ratios (relative numbers of males and females in a population), decline in reproductive success and birth defects. In humans, EDCs have been implicated in reduced sperm counts, cancers of the reproductive organs and early onset of puberty. These effects on the endocrine system have the potential to have significant long-term effects on exposed populations. Furthermore, while there is currently a long list of chemicals that are suspected of interfering with normal endocrine function, the list is probably far from complete.

EDCs, as a class of chemicals, are an emerging contaminant of concern to the scientific community and the general public because of their potential harm to human and ecosystem health. Despite this concern, the lack of definitive fate and effects data means that it is difficult to characterise the risk associated with EDCs and, without this information, it is difficult to develop and implement effective risk mitigation strategies.

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Product Data

Author(s):

PublishedMay 2007
Product Type: 
Report
Product Format: 
Report
Publisher: 
CSIRO Land and Water

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This publication is not attached to any projects.

id: 3470 / created: 04 June, 2009 / last updated: 09 September, 2009