Contact Us


All News Releases By Date



Release Date: 03/13/97
Contact Information:


For Release: Thursday, March 13, 1997

EPA Releases Interim Report on Current Research About Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today is releasing an interim review of existing scientific research on endocrine disruptors -- certain chemicals and other environmental agents suspected of disrupting the hormonal or endocrine systems of humans and animals. The report concludes that animals and wildlife can be adversely affected by these chemicals and that despite limited data on the effects on humans, the potential risks, especially to young children, warrant further research.
Entitled the "Special Report on Environmental Endocrine Disruption: An Effects Assessment and Analysis," the interim assessment includes a review of nearly 300 peer-reviewed studies that examine the effects of a number of chemicals on the endocrine systems of humans, laboratory animals and wildlife. The report was prepared by a technical panel of EPA scientists assembled by the Agency's Risk Assessment Forum.

"The studies we reviewed demonstrate that exposure to certain endocrine disrupting chemicals can lead to disturbing health effects in animals, including cancer, sterility, and developmental problems, among others," said Dr. Robert Huggett, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development.

"The findings contained in our assessment send a strong signal for more research on the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals, particularly into their possible effects on humans, where we currently do not have enough information to conclusively determine the potential risks of existing exposures," said Dr. Huggett. "At EPA we have already begun to prioritize our research efforts so as to build on our knowledge of these effects and improve our understanding of potential implications for our children and our future."

Under the 1996 Food Quality and Protection Act and the newly amended Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA has recently established an advisory committee with representatives from industry and other major stakeholders to develop a cooperative screening and testing program designed to identify chemicals that can disrupt the endocrine system and determine the risk they may pose to human health and the environment. The Agency and its scientists also are developing a national research strategy to help establish priorities within the Office of Research and Development, provide a framework for regulatory programs within EPA and coordinate efforts among other Federal

agencies through the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Based on this draft strategy, work on various aspects of endocrine disruptors is ongoing at EPA's research and development laboratories, and throughout various offices and programs.

Additionally, in an effort to tap scientific expertise outside the Agency, the Office of Research and Development has plans to award a series of competitive research grants on endocrine disruption to academic and not-for-profit institutions during fiscal year 1997. The Agency also is funding a more extensive effort by the National Academy of Sciences to examine the scientific literature on endocrine-related chemicals in the environment and publish that review later this year.

The first part of EPA's interim assessment provides a general discussion on the endocrine system and how chemical or other potential "endocrine disruptors" may alter the normal function of hormones in humans and animals. Subsequent chapters summarize the findings of studies that examine the link between endocrine disrupting chemicals and a range of health effects, including cancer, harm to male and female reproductive systems, and thyroid damage. While these effects have been seen in numerous animal studies, the report notes that, with few exceptions, evidence of these kinds of effects in humans is limited. Exceptions mentioned in the report include incidents of occupational exposure and exposure of pregnant women to the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol).

Specifically the report highlights the need for more information on the intensity, frequency, and duration of human exposure to chemicals that have been demonstrated to disrupt the endocrine systems of animals. The report notes the need for more research on the effects of chemical mixtures with endocrine disrupting potential, and calls for a strengthening of specific cause-and-effect data. In the wildlife studies reviewed, the report concludes that it should be determined whether the adverse effects seen in animals at various sites are confined to isolated areas or are representative of more widespread conditions. Other recommendations and data gaps identified in the report address the need for chemical screening guidelines, and for more exploration into the potential effects of endocrine disruptors in sensitive populations, including children. Also included in the report is an interim position from EPA's Science Policy Council that states that the Agency will use evidence of endocrine disruption to prioritize testing needs, which will improve EPA's ability to reduce risks and may lead to regulatory action.

To obtain a hardcopy of EPA's interim assessment, reporters can contact Denise Kearns at 202-260-4376. The public can order the report from EPA's Office of Research and Development at 513-569-7562. It also is available on the Internet at whatsnew.htm.

R-40                               ###