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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)

What are EDCs?

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC’s) are artificial hormones that act as natural ones in our bodies. Our hormones are a product of the endocrine (hormone) system, which comprises of the organs and glands that function, but are not limited to: growth, reproduction, digestion, and even responding to stressful situations. EDC exposure is most critical during stages of development because these artificial hormones can take the place of natural ones, which can hinder the proper development of the endocrine system, thus possibly causing long-term negative health effects.

EDCs in consumer products can cause health problems

EDCs have been linked to several health problems like reproductive abnormalities, cancer, obesity, early puberty and etc. Among the chemicals that interfere with the hormone system are phtalates, pesticides, bisphenol A and many others.They can be found in consumer products like cosmetics, toys, medical equipment, or food packaging. Despite the many known EDCs, many other chemicals are not yet fully tested whether they have endocrine disrupting properties or not.
Pregnant women and children are the most vulnerable group, since EDCs can have longterm and severe negative effects on the hormone system of even unborn babies.
Since foetuses and pregnant women are undergoing some of the most crucial stages of development in a lifetime, they are particularly vulnerable to EDC effects.

Are there laws that protect?

In the EU, The European chemical legislation, REACH (Directive 2006/121/EC) and the Cosmetics Directive (76/768/EEC) are the legal regulations that deal with EDCs. However the are many flaws and loopholes between these two policies that allow for production, manufacture, and sale of EDCs. However, the admittance of negative EDC effects allows for consumers to take their own initiatives regarding EDCs, with the help of scientific and non-governmental awareness raising.


As participating member of IPEN, WECF contributed actively to the position paper on EDCs presented at the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) meeting in October 2011 in Belgrade, where the issue of EDCs was proposed to be one of the next emerging issues of SAICM (Strategic Approach to International Chemical Management) in ICCM2 (SAICM’s International Conference on Chemicals Management). However, the OEWG decided not to include it, but at ICCM3 in September 2012, the EDCs were addressed as a global emerging policy issue. WECF was one of the "dedicated public interest groups" that advocated EDCs as an emerging policy issue, and aided its recognition.

WECF calls for a precautionary approach,

which implies that chemicals that are known to have negative impact on the hormone system should be phased out and/or substituted. They should specifically not be allowed for use in products that come in contact with pregnant women and children. Enhanced test methods and sound criteria for EDCs need to be developed.

Publications on EDCs



Events & Policy Activities


Last Chance to tell European Commission: Say No to Hormone Disrupting Chemicals!: As the European Commission has made this public consultation very technical, the EDC-Free Europe coalition, of which WECF is an active member, have launched an easy to use online platform to enable individuals to submit prepared answers to the European Commission. This is the only chance you will have to directly give your opinion and call for the urgent removal of hormone-disrupting chemicals from our lives to protect our health! Jan. 6, 2015

WECF shared official submission to European Commission consultation on hormone disrupting chemicals (EDCs) : WECF and its EDC-Free campaign partners have publicly shared their official submissions to the EU Commission’s consultation on the criteria to identify hormone disrupting chemicals (known as EDCs). Jan 19, 2015


NGOs offer easy way for citizens to tell EU to stop exposures to hormone disrupting chemicals  The EDC-Free Europe coalition launched an easy to use online platform to ‘Say NO to hormone disrupting chemicals’. The platform allowed individuals to tell the European Commission “to remove hormone-disrupting chemicals from our lives to protect our health” by enabling them to respond to an EU public consultation. Dec 3, 2014

Women and Chemicals: WECF hosted a side event on 17 December on "Women and Chemicals" during the SAICM meeting in Geneva. This side event presented the new WECF report “Women and Chemicals” and highlight some case studies: Women are exposed to hazardous chemicals differently than men, have a higher susceptibility to hazardous chemicals, are the first environment for their children, and have less decision-making power in politics and economy. Dec 17, 2014

Press kit of WECF's symposium on breast cancer and EDCs: The event gathered 100 participants in Lyon’s city hall, around US scientists from Silent Spring Institute and UCSF who came especially for this occasion, and delivered strong messages to the audience, as well as stakeholders of IARC, French cancer research units, Ministry of Environment, MEP, health professionals, NGOs, health insurances, local stakeholders of prevention of diseases, etc. Oct. 20, 2014

Ruban de l'Espoir: Conference on women and EDC's and breast cance: During "Ruban de l'Espoir" WECF France and our partners Collectif K and Courrir pour Elles organized a conference on women and EDC's and breast cancer. Oct 14, 2014

Knowledge of Preventive Measures: Breast Cancer, Women's Reproductive Health and Endocrine Disruptors.: On the 14th of October at Salons de l’Hôtel de Ville in Lyon, WECF organized a day in which one can discover the current available scientific data on the subject, interact with researchers, health professionals, public authorities, patient organizations and local actors to make every effort to implement and to realize primary prevention. Oct 14, 2014

Science Policy Round Table, Tweede Kamer, The Hague: National Environment Day 2014, WECF and Wemos seized this moment to in cooperation with journalists and MPs a meeting on endocrine disruptors where it highlighted a number of trends such as increased fertility problems among young men and an increase in hormone-related forms of cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer.


Special event for the Munich Network of Infertility: The Invisible Threat. Environmental Hormones and Fertility. Nov 26, 2012

WHO Chemical Safety Meeting in Bonn. Oct 17, 2012

59th Congress of the German Society for Gyneacology and Obstetrics. Oct 9-12, 2012

European Health, Environment NGOs and labour organisations demand clarification from European Commission on EFSA mandate to develop criteria for EDCs. Oct 4th, 2012

ICCM in Nairobi. Sept 17-21, 2012

WECF, Round Table on EDCs in Berlin. Aug 8, 2012

Experts roundtable on Endocrine disrupters (EDCs): impacts and mechanisms of action from conception to maturity. Paris, April 10th, 2012


SIN List 2.0 targets endocrine disrupting chemicals for priority action in the EU.May 5th


WECF one of the Health and Environment NGOs to comment on Bisphenol A ban. Nov 11th, 2010

EEB report reveals reveals big retailers are breaching the EU’s flagship regulation on chemicals. Oct 13th, 2010

Joint action of NGOs and scientists to call for a reduction of BPA exposure, especially for children and pregnant women. June 23rd, 2010


Ministers worried about hazardous chemicals cocktails, but postpone action. Dec 22nd, 2009



Avoid Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) – protect children, inform pregnant women and expecting parents

Reduce exposure to EDCs - advocate via German decision makers for better EU legislation to protect women and the developing child from hormone disrupting chemicals

Baltic Info Campaign on Hazardous Substances

Product and Chemical Safety in the Balkans

Eliminating toxic chemicals globally

"Stop EDC's": Hormonell wirksamse Substanzen - Gefahr für Gesundheit und Umwelt

Reduce exposure to EDCs and advocating for better legislation

Life+ Project ChildProtect: "Time to Act- Protecting Children from Hormone Disrupting Chemicals"


Further Information

01.10.2012 | Environmental Health Perspectives
Asking the Right Questions: How Early-Life Exposures Influence Later Development of Disease

28.03.2012 | Danish Ministry of the Environment
Exposure of pregnant consumers to suspected endocrine disruptors – conclusion

04.10.2008 | Dr. Andrew Crain and others.
Female reproductive disorders: the roles of endocrinedisrupting
compounds and developmental timing