Governments around the globe are analyzing how to best study and test for potential effects of chemicals on the endocrine system and determine if certain exposures to specific chemicals are cause for concern.

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Canada

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) of 1999, federal scientists assess chemicals to determine potential risks posed to human health and the environment and the ways in which humans or the environment can be exposed to such chemicals. When conducting assessments of substances under CEPA, the potential for a substance to have effects related to endocrine disruption is given full consideration. Any evidence of hormonal toxicity is also incorporated into assessments of chemical safety. The standard practice for these assessments is to use all available evidence to estimate potential harm based on a scientific interpretation of these data.

The Government of Canada also is taking several measures to reduce risks and exposures from the eventual release of certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals into the environment. Health Canada has enacted restrictions on suspected endocrine disrupting substances under the Food and Drug Act and Consumer Products Safety Act, while Environment Canada has introduced measures to reduce releases of certain chemicals found in personal care products from industrial sources.

More information: http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/pet_310_e_35780.html

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United States

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established a science-based endocrine screening and testing program focused on protecting public health and the environment. EPA is using high quality, validated screening assays and test methods to determine which substances have the potential to interact with the endocrine system. Substances with such potential may then be further evaluated by EPA to determine whether adverse effects can occur and what exposures might trigger such responses.

Chemicals that are found to cause adverse effects will be subjected by EPA to a comprehensive risk assessment, so researchers can understand the potential for exposure to the chemical and the likelihood of harm under real-life scenarios.

This science-based risk assessment helps scientists determine the difference between the levels of exposure that can produce adverse effects, and the typical exposure levels experienced by humans and wildlife. EPA would then determine if this safety standard is appropriate to protect public health and the environment, including groups that might be particularly sensitive, or if limiting certain uses of the chemical should be considered.

More information: www.epa.gov/endo

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Europe

Currently, the European Union is considering a “hazard only” approach to evaluate and regulate endocrine active chemicals, based only on the “possibility” that a chemical could cause harm to human health or the environment. The European Commission (EC) has proposed defining and creating two categories: Category I: “Known” endocrine disruptors; and Category II: “Suspected” endocrine disruptors. Impacts of policy options are currently being evaluated by the EC.

More information: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/index_en.htm

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Japan

In 2010, the Ministry of Environment of Japan launched a new program called “EXTEND2010” (Extended Tasks on Endocrine Disruption 2010). EXTEND2010 sets forth basic policies to:

  • Promote field investigations into the present state of environmental pollution and of effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals on wildlife
  • Promote research, screening and testing method development
  • Promote environmental risk assessment, risk management, and information dissemination
  • Strengthen international networks

Along with the U.S. and Europe, Japan is also required to keep contributing to the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development’s activities to assess endocrine disrupting effects of chemical substances, including the development of test methods.

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