Risk assessment of endocrine active chemicals: Identifying chemicals of regulatory concern

Authors : Bars R, Fegert I, Gross M, Lewis D, Weltje L, Weyers A, Wheeler JR, Galay-Burgos M
Publisher : Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2012.06.013


The European regulation on plant protection products (1107/2009) (EC, 2009a), the revisions to the biocides Directive (COM[2009]267) (EC, 2009b), and the regulation concerning chemicals (Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 ?REACH?) (EC.2006) only support the marketing and use of chemical products on the basis that they do not induce endocrine disruption in humans or wildlife species. In the absence of agreed guidance on how to identify and evaluate endocrine activity and disruption within these pieces of legislation a European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals (ECETOC) task force was formed to provide scientific criteria that may be used within the context of these three legislative documents. The resulting ECETOC technical report (ECETOC, 2009a) and the associated workshop (ECETOC, 2009b) presented a science-based concept on how to identify endocrine activity and disrupting properties of chemicals for both human health and the environment. The synthesis of the technical report and the workshop report was published by the ECETOC task force ( and ). Specific scientific criteria for the determination of endocrine activity and disrupting properties that integrate information from both regulatory (eco)toxicity studies and mechanistic/screening studies were proposed. These criteria combined the nature of the adverse effects detected in studies which give concern for endocrine toxicity with an understanding of the mode of action of toxicity so that adverse effects can be explained scientifically. A key element in the data evaluation is the consideration of all available information in a weight-of-evidence approach. However, to be able to discriminate chemicals with endocrine properties of low concern from those of higher concern (for regulatory purposes), the task force recognised that the concept needed further refinement. Following a discussion of the key factors at a second workshop of invited regulatory, academic and industry scientists (ECETOC, 2011), the task force developed further guidance, which is presented in this paper. For human health assessments these factors include the relevance to humans of the endocrine mechanism of toxicity, the specificity of the endocrine effects with respect to other potential toxic effects, the potency of the chemical to induce endocrine toxicity and consideration of exposure levels. For ecotoxicological assessments the key considerations include specificity and potency, but also extend to the consideration of population relevance and negligible exposure. It is intended that these complement and reinforce the approach originally described and previously published in this journal.