Endocrine Disrupters - a growing concern

There is considerable evidence that wildlife and domestic animals have suffered adverse consequences from exposure to environmental chemicals that interact with components of the endocrine systemColburn. Increases in the prevalence of certain cancers (breast, prostate, testes, ovary) may also be related to endocrine disruption. Much of the work in this field to date has focused on agents that target the estrogen or androgen receptors and directly impact reproductive abilities and hormone-dependent cancers. The estrogen and androgen receptors are members of a large superfamily of ligand-modulated transcription factors called the nuclear hormone receptorsMangelsdorf. Although extremely important, the estrogen and androgen receptors are but two of the sixteen known ligand-regulated families of receptors (many of which contain two or more members). Most of these receptors play important roles in growth, development and reproduction and are active at parts per billion, or less, of ligand. Thus, even small disturbances have the potential for extensive effects and the number of hormone-dependent pathways potentially disrupted is much broader than those widely studied.

Development of the embryo is a very sensitive and vulnerable part of the life cycle of all animals, including humans, and the biological effects of many pollutants have been first detected by their effects on animal development. While there is a large, and growing, number of laboratories studying the role of endocrine disrupters in cancers and declining reproductive potential, there are relatively few studies concerning the role of such compounds on embryonic development, the focus of our research.

The molecular mechanisms controlling embryonic development are highly conserved among vertebrates and components of these pathways are frequently reused in regulating adult physiologyDahlman, Xie. Hence, agents that disrupt physiology or development in animals are likely candidates to similarly impact human physiology and development. The amphibian model system is especially suitable for identifying potential risks to human development. This results both from strong conservation of developmental pathways and because amphibian development is more exposed to environmental contaminants in the water. Early warnings provided by monitoring wild populations of amphibians are especially important in cases of non-point source contamination, where it is not possible to identify appropriate sites for direct chemical monitoring.

Colborn, T.(1995) Environmental Health Perspectives 103, 3-5.

Colborn, T.(1993) Environmental Health Perspectives 101, 378-384.

Colborn, T.(1995) Environmental Health Perspectives 7, 135-6.

Colborn, T.(1996) Environmental Health Perspectives 104, 807-808.

Dahmane, N., Lee, J., Robins, P., Heller, P. & Ruiz i Altaba, A.(1997) Naturee 389, 876-81.

Mangelsdorf, D.J., Thummel, C., Beato, M., Herrlich, P., Schutz, G., Umesono, K., Blumberg, B., Kastner, P., Mark, M., Chambon, P., and Evans, R.M. (1995) The nuclear receptor superfamily: The second decade. Cell 83, 835-839.

Xie, J., et al.(1998) Nature 391, 90-2.


Following is a list of endocrine disrupter links that I have collected from various sources. Be sure to check back often as the list is updated regularly. Click here to add a link

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Deformed frogs

Deformed frog links are here

Scientific Meetings

e.hormone - e.hormone is a medium for communication about the science of environmental hormones. These annual international meetings are held each October in New Orleans, Lousiana.

Research Laboratories

Center for Bioenvironmental Research (CBR)
Joint program of Tulane and Xavier Universities. Information about the Center's goals, facilities, faculty and research projects. Includes links to other environmental science sites on the internet.

Some links from CBR
Environmental endocrinology laboratory
Environmental Estrogen home page
Milestones in environmental estrogen research

Guillette Laboratory - University of Florida
Louis Guillette's research on endocrine disrupters and alligator sex determination

McLachlan Laboratory -Tulane University
John McLachlan's research on environmental estrogens. Dr. McLachlan is the director of the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane University

Government and Related Sites

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

ATSDR Science Corner
Environmental health information and resources. Read about the top 20 hazardous toxins.

Biological Effects of Low Level Exposures. Read the BELLE newsletter.

Cumulative Exposure
How many toxic chemicals are you exposed to every day? An EPA site.

EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening and Testing Advisory Committee Home Page (EDSTAC).

Effects of Great Lakes Contaminants on Human Health
US EPA and US Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 

Endocrine Disrupter Research Initiative
Part of the National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC) Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources.

Environmental Contaminant Research at the USGS
Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. Biological Division, U.S. Geological Survey

European Endocrine   Modulators Study Group
Catalogue of the research activities on Endocrine Disrupters in Europe. Notable in that it has links to the position of the chemical industry.

Endocrine Disrupter Research at NIIHS - Japan
Extensive information on endocrine disrupter research for researchers. Hosted at the National Institute of Health Sciences Tokyo, Japan

EPA Pesticides
Current news reports on new chemicals, exposure risks and research.

The EXtension TOXicology NETwork. A good source for detailed information on chemicals and toxicology. Produced by the University of California at Davis.

ATSDR's Hazardous Substance Release/Health Effects Database.

International Register of Persistent Organic Contaminants
United Nations Environment Programme Information Clearing House on Persistent Organic Pollutants

MN Oil Clean-Up
US Geological Survey, Bemidji Crude-Oil Research Project. Check this one.

National Resource Center for Environmental Toxicology. Located in Australia.

Pesticides In Hydrology
USGS in streams, lakes, rain and the entire hydrological cycle.

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Go to the ecological risk assessment section.

US Toxic Maps
Click on a state and learn about toxicology programs.

UNEP Chemicals/WHO - GEENET Project
Chemical release, human effects, organic pollutants.

Scientific Literature

Environmental Health Perspectives
The scientific journal of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Carries many original research papers on endocrine disruption.

Popular Literature

Our Stolen Future
Official Web Site for this provocative book about endocrine disrupters and human health

Introduction to hormone disrupting chemicals
Dr. Michael Warhust 1996.

Science News.
Continuing coverage of breaking science.

A recent article of interest in Women's E-news

Female Troubles for Wildlife Raise Human Worries Run Date: 12/18/06 By Molly M. Ginty WeNews correspondent Across the U.S., female animals exposed to toxic chemicals are suffering from a flurry of health problems. As scientists examine the impact of environmental pollution, some are pondering what the results may mean to female humans. First of two parts.

Environmental Organizations

Chemical Scorecard
Environmental Defense Fund provides loads of toxic chemical information.

Endocrine Disrupter Resource Center
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly
Environmental Research Foundation.

World Wildlife Federation
World Wildlife Federation (U.S.A.) toxic chemicals page.

Community Outreach and Student Sites

Information on Environmental Problems
A Community Outreach Program of the NYU NIEHS Center

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