Endocrine Disruptors : Efsa Recommends Case-by-Case Risk Assessment

European Social Policy, April 10, 2013 | Go to article overview

Endocrine Disruptors : Efsa Recommends Case-by-Case Risk Assessment


The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said that it would be very difficult to propose specific criteria for the assessment of endocrine active substances, and has therefore recommended a case-by-case approach. This recommendation came in a scientific opinion on the assessment of the risks of endocrine disruptors, published on 20 March. The opinion, requested by the European Commission, was produced in collaboration with the European Medicines Agency, the European Chemicals Agency, the European Environment Agency and the Joint Research Centre. It will now feed into the review of the 1999 European strategy on endocrine disruptors, due to take place this year.

The EFSA begins by distinguishing between endocrine active substances and endocrine disruptors. It defines the first as chemical substances that can interact or interfere with normal hormonal activity; when these substances lead to adverse effects, they are called endocrine disruptors'. The authority endorses the World Health Organisation's definition, which highlights that not all endocrine active substances are endocrine disruptors; this depends on whether there is reasonable evidence that the substance can cause an adverse effect as a result of its interaction or interference with the endocrine system.

Next, the report analyses the existing tests, and concludes that these are adequate for mammals and fish, but less so for birds and amphibians. …

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