Scientific knowledge of endocrine disrupting chemicals

Since the mid-1990s, the body of scientific knowledge about Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) and their effect on humans and wildlife has been growing substantially. Sound scientific knowledge underpins the development of best available technologies and environmental practices, and the development of laws, policies, and regulations. At the third and fourth sessions of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM 3 and 4) in 2012 and 2015, stakeholders adopted Resolutions on EDCs, inviting the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to provide up-to-date information and scientific expert advice to relevant stakeholders, raise awareness and facilitate science-based information exchange.

In response to its commitment to the ICCM Resolutions on EDCs, in January 2016, UN Environment commissioned the International Panel on Chemical Pollution (IPCP) to develop a set of three overview reports on EDCs in close collaboration with the Advisory Group for UN Environment on EDCs. The reports focus on a review of existing initiatives to identify EDCs and on existing scientific knowledge of the life cycles, environmental exposure, effects, legislation, and measures and gaps regarding EDCs and potential EDCs (including information from developing and transition countries). Three Overview Reports entitled as follows, were prepared in consultation with the UN Environment Advisory Group on EDCs:

  1. Overview Report I: Worldwide initiatives to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and potential EDCs as of July 2017
  2. Overview Report II: An overview of current scientific knowledge on the life cycles, environmental exposures, and environmental effects of select endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and potential EDCs as for July 2017
  3. Overview Report III: Existing national, regional and global regulatory frameworks addressing Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) as for July 2017

It is important to consider that each report contains distinct aspects of information regarding EDCs, however, even if each report have been intended as a stay alone document, we strongly encourage stakeholders to consider the three reports as a whole, and as part of the available knowledge on EDCs and potential EDCs.

Given the complexity, breadth, and rapid ongoing development of this scientific field and in the regulatory frameworks, it is neither feasible nor possible for these three reports to include in-depth detail and discussion related to all the potentially relevant aspects or to predict future developments within the field. It instead provides a snapshot of the overall situation at the time of writing, as well as references to further detailed and relevant information.

Process: A first draft of Report I was posted on the UN Environment website from July-September 2016 for public comment. During the revision of Overview Report I, and based on the comments received, drafts of Overview Reports II and III were prepared. The drafts of the three Reports were subsequently reviewed at the Consultative face-to-face Meeting organised by UN Environment on 20-21 April 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, with representatives from governments (e.g., SAICM focal points from the UN Africa, Asia-Pacific, CEE, GRULAC and WEOG regions, the Governments of Canada, USA and Japan, and the European Union), industry (ICCA and Croplife), civil society (IPEN, Endocrine Society) and academia. During the Consultative Meeting, the Reports drafts were well received by the meeting participants. In particular, participants agreed upon the scope, methodology and content of the Reports and suggested a way forward to finalize them. Based on the comments received during and after the Consultative Meeting, the final reports were prepared. 

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