Identificatie van indicatoren voor impact van endocrien verstorende stoffen /hormonale stoorstoffen (in het Engels)
N. Van Larebeke
G. Van Kersschaever
Identification of indicators for the impact of endocrine/hormone disrupting substances
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As defined by the European Workshop on the impact of endocrine disrupters on human health and wildlife, an endocrine disrupter is an exogenous substance that causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, secondary to changes in endocrine function (European commission environment DG, 2001). Numerous studies have evaluated the effects of endocrine disrupting substances in wildlife, laboratory animals and in in vitro laboratory experiments. Many of these studies are summarized in recent reviews (see for example De Bont & van Larebeke, 2004; VMM, 2003). However, much less is known about the impact of environmental exposure to endocrine disrupters on human health. The purpose of the present work is not to prove a link between endocrine disruption and human health but to summarize the possible impact of endocrine disruption in humans. Whenever available, priority is given to evidence on effects of exposure at environmental rather than occupational levels. Based on the evidence gathered on the possible health impacts of endocrine disruption, we explored the availability of medical data on the relevant pathologies in Flanders through contacts with many organizations and experts and developed a strategy for the retrieval of these data and linking them to data on environmental pollution. Further details on the possible effects of relatively new substances accumulating in the environment such as flame retardants (De Bont & van Larebeke, 2004), perfluoroctyl sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluoroctanic acid (PFOA) (De Bont et al., 2004) are reviewed in recent reports from Flemish institutions. The neurotoxic effects of environmental factors in general have also been recently reviewed (Viaene, 2000). An extensive set of data is also available on pollutant levels in the eel in Flanders (Goemans et al., 2003; Roose et al., 2003). Besides endocrine disruption, it is evident that other etiological factors are involved in the pathogenesis of diseases including lifestyle and genetic factors, nutrition and non-hormonal effects of pollutants. An exhaustive description of these factors is beyond the scope of this work. Also, one given substance may exert its effects both via endocrine disrupting effects as well as via other mechanisms, for example genetic damage. The separation between these effects is not always evident.