Chemicals associated with diseases

Why chemical mixtures and EDCs matter?

We are exposed to a large number of different combinations of chemicals via air, water, food, consumer products, materials and goods. In addition, pharmaceuticals, drugs, tobacco and occupational exposures add to the number and potential combinations of chemical mixtures.

However, the current risk assessment paradigm is largely based on considering single chemical substances. If exposure to multiple chemicals is addressed, it is often limited to chemicals falling within one regulatory framework or sector, thus disregarding co-exposure to chemicals that are included in different pieces of legislation.

The combined exposure to multiple chemicals raises serious concerns about the impacts on health and environment. The scientific evidence is increasing about mixture effects, pointing out that a neglect of combined effects can lead to underestimation of risk.

The EDC-MixRisk research project studies the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), focusing on EDC-mixtures and their effects on children, especially the developing foetus.

Watch a short video about the EDC-MixRisk Project here.

What is an EDC?

“An endocrine disruptor is an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations.” The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCP) in 2012.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) show associations to some of the most common chronic diseases and disorders of the western world.

A large body of evidence has accumulated showing that exposure to chemicals, as individual compounds or in mixtures, may have endocrine disruptive effects. Concerns regarding exposure to these EDCs are based primarily on adverse effects observed in wildlife, fish, and ecosystems, and on adverse effects observed in laboratory experimental animals, in combination with an increased incidence of certain endocrine-related human diseases.

218574269_c5adeb36f5_oEDCs show associations to some of the most common chronic diseases and disorders of the western world, such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes type II, neurodevelopment disorders, and decreased fertility. These diseases and disorders are among the most cost-intensive we see in society today. Hence, there is an urgent need for better risk management. The state-of-the-science has recently been reviewed in three major documents from UNEP/WHO (2013), European Environment Agency (2012), and the European Commission (2012).

A policy issue

The European Parliament clearly expressed its concerns regarding EDCs in its REPORT on the protection of public health from endocrine disrupters approved by the parliament in March, 2012. Based on the scientific documentation it is beyond doubt that EDCs are of concern and need to be handled according to the risks they pose, as single chemicals and as mixtures.

To respond to these concerns, there is an urgent need to improve our understanding of the mechanisms and health effects, as well as of potencies of mixtures of EDCs. This will require selection, refinement and development of screening tools for EDCs, which is essential for bringing the current risk assessment procedures to a level where they can support risk management.

Safer env4269396864_b8c6cda9f1_mironment for future generations

The EDC-MixRisk project has been designed to ultimately lead to a safer environment for our children, an environment where the next generation can grow old without their quality of life being threatened by environmental chemicals or their mixtures.


Further information:

Gennings, C., Shu, H., Rudén, C., Öberg, M., Lindh, C., Kiviranta, H., Bornehag, C-G. (2018):
Incorporating regulatory guideline values in analysis of epidemiology data
Environment International. Volume 120, Pages 535-543.
doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.08.039

Bopp, S., et al. (2018):
Current EU research activities on combined exposure to multiple chemicals”,
Environment International. Vol. 120. Pages 544-562.


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