Risk Assessment of Endocrine Active Compounds  
Date: Tuesday 10th June 2003

For a full report of the day's events, as well as copies of the presentations and photos, please refer to the bottom of this page.

Prof. Peter Calow defined Endocrine Disrupters (ED) as substances that cause adverse health effects by altering the function of the endocrine system. EDs are treated differently than other toxic substances as they are suspected to act in the body at low concentration, which would mean that exposure to low concentrations over extended periods of time may cause adverse effects. Prof. Calow illustrated the uncertainties in demonstrating cause and effect in a complex and confounding real world. He emphasised the need to treat all studies carefully and critically. Though some clear examples of ED effects from chemicals have been established in the wild, the science is far from established in many other cases. Prof Calow stressed that an effect in individuals might not translate into adverse effects in populations in the wild.

Prof. Joseph Vos concentrated on the human health and mammalian effects of EDs. Health effects reported that have been associated with exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals concern the male reproductive tract and breast cancer and endometriosis in women. In all these health disturbances, a causative role for these chemicals has not been not verified. Further evaluations of the human health effects which have been associated with endocrine disrupters are required to identify the underlying causes.

Prof. Vos indicated that present regulatory toxicology test guidelines, in particular the guidelines for ecotoxicity testing, cannot detect all endocrine disrupting effects. Therefore, current test guidelines should be enhanced or new guidelines developed.

The following debate brought questions on the role of modern analytical techniques on the development of this area, appropriate application of the precautionary principle and the confounding aspects of habitat and climate change in amphibians. Vigilance and sound science is important, stressed both Calow and Vos.

  Speaker: Professor Peter Calow and Professor Joseph G. Vos  

Peter Calow is a professor of Zoology at the University of Sheffield, UK. Author of a number of publications, notably "Controlling the Risks of Chemicals" in 1997 and a "Handbook of Environmental Risk Assessment Management" in 1998, Prof. Calow has been part of several national and international committees and is currently on the EU's Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment.

Joseph G. Vos is at the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands and a professor of Toxicological Pathology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University. He is a member of the EU Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment and joint head of the WHO Collaborating Center for Immunotoxicology and Allergic Hypersensitivity. Prof. Vos is a widely published researcher.

  Hosting MEP: Mr. Karl-Heinz Florenz  

Karl-Heinz Florenz, MEP, is member of the Bureau of the European People's Party and European Democrats
(EPP-ED), as well as a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy. He is also EPP-ED Group coordinator for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy.

"A reasonable treatment of all kinds of chemicals, but especially of those being regarded as having a possible endocrine impact should be based on a reliable and scientifically evaluated risk assessment. We need risk assessments to have the certainty that hazard and exposure are put together when dealing with chemicals, otherwise no appropriate handling would be possible. I am therefore pleased to host this lunchtime seminar and I am expecting to receive useful knowlegde about 'Endocrine active compounds' for the future discussion on the new chemicals legislation in the European parliament."

Website: www.cdu-csu-ep.de

  Co-sponsor: IUPAC  
  The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) serves to advance the worldwide aspects of the chemical sciences and to contribute to the application of chemistry in the service of Mankind. As a scientific, international, non-governmental and objective body, IUPAC can address many global issues involving the chemical sciences.

IUPAC was formed in 1919 by chemists from industry and academia. Over nearly eight decades, the Union has succeeded in fostering worldwide communications in the chemical sciences and in uniting academic, industrial and public sector chemistry in a common language. IUPAC has been recognized as the world authority on chemical nomenclature, terminology, standardized methods for measurement, atomic weights and many other critically evaluated data.

IUPAC is an association of bodies from 64 nations which represent the chemists of these different countries. Almost 1000 chemists throughout the world are engaged on a voluntary basis in the scientific work of IUPAC.

More information: www.iupac.org
Click on thumbnails to view larger photographs.

Representatives from industry, the Parliament, the Commission and scientific institutions attended the seminar
  Documents to download  
Full report
Peter Callow presentation
Joseph Vos presentation
  Professor Peter Calow
  Professor Joseph G. Vos
  Hosting MEP:  
  Karl-Heinz Florenz
  IUPAC - The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

The AllChemE seminars are an open area for debate. The opinions expressed in the AllChemE seminars do not necessarily reflect the views of AllChemE or its partner organisations.