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Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Endocrine – or hormone – disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are often human-made chemicals that interfere with the normal function of the endocrine system and as a result cause adverse health effects.

Together with the neurological and immune systems, the hormone or endocrine system is one of our three main communication systems within the body. Hormones are produced in glands and tissues, secreted into the blood and transported to distant target organs to regulate biological processes. When normal hormonal signaling is disturbed by EDCs, this may lead to adverse health effects. For example, scientific evidence shows that exposure to EDCs can have profound effects on reproduction and fertility, neurological development and obesity.

Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals happens daily indoors and outdoors, at home, in the office, at school or at daycare facilities. EDCs can be found in many products that we use on a daily basis, from household and personal care products to plastic food packages. Some pesticides used for agricultural purposes or at home are also EDCs. We are exposed via the air, dust, food and water or via our skin. EDCs can be transferred from the pregnant woman to the developing fetus or child through the placenta and breast milk.

Research on EDCs at the E&H department focus on elucidating the mechanisms underlying adverse health effects of EDCs, including female fertility, thyroid hormone function and developmental neurotoxicity, as well as assessing exposure levels in humans.


Prof Dr Majorie van Duursen / Dr Timo Hamers / Prof. Dr. Marja Lamoree / Dr Jessica Legradi / Prof Dr Pim Leonards