7.9.4 Endocrine disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals can affect any part of hormone function.1 They are found in pesticides, industrial chemicals, flame retardants, plastic packaging components, food, fuels and other materials that are used in daily life.1 They include PCBs, dioxins, phytoestrogens, phthalates.

The evidence that endocrine disruptors can affect developmental and reproductive health began with studies of animals.  However, recently there has been confirmation of such impacts from in vitro, clinical, and epidemiological studies that have linked endocrine disruptors to human health.2

1Cianfarani, S, & Söder O. (2016). Endocrine disruptors and child health: New insights. Hormone Research in Paediatrics, 86, 219-220.
2Landrigan, P., Garg, A., & Droller, D.B.J. (2003). Assessing the effects of endocrine disruptors in the National Children’s Study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 111, 1678-1682.
3Alonso-Magdalena, P., Quesada, I., & Nadal, A. (2011). Endocrine disruptors in the etiology of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 7(6),346-53.

There is increasing evidence that exposure to endocrine disruptors early in life – during pregnancy and infancy – can impact the health of Indigenous children and youth.1 They can lead to reproductive and puberty effects, which can be particularly concerning for youth. Studies have indicated that exposure to endocrine disruptors may be responsible in part for impacts on male and female sex hormones affecting reproductive health, changes in semen quality, early puberty, weakened immune system, increasing testicular cancer, and impacts on thyroid function.2 TThere is also some debate that increasing exposure to endocrine disruptors can contribute to increasing rates of type 2 diabetes.3