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Exposure levels of endocrine disruptors in Nordic Countries

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A number of different xenobiotic compounds have shown estrogenic, anti‐androgenic, or “dioxin‐like” (Ah‐receptor agonism) activities in vitro as well as adverse reproductive effects in toxicological animal studies. Although human evidence is at best weak for a few compounds, and for most compounds is absent, they have been implicated as potential endocrine disruptors affecting human male reproduction. According to their metabolic properties in mammals these compounds may be divided into two groups. Compounds such as the polychlorinated dibenzo‐p‐dioxins (PCDDs) and dibenzofurans (PCDFs), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs), and a number of organochlorine pesticides, i.e. DDT/DDE, HCHs, HCB, dieldrin, and toxaphenes, are highly resistant to metabolic degradation in the food chains and accumulate in the human body. Because of this property compounds belonging this group are of the greatest concern. It is not the low daily intake, but the total body burden of the pregnant woman achieved over time that is of importance. Control of emissions to the environment and restrictions in use have significantly decreased human intakes during the last 15–20 years. A number of other compounds, such as bisphenol A, certain phthalates, alkylphenols, and some pesticides in current use have also shown various effects in vitro. These compounds are readily metabolised by mammals and do not accumulate in humans and in most cases fairly high doses are required to produce reproductive effects in animal studies. Most of these compounds have been included in the Danish Food Surveillance System since the early 1980s, and their intakes have been estimated based on Danish Food Consumption Data. For PCDDs, PCDFs and dioxin‐like PCBs a recent EU SCOOP project have provided up‐dated estimates of intakes in various European countries. The presentation will discuss the significance of the human intake levels in relation to the toxicological properties of these compounds. From this exercise it seems apparent that the dioxins are among the best candidates for having produced endocrine effects in humans, in particular at the much higher exposure levels that were seen 15 or more years ago.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute of Food Safety and Toxicology, Danish Veterinary and Food Administration

Publication date: July 1, 2001

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