There is no Evidence that Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Affect our Health by Agnes Wold

“The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, together with certain scientists, has successfully hammered home the message to the Swedish people and our politicians that everyday life, even in our safe Swedish nursery schools, is full of poisons,” wrote Agnes Wold, Ph.D., professor in clinical bacteriology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, in a 9 December 2016 article on (translated from Swedish). “In particular, our health is supposedly threatened by so-called endocrine disrupting (ED) chemicals, which are now a priority area in the Swedish government’s environmental policy. Toys and nursery school equipment worth millions are being disposed without any scientific ground that they are in fact hazardous to human health.

“Local authority spokespersons are claiming that children’s future reproductive capacity is at risk since they play with plastic dolls or sleep on plastic mattresses – an entirely unfounded claim. The term ‘endocrine disrupting chemical’ is controversial and difficult to define unambiguously. A heated scientific debate has arisen among toxicology researchers in Europe, a debate that we have hardly heard spoken of here in Sweden, where both politicians and the general public have been lulled into believing that “the scientists are in agreement.” In this article, the criticism is compiled against the term “endocrine disrupting chemical” and it is explained why European researchers protest – because of the proposition that EDs should receive special treatment and should be banned without ordinarily toxicological testing. Such a policy would nullify decades of successful, scientifically based toxicological risk assessment and turn established toxicological science on its head.

“Who has not heard that everyday products – shampoo, perfume and plastic bowls – contain so-called “endocrine disrupting chemicals”? Here in Sweden we seem to believe that it has been demonstrated that certain substances, such as plasticisers in plastics, exert a negative effect on our health by disrupting our endocrine system in some way. But this is far from confirmed – in reality this theory is not supported by recent reviews of existing research …

“In Europe the term “endocrine-disrupting chemicals” is highly controversial. A debate is raging between critics and promoters of the term EDs, the critics believes that the term goes against established science and accepted methods in toxicology. This debate has not been noticed in Sweden, where solitary critics (such as myself) hear the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, among others, declare that scientists are in full agreement on the issue. If one point out that hundreds of respected European scientists do not agree, the answer could be that they are acting in the interests of the chemicals industry …

“I shall explain here why “endocrine disrupting chemicals” is a deeply controversial and problematical term and why very many toxicologists in the scientific community in Europe disprove of it (for my part, I do not believe it is because they are all getting paid by the chemicals industry!). The question of whether it should be possible to classify chemicals as “endocrine disrupting,” and thereby letting them get special treatment outside of the normal toxicological testing, is one that everyone should care about since it affects the formulation of all future legislation on chemicals.”

Wold addresses the following points in her article:

1. The term endocrine-disrupting chemicals is confusing and itself is not suited for legislation.

2. There are no human studies supporting the theory that endocrine-disrupting chemicals in our daily lives affect our reproductive capabilities.

3. Scientists are not at all in agreement on EDs – few terms have split the scientific community as deeply.

4. The precautionary principle does not work.

5. The industry is not the enemy.

6. The campaign for non-toxic nursery schools has side effects.

Click here to read full article as published on 9 December 2016 on and translated from Swedish.


Related Website

The American Chemistry Council provides information about the science, public policy discussion and perspectives on exposures to natural or man-made substances and any potential effects on the endocrine system. It also lists important scientific papers.