Environmental contaminants and endocrine disruptors

The toxicity of various pollutants has been routinely investigated according to their teratogenic and carcinogenic effects. In the last few decades, however, many of such pollutants have been shown to adversely affect the endocrine system of human beings and other species. Currently, more than eleven million chemical substances are known in the world, and approximately 3,000 are produced on a large scale. Numerous chemical composites of domestic, industrial and agricultural use have been shown to influence hormonal activity. Examples of such chemical products with estrogenic activity are substances used in cosmetics, anabolizing substances for animal feeding, phytoestrogens and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These agents are seen in residential, industrial and urban sewerage system effluents and represent an important source of environmental contamination. The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) defines as endocrine disruptors substances or mixtures seen in the environment capable of interfering with endocrine system functions resulting in adverse effects in an intact organism or its offspring. In this article the authors present a current literature review about the role of these pollutants in endocrine and metabolic diseases, probable mechanisms of action, and suggest paths of investigation and possible strategies for prevention and reduction of its possible damages.

Ambient pollutants; endocrine disruptor; endocrine disease; mechanism of action; review

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