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Environmental Endocrine Toxicology

Environmental and Ecotoxicology

  1. Poul Bjerregaard PhD Professor of Ecotoxicology

Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470744307.gat093

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

General, Applied and Systems Toxicology

How to Cite

Bjerregaard, P. 2009. Environmental Endocrine Toxicology. General, Applied and Systems Toxicology.

Author Information

  1. University of Southern Denmark, Institute of Biology, Denmark

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2009

Abstract

Disorders in sexual development have increased in frequency in certain geographical regions during the latter half of the 20th century. In humans, this is expressed as elevated prevalence of testicular cancer, cryptorchidism and hypospadias and decreased sperm counts, collectively termed the ‘Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome’ (TDS). A fairly large number of chemicals in widespread use (i.e. alkylphenols, phthalates, bisphenol, PCBs, pesticides) have been shown to interfere with the synthesis and/or the function of sex hormones, and exposure to some of these chemicals (individually or in mixtures) compromises normal sexual development in animals in tests in the laboratory. The occurrence of TDS in humans seems to be associated with general life style factors, but although associations between TDS and exposure to certain chemicals (e.g. PCBs, phthalates, pesticides) have been demonstrated, firm causal relationships have not yet been established. In nature, effects caused by exposure to discharged hormones or chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties have been firmly documented among snails, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals: The anti-fouling biocide tributyltin masculinizes female snails, synthetic p-pill estrogens and natural estrogens feminize male fish downstream discharges from sewage treatment plants, effluents from pulp and paper mills masculinize female fish and various chlorinated hydrocarbons have feminized higher vertebrates such as alligators and birds.

Keywords:

  • testicular cancer;
  • sperm counts;
  • Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome;
  • sexual differentiation;
  • intersex;
  • feminisation;
  • masculinisation;
  • phthalates;
  • pesticides;
  • chlorinated hydrocarbons