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NCCEH Student Project Award 2013 - V Wells

Endocrine Disruptors in Drinking Water and Associated Health Effects: A Knowledge Synthesis

V Wells
University of Guelph: Master of Public Health

  • Endocrine disrupting compounds refer to any exogenous compound that is capable of interfering with the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones in the body, and can be either natural or synthetic.
  • Some of the most common endocrine disrupting compounds in drinking water include estrogen, progesterone, androgen, ethinylestradiol, bisphenol A, and polychlorinated biphenyl.
  • The classification and toxicology of endocrine disrupting compounds is complicated and there are many gaps in our knowledge.
  • Progestagens and androgens are the most resistant to water treatment methods.
  • Endocrine disrupting compounds are often present in drinking water but at very low levels (ng/L).
  • It is proposed that endocrine disruptors act by attaching to endogenous hormone receptors and either mimic natural hormones or inhibit them from binding to the receptor.
  • There is insufficient evidence that low levels of endocrine disrupting compound exposure are a risk to human populations.
  • Given the amount of uncertainty surrounding the issue, the precautionary principle should be considered.