Endocrine Disruptors

The Endocrine Disruptor Project, launched in 2008, focuses on endocrine disrupting chemicals and synthetic chemicals, with some of them being widely dispersed in the environment which can interfere with hormonal signaling, one of the principal mechanisms by which cells send messages to one another. These messages exert powerful control over brain development, body growth, reproductive development, and timing of the onset of puberty. When these messages are blocked or disrupted by endocrine disruptors, especially during windows of vulnerability in early life, the consequences can be serious and long-lasting.

Specific studies of endocrine disruptors being conducted by the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) include:

  • A multi-year epidemiological study in New York City that to date has enrolled over 400 pre-pubescent girls. A CEHC pediatrician carefully examines each of these girls every year to track the onset of puberty, while at the same time the girls’ exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the urban environment are being measured. The goal is to determine whether exposure to endocrine disruptors leads to early puberty, which is a major risk factor for breast cancer.
  • An experimental study to assess the ability of endocrine disruptors to enter the brain and reset the threshold for appetite, causing children to eat excessively, thus increasing the risk for obesity and diabetes in childhood and for cardiovascular disease in adult life.
  • Epidemiologic studies examining associations in adults and children between body levels of endocrine disruptors and risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.