Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Briefing

Hormone disrupting chemicals: slow progress to regulation

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 30 April 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k1876
  1. Barbara Casassus, freelance journalist
  1. Paris, France
  1. barbara.casassus{at}

Chemicals such as phthalates may harm humans but remain ubiquitous in manufactured goods. Barbara Casassus reports on what is happening in the EU

What are endocrine disruptors?

Some 800 chemicals are known or suspected to interfere with hormone receptors, synthesis, or conversion at some dose.1 These endocrine disrupting chemicals—for example, phthalates and parabens—are present in small quantities in scores of industrial and consumer goods, including children’s toys, food, pesticides, personal care products, and almost all plastics. Only a fraction have been investigated for evidence of harm to human and animal health. A few have been banned: bisphenol A in products for infants in Europe, the US, and Canada; and some parabens in cosmetics in those countries and Japan. France bans bisphenol A in materials that come into contact with food.

Who is worried?

Last month, partly in response to 19 public petitions, some of them asking for bans …

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