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Endocrine Disruptors

 

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Adrenal gland(s)

The suprarenal or adrenal glands, each perched over one of the kidneys, are double glands. The core, or medulla, manufactures adrenalin, noradrenalin and a small amount of dopamine. The outer layer of the gland is called the cortex. The adrenal cortex produces three groups of corticosteroids; mineralocorticoids (aldosterone) - control electrolyte and water balance, glucocorticoids (cortisol)- influence carbohydrate metabolism and sex steroid hormones (androgens, DHEA). (Source: EMCOM Endocrine disruptors Glossary  )

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Adverse health effect

A change in body function or cell structure that might lead to disease or health problems. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

American Council on Science and Health

"The American Council on Science and Health, Inc. (ACSH) is a consumer education consortium concerned with issues related to food, nutrition, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, lifestyle, the environment and health. ACSH is an independent, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.

The nucleus of ACSH is a board of 350 physicians, scientists and policy advisors - experts in a wide variety of fields-who review the Council's reports and participate in ACSH seminars, press conferences, media communications and other educational activities." (Source: ACSH website )

Anthropogenic

Originating from the activity of humans. (Source: GreenFacts )

Background level(s)

Levels of chemical or physical agents that are normally found in the environment.

Two types of background levels may exist for chemical substances or physical agents: (a) Naturally occurring levels: ambient concentrations of substances or agents present in the environment, without human influence; (b) Anthropogenic levels: Concentrations of substances or agents present in the environment due to human-made, non-site sources (e.g., automobiles, industries). (Source: US EPA Glossary of IRIS Terms  )

Bioaccumulation

Bioaccumulation is used to describe the increase in concentration of a substance in an organism over time.

Bioaccumulative substances tend to be fat soluble and not to be broken down by the organism. (Source: GreenFacts )

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Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

"The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is a Canadian federal government agency based in Hamilton, Ontario, which serves to support the vision of eliminating all Canadian work-related illnesses and injuries."

"The mandate of CCOHS is to promote improvements in occupational health and safety by providing practical information to answer workplace concerns." (Source: CCOHS website )

Cancer

Any one of a group of diseases that occur when cells in the body become abnormal and have the potential to spread and establish growth in nearby tissues and other parts of the body (malignancy). (Source: GreenFacts )

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Cancer risk

A theoretical risk for getting cancer if exposed to a substance every day for 70 years (a lifetime exposure). The true risk might be lower. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

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Carcinogen

A substance, factor or situation that causes or induces cancer. (Source: GreenFacts )

Cell

The basic subunit of any living organism; the simplest unit that can exist as an independent living system. There are many different types of cells in complex organisms such as humans, each with specific characteristics. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Center for Bioenvironmental Research

The Center for Bioenvironmental Research (CBR) was created 1989 by Tulane and Xavier Universities based in New Orleans. "The mission of the CBR is: to conduct and coordinate research and teaching to enhance global understanding of environmental issues and provide solutions through innovative communication and technology."

Web sites hosted and run by the CBR, include the e.hormone site, which provides information on endocrine disruptors. (Source: CBR website )

Chronic

Occurring over a long period of time, either continuously or intermittently; used to describe ongoing exposures and effects that develop only after a long exposure. (Source: US EPA Thesaurus  )

Concentration

The amount of a chemical or substance present in a particular quantity of soil, water, air, food, blood, hair, urine, breath, or any other media. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Contaminant(s)

A substance that is either present in an environment where it does not belong or is present at levels that might cause harmful effects to humans or the environment. (Source: GreenFacts)

Cryptorchidism

A health condition in which the testes (testicles) remain inside the abdominal area instead of dropping down. (Source: GreenFacts)

DDT

DDT is a colourless chemical pesticide that was widely used in the 1940s and 1950s to destroy disease-carrying, crop-eating insects. It was found to be toxic to animals and humans and banned by many countries since the 1970s because of its persistence in the environment and accumulation along the food chain. (Source: GreenFacts)

Dioxin(s)

"Dioxins" refers to a group of chlorinated organic chemicals with similar chemical structures.

In all GreenFacts publications the term "dioxins" is used to cover both polychlorinated dibenzo-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzo-furans (PCDFs). Other sources may refer to these compounds as "dioxins and furans".

Some dioxins have harmful properties, depending on the number and position of chlorine atoms. One of the most toxic dioxin is known as TCDD (2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin). Some PCBs which have similar properties are considered "dioxin-like". (Source: GreenFacts)

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Dose

The amount of a substance to which a person is exposed over some time period. Dose is a measurement of exposure. Dose is often expressed as milligram (amount) per kilogram (a measure of body weight) per day (a measure of time) when people eat or drink contaminated water, food, or soil. In general, the greater the dose, the greater the likelihood of an effect. An "exposure dose" is how much of a substance is encountered in the environment. An "absorbed dose" is the amount of a substance that actually got into the body through the eyes, skin, stomach, intestines, or lungs. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Dose-response relationship

The relationship between the amount of exposure [dose] to a substance and the resulting changes in body function or health (response). (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

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e.hormone

"The e.hormone web site, hosted and run by the Center for Bioenvironmental Research at Tulane/Xavier Universities, is a central conduit providing accurate, timely information and educational resources to keep our international audience at the cutting edge of environmental signaling research."

"e.hormone's commentaries, research news, and educational content provide background and up-to-date information about endocrine disruption and other environmental signaling."

"Partial support for e.hormone is provided by federal funding from the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy." (Source: e.hormone website )

EMCOM

"EMCOM is an internet-based information resource about endocrine disrupting substances directed by a group of faculty at six Canadian universities (University of Guelph, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, Queen's University, University of Calgary, University of Saskatchewan). Information for this site is researched and developed by a team of scientists and clinicians from universities, health care and government.

The project is based at the McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, Institute for Population Health, University of Ottawa." (Source: EMCOM website )

Endocrine disruptor(s)

A natural or man-made chemical that can interfere with endocrine glands and their hormones or where the hormones act - the target tissues. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Endocrine system

A network of glands distributed throughout the body forms the endocrine system. These glands produce hormones that are released into the circulation and distributed to distant target sites via the blood. Hormones produced by these glands act as chemical messengers to control body functions such as growth, metabolism, sexual development, and egg and sperm production. (Source: EMCOM Glossary  )

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Environment DG

"The Environment DG is one of 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services which make up the European Commission. Its main role is to initiate and define new environmental legislation and to ensure that measures, which have been agreed, are actually put into practice in the Member States."

The mission statement of the Environment DG is: "to promote Sustainable Development, preserving the rights of future generations to a viable environment; to work towards a high level of environmental and health protection and improvement of the quality of life; to promote environmental efficiency; to encourage the equitable use, as well as the sound and effective management, of common environmental resources" (Source: EC DG ENVI website )

Environmental media

Soil, water, air, biota (plants and animals), or any other parts of the environment that can contain contaminants. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms   )

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Epidemiological studies

Studies on human populations, which attempt to link human health effects (e.g. cancer) to a cause (e.g. exposure to a specific chemical). (Source: GreenFacts)

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EurActiv.com

EurActiv is the leading internet portal fully dedicated to European public affairs. It brings together daily EU news, weekly "Update" e-mails, in-depth analysis of selected policy topics, and a directory of 10,000 names of names of people and organizations acting on the EU level, the "Guide". All content is free of charge.

EurActiv aims to "facilitate efficiency and transparency (...) by providing news monitoring, policy positions, discussion forums and contacts on selected EU affairs topics, complementing the existing institutional websites."

(Source: EurActiv website )

European Commission

"The European Commission (EC) embodies and upholds the general interest of the [European] Union and is the driving force in the Union's institutional system. Its four main roles are to propose legislation to Parliament and the Council, to administer and implement Community policies, to enforce Community law (jointly with the Court of Justice) and to negotiate international agreements, mainly those relating to trade and cooperation."

The Commission's staff is organised into 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services, such as the Environment DG and the Research DG. (Source: EC website  )

European Commission Fisheries and Maritime Affairs DG

The Research DG is one of 36 Directorates-General (DGs) and specialised services which make up the European Commission (EC). Its mission is:"to develop the European Union’s policy in the field of research and technological development and thereby contribute to the international competitiveness of European industry; to coordinate European research activities with those carried out at the level of the Member States; to support the Union’s policies in other fields such as environment, health, energy, regional development etc; to promote a better understanding of the role of science in modern societies and stimulate a public debate about research-related issues at European level."

See also its Environment & Health website http://ec.europa.eu/comm/research/quality-of-life/ka4/index_en.html  (Source: Research DG website )

European Commission Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment

The Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (CSTEE) was created by the European Commission to address "scientific and technical questions relating to examination of the toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemical, biochemical and biological compounds whose use may have harmful consequences for human health and the environment." (Source: CSTEE website )

Exposure

Contact of the cells of an organism with a substance, micro-organism or radiation. In the case of humans, this may involve contact with a substance or agent by swallowing, breathing, or through the skin or eyes. Exposure may be short-term [acute exposure], of intermediate duration, or long-term [chronic exposure].

Exposure can be divided into external and internal.

External exposure refers to the whole dose to which an organism is exposed.

Internal exposure refers only to that fraction of the initial chemical dose that is absorbed and distributed throughout the body via systemic circulation. (Source: GreenFacts)

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EXtension TOXicology NETwork

"The EXTension TOXicology NETwork (EXTOXNET) is an effort of University of California, Davis, Oregon State University, Michigan State University, Cornell University, and the University of Idaho.

Some of the goals of EXTOXNET are to stimulate dialog on toxicology issues, develop and make available information relevant to extension toxicology, and facilitate the exchange of toxicology-related information in electronic form, accessible to all with access to the Internet.

The EXTOXNET InfoBase is accessible via the World Wide Web (WWW)." (Source: EXTOXNET website )

Groundwater

Water beneath the Earth's surface in the spaces between soil particles and between rock surfaces. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Hormone(s)

Chemical messengers that help our body do different tasks. Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands and then sent all over the body to stimulate certain activities. For example, insulin is a well-known hormone that helps our body digest food. Hormones regulate our growth, digestion, reproduction and sexual function. (Source: EMCOM Endocrine disruptors glossary  )

Hypospadias

A malformation where the opening is on the underside of the penis instead of the end. (Source: GreenFacts)

In vitro

In an artificial environment outside a living organism or body. For example, some toxicity testing is done on cell cultures or slices of tissue grown in the laboratory, rather than on a living animal. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

In vivo

Within a living organism or body. For example, some toxicity testing is done on whole animals, such as rats or mice. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

International Programme on Chemical Safety

The International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) was established in 1980 by the WHO, the UNEP and the ILO (International Labour Organisation) "for the early warning and prevention of harmful effects of chemicals to which humans were being increasingly exposed, and for the assessment of the potential risks to human health."

It has collaborated to and published many highly recognized scientific publications.

Most publications are availaible from the INCHEM website www.inchem.org, "a means of rapid access to internationally peer reviewed information on chemicals commonly used throughout the world, which may also occur as contaminants in the environment and food." Publications include:

International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry

"The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) serves to advance the worldwide aspects of the chemical sciences and to contribute to the application of chemistry in the service of Mankind. As a scientific, international, non-governmental and objective body, IUPAC can address many global issues involving the chemical sciences."

Metabolism

The conversion or breakdown of a substance from one form to another by an enzyme. (Source: GreenFacts, based on ATSDR Glossary of Terms )

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Neurobehavioural

Having to do with the way the brain affects emotion, behavior, and learning. (Source: NCI cancer.gov dictionary   )

Neuroendocrine

Relating to the interplay between the endocrine system and the nervous system. (Source: GreenFacts)

Neurological effects

Effects to nervous system especially regarding structure, functions, and abnormalities. (Source: GreenFacts)

Neurotransmitter(s)

Chemical responsible for the transfer of information along the nervous system. (Source: IPCS )

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Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is "an international organisation helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalised economy(... It) groups 30 member countries sharing a commitment to democratic government and the market economy."

See their Environment Pages:

PCBs

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a family of 209 congeners of structurally similar organic chemicals, ranging from oily liquids to waxy solids. There are 12 PCBs that are dioxin-like and can similarly be toxic and non-toxic. One dioxin-like PCB is 3,4,4',5-Tetrachlorobiphenyl.

PCBs are synthetic and produced either as a singular congener, as a homogeneous group or as a mixture. They are non-flammable, stable, have a high boiling point and exhibit electrical insulating properties. As such, PCBs have been used as coolants and lubricants in transformers and other electrical equipment, as hydraulic fluids, and as plasticizers, pigments, dyes and carbonless copy paper ink. They are also generated and released into the environment as waste byproducts of chemical manufacturing and incineration. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Persistent organic pollutants

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are chemical substances that persist in the environment, bioaccumulate through the food web, and pose a risk of causing adverse effects to human health and the environment. This group of priority pollutants consists of pesticides (such as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs) and unintentional by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxins and furans).

Persistent Organic Pollutants are transported across international boundaries far from their sources, even to regions where they have never been used or produced. (Source: European Commission Environment DG POPs  )

Pituitary gland

The hypophysis or pituitary gland is the master gland of the body. Compared with other endocrine glands, it produces the largest number of hormones, including some that control the other endocrine glands of the body. (Source: EM-com Endocrine disruptors Glossary  )

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Population

A group or number of people living within a specified area or sharing similar characteristics (such as occupation or age). (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

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Receptor

A molecule on the surface of a cell that serves as a recognition or binding site for antigens, antibodies or other cellular or immuniologic components. (Source: NIAID HIV vaccine Glossary   )

Risk

The probability that something will cause injury or harm. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms  )

Sample

A portion or piece of a whole. A selected subset of a population or subset of whatever is being studied. For example, in a study of people the sample is a number of people chosen from a larger population [see population]. An environmental sample (for example, a small amount of soil or water) might be collected to measure contamination in the environment at a specific location. (Source: ATSDR Glossary of Terms   )

Scientific Consensus

The Scientific Consensus represents the position generally agreed upon at a given time by most scientists specialized in a given field. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Target organ

The biological organ(s) most adversely affected by exposure to a chemical substance. (Source: GreenFacts)

Target tissue

The biological tissue(s) most adversely affected by exposure to a chemical substance. (Source: GreenFacts)

Thyroid gland

The thyroid gland consists of two bodies like small walnuts; they are connected by an isthmus beside the larynx (voice box). The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which regulate the metabolism of all cells in the body. Disorders of the thyroid gland are characterized by the inability to produce or release sufficient thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism) or the overactivity of the thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). (Source: EMCOM Endocrine Disruptors Glossary  )

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Tissue

A group of cells joined to perform a set of functions. (Source: GreenFacts)

Toxicity

The capacity or property of a substance to cause adverse effects. (Source: GreenFacts)

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Trybutyltin

The tributyltin compounds are a subgroup of the trialkyl organotin family of compounds. They are the main active ingredients in biocides used to control a broad spectrum of organisms. Uses include wood treatment and preservation, antifouling of boats (in marine paints), antifungal action in textiles and industrial water systems, such as cooling tower and refrigeration water systems, wood pulp and paper mill systems, and breweries. It is also used for control of shistosomiasis in various parts of the world. Tributyltin compounds are present in varying proportions in commercial products; ready-to-use wood preservatives typically contain as little as 0.3% TBT, but some products used only in manufacturing may contain as much as 48%. (Source: Extoxnet directory  )

Tumour

An abnormal mass of tissue resulting from uncontrolled and excessive cell division.

Tumours can be either benign (localised, without the invasion of other tissues) or malignant (showing progressive invasion of other tissues). (Source: GreenFacts)

US Environment Protection Agency

The Environment Protection Agency's of the USA was founded in 1970. It's "mission is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment — air, water, and land — upon which life depends."

The EPA enforces federal environmental protection laws. It registers and regulates pesticides, enforces laws covering outdoor air and drinking water quality and regulates the disposal of hazardous and solid wastes.

It has now grown into a big and powerful administration: "18,000 people in Headquarters program offices, 10 regional offices, and 17 labs across the country, EPA employs a highly educated, technically trained staff, more than half of whom are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists. A large number of employees are legal, public affairs, financial, and computer specialists."

U.S. EPA's scientific publications are widely recognized as reference materials. (Source: US EPA website  )

US National Academies of Sciences

"The US National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. (... It) has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters."

Home page of the National Academy of Sciences: www.nas.edu/ 

Home page of the National Academies: /www.nationalacademies.org/ 

Home page of the National Academy Press: http://lab.nap.edu/  (Source: US National Academies of Sciences website )


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