An endocrine disruptor is a chemical agent that interferes with very complex, inter-regulating and intertwined endocrine systems. Interference with one steroid hormone can produce chain reactions that impact other hormones that, in turn, influence other systems and other hormones. For example, Bisphenol A, an estrogen mimic will change production of Prolactin (Steinmetz et al. 1997).
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The effects of endocrine disruptors can be strongest during critical periods such as fetal development, infancy, adolescence, conception and pregnancy. These are times of important changes that will have long-term consequences for a child (fry, larvae, pup, chick etc.) and its future children. Thousands of chemicals have been found to be endocrine disruptors. Some of them are very resistant to degradation and remain in the environment and in people's bodies for decades or longer. Many of these are no longer in use even though with can still easily detect them. They were found to be a threat to health and were banned and/or replaced with something less dangerous. There are many other chemicals in use that have not been tested. There are others that are current foci of research and debate. These chemicals were not developed to cause harm to humans (at least not most of them), rather they were found to be harmful after they were already in use. An example that you may be aware of is the plastics additive Bisphenol A.
Bisphenol A is commonly called BPA. After years of debate and conflict among interested parties BPA has been banned from baby bottles in the US. Manufacturers are adapting and produced new products. Consumers can easily find BPA-Free materials and it seems likely that BPA will leave many markets. While BPA may be in decline the issue of endocrine disruptors is far from resolved. The plastic products used to make some BPA-Free plastics also appear to be endocrine disruptors (Yang et al. 2011.) Some of them appear to be more disruptive than the BPA-laced plastics they are meant to replace. It would be better to produce Endocrine-Disruptor-free products Instead of BPA-Free products
Steinmetz R, Brown NG, Allen DL, Bigsby RM, & Ben-Jonathan N (1997). The environmental estrogen bisphenol A stimulates prolactin release in vitro and in vivo. Endocrinology, 138 (5), 1780-6 PMID: 9112368
Yang CZ, Yaniger SI, Jordan VC, Klein DJ, & Bittner GD (2011). Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119 (7), 989-96 PMID: 21367689