Endocrine Disruptors: Unknown and Unwanted Human Exposure to Exogenic Hormones

Department of Earth, Environment and Life Sciences, University of Genoa, Italy

“An endocrine disruptor (ED) is an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations” (European Workshop on the Impact of Endocrine Disrupters on Human Health and Wildlife, Weybridge , 1996). EDs interfere at nanomolar level with one or more aspects of natural hormone physiology thus affecting body's development, growth, reproduction, metabolism, immunity and behavior. Often, these adverse effects can be detected long after the exposure has stopped.

Cosmetics are topical medical devices and personal care products that when applied to the skin daily become potential source of ED. Some of these compounds are key active of classes of products such as UV filters, while other have secondary roles in stabilizing formulations or as preservatives. Given the frequent use of cosmetics, several concerns were/are raised by the scientific committee on consumer safety (SCCS). On 16th may 2019 European Commission published call for data on ingredients with potential endocrine-disrupting properties used in cosmetic products. Evidences for ED action is to be evaluated attentively for cosmetics use, taking into account that skin contact does not forcedly lead to skin penetration. The use of each suspected and/or known ED must be tested for skin penetration and for bloodstream and urinary concentrations. Some real cases are discussed.