Final Products


Endocrine disruptors (sometimes also referred to as hormonally active agents) are exogenous substances that act like hormones in the endocrine system and disrupt the physiological function of endogenous hormones. They exhibit a completely new type of toxic action that had gone largely unnoticed in conventional toxicological tests until relatively recently. Endocrine disruptors act like “stealth chemicals”, i.e. they act below the “radar” of toxicity monitoring that has been in place worldwide for toxic chemicals.

In the year 2000, Swiss Federal Council approved the National Research Programme 50 “Endocrine Disruptors; Relevance to Humans, Animals and Ecosystems” (NRP 50), appropriating funds of 15 million CHF. Research began in 2002; scientific projects were terminated by the end of 2007.


The results of the NRP50 in conjunction with US studies highlight the potential risks of human exposure, and if animal studies are taken at face value, early gestational exposure may contribute to “fetal-origin-late-onset-adult-disease” in other major areas, such as cancer, obesity, diabetes, urogenital disorders and fertility. NRP50 research discovered new chemicals as endocrine disruptors (e.g. UV filters), new targets (such as corticoid receptor and PPAR signaling), and new detection methods. NRP50 research identified potential routes of exposure (breast milk, food intake and aqueous environment) and factors affecting the environmental processing of endocrine disruptors. Finally, integrative risk assessment techniques allowed for the identification of chemical hot spots in the environment as well as the exclusion of others.


With these results at hand, NRP50 established consensus platforms with scientists of the programme, representatives of the industries and authorities in order to direct future action regarding endocrine disrupting chemicals.