February 1997
              SPECIAL REPORT ON
                 AND ANALYSIS

                 Prepared for the
              Risk Assessment Forum
        U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
              Washington, D.C. 20460
                  Technical Panel

         Office of Research and Development

           Thomas M. Crisp, Ph.D. (Chair)
                Eric D. Clegg, Ph.D.
               Ralph L. Cooper, Ph.D.

 Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances

David G. Anderson, Ph.D.          Donald J. Rodier, M.S.
Karl P. Baetcke, Ph.D.             John E. Schaeffer, M.S.
Jennifer L. Hoffmann, B.S.         Leslie W. Touart, Ph.D.
Melba S. Morrow, D.V.M.         Maurice G. Zeeman, Ph.D.

                  Office of Water

              Yogendra M. Patel, Ph.D.

            Risk Assessment Forum Staff

      William P. Wood, Ph.D., Executive Director
              Risk Assessment Forum
        U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
              Washington, D.C. 20460

     This document has been reviewed in accordance with U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency policy and approved for publication. Mention of trade names or commercial products
does not constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.



      1.  Nature of Hormones	2
      2.  Role of the Endocrine System	2
      1.  Human Health Effects	2
          a. Types of Effects	2
            i. Female Reproductive System 	2
            ii. Male Reproductive System  	3
            iii. Hypothalamus and Pituitary 	4
            iv. Thyroid	5
          b. Strengths and Weaknesses of the Data	5
          c. Conclusions	6
      2.  Ecological Effects	6
          a. Types of Studies  	6
          b. Strengths and Weaknesses of the Data  	8
          c. Conclusions	8
          d. Agency Actions	9
      3.  Further Research	10

     B. HORMONES  	13
      1.  Altered Hormone Synthesis	14
      2.  Altered Hormone Storage and/or Release  	15
      3.  Altered Hormone Transport and Clearance	15
      4.  Altered Hormone Receptor Recognition/Binding	16
      5.  Altered Hormone Postreceptor Activation	17

      1.  Female Reproductive and Developmental Effects  	21
          a. Ovary and Reproductive Tract	21

        I.  Background	22
        ii. Toxicity Testing in Animals and Extrapolation to Humans	25
        iii.  Conclusions  	27
      b. Endometriosis     	28
        i. Background 	28
        ii. Toxicity Testing in Animals and Extrapolation to Humans	29
        iii.  Conclusions  	29
      c. Breast Cancer 	29
        i. Background 	29
        ii. Toxicity Testing in Animals and Extrapolation to Humans	31
        iii.  Conclusions  	32
  2. Male Reproductive System Effects  	33
      a. Background	33
      b. Influence of Hormones on the Mammalian Male Reproductive System	35
        i. Antiandrogens  	35
        ii. Estrogens  	36
        iii.  Ah receptor agonists	38
      c. Testicular Cancer	39
        i. Germ Cell Tumors 	39
        ii. Leydig Cell Hyperplasia and Tumors	40
      d. Conclusions	41
      e. Prostate Cancer	42
        i. Background 	42
        ii. Toxicity Testing in Animals and Extrapolation to Humans	43
        iii.  Conclusions  	44
  3. Hypothalamus and Pituitary	44
      a. Mammalian Development	44
      b. Multiple Control of Pituitary Hormones	46
  4. Thyroid Effects	48
      a. Background	48
  5. Endocrine Disrupters and Immunotoxicology 	52
  1. Background  	54
      a. Synthetic Chemicals (Xenobiotics)	54
      b. Phytoestrogens  	55
  2. Endocrine-Related Effects	55
  3. Representative Examples	56
      a. Invertebrates  	56
      b. Fish	59
      c. Amphibians 	65
      d. Reptiles	65
      e. Birds 	69
      f Mammals  	72
  4. Test Methods  	77

      1. Female Reproductive and Developmental Research	83
          a. Ovary and Reproductive Tract	83
          b. Endometriosis  	84
          c. Breast Cancer  	84
      2. Male Reproductive Research	84
      3. Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Thyroid Research	85
      4. Ecological Research  	86



E/T ratio
alpha-noradrenergi c
aryl hydrocarbon
androgen insensitivity syndrome
anti-Mullerian hormone
androgen receptor
bleached Kraft mill exposure
3', 5'cyclic AMP
choline acetyl transferase
central nervous system
tetrachl orodipheny 1 ethane
di ethyl stilbestrol
estradiol/testosterone ratio
ethylene thiourea
follicle-stimulating hormone
gonadotropin-releasing hormone
human chorionic gonadotropin
luteinizing hormone
no observed effects level
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
polychlorinated biphenyls
polychlorinated dibenzodioxin
carcinogenic potency factor
reference dose
sex/steroid hormone-binding globulin
thyroxine-binding globulin
tetrachl orodib enzo-p-di oxin
testosterone-estrogen-binding globulin
temperature-dependent sexual determination
thyroid-stimulating hormone


     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Risk Assessment Forum was established
to promote scientific consensus on risk assessment issues and to ensure that this consensus is
incorporated into appropriate risk assessment guidance.  To accomplish this, the Risk Assessment
Forum assembles experts throughout EPA in a formal process to study and report on these issues
from an Agencywide perspective. For major risk assessment activities, the Risk Assessment
Forum has established Technical Panels to conduct scientific reviews and analyses. Members are
chosen to assure that necessary technical expertise is available.
     Recently, a number of ecologists, epidemiologists, endocrinologists, and toxicologists have
called attention to the potential hazardous effects that estrogenlike and antiandrogenic chemicals
and certain other environmental chemicals may have on human health and ecological well-being.
A hypothesis has been proposed that certain chemicals may disrupt the endocrine system. These
chemicals have been called "endocrine disrupters" because they are thought to mimic natural
hormones, inhibit the action of hormones, or alter the normal regulatory function of the immune,
nervous, and endocrine systems. Possible human health endpoints affected by these agents
include breast cancer and endometriosis in women, testicular and prostate cancers in men,
abnormal sexual development, reduced male fertility, alteration in pituitary and thyroid gland
functions, immune suppression, and neurobehavioral effects.
     In addition to potential human health effects, reports have accumulated that many chemicals
released into the environment can disrupt normal endocrine function in a variety of aquatic life
and wildlife. Some of the deleterious effects observed in animals have been attributed to some
persistent organic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT (dichlorodiphenyl-
trichloroethane), dioxin, and some pesticides. Adverse effects include abnormal thyroid function
and development in fish and birds; decreased fertility in shellfish, fish,  birds, and mammals;
decreased hatching success in fish, birds, and reptiles; demasculinization and feminization offish,
birds, reptiles, and mammals; defeminization and masculinization of gastropods, fish, and birds;
decreased offspring survival; and alteration of immune and behavioral function in birds and
mammals.  It has been proposed that the above adverse effects may be due to an endocrine
disrupting mechanism.
     The EPA has followed closely the recent reports dealing with the potential effects of
environmental endocrine disrupters on human health and ecological well-being. EPA's Science
Policy  Council requested that the Risk Assessment Forum prepare a Technical Panel report that
would provide an overview of the current state of the science relative to endocrine disruption. It
is intended that this report serve as an interim assessment to inform Agency risk assessors of the

major findings and uncertainties and to serve as a basis for a Science Policy Council position

                         Science Policy Council's Interim Position

     The EPA is aware of and concerned about information indicating the possibility of adverse
impacts on human health and the environment associated with exposure to endocrine disrupters.
At the present time, however, there is little knowledge of or agreement on the extent of the
problem. Based on the current state of the science, the Agency does not consider endocrine
disruption to be an adverse endpoint/>er se, but rather to be a mode or mechanism of action
potentially leading to other outcomes, for example, carcinogenic, reproductive or developmental
effects, routinely considered in reaching regulatory decisions.  Evidence of endocrine disruption
alone can influence priority setting for further testing and the assessment of the results of this
testing could lead to regulatory action if adverse effects are shown to occur. This position could
change as additional data become available on the mechanisms and role of endocrine disrupters.
     The Agency thinks that identification of environmental  agents that cause adverse effects as a
result of endocrine disruption, as well as enhancement of our understanding of how these agents
exert their effects, will improve the EPA's ability to reduce or prevent risks, particularly to
children and vulnerable ecosystems.  These considerations become increasingly important as we
expand our risk assessment activities to incorporate a wider range of susceptible populations,
multiple pathways of exposure, and mixtures of chemical substances.
     Further research and testing are needed to address existing gaps in knowledge concerning
the consequences of endocrine disruption. Such knowledge will reduce uncertainties in the
assessment of hazard, exposure, and risk. The Agency is working with other federal agencies, as
well as academic, international, and industry groups to expand the body of defensible and credible
information and data on this issue. Several major activities are underway that address these
needs.  Some of these are listed below.

     Examples of activities:
     1. EPA is co-sponsoring the detailed review and interpretation of the existing literature on
endocrine disruption currently underway at the National Academy of Sciences' National Research
Council.  This study is expected to be completed later this year;
     2. EPA has developed and is implementing a multi-year endocrine disrupters research
     3. EPA chairs the workgroup convened by the President's Office of Science and
Technology Policy tasked to document and then coordinate research on endocrine disrupters

across the federal government. Also, this activity serves as the basis for pursuing coordination of
research on an international level;
     4. Under the mandates of the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 and the 1996
amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), EPA has established an advisory
committee to assist in developing a screening and testing strategy for evaluating chemicals for
their potential to cause effects via endocrine disruption. The FQPA requires that the strategy be
developed and peer reviewed within two years, implemented during the third year, and that a
progress report be submitted to the Congress by the end of the fourth year.

     EPA continues to stay abreast of scientific developments and will take regulatory action
whenever sound scientific information and prudent public policy dictate.  We are currently
committed to pursuing domestic and international opportunities for exposure/risk reduction
related to  endocrine disrupters.

                              I.  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

     This document provides an overview of the current state of the science relative to
environmental endocrine disruption in humans, laboratory testing, and wildlife species. It is
intended to serve as an interim assessment and analysis of the environmental endocrine
disruption hypothesis until a more extensive exploration of environmental endocrine disruption
can be completed by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).  The present document is not
intended to address all of the endocrine glands that might be disrupted by environmental insult.
Furthermore, the document does not address high occupational or accidental human exposures.
Rather, this document focuses on those reports of adverse human and ecological effects where a
common theme of endocrine system disruption by environmental agents has been hypothesized or
     An environmental endocrine disrupter is defined as an exogenous agent that interferes with
the synthesis, secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural hormones  in the body
that are responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis, reproduction, development, and/or
behavior. Background information is presented on the field  of endocrinology, the nature of
hormones, and potential sites for endocrine disruption, with specific examples of chemicals
affecting these sites. An attempt is made to present objectively the issue of endocrine disruption,
consider working hypotheses, offer opposing viewpoints, analyze the available information, and
provide  a reasonable assessment of the problem. Emphasis is placed on disruption of  central
nervous system-pituitary integration of hormonal and sexual  behavioral  activity, female and male
reproductive system development and function, and thyroid  function. In addition, the potential
role of environmental endocrine disruption in the induction of breast, testicular, and prostate
cancers, as well as endometriosis, is evaluated.  The interrelationship of the endocrine  and immune
system is documented. Finally, some data gaps in our understanding of the environmental
endocrine disruption issue are identified and a few future research needs are recommended. A
research strategy dealing with this issue is being developed within EPA.
     With respect to endocrine-related ecological effects, specific examples in the peer-reviewed
literature are presented and discussed. For each topic area, data gaps and areas of uncertainly are
discussed, conclusions are  drawn, and general research needs are suggested.

1. Nature of Hormones
     Hormones are natural, secretory products of endocrine glands (ductless glands that
discharge directly into the bloodstream). Hormones travel in the blood in very small
concentrations and bind to specific cell sites called receptors in distant target tissues and organs,
where they exert their effects on development, growth, and reproduction in addition to other
bodily functions.

2. Role of the Endocrine System
     The endocrine system is one of at least three important integrating and regulatory systems in
humans and other animals. The other two are the nervous and immune systems. Hormones
influence important regulatory, developmental, growth, and homeostatic mechanisms, such as
reproductive structure and function; maintenance of normal levels of glucose and ions in blood;
control of general body metabolism; blood pressure; and other glandular, muscle, and nervous
system functions. Some of the major endocrine glands include the pituitary, thyroid, pancreas,
adrenal, and the male and female gonads (testes and ovaries).

1. Human Health Effects
     a. Types of Effects
     i. Female Reproductive System
     A variety of chemicals have been shown to disrupt female reproductive function throughout
the lifespan in laboratory animals and humans (e.g., diethylstilbestrol). These effects include the
disruption of normal sexual differentiation, ovarian function (i.e., follicular growth, ovulation,
corpus luteum formation and maintenance), fertilization, implantation, and pregnancy. Only a few
agents  are associated with direct interference with the endocrine reproductive axis.  Examples are
those with estrogenic activity or the potential  to interact with the aryl hydrocarbon (Ah) receptor.
Exposure to toxicants during development is of particular concern because many feedback
mechanisms functioning in the adult are absent and adverse effects may be noted at  doses lower
than those observed in the adult. Although there are a limited number of endocrine-disrupting
studies evaluating reproductive function in the female, it is important that each stage of the life
cycle be examined thoroughly.  Appropriate, validated in vitro and in vivo tests to determine the
endocrine-disrupting potential of agents with clearly defined endpoints are needed. Additionally,
studies that include multigenerational exposure should be conducted, followed up by time of
exposure and dose level required for effect.

     Endometriosis is a painful reproductive and immunologic disease of women characterized by
aberrant location of uterine endometrial cells. It affects approximately 5 million women in the
United States from 15 to 45 years of age and often causes infertility. The etiology of this disease
is unknown. In a single study with a small number of animals, research has suggested a link
between dioxin exposure and the development of endometriosis in rhesus monkeys.  The severity
of this lesion was dependent on the dose administered.  Recently, a small pilot study to test the
hypothesis that serum dioxin concentrations have an association with human endometriosis has
been reported. No statistically  significant correlations between disease severity and serum  levels
of halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons were found. These preliminary data, admittedly on  a
limited population, suggest that serum dioxin concentrations may not be related to human
endometriosis.  There is a need to develop and validate  nonprimate laboratory animal
endometriosis models for testing chemicals and xenobiotics.  Several novel models for predicting
potential causative agents of endometriosis are available.
     Human breast cancer is a major health problem in the United States. While considerable
information is available on risk factors for human breast cancer, the mechanisms of mammary
gland carcinogenesis and the precise role played by chemical carcinogens, physical and biological
agents, varied lifestyles, genetic susceptibility, and developmental exposures have yet to be
elucidated. It has been hypothesized that exposure to organochlorines, some pesticides, and/or
polyaromatic hydrocarbons might play a role in the etiology of mammary gland neoplasms  via an
endocrine disruption pathway, perhaps via an estrogen-mimetic route or alternate estrogen
pathways. With respect to the possible role of hormone disruption by chemicals in the occurrence
of breast cancer, there is a lack of sufficient evidence implicating organochlorines in this disease.
Clearly, there is a need for research on the etiology of breast cancer. With respect to chemically
induced breast cancer, there is the need to develop and  validate both in vitro short-term tests and
in vivo animal testing models for predicting human breast cancer risk following chemical insult.
Finally, given the wealth of human epidemiologic  data on human breast cancer, but limited
specific agent exposure data, it is not possible to assign  a specific chemical  or physical cause and
effect at this time.  Further epidemiologic investigations to address the issue are needed as well as
complementary mechanistic studies.

     ii. Male Reproductive System
     Convincing evidence exists in rodents that exposure to chemicals that have estrogenic
activity, reduce androgen levels, or otherwise interfere with the action of androgen during
development can cause male reproductive system abnormalities that include reduced sperm
production capability and reproductive tract abnormalities. Results obtained from observation of
men exposed to DBS in utero demonstrate a limited potential of exogenous estrogens to disrupt

the reproductive system during development in human males as compared with that observed in
rodents. Further intense research on the population exposed to DES might allow stratification of
effects by timing and level of exposure. Apparently, no increased incidence of reproductive
system cancer has been found in those men.
     Controversy persists as to the allegation that human sperm production has decreased over
the past 50 years.  However, the firm data indicating an increase in human testicular cancer, as
well as apparent occurrence of other plausibly related effects, support the concept that an adverse
influence has occurred or still exists. Whether these effects in humans can be attributed to an
endocrine disruption by environmental chemicals is unknown at present, and research into the
cause(s) is needed. It is possible that the mechanism by which estrogenic chemicals impair
development of the male reproductive system is via antiandrogenic properties rather than or in
addition to activity related to estrogen receptor activation.
     Ley dig cell hyperplasia and tumors are a significant problem in testing with laboratory
species. Participants at a workshop on the topic  concluded that human incidence of the tumors is
low relative  to rodents and that not all modes of induction in test species are relevant to humans.
However, occurrence of Ley dig cell tumors in test species may be of concern with certain modes
of action, provided the potential exists for sufficient exposure.
     Testing for endocrine-disrupting potential of environmental chemicals should include the
ability to detect antiandrogenic activity in addition to estrogenic activity.  Testing also should be
able to detect alteration in androgen receptor and Ah receptor function as reflected in genome
     Little is known about the causes of human  prostatic cancer, but age, genetics, diet,
endocrine status, and environmental risk factors  have been proposed. With respect to the
cause(s) of human prostate cancer, a single retrospective epidemiology study has linked a weak
but statistically significant association between acres sprayed with herbicides and prostate cancer
deaths. Furthermore, an occupational study of coke oven workers has found an association of
coke oven emission with significant excess mortality from cancer of the prostate. Whether
herbicide or polyaromatic hydrocarbon exposure contributes to the increasing incidence of human
adenocarcinoma of the prostate and whether the mechanism is by way of an endocrine disruption
remain to be determined.  More research is required before assigning a specific endocrine
disruption (or any other) mechanism as a specific cause of human prostate cancer.

     iii.  Hypothalamus and Pituitary
     There are a number of ways that environmental agents may alter neuroendocrine function
both during development and in the sexually mature organism. Exposure during development
may be of particular concern because many of the feedback functions of the endocrine system  are

not operational during this period, permanent changes in endocrine function may be induced at
levels of exposure to a toxicant that may have no effect in the adult animal, and compounds that
may be considered antiestrogenic in the adult (i.e., tamoxifen, dioxin) may act as estrogens in the
developing organism.  Similarly, exposure to such agents in the adult can modify the feedback of
endogenous hormones as well as behavior (i.e., libido, appetite, aggression) of the individual.
Because of the complex role that the central nervous system plays in regulating endocrine
function, cells within the brain are a potential target for environmental chemicals that have no
impact on steroid hormones directly but yet will lead to a disruption of endocrine function. There
is a substantial need to better characterize the role of the brain and pituitary when evaluating
suspected reproductive toxicants in both the male and female.

     iv.  Thyroid
     Numerous environmental agents have been found to alter thyroid hormone levels (e.g., urea
derivatives, polyhalogenated biphenyls, and chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins). Thyroid hormones
are critical to normal growth and development; thus, developmental exposures may have lasting
adverse effects.

     b. Strengths and Weaknesses of the Data
     The observation that humans have experienced increased incidences of developmental,
reproductive, and carcinogenic effects, and the formulation of a working hypothesis that these
adverse effects may be caused by environmental chemicals acting to disrupt the endocrine system
that regulates these processes, is supported by observations of similar effects in aquatic and
wildlife species.  In other words, a common theme runs through both human and wildlife reports.
The hypothesis also is strengthened by the fact that cancer and noncancer effects, at least with
respect to published reports, are related in large part to reproductive structure and function (e.g.,
vaginal and breast cancer in women, testicular and prostatic cancers in men, endometriosis,
cryptorchidism, sperm counts and quality, and infertility).
     In contrast, the hypothesis that the reported increased incidence of human cancers and
reproductive anomalies and infertility can be attributed to an endocrine disruption phenomenon is
called into question by the following.  First, secretion and elimination of hormones are highly
regulated by the body, and mechanisms for controlling modest fluctuations of hormones  are in
place via negative feedback control of hormone concentrations. Therefore, minor increases of
environmental hormones following dietary  absorption and liver detoxification of these xenobiotics
may be inconsequential in disrupting endocrine homeostasis.  Second, low ambient concentrations
of chemicals along with low affinity binding of purported xenobiotics to target receptors probably
are insufficient to activate an adverse response in adults. Whether the fetus and the young are

capable of regulating minor changes to the endocrine milieu is uncertain. Finally, the data are not
available for mixtures of chemicals that may be able to affect endocrine function.  At the same
time, in the case of environmental estrogens as endocrine disrupters, it is known that competition
for binding sites by antiestrogens in the environment may moderate estrogenic effects of some
chemicals. Clearly, more research to fill data gaps and remove the uncertainties in these
unknowns is needed.

     c. Conclusions
     With few exceptions (e.g., DBS), a causal relationship between exposure to a specific
environmental agent and an adverse effect on human health operating via an endocrine disruption
mechanism has not been established. However, in view of the Agency's concern that certain
persistent chemicals might be responsible for some of the recently-reported reproductive,
developmental, and carcinogenic effects operating through an endocrine disruption mechanism,
new epidemiologic and laboratory testing studies could be undertaken to better define the scope
of the problem. Short-term screening studies could be developed and validated in an effort to
elucidate mechanisms.  Biomarkers (indicators) of exposure could be defined and their
concentrations related to degree of actual  exposure. Studies of absorption, distribution,
metabolism and elimination are essential for improving risk assessments by allowing extrapolation
between species and assessing other routes of exposure. The reader is advised to refer to the
report of the April 1995 endocrine disrupter workshop recommending specific high-priority
research (Kavlock et al., 1996).

2. Ecological Effects
     a. Types of Studies
     A number of laboratory and field investigations have been reported that provide information
from which the potential effects of certain chemicals on the normal endocrine function of
invertebrates, fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals can be evaluated. Based on these studies, it has
been suggested in the literature that both synthetic and naturally occurring compounds may have
the potential to  disrupt reproductive and developmental events associated with hormonally
mediated processes. In some cases, compounds have been deliberately synthesized for their
potential to disrupt endocrine systems.  For example, several classes of insecticides have been
developed to selectively disrupt the endocrine system of specific insect species without creating
substantial risk to nontarget vertebrates due to direct toxic effects, although adverse responses in
nontarget arthropods, especially crustaceans, have been observed. Certainly in most other
instances, suspect synthetic compounds were either not intentionally designed to have biological
activity or their primary mode of toxic action in a short-term exposure is not attributed to effects

on the endocrine system.  Several examples, highlighted below, illustrate the range of information
currently available for a wide spectrum of species.
     A series of field and laboratory investigations with marine invertebrates suggest that
tributyltin compounds, which are used as antifouling paints on ships, can have significant
hormonal effects on some snail species at sublethal exposure concentrations.  Through controlled
dose-response studies, it appears that these compounds can induce irreversible induction of male
sex characteristics on females (imposex), which can lead to sterility and reduced reproductive
performance. In turn, field investigations in numerous locations around the world suggest this
class of compounds may be responsible for localized reductions in specific snail populations. The
possibility that other mollusks (e.g., oysters) could be sensitive to tributyltin compounds also
raises ecological concerns, as does the fact that these compounds bioaccumulate in the food chain,
leading to questions as to whether or not effects in  fish, wildlife, or humans are possible.
     A wide variety of compounds and environmental settings also have been associated with
potential reproductive and developmental anomalies in fish.  For example, hermaphroditic fish
have been observed in rivers below sewage treatment plants, and masculinization, altered sexual
development, and decreased  fertility have been noted for some fish species near pulp and paper
plant discharges.  It is unclear from these studies, however, as to the extent to which these
observations are associated with significant changes in population dynamics. In addition, it is
generally unclear as to the primary causes of these  perturbations, which could include synthetic
chemicals as well as naturally occurring plant-derived compounds.  However, correlative data,
supported in some cases by controlled laboratory studies, suggest that alkyl phenol ethoxylates
and their degradation products, chlorinated dibenzodioxins and difurans, and polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs), among other compounds, could be contributing causative agents.
     Perhaps the most fully documented example of putative ecological effects caused by a
disruption of endocrine function has been reported for alligators in Lake Apopka,  Florida.
Through a series of detailed field and laboratory investigations, it appears very likely that a
mixture of dicofol, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene
(DDE) associated with a pesticide spill in  1980 is responsible for a variety of developmental
effects that indicate a demasculinization of male alligators and "super-feminization" of females. In
addition, the effects of the spill also have been reported to include detrimental effects on hatching
success and population levels.
     Instances of potential effects of chemicals on the endocrinology of warm-blooded wildlife
also have been reported. For example, a variety of organochlorine insecticides have been
implicated in eliciting feminization of male gull embryos and has led to the suggestion that these
effects may contribute to locally observed population declines and skewed sex ratios in Western
gulls in California and Herring gulls in the Great Lakes.  Although numerous controlled laboratory

studies have been undertaken that demonstrate a variety of compounds can elicit hormonally
mediated effects on reproduction and development in rodents, the establishment of credible
cause-and-effect relationships in wild mammalian populations has not been reported in the
scientific literature to date, although the extreme sensitivity of mink, seals, and related species to
adverse reproductive effects of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and PCBs is well

     b. Strengths and Weaknesses of the Data
     Numerous effects in aquatic life and wildlife have been hypothesized to be elicited by
chemicals that disrupt hormonally mediated events underlying reproduction and development.
The strongest evidence available suggesting that specific compounds, or classes of compounds,
could potentially affect the endocrinology of aquatic life and wildlife is typically associated with
controlled laboratory investigations. However, although these suborganismal and organismal
level studies help to establish a mechanistic potential for specific compounds, it is generally not
clear if these effects would be observed in environmentally relevant exposure scenarios or to what
extent changes in these in vitro and in vivo processes can reasonably be projected to cause
declines in populations.  In addition, while several well-designed investigations are reported in the
literature that establish a sound mechanistic framework for specific effects, the amount of
comparative interspecies data is limited.  For example, there is comparatively little information
available for amphibian species, and the majority of studies available for fish are restricted to
teleosts  (bony fish).
     Several intensive field studies also have been reported that clearly document a wide variety
of physiological abnormalities in invertebrates, fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. In some
instances, these abnormalities also have been observed within declining populations.  Further, in
many of these  studies, trends in adverse effects have been correlated with environmental
concentrations of synthetic and/or naturally occurring endocrine modifying chemicals. However,
as with most uncontrolled field studies, it is difficult in most cases to establish clear cause-and-
effect relationships.

     c.  Conclusions
     A challenging goal in assessing the ecological risks of endocrine-disrupting chemicals will be
to establish the likelihood of adverse effects on populations and communities of aquatic life and
wildlife as a result of toxic effects observed within species of concern.  Equally  challenging  is the
need to  elucidate cause-and-effect relationships for responses observed in the field, where
numerous chemical and nonchemical stressors could be responsible, either alone or in
combination. While numerous reports indicate a variety of compounds can modulate the

endocrine system and affect reproduction and development in invertebrates, fish, and wildlife, few
examples are currently available that establish the extent to which these insults at the organismal
level have, or could, result in adverse population responses.  To date, the most credible examples
illustrating significant population declines as a result of exposure to endocrine-disrupting
chemicals have been reported for alligators in central Florida and some local populations of
marine invertebrate species. Because endocrine-disrupting chemicals can elicit a variety of
hormonal responses and adverse effects in the reproduction and development of organisms, it can
quite reasonably be hypothesized that these compounds could cause population level impacts in
additional species or in other ecosystems.  Certainly, from a problem formulation perspective
within an ecological risk assessment, chronic exposures to compounds that can selectively affect
reproduction and development raises a reasonably straightforward concern over potential
population effects. However, toxicological effects observed within organisms do not necessarily
all have the same potential to impact populations nor should it be expected that these varied
effects would elicit population responses at the same exposure levels. In summary, prospective
ecological risk assessments for compounds known or suspected to disrupt the endocrinology of
aquatic life and wildlife are confronted with the need to establish the significance of observations
at the suborganismal and organismal levels in the context of population and community responses.
An understanding of linkages between these levels of biological organization also is required to
help establish mechanistically plausible cause-and-effect relationships in retrospective risk
     Based on the toxic mechanisms associated with xenobiotics, the collection and interpretation
of organismal-level responses associated with reproductive and developmental processes are
needed to better predict and interpret changes in populations and communities of aquatic life and
wildlife.  Unfortunately,  endpoints derived from typically employed bioassays, which are based on
short-term exposures, probably are not appropriate for identifying most reproductive or
developmental effects or forecasting changes at higher levels of biological organization.
However, because of the mechanisms associated with these compounds, it is reasonable to assume
that the implementation of new techniques or the modification of existing approaches can
appropriately quantify suborganismal/organismal responses (i.e., measurement endpoints) that can
be readily linked to models and measurements designed to quantify  changes in population
dynamics (i.e., assessment endpoints).

     d. Agency Actions
     While the potential role of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in eliciting adverse ecological
effects has heightened the need to develop and implement a more systematic examination of
long-term chemical exposures, EPA has long recognized the importance of this issue in ecological

risk assessments. For example, chemicals such as tributyltin, DDT, and PCBs have been banned
and heavily regulated, in part due to their effects in aquatic life and wildlife following long-term
exposures.  In addition, the ongoing reassessment of the effects of 2,3,7,8-TCDD and related
compounds on ecological resources was initiated because of concerns associated with
reproductive and developmental effects in fish and wildlife.

3. Further Research
     An increasing concern over persistent bioaccumulative chemicals and appropriate techniques
to assess their toxicological and ecological effects is evidenced in the Office of Pollution,
Prevention, and Toxics' ongoing efforts to assess high-production-volume industrial chemicals,
the Office of Water's development of sediment quality criteria, and the focus of the Great Lakes
Water Quality Initiative. In addition, the Office of Research and Development has published the
results of two workshops held in 1995 that specifically addressed the issue of environmental
endocrine disruption (Kavlock et al., 1996; Ankley et al., 1996).  The findings from these
workshops discuss a broad range  of short-term and long-term research objectives that are relevant
for both prospective and retrospective assessments.  The research needs range from improved
techniques for rapidly screening untested chemicals for endocrine-disrupting potential to improved
approaches to quantify the extent of current exposures and effects  of suspected compounds in
human populations, as well as aquatic life and wildlife.  For risk assessment needs, a research
strategy is under way that clearly  addresses the causal linkage of observations at the subcellular
through organismal levels of biological organization to responses of populations and communities.
Such a research program, which will incorporate both intramural and extramural  researchers (a
call for research proposals was issued by EPA in February 1996), has been developed to support
human health and ecological risk assessments for agents that may operate via an endocrine
disruption mechanism.

                                 II.  INTRODUCTION

     The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of the current state of the science
relative to environmental endocrine disruption. The report pays particular attention to peer-
reviewed published reports of adverse health and ecological effects attributed to specific
environmental agents and to information in the Agency's pesticide registration and toxic
substances databases. The document identifies gaps in our understanding of mechanisms of action
for agents  that disrupt the endocrine and endocrine-supported systems. It analyzes and interprets
current hypotheses and specifies some of the uncertainties in our knowledge. Finally, the
document  recommends some general research needs.  This document is not intended to address all
components of the endocrine system that might be disrupted by environmental insult.  Rather, this
document  emphasizes those reports of adverse human and ecological reproductive, carcinogenic,
neural, and immune effects where a common theme of endocrine disruption has been

     Investigators began expressing their concern for estrogenic effects of environmental
xenobiotic chemicals more than 25 years ago (Bitman and Cecil, 1970; Nelson et al., 1978;
McLachlan, 1980; McLachlan et al., 1984; McLachlan, 1985; Hertz, 1985; Richardson and
Bowron, 1985).  Within the past 4 years, this concern has become focused and intensified
(Colborn and Clement, 1992; Colborn et al., 1993; Purdom et al., 1994; Rolland et al., 1995;
McLachlan and Korach, 1995; Kavlock et al.,  1996; Ankley et al., 1996). Attention has been
called to the potential hazards that some chemicals may have on human health and ecological
well-being (breast and reproductive tract cancers, reduced male fertility, abnormality in sexual
development, etc.) (Birnbaum, 1994; Colborn  et al., 1993; Davis et al., 1993; Kelce et al.,  1994;
Makela et  al., 1994; Sharpe and Skakkebaek, 1993; Wolff et al., 1993; Davis and Bradlow, 1995;
Colborn et al., 1996). There has been considerable controversy over the report (Carlsen et al.,
1992) that human sperm counts have decreased over the past 50 years.
     Clear evidence exists that in utero exposure to certain potent synthetic estrogens such as
DES has an adverse reproductive effect in the  sons (Gill et al., 1979) and daughters of women
treated with DES during their pregnancy and that a rare adenocarcinoma of the vagina was seen
some 20 years later in the daughters (Herbst et al., 1971). In female rats of the AEI strain, which
has a low incidence of spontaneous mammary tumors, both prenatal  and postnatal exposure to
DES increased numbers of mammary tumors  (Rothschild et al., 1987). Male rats treated from
gestational day 14 to postnatal day 3 with the antiandrogenic fungicide vinclozolin exhibit varied
reproductive dysfunction as adults (Gray et al., 1994).

     Caged male rainbow trout exposed to effluent from 15 different sewage treatment facilities
in the United Kingdom expressed elevated concentrations of vitellogenin, an estrogen-induced
yolk protein precursor (Purdom et al., 1994). Furthermore, there is ample evidence that the
pesticide DDT (l,l,l-trichloro-2,2-bis[4-chlorophenyl]ethane), now banned in this country, and
its metabolites cause a dwindling bird population due to testicular feminization of male embryos
leading to abnormal sex ratios of adult Western gulls in Southern California in the 1960s (Fry and
Toone, 1981; Fry et al., 1987). More recently, the decline in birthrate and increasing male
reproductive tract anomalies of alligators in Florida's Lake Apopka have been reported (Guillette
etal., 1994).
     For the past 25, EPA has been committed to the protection of human health and the
environment and has ongoing research programs in these areas.  The Agency has followed closely
the recent reports dealing with environmental endocrine disrupters on human health and
ecological well-being. EPA is particularly concerned with the possible role that xenobiotics,
including endocrine disrupters, may have in the etiology of human cancers and adverse
developmental, reproductive, immune, and neurological effects on human health.  The Agency
also is concerned with what possible adverse role these endocrine disrupters may have on growth
and survival of animal species. Evidence for this concern is documented by the Office of
Research and Development's (ORD's) ongoing research, a Risk Assessment Forum colloquium on
environmental hormones held in April 1994, and two endocrine disrupter research needs
workshops held in April and June 1995. Two reports,  entitled "Research Needs for the
Assessment of Health and Environmental Effects of Endocrine Disrupters: A Report of the U.S.
EPA-Sponsored Workshop" (Kavlock et al., 1996) and "Development of a Research Strategy for
Assessing the Ecological Risk of Endocrine Disrupters" (Ankley et al., 1996), have resulted from
these meetings. In addition, an "ORD Research Plan for Endocrine Disrupters" has been written.
Other Agency initiatives include a workshop on Ley dig cell hyperplasia in the fall of 1995 (Clegg
et al., 1996), the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances'  revision of the
developmental and two-generation reproductive toxicity test guidelines (for mammalian species),
the EPA guidelines for reproductive toxicity risk assessment, the dioxin risk assessment
document, the draft proposed guidelines for ecological risk assessment, and the new proposed
carcinogenesis risk assessment guidelines.
     The Agency is aware of three recent reports (two of them  published) by European
governments (United Kingdom, Denmark, and Germany) dealing with environmental endocrine
disruption (Harrison et al., 1995; Toppari et al.,  1995). An  extensive exploration of
environmental endocrine disruption is the subject of an NAS project supported by EPA,  the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of the Interior (NAS, 1995).

     Hormones are natural secretory products of endocrine glands and travel via the bloodstream
to exert their effects at distant target tissues or organs. Chemically, hormones are glycoproteins,
polypeptides, peptides, steroids, modified amino acids, catecholamines, prostaglandins, and
retinoic acid. They are transported in blood at very low concentrations (ng or pg/ml, i.e., 10"9 or
10"12 g/ml) in the free state or attached to carrier proteins. They bind to specific cell surfaces or
nuclear receptors and exert important regulatory, growth, or homeostatic effects. Steroid and
thyroid hormones, bound to their protein receptors, regulate gene activity (expression) as DNA
transcription factors; protein and peptide hormones function by transmitting a signal (intracellular
second messenger) to regulate ion channels or enzymes. Some of the major endocrine glands
include the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, adrenal, ovary, and testis.
Other endocrine tissues include the placenta, liver,  kidney, and cells throughout the
gastrointestinal tract. The secreted hormones help  regulate general body growth and metabolism,
other endocrine organs, and reproductive function. Some target organs and tissues under
endocrine control include the mammary glands, bone, muscle, the nervous system, and the male
and female reproductive organs.
     In addition to the classical hormones found in higher vertebrates, including humans, there
are hormones in invertebrates (e.g., ecdysone) and  plants (e.g., auxins).  Consequently, when
environmental endocrine disrupters mimic or interfere with the action of endogenous hormones,
they have the potential of influencing human health and exerting significant ecological  effects
     For the purpose of this document, paracrine (secretions stimulating adjacent tissues) and
autocrine (secretions targeted to the cell that synthesized the secretion) factors will not be
considered here because little information is available as to their disruption by environmental

     An environmental endocrine or hormone disrupter may be defined as an exogenous agent
that interferes with the synthesis,  secretion, transport, binding, action, or elimination of natural
hormones in the body that are responsible for the maintenance of homeostasis, reproduction,
development, and/or behavior. For the purpose of this document, the term "endocrine disrupter"
will be used as synonymous with hormone disrupter. Of importance here is the concept that
endocrine disrupters encompass more than just environmental estrogens and include any agent
that adversely affects any aspect of the entire endocrine system. Endocrine disrupters  are usually
either natural products or synthetic chemicals that mimic, enhance (an agonist), or inhibit (an
antagonist) the action of hormones.  Under some circumstances, they may act as hypertrophic

(stimulatory) agents and tumor promoters. Dose, body burden, timing, and duration of exposure
at critical periods of life are important considerations for assessing adverse effects of an endocrine
disrupter.  Effects may be reversible or irreversible, immediate (acute) or latent and not expressed
for a period of time.
     The endocrine system includes a number of central nervous system (CNS)-pituitary-target
organ feedback pathways involved in regulating a multitude of bodily functions and maintaining
homeostasis. As such, there are potentially several target organ sites at which a given
environmental agent could disrupt endocrine function.  Furthermore, because of the complexity of
the cellular processes involved in hormonal communication, any of these loci could be involved
mechanistically in a toxicant's endocrine-related effect. Thus, impaired hormonal control could
occur as a consequence of altered hormone: synthesis, storage/release, transport/clearance,
receptor recognition/binding, or post-receptor responses.

1. Altered Hormone Synthesis
     A number of compounds possess the ability to inhibit the synthesis of various hormones.
Some compounds inhibit specific enzymatic steps in the biosynthetic pathway  of steroidogenesis
(e.g., aminoglutethimide, cyanoketone, ketoconazole).  Estrogen biosynthesis can be inhibited by
exposure to aromatase inhibitors such as the fungicide fenarimol (Hirsch et al., 1987).
     Alterations in protein hormone synthesis can be induced by gonadal steroids and potentially
by environmental  estrogens and antiandrogens. Both estrogen and testosterone have been shown
to affect pituitary hormone synthesis directly or by changes in the glycosylation of luteinizing
hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) (Wilson et al., 1990). A decrease in
glycosylation of these glycoproteins reduces the biological activity of the hormones.  Any
environmental compound that mimics or antagonizes the action of these steroid hormones could
presumably alter glycosylation. The biopotency of pituitary hormones also may be altered by
changes in glycosylation in response to treatment with biogenic amines  (i.e., dopamine) and
gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) (see Wilson et al., 1990, for review).
     The synthesis of nonpeptide, nonsteroidal hormones such as epinephrine and melatonin,
which also serve as CNS neurotransmitters, can be altered by environmental agents.  Changes in
the synthesis of norepinephrine and epinephrine have been observed following exposure to a
number of dithiocarbamates, metam sodium, and carbon disulfide (CS^) (Przewlocka et al., 1975;
Goldman et al.,  1994; Stoker et al., 1995). Exposure to these copper chelating compounds
suppresses the activity of dopamine-p-hydroxylase, thereby inhibiting the conversion of dopamine
to norepinephrine  and subsequently to epinephrine.

2. Altered Hormone Storage and/or Release
     Catecholamine hormones are stored in granular vesicles of chromaffin cells within the
adrenal medulla and within presynaptic terminals in the CNS. This mechanism for storage is
important to the maintenance of normal concentrations of the hormone so that they can be
released quickly on demand.  Without such a storage mechanism, the hormones are subject to
deamination by monoamine oxidase. Reserpine and amphetamine are well-known examples of
compounds that can affect this storage process.  In contrast, steroid hormones do not appear to
be stored intracellularly within membranous secretory granules. For example, testosterone is
synthesized by Leydig cells of the testis and released on activation of the LH receptor. Thus,
compounds that block the LH receptor or the activation of the 3',5' cyclic AMP (cAMP)-
dependent cascade involved in testosterone synthesis can rapidly alter the secretion of this
     The release of many protein hormones is dependent on activation of second messenger
pathways such as cAMP, phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PrP2), inositol 1,4,5-
trisphosphate (rP3), tyrosine kinase, and Ca++.  Interference with these processes consequently will
alter the serum levels  (availability) of many hormones.  Several metal cations have been shown to
disrupt pituitary hormone release presumably by interfering with Ca++ flux (Cooper et al., 1987).

3. Altered Hormone Transport and Clearance
     Hormones are transported in blood in the free or bound state. Lipid soluble hormones are
transported in the blood by specialized transport (carrier) proteins synthesized in the liver. The
same binding globulin, known as sex/steroid hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) or
testosterone-estrogen-binding globulin (TEBG), can associate with either testosterone or
estrogen. Glucocorticoids are bound to corticosteroid binding globulin (CBG) or transcortin in
the circulation. Similarly, the thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), are
transported in the blood on thyroxine-binding globulin, prealbumin and albumin. Regulation of
the concentration of these binding globulins in the blood is of some practical significance because
there may be either increases or decreases that could affect steroid hormone availability.  The
levels of both TEBG and transcortin have been shown to be modified by gonadectomy and
gonadal steroid hormone replacement. Salicylates and diphenylhydantoin may modify the
circulating levels of T4 because of changes in thyroxine-binding globulin. Estrogens increase the
TEBG concentration in plasma, whereas androgens and pharmacologic doses of glucocorticoids
decrease TEBG (Ingbar and Woeber, 1974).
     The clearance of hormones is influenced by compounds that alter liver enzymes involved in
hormone clearance. For example, DDT analogs are potent inducers of hepatic microsomal
monooxygenase activity in vivo (Bulger et al., 1978). Induction of this activity by treatment with

DDT analogs could possibly cause a decrease in testicular androgen as a result of enhanced
degradation of endogenous androgens by the monooxygenase system.  Similarly, treatment with
lindane (gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane) has been reported to increase the clearance of estrogen
(Welch et al., 1971).  However, no evidence for enhanced clearance was noted in a study by Laws
et al. (1994) in which serum estradiol was measured at multiple time points after estrogen
administration via subcutaneous silastic implants in doses aimed at producing physiological levels
of the steroid hormone. It should be pointed out that pan-fried meat and cruciferous vegetables
can induce cytochrome P4501A2 in humans (Sinha et al., 1994). Recently, a mechanistic,
dosimetric model of dioxin (TCDD) effects on increasing hepatic UDP-gluconosyltransferase for
removal of serum thyroid hormone (T4) has been reported (Kohn  et al., 1996).

4. Altered Hormone Receptor Recognition/Binding
     Hormones elicit responses from their respective target tissues through direct interactions
with either intracellular receptors or membrane-bound receptors.  Specific binding of the natural
ligand to its receptor is a critical step in hormone function.  Intracellular (nuclear) receptors such
as those for sex steroids, adrenal steroids, thyroid hormones, vitamin D, and retinoic acid regulate
gene transcription in a ligand-dependent manner through their interaction with specific DNA
sequences (response elements). New messenger RNAs are synthesized, processed, and translated
to produce new proteins.
     A number of environmental agents may alter this process by  mimicking the natural ligand
and acting as an agonist or by inhibiting binding and acting as an antagonist.  The best known
examples are methoxychlor, chlordecone (Kepone), DDT, some PCBs, and alkylphenols  (e.g.,
nonylphenols and octylphenols), which can disrupt estrogen receptor function (Mueller and Kim,
1978; White et al.,  1994). The antiandrogenic action of the dicarboximide fungicide vinclozolin
(van Ravenzwaay,  1992) is the result of an affinity of this compound's metabolites for the
androgen receptor (Kelce et al., 1994). Interestingly,  the DDT metabolite p,p'-DDE has been
found to bind also to the androgen receptor and block testosterone-induced cellular responses in
vitro (Kelce, 1995a,b).
     Many of the chemicals classified as environmental estrogens can actually inhibit binding to
more than one type of intracellular receptor. For example, o,p-DDT and chlordecone can inhibit
endogenous ligand binding to the estrogen and progesterone receptors, with each compound
having ICSOs that are nearly identical for the two receptors.  Other compounds such as
nonylphenol and the metabolite of methoxychlor, HPTE, have the  ability to inhibit binding to the
estrogen, progesterone, and androgen receptors with similar affinities (Laws et al., 1995).
     Receptors for protein hormones are located on and in the cell membrane. When these
hormones bind to their receptors,  transduction of a signal across the membrane is mediated by the

activation of second messenger systems.  These may include alterations in G-protein-cAMP-
dependent protein kinase A (e.g., after LH stimulation of the Ley dig cell), phosphatidylinositol
regulation of protein kinase C and inositol triphosphate (e.g., after GnRH stimulation of
gonadotrophs; thyrotropin releasing hormone stimulation of thyrotrophs), tyrosine kinase (e.g.,
after insulin binding to the membrane receptor), and calcium ion flux. Xenobiotics thus can
disrupt signal transduction of peptide hormones if they interfere with one or more of these

5. Altered Hormone Postreceptor Activation
     Once the endogenous ligand or an agonist binds to its receptor, a cascade of events is
initiated indicative of the appropriate cellular response. This includes the response necessary for
signal transduction across the membrane or, in the case of nuclear receptors, the initiation of or
alteration in transcription and protein synthesis. A variety of environmental compounds can
interfere with the membrane's second messenger systems. For example, cellular responses that are
dependent on the flux of calcium ions through the membrane (and the initiation of the
calcium/calmodulin dependent cellular response) are altered by a variety of metal cations (i.e.,
lead, zinc, cadmium) (Cooper et al.,  1987). Disruption of G proteins and transduction of
receptor-generated signals leading to a biological response (activation of protein kinase A) occur
from exposure to cholera and pertussis toxins (Gilman, 1987). Similarly, lindane, among other
environmental compounds, has been demonstrated to decrease phosphatidylinositol turnover in
the membrane and thus reduce protein kinase C activation. Interestingly, the well-known
antiestrogen tamoxifen also inhibits protein kinase C activity (O'Brian et al., 1985). Alternatively,
the phorbol esters are known to mimic diacylglycerol and enhance protein kinase C activity.
     Steroid hormone receptor activation can be modified by indirect mechanisms such as a
down-regulation of the receptor (temporary decreased sensitivity to ligand) as seen after TCDD
exposure (including the estrogen, progesterone, and glucocorticoid receptors) (Safe et al.,  1991;
Safe, 1995). Consequently, because of the diverse known pathways of endocrine disruption,  any
assessment must consider the net result of all influences on hormone receptor function and
feedback regulation.

     The evaluation and analysis of reported environmental endocrine disruption phenomena
should be examined from a risk assessment perspective.  Generally, quantitative risk assessment
includes the estimation of levels of exposure to a toxic substance that leads to specified increases
in lifetime incidence rates or  in the probable occurrence of an undesirable consequence (Van
Ryzin, 1980).  The four components of the noncancer risk assessment paradigm for human health

are hazard characterization, dose-response assessment, exposure assessment, and risk
characterization (National Research Council, 1994).
     The ecological risk assessment framework is conceptually similar to the approach used for
human health risk assessment, with a few distinctions. Ecological risk assessment considers
effects beyond individuals of a single species and may examine population, community, or
ecosystem level risks. The framework consists of three major phases: (1) problem formulation,
(2) analysis (which includes exposure and effects assessment), and (3) risk characterization.  The
endpoints for ecological risks most often considered are survival, growth, and reproduction of
individuals of a few representative species and populations. While not specific to endocrine
disruption effects, some limited inferences about endocrine-controlled processes may be made.
     Hazard characterization focuses on the qualitative evaluation of the adverse effects of an
agent on human and animal health and ecological well-being.  Health endpoints of particular
concern with environmental hormones are reproductive (including developmental) effects, cancer,
neurological and immunologic effects.
     For human health, relevant and adequate epidemiologic studies and case reports for the
agent(s) are preferable. In the absence of this information, pertinent test animal toxicology studies
should provide useful information.  In vitro studies may provide useful data for elucidating
mechanisms of toxicity but are not sufficient by themselves to characterize a hazard. Important
factors to consider in the evaluation of a hazard include inherent toxicity, route of exposure, dose
level, timing and duration of exposure, body burden, susceptible populations and interspecies
differences, and all of the assumptions and uncertainties in the data.
     Dose-response assessment is the process of characterizing the relationship between the dose
of an agent and the incidence/degree of an adverse effect.  Factors to consider in the dose-
response assessment are the intensity or frequency of the response with increasing dose, the shape
and slope of the dose-response curve, pharmacokinetics (uptake, distribution,
metabolism/detoxification, elimination), and the methods used for extrapolation of data from
surrogate or sentinel species to ecological endpoints or to humans.
     The exposure assessment component of the paradigm attempts to measure the intensity,
frequency, and duration of exposure to an agent in the environment or to estimate hypothetical
exposures that might arise from the release of new chemicals. Factors to consider in the exposure
assessment include the amount of the agent in the environment; reactivity; half-life; environmental
fate and disposition of the agent; the magnitude, duration (acute, subchronic, lifetime), schedule
(timing), and route of exposure (oral, inhalation, dermal, aquatic); the size  and nature  of the
exposed population; and all of the uncertainties and assumptions in the estimates.
     Risk characterization is the process of estimating the incidence of a health or ecological
effect under various conditions of human and biotic exposure. It draws together the hazard, dose-

response, and exposure assessments. It discusses the assumptions, uncertainties and limitations of
all of the data.
     With respect to recent reports of hazard (i.e., endocrine disruption causing human health or
ecological effects), a critical element for risk assessment is the exposure assessment component.
Without a clear understanding as to the magnitude and distribution of exposure, and the potency
and nature of endocrine activity, the development of a credible risk assessment for specific
endocrine-disrupting agents is not feasible.  Another factor to consider in the evaluation of
possible risk is whether testing paradigms in past or current use are capable of identifying an agent
as an environmental endocrine disrupter adequately.
     It should be emphasized here that this special report is an interim effects and analysis
document until the NAS releases its assessment report on environmental endocrine disruption.
The current document focuses primarily on human health and ecological hazard effects
(characterization) as found within peer-reviewed literature.

     In the wake of media coverage dealing with possible reproductive health and cancer
concerns (e.g., Raloff, 1993, 1994), a few toxicologists have questioned whether these adverse
health effects can be attributed to environmental endocrine disruption (Stone, 1994; Safe, 1995;
Houghton and Ritter, 1995).  Arguments for a demonstrable link between hormone-disruptive
environmental agents and human reproductive health effects are supported by the  fact that many
pesticides and other agents with estrogenic or antiandrogenic activity operate via hormone
receptor mechanisms.  However, in the few studies of suspected weak estrogens, like the
alkylphenols, some 1,000 to 10,000 times more of the weak estrogen is required to bind 50% of
the estrogen receptor than estradiol itself (White et al., 1994). In other assays, 106times more of
the agent may be required than for estradiol. Of course, crucial to risk assessment is the need to
know how many receptors must be occupied before activation of a response can ensue. For some
hormones such as human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), as little as 0.5% to 5% receptor
occupancy is required for full activation of response.  For other hormones (those that require
protein synthesis for expression of effect), higher levels of receptor occupancy are needed
(Bolander, 1994).
     In general, due to the precise yet adaptable control mechanisms and the intertwined nature
of the hormonal balance, modest amounts of chemical exposure seldom compromise normal
physiological functions. Fluctuations of hormone concentration and receptor activities, by
design, absorb some environmental and physiological challenges to maintain homeostasis in
adults.  Only when the equilibrium control mechanisms are overwhelmed do deleterious effects
occur. An important question is whether homeostatic mechanisms are operative in the embryo

and fetus. Alpha-fetoprotein, to which endogenous sex steroids bind avidly, is thought to exert
some protective function in developing fetuses to elevated estradiol that occurs during pregnancy.
However, it is known that free estradiol, under experimental conditions in female rats, may have
access to brain and other target organs in the fetus and neonate (Montano et al., 1995).  DBS is
not bound to alpha-fetoprotein (Sheehan and Young, 1979) and is not metabolized by the
placenta as is estradiol (Slikker et al., 1982).  Whether other xenoestrogens behave in a similar
manner is not known.
     The production of any hormone in the endocrine system is the result of a chain of events
involving precisely choreographed interactions of many other endocrine organs.  Therefore,
manifestation of an endocrine disorder may be associated with multiple changes in hormone
     Some investigators (Gierthy et al.,  1991; Soto et al.,  1992) have proposed the use  of in vitro
assays to screen for estrogenic or other hormonal activity.  While steroid receptors bound to their
ligand act as transcription factors for gene expression in the target tissue, simple in vitro screening
assays based on binding to a receptor are not  sufficient in themselves for measuring hormone
activity.  Binding of ligand to its specific receptor must be  correlated with a physiologic response.
For such screening assays to be accepted as indicative of hormonal alteration,  they must be
thoroughly validated in a number of qualified, independent laboratories. This validation requires
the correlation of receptor binding with a physiologic endpoint, for example, induction of the
progesterone receptor (Laws et al.,  1994), increase in uterine peroxidase (Cummings and Metcalf,
1994), or an increase in vitellogenin in the case of the estrogen receptor. Furthermore, before
screening assays can be used in a "tier approach" for evaluating hormone effects, in vitro assays
need to be validated in vivo (in the whole animal). In the case of estrogen-mimicking agents,
uterotrophic responses, progesterone receptor induction, or gonadotrophin inhibitory responses in
ovariectomized rats or mice should  be undertaken for validation in the whole animal. While
estrogenic effects have been cited as examples in this document, it is important to realize that any
hormone has the potential of being  disrupted  in one way or another by an environmental agent,
and similar considerations as for estrogenic effects apply.


1. Female Reproductive and Developmental Effects
     a. Ovary and Reproductive Tract
     With the exception of endometriosis and vaginal and breast cancer, few recent reports have
attributed environmental endocrine disruptions as a causative mechanism for seriously affecting
human female reproduction. The issues of endometriosis and breast cancer in humans have been
raised and are discussed in separate sections below.  Structural abnormalities of the uterus and
oviducts, reproductive dysfunction,  and nonneoplastic lesions such as parovarian cysts have been
associated with prenatal exposure to the estrogenic compound DES in laboratory animals
(McLachlan,  1993). Most of these same multigenerational adverse effects due to DES exposure
also have been reported in women (Poskanzer and Herbst, 1977).  "Estrogenism" in livestock
caused by  toxins associated with the fungal genus Fusarium has been associated with uterine
hypertrophy, decreased ovarian size, abortion, fetal resorption, and premature birth (Siegmundo,
1979).  These findings indicate that when hormonal balance is disturbed, the reproductive health
of the mother and the developmental and reproductive soundness of the offspring, both male and
female, may be in jeopardy.
     In developmental toxicity testing studies, emphasis is placed on the timing of the dose of a
compound such that it coincides with organogenesis  and on the subsequent recording of any birth
defects that might occur. However, concerns have been raised over the possibility of
multigenerational effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals that persist or do not appear until after
environmental exposure has ended.  This hypothesis proposes that maternal animals, including
humans, store endocrine-disrupting agents in their fat prior to reproduction, then mobilize these
agents  during periods of egg laying, pregnancy,  or lactation (Colborn et al., 1993). As a result of
this mobilization of stored agent(s) within maternal animals during critical windows of embryonic
or fetal development and vulnerability, there may occur immediate or latent adverse effects on the
offspring that are likely to be irreversible. This phenomenon is suggested in conclusions by
Guillette et al. (1994) from their observations of Florida alligators.  These studies hypothesize a
decrease in the number of male hatchlings when maternal animals are exposed to high
concentrations of the pesticide dicofol before fertilization. Of note is the fact that the
manufacturing process of the dicofol spilled was such that it was contaminated with DDT and its

     It should be noted that in the two-generation reproductive testing protocol, animals are
exposed during several life stages and any multigenerational adverse reproductive effects due to
environmental endocrine disruption should be detected with the endpoints added to the new
protocol (EPA, 1995).

     i. Background
     The reproductive life cycle of the female mammal may be divided into phases that include
fetal, prepubertal, cycling adult, pregnant, lactating, and reproductively senescent stages.
Although there are a limited number of studies evaluating reproductive function in the female
following toxicant exposure, it is important that each stage of the life cycle be examined
thoroughly before one can assume that the female is not influenced by environmental endocrine
disrupters.  Traditionally the endpoints that have been used to evaluate the female's reproductive
capability include the ability to become pregnant, pregnancy outcome, and offspring survival
and/or development. Although reproductive organ weights may be obtained and these organs
examined histologically in test species, these measures do not necessarily detect abnormalities in
dynamic processes such as estrous/menstrual cyclicity or follicular atresia unless degradation is
severe. Similarly, toxic effects on pubertal onset have not been examined routinely, nor have the
long-term consequences of exposure to suspected toxicants on reproductive senescence.
     Irreversible developmental effects are those that affect the vulnerable developing organism,
frequently at the time where organ systems are beginning to be laid down.  Physiological effects
are those that occur anytime after development and may be reversible. Eroschenko (1981)
reported that administration of Kepone to pregnant rats or mice  during the  main period of fetal
organogenesis results in fetal toxicities and malformations.  Gellert and Wilson (1979)
demonstrated that the female offspring of chlordecone (Kepone)-treated dams exhibit persistent
vaginal estrus and anovulation.
     The consequences of disruption of the ovarian (estrous) cycle can signal exposure to a
reproductive toxicant that affects endocrine function. For example, perinatal exposure to DES or
methoxychlor not only induces premature vaginal opening (Gray et al., 1989), but often leads to
the presence of an acyclic condition (persistent or constant estrus) in the adult (Cooper et al.,
1986a). This condition is the result of the agent's ability to masculinize the developing, potentially
female, brain.  Such animals fail to achieve normal ovulatory LH surges, and their ovaries typically
contain numerous polyfollicular or polycystic follicles and no corpora lutea. Prolonged exposure
to DES or methoxychlor during adulthood also will lead to persistent or constant vaginal estrus
because of direct estrogenic action on the vagina. However, in this case, the exposed adult
female's ovaries become atrophied due to the suppression of gonadotropin  secretion by the
estrogenic compounds. It has been reported that exposure to certain chlorotriazine herbicides

(i.e., Atrazine, Simazine, or Cyanazine) also will induce a persistent estrous condition in certain
strains of rats (i.e., Sprague Dawley but not Fischer 344) (Eldridge et al., 1994). In fact, it has
been hypothesized that this condition is responsible for the early onset of mammary gland tumors
in rats fed diets containing the chlorotriazines during the
first year of life (Stevens et al., 1994).  However, in a more recent study by Cooper et al. (1995),
it was shown that Atrazine did not prolong the number of days in estrus, but there is  a dose-
dependent increase in the number of diestrous days (in both Sprague Dawley and Long-Evans
hooded rats). At higher doses, the female's ovaries were atrophied and gonadotropin levels were
low.  At lower doses, Atrazine appeared to induce  repetitive pseudopregnancies. The reason for
the apparent discrepancies between these reports is not clear.  However, it is clear that Atrazine,
and apparently several other chlorotriazines, can disrupt ovarian function in the adult female rat
and that an endocrine mechanism is involved. The mechanism of action of the chloro-s-triazines
appears to be estrogen receptor independent (Connor et al., 1996), and the alterations observed in
the regulation of estrous cycling are apparently due to a disruption in hypothalamic-pituitary
regulation of ovarian function (Cooper et al., 1996).
      Importantly, compounds other than those that interact directly with estrogen or other
steroid hormone receptors  can alter the onset of puberty as well as ovarian function in adulthood.
For example, it has been known for some time that administration of prolactin to female rats could
advance the onset of puberty (Advis and Ojeda,  1978; Advis et al., 1981). These effects can be
induced by agents that disrupt CNS regulation of prolactin secretion resulting in
hyperprolactinemia. Thus, placing a dopamine receptor blocker, such as sulpiride, in the drinking
water of prepubertal females advances the age of vaginal opening  (Advis et al., 1981).
      Chloroquine, an antimalarial agent, is reported to block calcium-calmodulin-mediated
responses.  It is not surprising that chloroquine exposure will lead to a disruption of estrous
cyclicity (Okanlawon and Ashiru, 1992), because follicular steroidogenesis and pituitary hormone
secretion are dependent, in part, on  calcium-calmodulin-mediated processes.
      The human ovarian follicle is vulnerable at several points in its development, and a transient
toxic insult to a specific locus and time period may result in an adverse  effect not only to the
follicle, but also to the resulting corpus luteum.  In other words, insult to the Graafian follicle and
subsequent alterations in the sequence  of its maturation can lead to luteal dysfunction following
ovulation (McNatty, 1979). Because the corpus  luteum is essential to the maintenance of early
pregnancy in humans, any  insult to the ovarian follicle that gives rise to the corpus luteum has the
potential to adversely affect pregnancy outcomes.
      Several excellent reviews have dealt with the ovarian follicle as a target for xenobiotics
(e.g., Richards, 1986; Mattison and Thomford, 1989).  In addition to the oocyte itself, the target
may include cells of the stratum granulosum, the cumulus mass, the basal lamina, or the theca

interna and externa.  Within the stratum granulosum, basal granulosa cells, parietal granulosa
cells, cumulus cells, gap junctions, gonadotrophin, and other membrane or intracellular hormone
receptors may serve as loci for ovarian toxicants. The adverse effects of antineoplastic agents on
antral follicles and the sparing of primordial follicles have been demonstrated (Damewood and
Grochow, 1986). The toxic effects of cyclophosphamide on human granulosa cell cultures have
been reported (Ataya et al.,  1990). A dose-related decrease in progesterone secretion by human
granulosa cells occurs with increasing concentrations of the activated form of cyclophosphamide
at levels used therapeutically.  Human cumulus granulosa cells have been used to screen
reproductive toxicants (Haney et al., 1990). Vinblastine inhibits progesterone secretion by human
granulosa-luteal cells (Teaff and Savoy-Moore, 1991). Methoxychlor, a pesticide that when
metabolized exhibits estrogenic activity, reduces serum progesterone and impairs implantation in
rats treated during the first week of pregnancy (Cummings and Laskey, 1993). Premating
treatment of female rats with the insecticide heptachlor also decreases implantations, increases
resorptions, and decreases serum estrogen and progesterone (Rani and Krishnakumari, 1995).
     Within the oocyte, the zona pellucida, oolemma, cortical granules, yolk, chromosomes, and
spindle all serve as potential targets for exposure to toxic chemicals. The oocyte is particularly
sensitive to methotrexate and cyclophosphamide (Hansmann, 1974; Jarrell et al., 1987, 1991).
Greatest risk to the oocyte occurs on the days just prior to ovulation (Paul and Himmelstein,
1988).  Also susceptible to chemical insult are the thecal components (interna cells with LH
receptors, fibroblasts and smooth muscle cells of the externa, and elements of the vascular bed).
Delayed ovulation and overripeness of ova in rat studies result in chromosomal anomalies leading
to early embryonic death (Fugo and Butcher, 1966; Butcher and Fugo, 1967). If mature  oocytes
remain in the  human Graafian follicle past mid-cycle, the incidence of oocyte abnormalities
increases (Hertig, 1967).
     Mattison and coworkers (1990) have called attention to the basal lamina as a permeable
barrier to xenobiotics. Studies in the human female are meager, however. The anesthetic drugs
thiopental and thiamylal traverse the follicular wall and have been found in follicular fluid of
patients undergoing laparoscopy for oocyte retrieval (Endler et al., 1987). In another study of 47
women, oocyte recovery rates and subsequent embryo cleavage rates were inversely related to
chlorinated hydrocarbon concentrations that included DDT, PCBs, and hexachlorobenzene  (Trapp
et al., 1984).  Buserelin, a GnRH agonist employed in in vitro fertilization programs also has been
found in human follicular fluid at 10% to 50% of serum concentrations (Loumaye et al., 1989).
While the above observations document the potential for specific chemical insult to the ovarian
follicle, many of these agents are genotoxic or cytostatic chemicals, and it remains to be
demonstrated whether the mechanism of action for these and other agents is via an endocrine
disruption pathway.

     The effects of environmental endocrine disrupters on hypothalamic-pituitary regulation of
ovulation are discussed elsewhere. Finally, environmental estrogens also may interfere with
fertility by disrupting implantation. In rats, Cummings and Perreault (1990) found that
methoxychlor increased the speed of embryo transport through the oviduct (an estrogen-
dependent process) and therefore prevented implantation because of insufficient time for uterine

     ii. Toxicity Testing in Animals and Extrapolation to Humans
     Recently, the Office of Pesticide Programs, EPA, reviewed multiple databases in an attempt
to identify those chemicals with a clear effect on female reproduction. Records for 63 chemicals
screened for noncancer health effects were evaluated.  Eight chemicals were considered to be
potential female reproductive toxicants because they exhibited one or more of the following:
ovarian vacuolation (of unspecified attribution), ovarian stromal hyperplasia, hemorrhagic ovaries,
reduced number of corpora lutea, increased uterine weights, uterine metaplasia, or cystic uteri.
Data are briefly summarized below. In some of these cases, the reported adverse female
reproductive effects occur at doses that exceed the lowest observed adverse effect level for other
adverse, noncancer health effects. Consequently, these other endpoints of toxicity currently
"drive" the risk assessment. In other words, the female reproductive effect via a potential
endocrine disruption mechanism did not provide the critical effect for any of those pesticides.
     In the data review for the chemical dicofol, ovarian vacuolation is reported in a
multigenerational reproductive study in rats. However, the effect occurs at a dose level that is 10
times the dose of acceptable human exposure. Nevertheless, there is  a hint that this finding in
female rats may be associated with hormonal disruption because the complete database indicates
that multiple endocrine target organs and multiple species are affected. It also is concluded that
the reported ovarian vacuolation is associated with enhanced steroidogenic activity. The question
of the purity of the chemical and its possible contamination with DDT has been raised.
     Hexaconazole causes decreased numbers of corpora lutea and decreased uterine weight in
mice dosed at 225 mg/kg/day (in a 29-day range-finding study, MRID# 41142801, HED Doc#
007917)1. In a mouse carcinogenicity study at the highest dose level tested (26.3 mg/kg/day),
nominally decreased numbers of cystic glands in uteri and increased numbers of hemorrhagic
ovaries are noted (MRID# 40944809, HED Doc# 007917).
     Molinate causes reduced fertility and ovarian histopathology in rats at 50 ppm in the diet
(2.5 mg/kg/day) with a no observed effects level (NOEL) of 0.03  mg/kg/day in a two-generation
1 MRID# and HED Doc# refer to EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs database files.

study (MRID# 41333402, HED Doc# 008449).  In the case of molinate, a carcinogenic potency
factor (Q*) of 0.11 mg/kg/day"1 (based on ovarian hyperplasia and cancer) has been used to
estimate carcinogenic risk. In this case, mutagenicity studies on molinate were both positive and
negative (Caswell file# 444).  In addition, mutagenicity has been suggested in an inhalation study
where abnormal sperm were observed in males treated at 0.64 mg/m3. This inhalation study
demonstrated reduced implants in untreated females bred to treated males (MRID# 41589203,
HED Doc# 008449).  The NOEL was 0.30 mg/m3.  The reproductive effects and the ovarian
histopathology and mutagenic effects may have mechanisms in common, but no hormonal
disruption has been reported.
     The pesticide oxydemeton-methyl induces cholinesterase inhibition at dose levels two
orders of magnitude lower than dose levels that affect multiple reproductive organ toxicity.
Increased numbers of female rats show no corpora lutea at 2.5 mg/kg/day of oxydemeton-methyl,
a dose level that also causes increased epididymal vacuolation and testes weight decreases in
males and severe brain, plasma, and red blood cell cholinesterase inhibition in both sexes.  At
these high dose levels (near lethality), neurotransmitters  may have caused hormonal disruption at
the pituitary level. Although documentation has been found for only one pesticide, other
organophosphates may have this potential at high dose levels.
     Iprodione (MRID# 42825002 and 42637801, HED Doc# 010570), procymidone (Caswell
file# 703J), or vinclozolin (MRID# 43254703 and 43254704, HED Doc.# in review)
administration result in ovarian stromal cell tumors, sex  cord tumors, and/or luteomas (small,
benign lutein cell tumors) in rats and/or mice.  The lowest observable effect levels for ovarian
effects in lifetime studies for these three pesticides were  as follows: iprodione~600 mg/kg/day in
mice, procymidone--100 mg/kg/day in rats, and vinclozolin  - approximately 3.0 mg/kg/day in rats
(MRTD# 43254703, HED Doc# in review).  Of the three pesticides, procymidone and iprodione
are regulated by a Q* (because of carcinogenic concern) at even lower dose levels than the
reference dose (RfD). Extensive endocrine studies indicate that vinclozolin and procymidone
cause increases in LH and testosterone levels following binding to and inhibition of the androgen
receptor (Kelce et al., 1994; Murakami et al., 1995; MRID# 42344104; MRID# 41824305).
Iprodione causes similar effects in the ovary, testis, and accessory sex glands of rats and mice but
may operate through a different mechanism.  However, these data have not been fully reviewed at
this time.  Androgens are necessary for follicular growth and ovulation.  They appear to play an
important role in regulating follicular development in both the immature and mature cycling rat
(Beyer et al., 1974; Kumari et al., 1978). They also induce atresia of preantral follicles (Louvet et
al., 1975) and play a role in hCG-induced ovulation. Important to the discussion of antiandrogen
exposure to the female, cyproterone acetate has been reported to accelerate the rate of atresia and
subsequently transform the atretic preovulatory follicle into an ovarian cyst (Peluso et al., 1979).

     Exposure to pronamide, in long-term carcinogen!city studies in rats, results in ovarian
histopathology at 48.8 mg/kg/day in addition to thyroid and liver histopathology (MRID#
41714001, 41714002, 42093401, 41714001, and 41714002, HED Doc# 00899 and 009683).
Testis, thyroid, and liver tumors are seen at > 8.46 mg/kg/day.  Pronamide does alter thyroid-
stimulating hormone and thyroid hormone levels in the blood; however, an evaluation of the
reproductive hormones has not been conducted.
     In summary, the review of the multiple data sets available to the Office of Pesticide
Programs produced a rather limited set of compounds that may be  considered endocrine
disrupters in the female. Studies conducted under testing guidelines currently required are not
designed specifically to detect endocrine mechanisms or specifically endocrine disruption; they are
designed to detect effects on endpoints of reproductive concern that may occur throughout
several life stages of the animal regardless of their mechanism of action.  Specific procedures for
identifying better measures of potential endocrine disruption are being developed and
incorporated in the more recent testing guidelines for development and reproduction (U.S.  EPA,
1995) and are discussed in the new Reproductive Toxicity Risk Assessment Guidelines (U.S.
EPA, 1996). Thus, future assessment of potential reproductive hazards should be  facilitated.
However, it should be noted that additional data may be required if results from studies conducted
under the new guidelines indicate a need to further characterize the effects for regulatory

     iii.  Conclusions
     Studies conducted under testing guidelines currently required are not designed specifically
to detect endocrine disruption.  Specific procedures for characterizing some endpoints of
endocrine disruption are being developed and incorporated in updated testing guidelines for
reproduction. With the inclusion of endocrine-sensitive endpoints in these guidelines, the effects
of environmental agents on aspects of reproduction that involve endocrine disruption, particularly
during development, will be better understood.

     b. Endometriosis
     i. Background
     Endometriosis is a painful reproductive and immunologic disease of women characterized by
aberrant location of uterine endometrial cells. It affects approximately 5 million women in the
United States from 15 to 45 years of age (Holloway, 1994).  Endometrial tissue usually occurs in
or on ovaries, uterine ligaments, rectovaginal pouches, and pelvic peritoneum. Endometriosis
often causes infertility, dysmenorrhea, and pelvic pain. Dysmenorrhea is caused by the sloughing
of the estrogen-induced proliferation of the ectopic endometrial implant and the internal bleeding
that follows. The etiology of this disease is unknown, but several hypotheses have been
proposed.  The regurgitation theory proposes that menstrual backflow occurs through the uterine
tubes with implantation of endometrial cells in extrauterine sites. The metaplastic theory proposes
endometrial differentiation from coelomic epithelium. The vascular/lymphatic dissemination
theory provides a mechanism to explain extra pelvic implantation. A review of this disease has
been published (Olive and Schwartz, 1993).
     An association between women with endometriosis and high blood levels of PCBs has been
reported (Gerhard and Runnebaum, 1992). In  1993, research showed a link between TCDD
(dioxin) exposure and the development of endometriosis in rhesus monkeys (Rier et al., 1993).
The severity of this lesion was dependent on the dose administered (p<0.001) over a 4-year
period. Ten years following dosing, three of seven animals exposed to 5 ppt dioxin (43%) and
five of seven animals exposed to 25 ppt dioxin (71%) had moderate to severe endometriosis.  In
contrast, the frequency of disease in the control group was 33%,  similar to an overall prevalence
of 30% in 304 rhesus monkeys housed at the Harlow Primate Center with no dioxin exposure.
Pair-wise comparisons between controls and the 5 ppt group and the 25 ppt group were p<0.05
and p<0.025, respectively. This 15-year study, on a limited number of animals, suggests that
latent female reproductive abnormalities may be associated with dioxin exposure in rhesus
monkeys.  Of course, other factors (diet, facilities) at the Harlow Primate Center may be
contributing to the high background incidence in controls and the resident population. It is
interesting that both dioxin and PCBs are ligands for the Ah receptor, which is known to suppress
the immune system (Harper et al., 1993; Tryphonas, 1994).  Recently, Arnold et al. (1996)
concluded in a reproductive toxicology study in rhesus monkeys, that the incidence and severity
of endometriosis lesions did not have any relationship with the ingestion of the PCB Aroclor
     Boyd and coworkers (1995) have conducted a small clinical study to test the hypothesis that
serum dioxin concentrations have an association with human endometriosis. Serum samples from
15 women with laparoscopically diagnosed endometriosis (5 each with the disease classified as
mild, moderate, or severe) and an equal number of geographically and age-matched controls with

a history of fertility and no clinical evidence of endometriosis were analyzed for the presence of
22 of the most common dioxin, furan, and PCB congeners. No statistically significant
correlations between disease status and serum levels of halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons were
found.  These preliminary data, admittedly on a limited population, suggest that serum dioxin
concentrations may not be related to human endometriosis. What may be seen in monkeys,
therefore, may not apply to humans.

     ii. Toxicity Testing in Animals and Extrapolation to Humans
     Whether current body burdens of dioxin contribute to background prevalence of
endometriosis in monkeys and whether a specific chemical plays a causative role in the etiology of
human endometriosis remain to be determined. An ongoing epidemiology study of victims
contaminated with dioxin in the 1976 industrial accident in Seveso, Italy,  and who had serum
concentrations of 56 ppb should provide valuable human data on the possible role of dioxin in
human endometriosis.

     iii. Conclusions
     The evidence for supporting the hypothesis that dioxin and PCBs are causally related to
human endometriosis via an endocrine-disruption mechanism is very weak.  Further epidemiologic
and clinical research needs to be done to evaluate the possible role of chlorinated hydrocarbons in
the etiology of endometriosis in women.

     c. Breast Cancer
     i. Background
     This year, more than one-half of a million Americans will succumb to cancer, making it the
Nation's second leading killer after cardiovascular disease.  Of this number, 46,000 will die of
breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women after lung cancer (Silverberg
and Lubera, 1988). It is estimated that one  in eight or nine women in this country will develop
breast cancer in her lifetime. Over the past  20 years, the incidence of breast cancer has increased
by 1%  a year, due in part to improved diagnostic procedures (mammography) and early detection
of small tumors (Feuer and Wun, 1992; Miller et al., 1994).  Even with earlier detection, mortality
rates have remained level over the  past 50 years despite improved therapies. While considerable
information on risk factors for human breast cancer etiology is available (sex, family history, age,
race, age at menarche, decreased parity, unopposed estrogen therapy), the elucidation of the
precise roles that chemical carcinogens, physical (radiation and electromagnetic fields) and
biological  agents (viruses), varied lifestyles (diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, abortion, and
oral contraception), and genetic susceptibility (oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes) have to

play in the initiation, promotion, and/or progression of this disease in humans makes the task a
monumental challenge.
     It has been suggested that women exposed to certain persistent pesticides, such as
organochlorines (e.g., DDT), PCBs, and/or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), have an
increased risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime (Morris and Seifter, 1992; Davis et al.,
1993; Wolff et al., 1993; Davis and Bradlow, 1995). In general, these compounds are lipophilic
and environmentally persistent. That some of these agents exhibit weak estrogenicity is the basis
for an "estrogen window" hypothesis that they may be contributing to an increased risk of breast
cancer.  This hypothesis is based on the concept that extended, unopposed estrogen exposure
during in utero development, puberty, and the perimenopausal periods increases the risk of breast
cancer in susceptible women.  Whether extended estrogenic exposure acts as a complete
carcinogenic factor or as a promoter is not known.  The estrogen-receptor complex interacts with
the genome and is mitogenic in responsive tissues. Wolff et al. (1993) linked breast cancer to
moderate levels of DDE, a breakdown product of the estrogenic pesticide o,p'-DDT.  In a more
recent nested case-control study designed to evaluate organochlorine levels in case patients long
before breast cancer diagnosis, adjusting for other known risk factors for breast cancer and
stratified across racial/ethnic subpopulations, Krieger and coworkers (1994) concluded that DDE
and PCB exposure did not increase the risk of breast cancer in the total population, but the
researchers did report that DDE levels among black case patients were higher than levels in black
control women. An earlier followup retrospective cohort study  of women exposed occupationally
to elevated PCBs failed to demonstrate an excess risk of breast cancer mortality (Brown,  1987).
A recent small, nested case-control study enrolled in a polybrominated biphenyl registry showed
that women with serum PBB levels of 2-4  ppb had a higher estimated risk for breast cancer than
women with less than 2 ppb (Henderson et al.,  1995). It should be noted that many of these
chemicals have been banned in the United  States and levels of them in the environment have been
declining in this country. In two recent epidemiologic reviews of the breast cancer problem and
the possible role of organochlorine chemicals in its etiology, the weight of evidence for an
association between organochlorines and human breast cancer was found not compelling
(Houghton and Ritter, 1995; Ahlborg et al., 1995).  The issue of smoking and breast cancer is
controversial. Exposure to cigarette smoking during adolescence increases a woman's risk of
breast cancer (Palmer and Rosenberg, 1993). In MCF-7 breast cell cultures, however, several
polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons that bind to the Ah receptor and that are constituents  of
cigarette smoke decrease estrogen-induced cell proliferation (Chaloupka et al., 1992).
     It should be noted that while members of the organochlorine class of pesticides, which
include four remaining registered pesticides (dicofol, endosulfan, lindane, and methoxychlor), may
produce reproductive and developmental effects in test species, the existing data do not support

their potential for inducing mammary gland tumors.  Among the organochlorines that have been
banned or canceled (DDT/DDE, chlordane, heptachlor, mirex, aldrin/dieldrin), the target organs
for carcinogenesis include the liver and thyroid.  There are no reports in the Office of Pesticide
Programs's registration database of an association between DDT/DDE exposure and rodent
mammary gland tumors, thereby providing little support to the hypothesis linking these substances
with human breast cancer.  Of course, this assumes that rodent studies are predictive of human
breast cancer.
     A recent report by Brown and Lamartiniere (1995) has shown that DES, genistein, and o,p'-
DDT administered to Sprague-Dawley female rats resulted in enhanced epithelial cell proliferation
and differentiation of abdominal mammary glands. TCDD was inhibitory, and Aroclor 1221 and
1254 showed no significant cell proliferation increases.  Other reports indicate that the herbicide
Atrazine induces mammary gland tumors in Sprague-Dawley female rats (Wetzel et al., 1994;
Stevens et al., 1994).
     A recent publication has appeared indicating that some 75% of the current incidence of
human breast cancer in the United States is attributable to past exposures to ionizing radiation
(Gofman,  1995). Whether this hypothesis holds up to scientific scrutiny has yet to be determined.

     ii. Toxicity Testing in Animals and Extrapolation to Humans
     The study of chemically induced carcinogenesis of the mammary gland has been difficult and
slow. With an increased number of women entering the workplace in recent years, the
opportunity for exposure of women  to potentially hazardous chemicals has increased.  One
explanation for the slow progress in  studying risk in women is the lack of appropriate, biologically
based animal models for understanding mechanisms by which toxicants interact with female
reproductive target tissues and the resulting health effects that follow exposure.
     A complicating factor in animal testing programs for predicting human breast cancer is the
variability in susceptibility to chemical carcinogens among rodent strains.  For example, Sprague-
Dawley rats have high spontaneous rates of mammary tumors, while Fischer, ACT, and
Copenhagen strains exhibit lower rates of mammary gland tumors (Isaacs, 1986).  Independent
investigators have used a wide variety of rodent strains in evaluating chemically induced
carcinogenesis of the mammary gland.  This fact makes interpretation of past data difficult when
comparing data and  extrapolating across species and strains. Pertinent is the report that one of
the triazine herbicides (Atrazine) induces mammary gland tumors in Sprague-Dawley female rats
but not in the Fischer 344 (Wetzel et al., 1994).
     The evaluation of chemicals in laboratory rodents has been the cornerstone of the National
Toxicology Program (NTP) for identifying those chemicals most likely to cause cancer in humans.
The species most often used by the NTP are the inbred Fischer 344 rat and the hybrid B6C3F1

mouse (Huff et al., 1991). Recently, Dunnick et al. (1995) have reviewed NTP's chemically
induced mammary gland carcinogenesis rodent studies.  Out of 450 chemicals tested, 34 cause
mammary gland neoplasms. Of these, 29 chemicals are positive in female rats; 4 of the 29 cause
mammary gland neoplasms in both male and female rats and mice. These four chemicals are 1,2-
dibromoethane, 1,2-dichloroethane, glycidol, and sulfallate, all genotoxic chemicals. The finding
of mammary gland tumors in male rodents is notable because the occurrence of breast cancer in
human males is a rare phenomenon. Six other chemicals (benzene, 1,3-butadiene, dichlorvos,
ethylene oxide, methylene chloride, and nitrofurazone) cause mammary gland neoplasms in female
mice (Huff et al., 1991). It should be kept in mind that the above 2-year cancer studies do not
include pregnancy and lactation in their experimental design, which can influence expression of
mammary gland carcinogenesis (Grubbs et al., 1985).
     In addition to strain differences, current testing paradigms in laboratory rodents for
mammary carcinogenesis may not be adequate for  predicting whether a chemical agent is a human
mammary gland carcinogen.  Evidence for this comes from a number of studies demonstrating
differences in mechanism(s) of mammary tumor development between species. For example, in
high incidence strains for developing mammary gland tumors, nulliparous mice develop fewer
mammary gland tumors in contrast to multiparous mice (Zwieten, 1984;  Russo et al., 1989).
However, in humans, full-term pregnancy followed by lactation reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Furthermore, with few exceptions, spontaneous mammary adenocarcinomas in rats and mice are
rare and fail  to metastasize to distant organ sites (Williams et al., 1981).  Whether this is due to
the presence of tumor suppressor factors or some other mechanism is worthy of study. This lack
of metastasis in rodents is quite different from that seen in human populations, where
undifferentiated breast cancer cells can take up residence in bone, liver, brain, and lung and
thereby contribute to the high mortality seen in clinical situations. In addition to differences in
metastatic capability, routine chronic testing and two-generation reproductive studies in
laboratory animals are done at high doses and in homogeneous animal populations. These doses
usually are considerably higher than the concentrations likely to be experienced by human
populations,  which exhibit varied genetic heterogeneity. Furthermore, there is in vitro evidence
that interspecies differences exist in metabolizing toxicants. For example, human and rat
mammary gland co-cultures with V-79 cells respond differently  to mutagenic PAHs
(benzo[a]pyrene and 7,12-dimethyl benz[a]anthracene) (Gould et al., 1986).

     iii.  Conclusions
     Given the sparse human epidemiologic data on the association  between organochlorines,
PAHs, and PCB exposures and human breast cancer, it is not possible to attribute to them a cause
and effect at this time (Key and Reeves, 1994; Houghton and Ritter, 1995). Further

epidemiologic investigations in geographical regions with elevated breast cancer incidences (e.g.,
Long Island, NY) are needed as well as complementary mechanistic studies in appropriate and
predictive laboratory animals.

2. Male Reproductive System Effects
     a. Background
     Abnormality in the expression of the genome or interference with the action of gene
products, as well as acceleration of the rate of cell division, can be induced in male reproductive
organs by chemicals having endocrine activity. Because the male reproductive endocrine system
involves components from the hypothalamus and pituitary as well as the testes, opportunities for
disruption exist at multiple levels and with a variety of types of endocrine action. Of particular
importance are chemicals with the ability to affect testosterone production directly or by
influencing the control of gonadotropin production. Thus, chemicals with estrogenic,
antiandrogenic, or Ah receptor binding activity are primary suspects, as are chemicals that
influence the synthesis or release  of FSH, LH, or prolactin.  Included are chemicals that interfere
with hormone receptor synthesis or function. While the adult male reproductive system can be
affected adversely by disruption of the endocrine balance, the development of the male
reproductive system pre- and postnatally appears to be particularly susceptible and uniquely
sensitive.  For that reason, this discussion is focused on developmentally induced effects.
     Very early embryos have the potential to develop either a female or male reproductive
system. In mammals, including humans, development of the male phenotype requires activation
of the SRY gene on the Y chromosome. In the absence of expression of that gene, the female
phenotype develops. The mechanisms of action of the SRY gene product have not been
elucidated fully, but a cascade of  events is initiated. These events have been reviewed by George
and Wilson (1994) and Byskov and Hoyer (1994), and their descriptions are summarized below.
     The embryonic gonads are formed by migration of primordial germ cells (gonocytes) to the
urogenital ridge of the mesonephric kidneys where they and other somatic cells from the
urogenital ridge form a gonadal ridge.  Somatic cells from the urogenital ridge include precursors
of Sertoli and Ley dig cells.  This process begins early in week 4 of gestation in humans, and the
migration is completed during week 5.  During week 6, the first morphologic sign of male sexual
differentiation is seen when somatic cells (primordial Sertoli cells) in the gonadal ridge form
spermatogenic cords.
     Before this time, the sexually undifferentiated fetus has formed two paired ducts called the
Wolffian duct and the Mullerian duct.  These ducts terminate in a structure called the urogenital
sinus.  Before 8 weeks of gestation, these internal structures as well as the external genitalia of
genetic males and females are indistinguishable morphologically.  During week 8 in the male, the

Mullerian ducts begin to regress due to the action of anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) produced by
the primordial Sertoli cells. Completion of this regression is essential for formation of normal
phenotypic males.  Following Mullerian duct regression, the Wolffian ducts form the epididymis,
vas deferens, and seminal vesicles. The urogenital sinus forms the prostate gland as well as the
bladder and initial urethra. Simultaneously, the external genitalia develop to form the penis,
including the penile urethra, and scrotum. With the exception of Mullerian duct regression, these
sexual differentiation events are under the control of testosterone that is produced by the fetal
Leydig cells. Testosterone is also necessary for completion of Mullerian duct regression but is
ineffective without AMH. Target cell responses to testosterone (and dihydrotestosterone) are
mediated via the androgen receptor (AR).
     During the latter two-thirds of human gestation, important events include development of
the testes, development of the penis, and migration and descent of the testes into the scrotum.
During that period and postnatally, testis development continues with proliferation of gonocytes,
Sertoli cells, and Leydig cells. These processes all require testosterone and/or
dihydrotestosterone (produced from testosterone) and normal AR function to  proceed normally.
     Thus, two hormones have been identified that are directly  involved in differentiation and
development of the male reproductive tract.  These are AMH and testosterone.  Interference  with
AMH expression or action would result in failure of the Mullerian ducts to regress and presence
of rudimentary components of the female reproductive tract in otherwise phenotypic males, that
is, a pseudohermaphrodite condition. Interference with production or action of testosterone
would cause failure of or limited development of the male reproductive tract in general.
Depending on the extent of that interference, the consequences  would be complete or partial
failure of the male reproductive system to develop. Variation in the timing of interference could
cause differential effects (Silversides et al., 1995).  Effects that could be seen include the
     Incomplete development of the external and internal genitalia, including an underdeveloped
penis (hypospadia or microphallus).  These conditions can preclude copulation.
     Failure of the testes to descend into the scrotum (cryptorchidism).  Cryptorchidism in
humans is associated with increased incidence of testicular cancer (Forman et al., 1994) and
impaired spermatogenesis.
     Incomplete proliferation or maturation of gonocytes (precursor cells of sperm) and/or
Sertoli cells that would result in reduced capability to produce sperm. It has been suggested, but
not proved, that the presence  of fetal germ cells in postpubertal testes could be the origin of germ
cell tumors that develop in young men (Skakkebaek et al., 1987).
     Incomplete proliferation of Leydig cells or interference with Leydig cell function that could
limit androgen production, delay  or prevent onset of puberty, and affect sexual behavior in adults.

     b. Influence of Hormones on the Mammalian Male Reproductive System
     The action of androgen, mediated via the AR, is essential for normal development of the
mammalian male reproductive system. Under normal physiological conditions, testosterone and
dihydrotestosterone are the primary androgens that activate the AR.  Three classes of chemicals
that have been shown to influence androgen level when administered during the developmental
period are of particular concern. Those are chemicals having antagonistic properties with the AR
(antiandrogens), those that interact with the estrogen receptor, and those that interact with the Ah

     i. Antiandrogens
     Chemicals that can bind to the AR without activating it, and simultaneously prevent binding
of true androgens, are called antiandrogens. Examples of antiandrogens are the pharmaceutical
hydroxyflutamide, the pesticides procymidone (Hosokawa et al., 1993) and vinclozolin (Gray et
al., 1994), and the DDT metabolite p,p'-DDE (Kelce et al., 1995a,b).  O,p'-DDT has weak
estrogenic activity.  The recognition that the major metabolite is an antiandrogen introduces
another mechanism  for the effects of DDT. Also, in addition to their high affinity for the estrogen
receptor, estradiol and DBS have affinity for the AR (Kelce et al.,  1995a,b). Therefore, it is
possible that the mechanism by which estrogenic chemicals impair development of the male
reproductive system may be via antiandrogenic properties rather than or in addition to activity
related to estrogen receptor activation. Other compounds with estrogenic activity that have the
ability to affect the male reproductive system adversely, e.g.,  chlordecone and methoxychlor
(Bulger and Kupfer, 1985), have not been investigated for antiandrogenic properties.
     Failure to activate the AR due to low androgen levels or antiandrogen activity would
produce results similar to the less severe alterations seen in individuals with defective ARs.  The
range of those effects is seen clearly in human 46,XY genetic males who have defects in the AR
(androgen insensitivity syndrome [AIS]). AIS in humans has been reviewed by Quigley et al.
(1995). As discussed below, similar effects have been observed in genotypic males exposed
prenatally toDES.
     An example of an environmental chemical that has antiandrogenic properties is the fungicide
vinclozolin. Gray et al. (1994) administered vinclozolin to pregnant rats from gestation day 14 to
postnatal day 3. Male offspring had a variety of reproductive effects that are characteristic of
interference with AR action. Effects observed included reduction of anogenital distance to that
characteristic of females, impaired penis development, existence of vaginal pouches, prostate
gland agenesis, delayed preputial separation, and reduced or absent sperm production as judged
by seminiferous tubule atrophy.

     ii. Estrogens
     A series of papers and reports have appeared indicating that the human male reproductive
system, as well as that of certain wildlife species, has been compromised seriously in recent
decades.  Reported effects, which have included reduced sperm production, improper
development of the penis, cryptorchidism, and testicular tumors, are described in a report
commissioned by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (Toppari et al., 1995).  It has been
hypothesized that these effects are due to exposure in utero to exogenous chemicals with
estrogenic activity (Sharpe, 1993; Sharpe and Skakkebaek, 1993).  Sharpe et al. (1995) have
produced reductions in rat testicular weight and sperm production rate with relatively high
exposure levels of the estrogenic environmental chemicals octyphenol, octyphenol phenoxylate,
and butyl benzyl phthalate as well as DES.  Below, evidence that human male reproduction has
been compromised is summarized and evaluated.
     A report by Carlsen et al. (1992) described the results of a meta-analysis of human semen
studies published between 1938 and 1991.  Published data from a total of 61 studies were
evaluated. Those  studies were conducted in several different countries and examined differing
and often selected populations of men. The report concluded that human sperm production had
declined by approximately 50% over that period. The investigators' calculations, which were
derived from combining studies, suggested that a decline in mean sperm concentration from 113
x 106 to 66 x 106 sperm per ml of semen was accompanied by a mean ejaculate volume decline
from 3.4 to 2.75 ml over that period of approximately 50 years.  The authors concluded that there
was no obvious, valid reason to believe that human sperm production had not declined, but they
acknowledged that no basis existed in those data to demonstrate that the downward trend was
     The conclusions reached by Carlsen et al. (1992) and subsequent publications from that
group have been challenged on two fronts.  The first is whether an actual decline occurred  and if
so, whether the decline was limited to the period prior to 1970.  The second is whether such an
effect on sperm production might actually have been caused in humans by exogenous agents with
estrogenic activity.
     Issues raised regarding the conclusion that sperm production has declined include the
     The validity of comparing results obtained from different populations of men from different
geographic areas and different times (Sherins, 1995; Olsen et al., 1995).  Of particular concern is
the fact that the large majority of men in the different studies were from  selected populations that
included presumed fertile men presenting for vasectomies, male partners in infertile couples, and
volunteer semen donors for artificial insemination procedures. The analysis also has been
challenged on the basis of whether the criteria for inclusion in the studies might have changed due

to a change in World Health Organization criteria for judging sperm count to be inadequate for
normal fertility (Bromwich et al., 1994).  It is not clear that this latter criticism is valid, but the
challenge has not been refuted effectively (Farrow,  1994).
     The lack of control for abstinence time before provision of the semen sample (Sherins,
1995).  Increasing abstinence interval results generally in increasing sperm concentration and
volume of ejaculates. A systematic decrease in abstinence interval could explain much of the
purported decrease in sperm concentration and semen volume.
     The limitations in amount of data prior to 1970 and the use of a linear regression approach
to describe the behavior of the combined data.  As indicated by Olsen et al. (1995), only 12% of
the total subjects in the meta-analysis were in the first 30 years. Thus, the studies from which the
higher baseline of sperm count was determined do not form a robust base. Also, application of
more sophisticated approaches to modeling of the data indicates that  a stair-step procedure is
more appropriate. Stair-step modeling with the combined data concludes that sperm count
dropped between the group of studies prior to 1970 in comparison with those after 1970, but also
indicates that from 1970 to 1990, sperm count held steady or possibly increased. It must be
recognized that such modeling only describes the behavior of the data mathematically and does
not address biological plausibility.
     Evidence for a general decline in sperm production from other sources is conflicting. Auger
et al. (1995) examined the sperm count and semen volume of first ejaculates provided by healthy
fertile men volunteering as semen donors at the author's Paris clinic from 1973 to 1992. Declines
in sperm count (89 x 106 to 60 x 106) were reported during that interval. However, the
researchers did not find a decline in semen volume.  Irvine et al. (1996) and Ginsburg et al. (1994)
have reported similar results. On the other hand,  comparison of several studies published between
1958 and 1992 (Suominen and Vierula,  1993) supports a concept that no decrease in sperm count
or semen volume has occurred in Finnish men. Also, MacLeod and Wang (1979), whose
laboratory in New York provided a large proportion of the men included in the Carlsen et al.
(1992) meta-analysis for the pre-1970 period, concluded that sperm concentration or semen
volume had not changed in an equivalent population of men 20 years later. Further, Fisch et al.
(1996) and Paulsen et al. (1996) found no change in semen parameters at multiple locations in the
United States, including New York. It should be recognized that all of these studies were done on
selected populations. Thus, while there may be reductions in sperm production in some locations,
available data do not support the concept that there has been a general reduction. Because of the
limitations in virtually all of the data, the conclusions should be viewed as tenuous.
     Important information on the ability of exogenous estrogenic chemicals to disrupt human
male reproductive system development is available  from  maternal exposures to DES.  Particularly
important are two papers describing effects on male offspring resulting from pregnancies during

which women were treated with DES (Gill et al., 1979; Wilcox et al., 1995).  Those women
participated in a controlled clinical trial (the Chicago Lying-in Study) to examine effects of DES
given to prevent loss of pregnancy. DES was given in daily doses that increased from 5 mg
during the seventh week of pregnancy to a maximum of 150 mg by week 34. Women began
receiving DES between weeks 7 and 20, and the period in gestation at which treatment was
initiated was therefore not constant. Controls were given placebos.  The male offspring exposed
to DES in utero had increased incidence of genital malformations, including epididymal cysts
(nonmalignant; 21% vs. 5% for controls) and testicular abnormalities (11% vs. 3%) that included
small (hypoplastic) testes, and microphallus (Gill et al., 1979). A history of cryptorchidism was
found in 17 of the 26 exposed men with hypoplastic testes as  opposed to 1 of 6 placebo-exposed
men with hypoplastic testes (out of 308 and 307 men, respectively). Because incidence of
cryptorchidism was reported only for men with hypoplastic testes, definitive conclusions cannot
be drawn about the incidence of cryptorchidism in the overall population of DES-exposed men.
Overall incidence of reproductive tract abnormality (one or more major or minor abnormalities)
was 32% in DES-exposed men and 8% in controls. Average sperm concentration in ejaculates
from 134 of the DES-exposed men was 91 x 106  vs. 115 x 106 for 87 nonexposed controls. Most,
if not all, of that significant decrease was probably attributable to the higher incidence of exposed
men with hypoplastic testes. However, when the same population  was recontacted at age 38 to
41, no indication was found of a decrease in fertility among these men (Wilcox et al., 1995). No
report has indicated an increase in testicular cancer in this population.
     In considering these results, it is important to note that DES is a potent synthetic estrogen
that also has antiandrogen properties. With exposure in utero to relatively high levels of a potent
exogenous estrogen, about one-third of the men who were recontacted have clinically detectable
reproductive system effects. The types of effects that were observed are consistent with those
that would be predicted from studies with rodents, but men appear  to be less sensitive. Except as
might occur from nursing, there was no postnatal DES exposure.

     iii.  Ah receptor agonists
     A group of halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons that cause male reproductive effects have
the common property that they can activate the Ah receptor (Whitlock, 1994).  Where
comparable, the effects on the male reproductive  system are similar. The male reproductive
effects of dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD) are presented as an example. These effects have been reviewed
by Peterson et al. (1993),  and their review of these effects is summarized.
     Dioxin causes effects on the developing male reproductive system in rodents at lower doses
than those causing effects on adult males. The effects that are induced during development
appear to result from the ability of dioxin to impair testosterone synthesis, although impairment of

CNS sexual differentiation could be involved also. The low androgen level is not accompanied by
increased LH levels, indicating impairment of the feedback mechanism for control of LH synthesis
and release.  Observed effects include decreased anogenital distance, delayed testis descent,
impaired spermatogenic function, decreased accessory sex gland weights, and feminization of
male sexual behavior.  Recent work by Gray et al. (1995) has basically confirmed these results
with dioxin and expanded them using more extended dosing during the period of organogenesis
and over three generations. In the F l and F 2 generations, adverse effects on male fertility were
seen at doses (dietary) as low as 0.01  jig/kg/day.

     c.  Testicular Cancer
     i.  Germ Cell Tumors
     A substantial body of evidence has accumulated indicating that the incidence of testicular
cancer in men has increased significantly. The tumors are primarily germ cell in origin. Those
data have been summarized by Toppari et al. (1995). Salient features of the data include the
following conclusions:
     Toppari et al. (1995) have estimated that cancer incidence in men under age 50 has
increased approximately 2% to 4% per annum since the 1960s in Great Britain, the Nordic and
Baltic countries, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.  In Denmark, which appears to
have the highest incidence, the lifetime risk of contracting testicular cancer approaches 1%.
     There are marked differences in incidence levels between countries and between races.  In
the United States, whites appear to have a  higher incidence than blacks.
     Testicular cancer is the  most common malignancy among men age 25 to 34, with age-
specific incidence as high as approximately 25 per 105 in Denmark (Adami et al., 1994).
Interestingly, the corresponding incidence in Finland is about 5 per 10s. The reason for this
difference is not known.  Most of the tumors occurring in young men are germ cell in origin.
     Cryptorchidism is associated with no more than 10% of testis cancer cases (Chilvers and
Pike, 1992).
     The cause of the apparent increased incidence of testicular cancer is unknown, but it has
been speculated that disruption of the male endocrine system during development may be
involved. That speculation is fueled by (1) the appearance of immature germ cell forms in testes
of some men with testicular cancer (Skakkebaek et al., 1987); (2) a demonstrated association
between cryptorchidism and testicular cancer, and (3) the predominance of testicular cancer
incidence in young men. However, Gill et al. (1979) reported that none of the DES-exposed men
from the Chicago Lying-in Study who were contacted approximately 25 years later had
contracted testicular cancer.  While Wilcox et al. (1995) did not report on the incidence of
testicular cancer in those same men when recontacted at age 38 to 41, Wilcox (personal

communication) has stated that there were no cases of testicular cancer in either the exposed or
unexposed men who were contacted.  By age 38 to 41, that cohort was sufficiently old to have
developed testicular cancer if they were at increased risk although the number of men in this study
was small.  These data are in accord with those of the Danish report (Toppari et al., 1995).

     ii. Ley dig Cell Hyperplasia and Tumors
     Ley dig cells are contained in the interstitial spaces between seminiferous tubules in the
testis.  They are responsive to LH and are the primary source of testosterone in males. A number
of chemicals have been shown to increase the incidence of Ley dig cell hyperplasia and adenomas
in chronic toxicity studies with rodents. Although some Ley dig cell tumorigens also have
mutagenic properties, many do not.  The demonstration of nongenotoxic bases for Leydig cell
hyperplasia and adenomas in test  animals and the apparently greater susceptibility of test species
to these lesions has made their relevance for human risk unclear.
     A workshop (Clegg et al., 1996) was convened to review the available information on
Leydig cell hyperplasia and adenomas and to reach consensus about the relevance of test animal
results for human risk assessment. Apparent incidence is rare and restricted primarily to white
males. Comparisons with incidence in test species are tenuous because the diagnosis in test
animals is from a combination of gross observation and histological examination, and in humans is
from palpation in selected populations. However, available data suggest a difference in the
relative susceptibility of humans to Leydig cell tumorigenesis. Because uncertainties exist about
the true incidence in humans, induction of Leydig cell adenomas in test species is of concern
under some conditions. The work group focused on seven hormonal modes of induction of which
two, GnRH agonism and dopamine agonism, were considered not relevant to humans.  AR
antagonism, 5a-reductase inhibition, testosterone biosynthesis inhibition, aromatase inhibition,
and estrogen agonism were considered to be relevant or potentially relevant but for which
quantitative differences may exist across species. Occurrence of Leydig cell hyperplasia alone in
test species was not considered to constitute a cause for concern in a risk assessment for
carcinogenic potential, but early occurrence could indicate a need for additional testing.
Occurrence of Leydig cell adenomas in test species was of concern as both a carcinogenic and
reproductive effect if the mode of induction and potential  exposures could not be ruled out as
relevant for humans.

     d. Conclusions
     Convincing evidence exists in rodents that exposure to chemicals that have estrogenic
activity, reduce androgen level, or otherwise interfere with the action of androgen during
development can cause male reproductive system abnormalities that include reduced sperm
production capability and reproductive tract abnormalities.  The type of abnormality observed is
dependent on the developmental period in which the disruption of the normal endocrine balance
occurred and the extent of the disruption.  Results obtained from observation of men exposed to
DBS in utero provide data on the potential of exogenous estrogens to disrupt the reproductive
system during development in human males.  These data demonstrate that male reproductive tract
anomalies are produced by DES, but in a limited proportion of the men and not at a level of
severity that would be predicted from studies with mice that typically might receive 100 |ig/kg
(Bullock et al., 1988).  The data indicate that there is a decrease in sperm production that may be
limited to men with other effects as well (i.e., cryptorchidism and/or hypoplastic testes). There is
no evidence that fertility was reduced in that population of men.  The  level of estrogenic activity
to which the men in the DES study were exposed was very high,  but levels early in gestation were
substantially lower than levels in late gestation and not all women were given DES in early
gestation.  Therefore, it is not possible to state with certainty that the  effects observed could not
have been caused by the lower  levels of exposure rather than by the higher levels experienced
during late gestation.  Occupational exposure to chlordecone (Kepone) was reported to cause
oligospermia in men, an effect  that was presumed due to the estrogenic activity of that agent
(Cannon et al., 1978).
     Until recently, the emphasis with respect to disruption of the male endocrine system by
environmental agents has been  on chemicals with estrogenic activity.  It has been known for some
time from work with test species, and to a lesser extent with human males, that chemicals with
antiandrogenic activity also can disrupt the male reproductive system. The recent revelations that
agents such as estradiol and DES, as well as the DDT metabolite DDE, also have antiandrogenic
activity place significantly increased importance on that mechanism of action.  It is quite possible
that the effects attributed to estrogenic activity are due to antiandrogenic activity instead of or in
addition to estrogenic activity.  Therefore, it is important that testing for endocrine-disrupting
potential of environmental chemicals include the ability to detect  antiandrogenic activity in
addition to estrogenic activity.  Testing also should be able to detect alteration in AR function as
reflected in genome expression.
     Controversy persists as to the allegation that human sperm  production has decreased over
the past 50 years. However, the firm data indicating an increase in human testicular cancer, as
well as apparent occurrence of other plausibly related effects, supports the concept that adverse
effects have occurred or still exist.

     e. Prostate Cancer
     i.  Background
     Carcinoma of the prostate, an androgen-dependent organ, is the second leading cause of
cancer deaths in males in the Unites States and remains incurable once it has metastasized. An
estimated 200,000 new cases were diagnosed in the United States during 1994, along with about
40,000 deaths (Garnick, 1994). Increased incidence of prostate cancer in recent years is due in
large part to increased detection screening (digital rectal examination and serum prostate specific
antigen) in men over 50 years of age (Potosky et al., 1995). Death due to prostate cancer has
increased by 17% over the past 30 years despite improved diagnosis. Cancer of the prostate is a
disease of men over 50, with about 1 in 10 developing the disease by age 85. There are racial
differences in susceptibility, the prevalence being rare in Orientals, 20 to 30 times higher in
Caucasians, and even higher in African-American males (40% higher than whites).
     Little is known about the causes of prostatic cancer, but age, genetics, endocrine status,
diet, and environmental risk factors have been proposed. Apparently, no causative association
between smoking, alcohol, coffee, tea, or caffeine consumption with human prostate cancer has
been found (Slattery and West, 1993; Moller et al., 1994; van der Gulden et al.,  1994). Serum
concentrations of gonadotropins (FSH and LH), testosterone, androstenedione, estradiol, and sex
hormone-binding globulin are not good predictors of risk (Andersson et al., 1993).  Intake of
dietary fat appears to be a risk factor in some studies (Pienta and Esper,  1993; Le Marchand et al.,
1994). However, a recent case-control study in Sweden has failed to find an association between
diet during childhood and prostate cancer risk (Andersson et al., 1995).  Controversy also exists
concerning the risk of prostate cancer following vasectomy.
     The possible role of chemical exposure and endocrine disruption as a contributing factor in
the etiology of adenocarcinoma of the prostate must be considered.  In a retrospective  cohort
epidemiology study of Canadian farmers linked to the Canadian National Mortality Database, a
weak but statistically significant association  (rate ratio = 1.19, 95% confidence interval = 0.98-
1.45) between acres sprayed with herbicides and prostate cancer deaths was found (Morrison et
al., 1993). In a 30-year followup study of coke oven workers, an association of coke oven
emissions with significant excess mortality from cancer of the prostate has been observed
(Costantino et al., 1995).
     Endpoints of chemically induced carcinogenesis in animal models include incidence, tumor
number, and latency (time to tumor). Shirai  et al. (1992) have studied N-hydroxy-3,2'-dimethyl-
4-amino biphenyl (N-OH-DMAB) induction of prostate carcinogenesis in rats.  Groups of F344
rats were administered biweekly intraperitoneal injections of N-OH-DMAB at a dose of 5, 10, or
20 mg/kg body weight or of DMAB, the parent compound, at a dose of 25 mg/kg body weight,

for a total of 10 doses. Prostate carcinomas in the ventral lobe developed in an N-OH-DMAB
dose-dependent manner (0, 17.6, and 66.7%, respectively) with limited tumor yields in other
     There is some evidence for a role of the heavy metal cadmium in prostate cancer etiology in
some epidemiology and animal studies (Waalkes and Rehm, 1994).

     ii.  Toxicity Testing in Animals and Extrapolation to Humans
     Research on the etiology of prostate cancer has been hindered by the lack of suitable animal
models for study.  The development and validation of animal models for testing xenobiotic
chemicals that are predictive of risk for human adenocarcinoma of the prostate are essential.  In
contrast to its frequent occurrence in humans, prostate cancer is rare in laboratory rodents.
Therefore, to make this disease more amenable for study, there is a growing effort to identify or
develop a means to target carcinogenesis in the prostate gland of rodents.  This goal is being
approached with the use  of three different methods: one method takes advantage of the unique
androgenic hormone requirement for prostate growth to exaggerate the effects of carcinogens at
that site, and two methods (recombinant retrovirus transduction prior to organ reconstitution and
transgenic targeting)  allow direct genetic manipulation of cells in the prostate gland leading  to the
development of prostatic malignancy (Buttyan and Slawin, 1993).
     Short-term treatment of rats with chemical carcinogens produces a low incidence (5 to
15%) of prostate cancer,  provided that prostatic  cell proliferation is enhanced during carcinogen
exposure. Chronic treatment with testosterone also induces a low prostate carcinoma incidence.
A high carcinoma incidence can be produced only by chronic treatment with testosterone
following administration of carcinogens such as N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) and DMAB.
Testosterone markedly enhances prostate carcinogenesis even at doses that do not measurably
increase circulating testosterone.  Thus, testosterone is a strong tumor promoter for the rat
     Transgenic mouse models for prostate cancer have been developed,  inserting the mouse int-
2 or the  rat prostatic steroid binding protein C3(l) genes, respectively (Thompson et al., 1993;
Maroulakou et al., 1994). These models offer the opportunity of studying hormone response
elements in vivo and the multistage  progression of adenocarcinoma of the prostate.  Another
promising model for human prostate cancer metastasis employs the orthotopic (but not ectopic)
implantation of human prostate cells (PC-3M and LNCaP) in BALB/c nude mice (Stephenson et
al., 1992). The transplantation of human prostatic carcinoma cells in nude mice is enhanced when
injected in Matrigel (Passaniti et al., 1992).  A review of animal models for the  study of prostate
carcinogenesis has been published (Bosland,  1992).

     iii.  Conclusions
     Currently, the weight of available evidence linking herbicides or PAHs to prostate cancer is
weak, and more epidemiologic and animal research is required before assigning a specific
endocrine disruption  (or any other) mechanism as a specific cause of human adenocarcinoma of
the prostate.

3. Hypothalamus and Pituitary
     The CNS plays a major role in integrating hormonal and behavioral activity. Disturbances in
these finely coordinated mechanisms can severely impair normal adaptive behavior and
reproduction.  During development and in adult life, the brain is a target tissue for the action of
gonadal hormones. Similarly, hormones regulate many behavioral activities and vise versa (e.g.,
epinephrine prepares the "fight-or-flight" response; suckling releases oxytocin).

     a. Mammalian Development
     The developing nervous system is particularly sensitive to hormones and insult by drugs and
environmental chemicals; the specific processes of sexual differentiation of the brain represent an
excellent example of this sensitivity. In rodents, sexual differentiation of the CNS can be modified
by experimental hormone treatments administered shortly before or shortly after birth.  In
contrast, differentiation of the gonads and reproductive tract occurs earlier in gestation. Before
gender differentiation, the brain is inherently female or at least bipotential (Gorski, 1986).  Thus,
the functional and structural sex differences in the CNS are not due directly to sex differences in
neuronal genomic expression, but rather are imposed or imprinted by the gonadal steroid
environment during development.
     In the CNS, testosterone is metabolized to both estradiol and dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
In the rat, mouse and hamster, the aromatization of testosterone to estradiol is responsible for
CNS sex differentiation, whereas in certain other mammals (e.g., rhesus monkey) the androgenic
(DHT) pathway appears to be essential (McEwen, 1980).  In humans, the role of estrogens in
CNS sexual differentiation remains uncertain.
     If one administers exogenous steroids (i.e., testosterone propionate) to the genotypic female
rodent within the first week of postnatal life, her neuroendocrine system will differentiate
phenotypically male (i.e., her brain is masculinized). Such masculinization of the female brain by
the aromatization of testosterone to estrogen in the brain also is reflected in similar masculinizing
effects observed with low doses of estrogen or DBS, treatments without effect on the genotypic
male. This "masculinized" female (1) does not ovulate, (2) has polyfollicular ovaries, (3) displays
persistent vaginal estrus, (4) does not show positive feedback to gonadal hormones  (i.e., an
ovulatory surge of LH cannot be stimulated), and (5) exhibits sexual behavior more typical of that

observed in the genetic male.  In contrast, the opposite is seen following castration in early
postnatal life. Removal of the ovaries from the neonate is without major effect on sexual
differentiation of the female rodent brain. However, if the testes are removed before the third
postnatal day of life, this male at adulthood exhibits neuroendocrine characteristics typical of the
female, including both the ability to release a cyclical surge of LH and to exhibit feminine lordotic
(posture in the female of reproductive receptivity) behavior. The timing of these important
developmental endocrine events responsible for sexual differentiation of the human brain remains
poorly defined but appears to occur earlier in fetal development than in rodents.
     A number of organochlorine pesticides,  including Kepone (chlordecone) (Gellert, 1978),
DDT (Bulger and Kupfer, 1985), methoxychlor (Gray et al., 1989), and the mycoestrogen
zearalenone (Kumagai and Shimizu,  1982), have been  shown to masculinize female rats. In
contrast, purported anti-estrogens, such as tamoxifen (Dohler et al., 1984), demasculinize the
male, including the size of the sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area such that it
resembles that observed in the female.  Exposure of newborn female rats to these xenoestrogens
during the critical periods of sexual differentiation has been shown to perturb reproductive
processes in later life, presumably by altering the development of the neural mechanisms
regulating gonadotropin secretion. For example, the sexually dimorphic nucleus has been argued
to vary with the degree of masculinization induced by phytoestrogens (Faber and Hughes, 1993).
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring nonsteroidal plant chemicals with estrogen-mimetic
     Investigations in the neonatal rat also indicate that analogs of DDT, i.e.,
l-(o-chlorophenyl)-l(p-chlorophenyl)-2,2,2 -trichloroethane (o,p'-DDT), also may have
estrogenic activity at the neuroendocrine level. Heinrichs et al. (1971) found that female rats
given o,p'-DDT as neonates exhibited advanced puberty (vaginal opening), persistent vaginal
estrus after a period of normal cycling, follicular cysts, and a reduction in the number of corpora
lutea (anovulation).  TCDD administered by gavage to pregnant female Long-Evans Hooded and
Holtzman rats on gestational day  15 at 1 |ig/kg causes  a delay in puberty and incomplete opening
of the vaginal orifice in female offspring (Gray and Ostby, 1995).
     In the male rat, treatment with aromatase inhibitors such as fenarimol has been hypothesized
to inhibit normal masculinization of the brain  (Hirsch et al., 1987). The antiandrogen vinclozolin,
which acts as an AR blocker and does not reduce  the aromatization of testosterone to estrogen,
was not found to alter male sexual behavior after perinatal treatment (albeit the reproductive tract
was affected).  Although a hormonal  influence on  sexual differentiation of the CNS may vary
somewhat among different species, some role for gonadal hormone modulation of CNS
development has been indicated in most animals studied.
     In summary, sexual differentiation may be affected by a variety of environmental

compounds. Although the majority of effort has focused on those compounds reported to have
steroidogenic activity, it may be premature to assume that other nonsteroidal compounds are
without effect on sexual  differentiation of the brain.  The masculinizing effects of androgens on
the female brain can be partially blocked by neuroactive drugs such as reserpine and
chlorpromazine, while pentobarbital and phenobarbital provide more complete protection against
testosterone (Arai and Gorski, 1968).  The mechanisms through which such interactions occur
remain to be elucidated.  These observations suggest that other mechanisms involved in sexual
differentiation of the CNS may render this process susceptible to disruption by environmental
compounds that do not necessarily possess steroidogenic activity.

     b. Multiple Control of Pituitary Hormones
     The synthesis and release of pituitary hormones is under the feedback control of hormones
(e.g., steroids) circulating in the blood as well as by releasing and inhibiting hormones or factors
manufactured within specialized neurons located in the hypothalamus.  The releasing hormones in
turn are regulated by several types of feedback signals and by multiple nervous influences that
include the classical neurotransmitters (e.g., acetylcholine, catecholamines, serotonin) and several
neuropeptides (e.g., opioids, galanin, neuropeptide-Y) (Kalra and Kalra,  1983). As a result, it has
been demonstrated that many pharmaceutical agents can modify pituitary hormone secretion.
This may be brought about by a direct action on the pituitary by synthetic steroids (e.g., DES-
induced increase in prolactin synthesis) or agents that act on pituitary receptors directly (e.g.,
bromocryptine inhibition of prolactin release) or through compounds that affect neurotransmitter
or neuropeptide regulation of releasing factors. The effects of various therapeutic agents on
reproductive function are well established.  These drugs may either depress CNS activity (i.e.,
anesthetics, analgesics, and tranquilizers) or stimulate it (i.e., antidepressants and hallucinogens).
In fact, a variety of such agents often are used to probe the central control of neuroendocrine
function. Drugs of abuse also have been shown to alter the hormonal control of reproduction
through a CNS mechanism.
     Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), the major psychoactive component of
marijuana,  significantly reduces LH, FSH, prolactin, and testosterone concentrations in the blood
and causes  decrements in sexual organ weights (Dalterio et al., 1978).  In the female rat,
delta-9-THC has been shown to suppress serum gonadotropin secretion, disrupt estrous cyclicity,
and delay sexual development. Correspondingly, studies in the rhesus monkey have shown that a
single injection of delta-9-THC produces a longstanding depression of gonadotropin levels (Smith
et al.,  1980). In humans, similar reports of decreased testosterone levels and significant changes
in sperm count and morphology have been reported, although there is not general agreement in
this regard  (Smith et al.,  1980).  There is general consensus that the influence of delta-9-THC on

reproductive function is mediated through changes in hypothalamic control of pituitary function.
Similarly, opiates also appear to exert their primary effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis.
Such changes in central regulation of the neuroendocrine axis result in dysfunction of the gonads
and sex accessory organs in both humans and laboratory animals.
     A number of recent studies have examined the effect of xenobiotic exposure on the
regulation of the ovulatory surge of LH in the rat.  The timing of this endocrine event is critical
for normal fertilization and pregnancy. Although there are differences in ovarian cycle length in
rats and humans, considerable homology exists in these two spontaneously ovulating species in
the CNS-pituitary mechanisms controlling LH secretion.  The generation of the LH surge is under
control of the pulsatile release of hypothalamic GnRH.  This releasing factor is in turn regulated
by hypothalamic neurotransmitters (especially norepinephrine) and opioid peptides (enkephalins)
and gonadal steroids. Agents that disrupt the synthesis of norepinephrine (e.g., fusaric acid,
a-methyl-para-tyrosine [Kalra and Kalra,  1983]) or agents that interfere with a-noradrenergic (a-
NE) receptor stimulation (e.g., phenoxybenzamine and phentolamine  [Ratner, 1971; Plant et al.,
1978]) will disrupt the pattern of GnRH secretion  and consequently the LH surge. Similarly,
morphine exerts an inhibitory effect on LH secretion in the male and female of several mammalian
species (see Cooper et al., 1986b for review).  Goldman et al.  (1990,  1991) have shown that a
single exposure to the formamidine pesticide chlordimeform can, depending on timing, inhibit the
ovulatory surge of LH and that this effect is mediated via an inhibition of hypothalamic a-NE
receptors. Furthermore, Cooper et al., (1994) demonstrated that this  disruption of the LH surge
in the female rat can alter the outcome of the ensuing pregnancy (i.e., reduce litter size).  The
dithiocarbamates are known to lower CNS norepinephrine through an inhibition of the enzyme
dopamine-p-hydroxylase, which synthesizes norepinephrine from dopamine.  Stoker et al. (1993)
have shown thatthiram (tetramethylthiuram disulfide) also interferes with the generation of the
LH surge, delaying ovulation and altering  pregnancy outcome. This effect on female fertility does
not appear to be restricted to disruption of noradrenergic neurotransmission, because methanol
(Cooper et al., 1992) and sodium valproate (Cooper et al., 1994) have been found to have the
same effects on the LH surge, ovulation, and pregnancy outcome.  Cocaine administered
subcutaneously causes a dose-dependent disruption of estrous cyclicity, reduced serum LH levels,
and reduction of ovulation in female rats (King et al., 1993). Valproic acid exerts its effect on
hormone secretion by binding to the Y-aminobutyric acid  receptors and mimicking the effects of
this neurotransmitter in both the rat and human (Jones, 1991).  The mechanism by which methanol
alters LH secretion remains to be determined.
     Because steroid hormones have a significant role in  the regulation of anterior pituitary
function, it is not surprising that xenoestrogens also may modify this influence on the
hypothalamus and pituitary.  In the male, many of the adverse effects  of exposure to

xenoestrogens on testicular function have been attributed to a direct action on the testes (e.g., see
Cooper et al., 1986b for review). However, adverse effects of estrogens on male reproduction
also may be mediated by a direct action on the hypothalamus and pituitary, tissues that are rich in
estrogen receptors (Pfaff and Keiner, 1973).  Furthermore, changes in pituitary hormone secretion
were noted sooner and at lower doses of DBS than those required to alter any testicular measures
(Cooper et al., 1985).  Doses of methoxychlor that have no detectable effect on testicular function
or reproductive performance in the male rat (i.e., 25 and 50 mg/kg/day) elevate serum and
pituitary prolactin levels (Goldman et al., 1986).

4. Thyroid Effects
     a. Background
     The thyroid gland consists of two lobes of endocrine tissue located just below the larynx on
each side of the trachea. The function of this organ is to secrete thyroid hormones, which are
critical for normal growth and differentiation and are important regulators of overall metabolism
in most tissues. The functions  of this gland are susceptible to insult by dietary factors,
pharmacologic agents, and environmental chemicals that may interfere with thyroid hormone
biosynthesis, transport, or receptor interactions.
     The basic precursors of thyroid hormone biosynthesis are iodide (primarily from dietary
sources) and thyroglobulin (a glycoprotein  found in the thyroid follicular cells). Iodide must first
be taken up from circulation, a process that can be inhibited by a number of ions such as
thiocyanate and perchlorate. After the iodide is trapped in the gland, it is oxidized to hypoiodate,
a reaction mediated by thyroid peroxidase. The active form of iodide is then coupled to the
tyrosine residue of the thyroglobulin,  resulting in the formation of monoiodotyrosyl and
diiodotyrosyl residues.  Coupling of monoiodotyrosyl and diiodotyrosyl residues forms
triiodothyronine (T3), or coupling of two diiodotyrosyl residues forms thyroxine (T4). T3 and T4
are stored within thyroglobulin or secreted into the circulation by a proteolytic reaction. T4 is
highly bound to transport proteins,  such as  thyroxine-binding globulin (TGB), and transthyretin,
in circulation and is converted  to T3 (the active form of the hormone that binds to the thyroid
receptor) in peripheral tissues.  Biosynthesis and secretion of thyroid hormones are under
feedback controls of the hypothalamic (thyrotropin-releasing hormone, or TRH)-pituitary
(thyroid-stimulating hormone,  or TSH)-thyroid axis. Although a great many compounds disrupt
the synthesis of T3 and T4, with few exceptions, they can be classified into three main groups
according to their basic chemical structure: thionamides (e.g., propylthiouracil and
mercaptoimidazole), aminoheterocyclic compounds (e.g., sulfonylureas such as tolbutamide), and
substituted phenols (e.g., resorcinol and salicylamide).  Derivatives of thiourea, including
thiouracils, cause functional hypothyroidism and hypertrophy, hyperplasia,  and

hypervascularization of the gland (Schalock et al., 1979). The thioureas, the aminothiazoles, and
the mercaptoimidazoles, which inhibit thyroid hormone formation, all contain the following
configuration in which R may be a sulfur, oxygen, or nitrogen atom (Ingbar and Woeber, 1974).
                                    S = C
     The serum carrier proteins TBG and transthyretin are important to the half-life and
biological activity of thyroid hormones. Humans have both these proteins; however, rodents lack
TBG but have transthyretin (Porterfield, 1994).  The presence of the carrier proteins allows larger
quantities of these fat-soluble hormones to be carried in the blood and delays excretion and
metabolism of the hormone.  They also may play an important role in the availability of the
hormones for placental transport. Because some environmental toxicants (e.g., PCBs) can
compete with thyroid hormone for binding to these carrier proteins, the toxicants can  lower the
availability of the hormone to the tissue (McKinny, 1989; Bastomsky et al., 1976).
     Abnormalities of thyroid function are among the most common of all endocrine  disorders.
The two major categories of thyroid disease are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. The altered
thyroid state may lead to a number of physiological abnormalities, including changes in the basal
metabolic rate (increased in hyperthyroidism, and decreased in hypothyroidism); lipid metabolism
(lipemia, hypercholesterolemia, and fatty infiltration of the liver in hypothyroidism and a decrease
in serum cholesterol in hyperthyroidism); cardiovascular functions;  gastrointestinal functions,
especially food intake and energy expenditure as well as alterations in gastric motility  and
absorption (i.e., glucose uptake); and muscle function (Hedge et al., 1987).
     While thyroid hormones play  key roles in the maintenance of homeostasis, they are
particularly important to processes involving growth and development.  The most striking effects
of these hormones are observed during maturation of the brain.  The absence of thyroid hormones
during this period produces multiple morphologic and biochemical alterations and in humans leads
to irreversible mental retardation. Conversely, a pattern of accelerated maturation is associated
with hyperthyroidism, although these changes should not be viewed as beneficial as they
invariably lead to neurochemical and behavioral  deficits. While sparse data exist for humans, it is
known that the period between the end of the first trimester of gestation and 6 months after birth
is the period of active neurogenesis and most active phase of the brain growth spurt. The brain is
particularly vulnerable to various insults during this period. Specific receptors for T3 exist both in
the cerebrum and cerebellum, are present at a higher concentration at an early age, and are
preferentially found in neuronal cells with regional differences in their distribution.  Most of the
biochemical effects of hypothyroidism become irreversible if replacement therapy is delayed after

the critical period of development, which in rats usually spans the first 10 to 14 days after birth
(Dussault and Ruel, 1987). Experimental perinatal hypothyroidism, in which circulating T4 was
virtually eliminated by drug treatment (e.g., propylthiouracil [PTU], methimazole) or surgery, is
associated with overall growth retardation, delayed morphologic  and neurochemical development
of the brain with attendant deficits in neurobehavioral maturation, malformations of the organ of
Corti and auditory dysfunction (Deol, 1973; Uziel et al., 1980, 1981), alterations of peripheral
nervous system, and developmental delays in eye opening and weaning (Porterfield, 1994).
     Numerous environmental agents have been reported to alter thyroid hormone levels in
humans, wildlife animals,  and laboratory animal models. Typically, hypothyroidism is the
consequence of exposure to environmental chemicals (PCB, TCDD, methoxychlor,
thiocarbamide, and sulfonamide-based pesticides, to name a few), as indicated by reduction of
thyroid hormones in circulation, TSH elevation, and thyroid follicular neoplasia.  A partial list of
these compounds from EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs' Health Effects Division's database
may be found in table 1 (appendix).  The putative mechanisms of thyrotoxicity may vary and
include specific damages to the endocrine gland (e.g. PCB), alterations of hypothalamic-pituitary-
thyroid axis (e.g., methoxychlor), interferences of hormone transport, and receptor interactions
(e.g., PCB). Curran and DeGroot (1991) have called attention to the effect of hepatic enzyme-
inducing drugs that metabolize and clear thyroid hormones from the circulation and thus alter
hormone control mechanisms (increasing TSH), which  could lead to thyroid hyperplasia and
tumors.  Recently, a mechanistic model of carcinogenic effects of TCDD on thyroid follicular
tissue in the rat has been demonstrated (Kohn et al., 1996).  Consequently, it should be noted that
environmental agents that produce hypothyroidism can  have potential  physiological and
developmental adverse impacts on an organism.
     Perhaps the most studied examples of environmental agents that alter thyroid function are
the polyhalogenated biphenyls (including the polybrominated biphenyls and PCBs) and the family
of chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (TCDD). Both groups of compounds are present in the
environment,  and some PCB contamination is seen virtually everywhere in the United States.
There are multiple forms of these compounds, and their actions on the thyroid depend both on the
specific form  studied and  the dosage of toxin used. Some forms of these toxicants are quite
stable, and because they are fat soluble, they are accumulated in the adipose tissue. They can be
bioconcentrated in the environment, and fish from contaminated waters can contain relatively high
amounts. The toxicants cross the placenta and are also concentrated in milk so that the fetus and
newborn can be exposed by a contaminated mother both through the placenta and through her
milk (Takagi et al., 1976;  Collins and Capen, 1980).  PCBs, dioxins, and the active thyroid
hormones T4 and T3 show similar structural properties that appear to be important in molecular
recognition in biochemical systems (McKinny, 1989).

     In laboratory animals, manifestations of thyrotoxicity induced by environmental agents
resemble those produced by drugs or surgery.  For instance, development of the CNS cholinergic
neurons are exquisitely sensitive to the thyroid status. In rats, perinatal exposure to some PCBs
(specific congeners or mixtures such as Aroclor 1254) has been shown to lower serum T4 and
reduce choline acetyl transferase (ChAT) activity (Juarez et al., 1994) in the hippocampus and
basal forebrain. ChAT is an enzyme involved in the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter
considered important to learning and memory. T4 replacement was capable of reversing the PCB-
induced deficits in ChAT. The particular susceptibility of the developing peripheral auditory
system to thyroid hormone deprivation is well known. The onset of evoked cochlear electrical
activity (which is postnatal in the rat) is delayed by hypothyroidism and is returned to normal by
thyroid hormone administration (Meyeroff, 1979; Uziel et al., 1980). Consistent with the
hypothyroidal effects of PCBs, Aroclor 1254 was found to produce permanent auditory
deficiencies following perinatal exposure (gestational day 6 to postnatal day 21), in a manner
similar to those elicited by the goitrogenic drug PTU (Goldey et al., 1995a,b).
     In humans, hypothyroidism has been linked to occupational exposure to PBBs (Bahn et al.,
1980) and PCBs (Murai et al., 1987). Many of the symptoms of PCB poisoning such as
epidermal abnormalities,  fatigue, mental apathy, and memory deficits are similar to those resulting
from non-PCB-induced hypothyroidism. Accidental exposure to PCBs by pregnant women in
Yu-Chen,  Taiwan, led to a host of delays in physical and mental development of their offspring
not dissimilar to those associated with hypothyroidism (Hsu  et al., 1985; Chen et al., 1992).
These included weight and size deficits at birth that persisted as the children matured (a hallmark
of hypothyroid effect in animal models) and IQ deficits.  In addition, children born to women who
ate more PCB-contaminated fish had lower IQ and exhibited behavioral problems (Jacobson et al.,
1990). Recent clinical studies further demonstrated hypothyroid status in the infants whose
mothers have been exposed to PCB, dioxin, and dibenzofurans (Koopman-Esseboom et al.,
1994), while high levels of these environmental contaminants in the breast milk have been related
to reduced neonatal neurological capacity and high incidence of hypotonia (Huisman et al., 1995).
Indeed, perinatal exposure to PCB and TCDD are of particular concerns to the risk assessment
for human health. Maternal ingestion of these contaminants results in its transfer to human
neonates through the placenta and by breastfeeding (Nishimura et al., 1977; Masuda et al.,  1978).
Children's exposure to these lipophilic chemicals can be  10 to 40 times greater than the daily
exposure of an adult (World Health Organization, 1989).
     Although the actions of thyroid hormone in higher organisms are critical to normal growth,
differentiation, and metabolic regulation, there is an increasing body of data suggesting a critical
involvement of thyroid hormones in the carcinogenic process. There are data demonstrating that
the thyroid status of experimental animal models and humans dramatically affects tumor

formation, growth, and metastasis (Guernsey and Fisher, 1990).  Relevant to the issue of
endocrine disrupters are the findings that thyroid hormones dramatically stimulate the
proliferation kinetics of MCF-7 mammary cancer cells in culture and that antiestrogens prevent
the stimulatory effects of T3 on MCF-7 proliferation (Zhou-Li et al., 1992).  It also has been
reported that estrogen stimulates postconfluent cell accumulation and foci formation of human
MCF-7 breast cancer cells (Gierthy et al., 1991) while dioxin (TCDD), a potent inducer of
differentiation and an antiestrogenic substance, inhibits this process (Gierthy and Lincoln, 1988).

5. Endocrine Disrupters and Immunotoxicology
     The interrelationship of endocrine and immune systems is complex, but research into this
area is progressing rapidly (Weigent and Blalock,  1987; Fuchs and Sanders, 1994; Weeks et al.,
1992). The elucidation of this interaction between endocrine and immune systems is made more
challenging with the addition of species diversity (e.g., shellfish, fish, birds). However, where
evaluated, endocrine and immune functions are somewhat similar to those found in mammals
(Colborn and Clement, 1992; Dickerson et al., 1994; Hontela et al., 1995; Ross et al., 1995).
     It is beyond  the scope of this document to assess the relationship between endocrine  and
immune systems.  A recent review on the interactions of the immune, neural, and endocrine
systems has been published (Besedovsky and Del Rey, 1996). Instead, the present discussion
briefly summarizes a few of the key immunotoxicology issues in  the context of endocrine function.
     Immune systems in most vertebrate animals typically consist of a diffuse and complex set of
lymphoid structures and of innate and inducible immune functions (such as phagocytosis, antibody
formation, and cell-mediated immunity).  The purpose of these immune systems is most often to
protect such organisms from various forms of foreign invaders. The deleterious effects of
chemicals on the immune system of animals has been briefly reviewed by De Guise et al. (1995).
Three classes of undesirable effects have been identified that may occur when the immune system
is perturbed by exposure to chemicals in the environment: (1) immunodeficiency or
immunosuppression; (2) alterations of natural, genetically controlled host defense mechanisms;
and/or (3) hypersensitivity or allergy.  The alteration of (mammalian) immune responses is often
reflected  by changes in an organism's susceptibility to disease agents, parasites, latent viral
infections, and even tumor formation (Dean et al., 1994; Luster et al., 1992, 1993; Office of
Technology Assessment [OTA], 1991).
     Several xenobiotics, such as therapeutic drugs, pesticides, metals, and/or other persistent
environmental contaminants (dioxins, PCBs, PAHs,  etc.), are either already known to or are
suspected of directly and adversely impacting immune structures  and functions in humans,
laboratory and field mammals, avian species, fish,  and even invertebrates (Anderson, 1992;
Anderson and Zeeman, 1995; Dickerson et al., 1994; Fairbrother, 1994; Gleichmann et al., 1989;

Luster et al., 1988; Luster et al., 1992, 1993; Ross et al., 1995; Zeeman and Brindley, 1981;
Zeeman, 1996). Dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD) is just one contaminant that has been demonstrated to
impact a wide variety of immune parameters, for example, thymic atrophy, antibody responses,
and impaired disease resistance (Dean et al., 1994; Gleichmann et al., 1989; Luster et al., 1992;
OTA, 1991; Smialowicz et al., 1994).  Besides TCDD, several other xenobiotics have been
implicated as possibly affecting immune structures and functions. Recent reviews on
immunotoxicity and the possible impacts of heavy metals (Bernier et al., 1995), pesticides
(Thomas, 1995), and PCBs (Tryphonas, 1995) in relation to human health and the Great Lakes
have been published.
     Similarly, it is known that immune systems are also regularly being directly and indirectly
affected by normal endocrine functioning in animals (Fuchs and Sanders, 1994; Hall and
Goldstein, 1986; Weigent and Blalock, 1987). For example, the human immune system can be
orchestrated by the normal circadian rhythms found in the release and action of glucocorticoid
hormones, such as cortisol (Hrushesky, 1994).
     There is a normal daily rhythm in the levels of cortisol found circulating in the blood of
humans (and in other vertebrate animals). In humans, the highest cortisol levels are found in the
morning and the lowest in the evening. An inverse relationship also is found between the blood
cortisol levels and the immune parameters of inflammatory responses and numbers of circulating
leukocytes.  This rhythmic endocrine presence probably is a dominant feature influencing the fact
that the number of leukocytes in the blood fluctuates regularly with a variation of as much as 50%
in a day (Hrushesky, 1994).
     This effect is not surprising because cortisol is one of the stress (flight or fight) hormones
known to adversely impact the number of white blood cells found in the blood.  The adverse
impacts of glucocorticoids, especially  cortisol and cortisone, on the immune systems of other
vertebrates in the environment also seem somewhat consistent with the experiences found in
mammals (Anderson and Zeeman, 1995; Fowles et al., 1993; Weeks et al., 1992; Zeeman and
Brindley, 1981).
     As is amply  demonstrated in other parts of this review, endocrine system functioning can be
adversely impacted by a wide variety of xenobiotics (Kubiak et al., 1989;  Colborn and Clement,
1992; White et al., 1994; Fry, 1995; LeBlanc,  1995). In fact, humans have intentionally
developed and already widely used such chemicals as pesticides in the environment (e.g., insect
growth regulators).  Therefore, it should not be surprising to find that the adverse impacts of
xenobiotics on endocrine functioning can thereby  (directly and indirectly) also significantly
influence the structures and functions of the immune system and its normal protective responses
against foreign bacteria, viruses, parasites, and so on.
     This is an important area for consideration.  However, as should be evident from the brief

presentation above, these relationships are complex and actively evolving. Despite the best of
intentions, it probably will not be easy to tease out the complex relationships between the impacts
of numerous diverse xenobiotics on (1) endocrine functions, (2) immunologic functions, and (3)
the diverse types of species in which these chemicals could have an impact on both these systems
and their interactions.

1. Background
     There is increasing evidence that a number of chemicals in the environment may disrupt the
endocrine systems of aquatic life and wildlife. This includes both manmade chemicals
(xenobiotics) and chemicals that occur naturally in plants such as phytoestrogens.

     a. Synthetic Chemicals (Xenobiotics)
     Many synthetic chemicals have been labeled as suspected environmental endocrine
disrupters and are addressed briefly below. These include alkylphenols, bisphenol-A, 2,3,7,8-
TCDD, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-furan (TCDF), PCBs, and some pesticides.
     Some of the chemicals thought to be environmental endocrine disrupters are in commerce
today in the United States; however, many other xenobiotics have been prohibited previously
from use in the United States because of their adverse effects on human health and the
environment.  Some of these xenobiotic chemicals not in use today in North America persist in the
environment.  They are transported and deposited via atmospheric transport from other parts of
the world that still use them or from previous environmental contamination (Geisy et al., 1994).
Environmental residues of some xenobiotic compounds have decreased after these chemicals were
banned or canceled, but many others have leveled off because of physical properties that cause
them to accumulate in sediments, be re-released to the aquatic environment, and accumulate in the
tissues of organisms.
     Purdom et al. (1994) suggested that alkylphenol-polyethoxylates (APE), originating from
the biodegradation of surfactants and detergents during sewage treatment, and ethynylestradiol,
originating from pharmaceutical use, are the two most likely sources of the estrogenic substances
present in sewage effluent.  Alkylphenols, such as nonylphenol, are commonly used as
antioxidants and also are degradates of the biodegradation of a family of nonionic surfactants
(such as APE) during sewage treatment (Jobling and Sumpter,  1993).
     Nonylphenol and other alkylphenols have been reported to leach from plastics used in food
processing and packaging, such as food grade polyvinyl chloride (Junk et al., 1974; Brotons et al.,
1995).  In the development of a screening assay for estrogenic compounds, nonylphenol was

discovered to leach from polystyrene laboratory ware (Soto et al., 1991) and bisphenol-A was
released from plasticware during autoclaving (Krishnan et al.,  1993).
     TCDD and TCDF also are suspected of being environmental endocrine disrupters.  They are
byproducts of the paper, wood, and herbicide industries and are formed in the incineration of
some chlorinated organic compounds (Schmidt, 1992).
     PCBs are a class of compounds that have approximately 113 congeners present in the
environment. PCBs, which disrupt hormone pathways involved in, for example, male fertility
(Sager, 1983), were banned from further production in the United States in 1976 under the Toxic
Substances Control Act, but these agents were used widely between 1930 and 1970 as additives
in products such as paints, plastics, rubber, adhesives, printing ink, and insecticides (Peakall and
Lincer, 1970). While 31% of total PCBs manufactured are currently estimated to be present in
the global environment, only 4% of cumulative world production can be accounted for as
degraded or incinerated.  Many PCBs are still in use in older electrical equipment (e.g.,
transformers), in containment storage, or in dumps or landfills. Releases from these sources can
result in continuing PCB pollution for years to come (Tanabe, 1988).
     Evidence also exists that pesticides such as alachlor, DDT, dicofol, methoxychlor,
chlordane, and many others can disrupt the endocrine systems offish and feral species. Various
pesticides with suspected endocrine disruption capabilities are listed in table 2 (appendix).

     b. Phytoestrogens
     Phytoestrogens, which are hormone-mimicking substances naturally present in plants, are
suspected of interfering with the endocrine systems of grazing animals (see review by Hughes,
1988).  Specific compounds that have been identified as phytoestrogens include coumestrol,
formononetin, daidzein, biochanin A, and genistein.  In all, more than 300 species of plants in
more than 16 families are known to contain estrogenic substances (Hughes, 1988). Some
examples of plants that contain phytoestrogens include beets, soybeans, rye grass, wheat, alfalfa,
clover, apples, and cherries. These agents are responsible for the depression of fertility observed
in sheep grazing  on clover pastures, decreasing serum progesterone or pituitary LH.  Plant sterols
in paper pulp mill effluent also may be responsible for the masculinizing effect observed in fish
downstream of pulp mills (Davis  and Bartone, 1992). It should be noted that some
phytoestrogens (e.g., naringenin)  can be both estrogenic and antiestrogenic (Ruh et al., 1995).

2. Endocrine-Related Effects
     We know that certain chemicals can affect normal endocrine function and that certain
endocrine-disrupting chemicals can substantially reduce some animal populations. We also know
that there can be extreme differences in the susceptibility between species to these chemicals.

These differences are exploited specifically by chemists in the development of pesticides designed
to disrupt insect endocrine systems through an array of compounds, which are collectively
referred to as insect growth regulators.  Thus, the endocrine systems of insects have been
intentionally targeted for insecticidal activity. These chemicals include juvenile hormone mimics
(e.g., methoprene), antijuvenile hormone analogs (e.g., precocene), chitin synthesis inhibitors
(e.g., diflubenzuron), ecdysone analogs (e.g., tebufenozide), and molting  disruptants (e.g.,
fenoxycarb).  These insect growth regulators were developed to be not only efficient pesticides,
but also to be highly specific to insects without risk to other nontarget animals, especially
vertebrates.  Although these compounds can be active against some insect species and not others,
studies have documented the sensitivity of certain nontarget arthropods, especially crustaceans, to
these compounds (Christiansen et al.,  1977a,b, 1979; Cunningham, 1976; Forward and Costlow,
1978; Landau and Rao, 1980; Nimmo et al., 1980; Touart and Rao, 1987).  Besides the insect
growth regulators, the well-known case of DDT and its effects on avian eggshell thinning has
been linked to endocrine pathways (Jefferies, 1975). Evidence is accumulating that many
chemicals released into the environment can disrupt normal endocrine function in a variety offish
and wildlife.
     Some of the deleterious effects observed in aquatic life and wildlife  that may be caused by
endocrine-disrupting mechanisms, as summarized by Colborn et al. (1993), include the following:
     •    Abnormal thyroid function in birds and fish (Moccia et al., 1981, 1986; Leatherland,
     •    Decreased fertility in birds, fish, shellfish, and mammals (Shugart, 1980; Leatherland,
          1992; Gibbs et al., 1988; Reijnders, 1986)
     •    Decreased hatching success in fish, birds, and reptiles (Mac et al., 1988; Kubiak et al.,
          1989; Bishop etal., 1991)
     •    Demasculinization and feminization offish, birds, reptiles, and mammals (Munkittrick
          et al., 1991; Beland, 1989; Guillette et al., 1994; Fry and Toone, 1981)
     •    Defeminization and masculinization offish and gastropods (Davis and Bartone, 1992;
          Ellis and Pattisina, 1990)
     •    Alteration of immune function in birds and mammals (Erdman, 1988; Martineau et al.,

3. Representative Examples
     a. Invertebrates
     In field studies, Reijnders and Brasseur (1992) report that female marine snails with male
genitalia, including a penis and vas deferens, are now common. The cause of this phenomenon is
exposure to tributyltin (TBT) compounds,  which are used as marine antifouling paints on ships.

TBT is an extremely toxic chemical that, at sublethal levels, also appears to have significant
hormonal effects, leading to what appears to be an irreversible induction of male sex
characteristics on females (imposex) (Gibbs and Bryan, 1986).
     Bryan et al. (1988) found that populations of the dog-whelk snail (Nucella lapillus) were
disappearing or diminishing in many locations along the United Kingdom coast due to the effects
of TBT.  Gibbs et al.  (1988) found that there was a direct dose-response relationship between
exposure of the snails to TBT and the degree of imposex induced.  This effect can be seen at
levels (expressed as elemental tin concentrations) below 0.5 ng/1 (wt/vol) equal to parts per trillion
(ppt), although reproduction appears unaffected at these low levels (Gibbs et al., 1988).  At
slightly higher levels, 1 to 2 ppt, the penis becomes larger, and in some animals, the vas deferens
tissue grows over the genital papilla and the organism becomes effectively sterilized.  As
concentrations increase, practically all of the animals become sterile.  Finally, at levels of 10 ppt or
higher, oogenesis is suppressed and spermatogenesis is initiated.
     In additional studies, Bryan et al. (1988) specifically tested the ability of six tin compounds
to induce imposex on female dog-whelks that were already slightly affected by this condition.
Because of the widespread use of antifouling paints, the authors report that in England and Wales
it is impossible to find unaffected populations.  The six compounds were tested both by dissolving
them in seawater over a 14-day exposure period and, in separate experiments, by a single injection
to compensate for lack of absorption from water of some of the compounds.  TBT was the most
effective at inducing imposex. Neither di- nor monobutyltin had an effect on the snails. A fourth
compound, triphenyltin, was also ineffective in inducing imposex, even though its toxicity is
comparable to that of TBT for some organisms and has pesticidal and antifouling uses similar to
TBT. A fifth chemical, tripropyltin, was accumulated from solution by the snails to a higher
concentration than TBT and induced imposex, but it was far less effective than TBT.
Tetrabutyltin was reported to cause a marginal increase in female penis size, but again, it was
much less effective than TBT.  Given TBT's strong effect, the authors concluded that the presence
of imposex in dog-whelks may have utility  as a biomarker for TBT. This is borne out by
additional studies.
     Bright and Ellis (1990) surveyed marine snails in northeast Pacific neogastropods for signs
of imposex. They examined eight different species of marine snails in areas that contained
differing amounts of TBT pollution, including four species from the genus Nucella (but not
Nucella lapillus, the species of snail studied by, e.g., Gibbs and Bryan, 1986, which does not
occur in the northeast Pacific).  Imposex could be confirmed in all but one species of snail
(Amphissa columbiana, Dall).  One species, Nucella emarginata, showed the clearest positive
relationship between degree of imposex and TBT concentrations due to its relatively short
lifespan and much earlier age of maturity relative to the other species.  Sterility due to imposex

(and consequent blockage of the genital pore) could be detected in only two of the eight species
examined: N. lamellosa and Neptunae phoenecia.  Evidence of a negative effect due to TBT
pollution on a population of snails (N. lamellosa) was seen in a sampling  of the Victoria Harbour
breakwater, the most polluted of three sites examined.  Juveniles of this species were
underrepresented, and many adult females retained their egg capsules due to blockage of the
genital pore. Bright and Ellis (1990) note that the selective loss of reproductive potential
observed for TV. lamellosa could potentially result in an alteration of the competitive interactions
between sympatric species ofNucella (different species of Nucella often co-occur within the
intertidal zone of British Columbia).
     Ellis and Pattisina (1990) further report on imposex observed in neogastropod molluscs
from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, again with positive association with boat and ship
traffic (and implied, although not measured, TBT contamination). The authors note that imposex
has been widely observed (at least 45 species studied), and available studies suggest that TBT
pollution may be a worldwide phenomenon.  Because other molluscs are also sensitive to the
effects of TBT (e.g., oysters and other bivalve molluscs), TBT pollution has both commercial and
ecological impact.  Furthermore, because of TBT's ability to bioaccumulate, it also raises
concerns about the possibility of having a reproductive toxicant in the human food supply (Ellis
and Pattisina, 1990). TBT has been found in bivalve molluscs and fish species eaten by man,
although levels of these residues in edible tissues (e.g., 0.08 to 0.9 mg/kg in salmon in the United
States, and < 10 to 5600 ng/kg in Chesapeake Bay oysters) are considered to be "safe" levels
(Pent, 1996). Cooking does not degrade or remove the TBT.  Whether TBT causes the above
reproductive effects through an endocrine disruption mechanism awaits further study.
     Field and laboratory observations after implementation of chemical controls indicate that
TBT does have reproductive effects and that these effects, at least on marine snail populations,
can be mitigated.  Matthiessen et al. (1995) found that periwinkle (Littorina littorea) in two
British estuaries showed steady population increases as TBT residues in water and sediments
declined as the result of a partial ban on TBT use in 1987 by the United Kingdom. Unlike the
dog-whelk (Nucella lapillus), the periwinkle does not undergo imposex in response to TBT
exposure, which results in decreased egg production due to blockage of the genital pore (Bryan et
al., 1988; Bauer et al., 1995; Matthiessen et al.,  1995). Nonetheless, a slightly different
masculinizing phenomenon has been observed in periwinkles, intersex, which is correlated with
TBT exposures (Bauer et al., 1995). The intersex phenomenon differs from imposex in that there
is no superimposition of male organs (penis or vas deferens) on the female but instead, there is a
malformation of the pallial oviduct whereby it takes on a progressively more masculine form, with
five distinguishable stages identified by Bauer et al. (1995).  Based on field observations, Bauer et
al. (1995) postulate that the threshold concentration for intersex development is about 15 ng TBT

as Sn/liter and that the degree of intersex noted in environmental populations may be potentially
useful as a biomonitor for TBT, especially in areas where populations ofNucella are not present.
     In terms of actual reproductive effects, Matthiessen et al. (1995), in laboratory studies,
showed that exposures to TBT resulted in decreased egg production by the periwinkle.  None of
the test concentrations used~0, 10, 100, 330, and 1,000 ng/liter (nominal)-affected snail growth
rate compared with the controls, nor was imposex (examined for) seen, nor the intersex
phenomenon described by Bauer et al. (1995) noted. Egg production was measured beginning 2
months after treatment began. Egg production was more or less reduced on a seasonal basis and
reductions became more evident at progressively lower exposure concentrations with increasing
exposure time.  At the end of the 12 months of exposure, egg production was significantly
depressed at exposure concentrations in the range of 20.5 to 107.6 ng/liter (measured),
concentrations that often had been exceeded in the study estuaries before implementation of the
ban on TBT use. In experiments looking at egg development and hatching on freshly collected
eggs from a relatively uncontaminated site, Matthiessen et al. (1995)  found lower rates of
hatching compared with controls but at levels much higher than those depressing egg production
(e.g., the lowest concentration tested, 560 ng/liter, caused only a slightly lower hatching rate than
the control level) and therefore concluded that this aspect of TBT toxicity was less important than
egg production. However, the authors also noted that experiments looking for potential longer-
term effects on the veliger should be conducted before concluding that egg production depression
is the most sensitive or important effect.
     Moore and Stevenson (1994) reported intersexuality in the harpacticoid copepods,
Paramphiascella hyberborea, Halectinosoma similidistmctum, H.  sp., and Stenhelia gibba.
These benthic invertebrates were taken in the vicinity of a sewage outfall near Edinburgh,
Scotland. However, the investigators did not find a correlation between intersex frequency and
proximity to the discharge.

     b. Fish
     Purdom et al. (1994) reported that there were both public and scientific concerns about the
effects of synthetic estrogens (from birth control pills) entering rivers in the United Kingdom as
early as 1985. This concern was heightened when British anglers reported catching fish with both
male and female characteristics; these hermaphroditic fish were caught in lagoons below sewage
treatment plants (Purdom et al., 1994).  The particular fish species  is  known  as a roach, Rutilus
rutilus (Harries et al., 1995). Purdom et al. (1994) hypothesized that the widespread use of
contraceptive pills and the subsequent release of ethynylestradiol (via sewage treatment plants)
might account for the occurrence of these hermaphroditic fish.  To determine how widespread
estrogens might be in the ambient waters of Great Britain, investigators used a biomarker

approach where male rainbow trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss) were placed downstream from
sewage treatment works and periodically sampled for the presence of vitellogenin in the blood
     Vitellogenin is a phospholipoprotein that is synthesized in the liver of female oviparous
vertebrates.  The induction of vitellogenin is naturally induced in females in response to an
estrogen, typically estradiol-1713 (Nimrod and Benson,  1996; Copeland et al., 1986). Vitellogenin
leaves the liver and  enters the bloodstream where it is utilized by the ovary. In the ovary,
vitellogenin is transformed into two major types of yolk proteins, lipovitellins and phosvitins (Ng
and Idler, 1983).
     Purdom et al.  (1994) reported the results of placing the caged rainbow trout in the effluents
of sewage treatment plants throughout Great Britain. Five series of field trials began in 1986 and
continued through 1989.  Overall, the results of the 4-year survey indicated that effluents from
sewage treatment plants contained an estrogenlike substance(s) as measured by the vitellogenin
assay (Sumpter, 1985). A survey  of six rivers and tributaries of the United Kingdom has now
been completed (Harries et al., 1995).  Estrogenic activity as measured by the method of Purdom
et al. (1994) has shown there is estrogenic activity in three of them. In one river, the Aire, the
vitellogenin concentration in male fish was similar to gravid female fish in unexposed sites;
retardation of testicular growth was also observed.  Nonylphenol, a breakdown product of
nonylphenol ethoxylate surfactants used in wool scouring plants near the Aire, is speculated to be
the causative agent.  Laboratory experiments with adult male trout showed that nonylphenol
induced both vitellogenin formation and testicular inhibition (Harries et al.,  1995; Jobling et al.,
1996). However, in other rivers, there has been no  correlation between a specific chemical (e.g.,
nonylphenol) and vitellogenin formation.  Of particular importance are the studies by Harries  et al.
(1995) that indicate  related alkylphenols, for example, and various unrelated estrogenic chemicals
(e.g., o,p' DDT, arochlor, bisphenol A) can act in an additive fashion in vitro.  Thus, individual
chemicals could be  present in the environment at concentrations below what is needed to elicit an
estrogenic effect, but collectively they could induce some estrogenic activity.
     Pelissero et al. (1993) improved the vitellogenin assay  by developing a procedure to isolate
rainbow trout hepatocytes, treat the cells with a suspected estrogen, and then measure the
vitellogenin that is secreted into the culture medium. Jobling and Sumpter (1993) utilized this in
vitro bioassay to evaluate the estrogenic activities of alkylphenol ethoxylates and their breakdown
products.  The results are summarized in table 4 (appendix).
     The results indicate that the vitellogenin assay can be a useful biomarker for detecting
exposure to estrogens in the environment. Ability to expand field studies has been limited by the
availability of vitellogenin antibodies.  Polyclonal antisera have been raised against purified
vitellogenin from a wide variety of species; however, these antisera have been extremely species

specific.  Recently, there has been significant research to develop "universal" antibodies that will
recognize all fish, if not all vertebrate vitellogenins (Folmar et al., 1995; Heppell et al., in press;
Denslow et al., in press; Palmer and Palmer, 1995). In question is the biological significance of
vitellogenin formation in male fish.  Nimrod and Benson (1996) cited a case where male rainbow
trout died from kidney failure, possibly due to the formation of excessive amounts of vitellogenin.
Experiments by Jobling et al. (1996) indicated that high levels of vitellogenin formation in male
rainbow trout was accompanied by a decrease in testis growth as measured by the weight of the
testes compared with total body weight (gonodasomatic index). Spermatogenesis also was
     An example of the masculinization of a fish species is given by Howell et al. (1980), who
reported that 4 miles downstream from pulp and paper mills in Florida, mosquito fish females
were masculinized and developed the male sex organ called the "gonopodium."  These
masculinized females sometimes attempted to mate with normal females, or when placed together,
with each other.  Furthermore, males were found to be hypermasculinized, displaying normal but
hyperaggressive mating behavior. When placed in a tank with a normal male and three normal
females, the hypermasculinized male established dominance and was free to court the females
without competition (Howell et al., 1980). Chemicals in the effluent were not identified. Howell
et al. (1980) noted, however, that this masculinizing effect was not likely to be due to natural
conditions and paralleled laboratory experiments using known androgens, which induce the
precocious appearance of male secondary sexual characteristics in males and masculinization of
females.  Commenting on this work, Davis and Bartone (1992) noted that kraft mill effluents
contain phytosterols (e.g., tall [pine] oil contains 25% to 35% phytosterols), which can be
converted microbially to C-19 steroids, which may exert the observed androgenic effects. The
authors noted that bleached kraft mill effluents also contain other substances, for example,
chlorinated organic substances, including dioxins and  furans, which may have endocrine-
disrupting effects.
     Endocrine disruption affecting development and fertility also was noted in several other fish
species exposed to bleached kraft mill effluent,  with greater or lesser effects noted depending on
the fish species  studied. As in the study by Howell et al. (1980), the agent or agents actually
causing the observed effects were not determined.  Munkittrick et al. (1991) reported that near a
bleached kraft mill on Lake Superior, white suckers had lower than normal levels of steroid sex
hormones in their blood, took longer to mature, developed smaller gonads, and had fewer eggs at
maturity. McMaster et al. (1991), in a followup to this study, found similar results-both male
and female  fish  reached maturity at an older age, the females contained fewer eggs at maturity, the
males had reduced development of secondary sexual characteristics  (i.e., nuptial tubercles), and
there were reduced plasma steroid levels throughout the year, including testosterone and 17a,

20p-dihydroxyprogesterone in both sexes, as well as 11-ketotestosterone in males and estradiol-
1?P in females. Van Der Kraak et al. (1992), in an additional study on this population of white
suckers, determined that the endocrine effects of bleached kraft mill effluent (including reduced
gonadotropin secretion by the pituitary, depressed steroidogenic capacity of the ovarian follicles,
and altered peripheral metabolism of steroids) were caused by the effluent's  acting at multiple sites
in the pituitary-gonadal axis. Eggs  failed to increase in size with age at the bleached kraft mill
exposure (BKME) site, as opposed to the (nonexposed) reference site where there was an age-
related increase in egg size  (McMaster et al., 1991). Nonetheless, although eggs were smaller at
the BKME site, and although male fish at the BKME site exhibited sperm having reduced motility
(but not significantly different milt volume, spermatocrit level, or seminal plasma constituents),
this had no effect on egg fertilization or hatchability, initial larval size,  or larval survival
(McMaster et al.,  1991; Van Der Kraak et al., 1992).  Furthermore, although prespawning BKME
females were older than those in the reference site, there was no difference between sites in mean
fecundity (note: this is a negative result for the BKME population; one would expect the
population with the higher percentage of older fish to have a higher mean fecundity).  While the
observed changes in the BKME white suckers can be described as unhealthy, and, indeed, Van
Der Kraak et al. (1992) noted that it is remarkable that fish having such aberrant gonadotropin
and steroid levels are able to successfully  spawn at all, the consequences of these changes to the
exposed population are difficult to predict and would require additional (population dynamics)
     Munkittrick et al. (1992) further reported that these hormone-related changes were not
improved after 1 year with the addition of secondary treatment of the mill effluent or with a 2-
week shutdown of mill activities. The authors noted that the lower levels of circulating steroids
were due to an inability, or reduced ability, of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis to respond
to alterations in steroid levels and a reduced ability to synthesize steroids. The authors further
concluded that one cannot tell if the persistence of these steroid abnormalities in the BKME site
after secondary treatment is due to food chain contamination from past pollution or whether
secondary treatment has not removed the responsible chemicals.  Other exposed fish studied
include lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis\ which experience similar changes to white
suckers in terms of reduced gonad size, reduced egg size, and increased age to maturity.
However, while the white suckers are capable of producing viable eggs, Munkittrick et al. (1992)
reported that the lake whitefish appeared to be experiencing reproductive problems. In contrast,
the long-nose sucker (Catastomus catastomus) that was also examined showed much less effect
than either species, but even here there was an altered age distribution of the spawning population
(with older fish, on average), characteristic of the BKME population (Munkittrick et al., 1992).
Although not explored by Munkittrick et al. (1992), an issue that immediately suggests itself as

needing study is how the differential sensitivity of coexisting populations offish species to
endocrine disrupters alters the ecological balance between the species. In cases where species are
competitive with each other, even a subtle difference in effects could shift what was a delicate
balance of populations and cause one species to greatly decrease in numbers, or even go locally
     More subtle effects of endocrine disrupters on fish species also have been observed.
Thomas (1990) reported preliminary studies wherein he exposed adult female Atlantic croakers
(Micropogonias undulatus) to sublethal concentrations of lead, cadmium, benzo[a]pyrene, and
PCBs.  For all of these chemicals, he found significant decreases or increases in plasma steroid
levels,  ovarian steroid secretion, and ovarian growth in these fish.  In more detailed studies, he
exposed croakers collected at the beginning of the reproductive season to a mixture of Aroclor
1254 in the diet (0.5 mg/100 g body wt/day) for 17 days or to 1 ppm cadmium dissolved in 30%
salinity seawater for 40 days.  Significant, but  opposite effects, on the reproductive system were
seen with these exposures, and the results in both cases suggested that the hypothalamic-pituitary
complex was the major site of toxic action (Thomas, 1990).  With PCBs, there was suppression of
ovarian growth and a decrease in plasma estradiol concentrations. There were also decreases in
plasma vitellogenin levels and hepatic estrogen receptor concentrations.  The author concluded
that the effects seen with PCBs implied an impairment of gonadotropin secretion by the pituitary.
On the other hand, with exposure to cadmium, both ovarian growth and plasma estradiol were
increased, as was plasma gonadotropin secretion.  For cadmium, a direct stimulating effect on the
pituitary appeared to be the case, as was further indicated by in vitro studies (Thomas, 1990).
Either treatment, the author judged, could inhibit the reproductive success of this fish species by
causing oocytes to mature outside of the normal (optimum) spawning period.
     In a case of a widespread effect, exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals is suspected of
affecting thyroid function and impacting fertility and embryo survival and development in Great
Lakes salmon (Leatherland, 1992).  In one study, Moccia et al. (1981) found that in salmon from
British Columbia (a relatively pristine population), the thyroid morphology was typical of a
normal, nonpathological gland.  In contrast, thyroid tissue collected from Great Lakes salmon was
invariably altered and abnormal  in appearance (Moccia et al., 1981). Even in Great Lakes salmon
where no overt goiters were apparent, there was extensive follicular hyperplasia, with the follicles
assuming abnormal, nonspherical shapes.  In other fish, the histopathology was even more
abnormal, revealing loss of follicular organization and, in some fish, large masses of aggregated
epithelial cells that were difficult to distinguish from neoplasms (Moccia et al., 1981).
Leatherland (1992), in continuing studies, noted that in every one of the Great Lakes, thyroid
hyperplasia and hypertrophy have been found in 100% of the salmon stocks analyzed in the past
two decades. (It should be emphasized that grossly visible lesions, e.g., thyroid hyperplasia and

reproductive effects, have been observed in "clusters" and in some lakes have actually declined,
e.g., in Lake Ontario coho salmon, where different genetic stocks were introduced beginning in
the 1970s. Nonetheless, while the incidence of gross lesions has changed in some areas, "the
prevalence of thyroid hyperplasia has been consistently 100% for the last 18 years, regardless of
salmon species, lake of origin, or gender"  [Leatherland, 1992].) Leatherland (1992) concluded
that a 100% prevalence of abnormal thyroid histology provides the most convincing evidence of a
biologically active environmental factor affecting the function of the endocrine system in Great
Lakes fish. Salmon are not the only affected species. Herring gulls throughout the Great Lakes
have been found with enlarged thyroids (Peakall and Fox, 1987).
     The agent causing these thyroid and reproductive effects has not been determined.
Leatherland (1992) believes that feeding experiments that he and others have conducted point to
an agent that affects the endocrine system, is readily metabolized or eliminated, and is not
bioaccumulated; however, even this hypothesis is tentative. A common problem that arises from
abnormal thyroid function is goiter, a condition characterized by an enlarged thyroid. The
follicular cells produce colloid, and if they are unable to iodinate it, the follicles become congested
with colloid, and do not make functional thyroid hormones. Without the feedback inhibition by
thyroid hormones, TSH from the pituitary is elevated and stimulates the thyroid, which  enlarges in
an attempt to meet demand (Marieb, 1989).  Goiter can be caused by a lack of iodine in the diet
or by chemicals in the environment that act at multiple steps in the process from synthesis of
thyroid hormone to postreceptor activation as discussed earlier. In the case of the Great Lakes
salmon, lack of iodine also has been postulated as the cause of the observed thyroid effects in
salmon, and this cause of the observed  thyroid effects either in whole or in part cannot be
completely ruled out at this time.  However, Leatherland (1992) argues strongly from
physiological and ecological observations that iodine deficiency is not the likely or even primary
cause of the observed thyroid effects. It should be emphasized, however, that there is no firm
evidence linking thyroid hyperplasia observed in  Great Lakes salmon with any specific chemical
contamination (LC Folmar, personal communication).
     Furthermore, the epidemiologic observations for the goitrogenic effects seen in salmon  have
not been mentioned for either indigenous or other, more "purely freshwater" introduced fish
species, which would strengthen a linkage of goitrogenic effects to a possible toxic chemical
     Sonstegard and Leatherland (1976) noted that the particular significance of the observed
effects on salmon is that, if goitrogenic substances are involved in the etiology of the observed
thyroid effects in fish,  such substances could potentially affect human health because fish are  eaten
and the substances are passed on to human consumers.  The effects of these substances  on fish
populations or other wildlife populations also deserve more study (Sonstegard and Leatherland,

1976). As in mammals, with some differences in the particulars, the thyroid gland and the
hormones it produces are involved in such things as metabolism, particularly carbohydrate
metabolism, and growth, having, as in mammals, a permissive rather than a directly controlling
role (Gorbman, 1969).  In teleosts (fish having a bony skeleton, as opposed to cartilaginous
species such as sharks), growth of the skeletal elements is particularly sensitive to the state of the
thyroid gland.  Thyroid hormones also appear to have a role, through feedback with the CNS, on
teleost behavior, including general orientation, motor behavior and activity, and perhaps
migratory behavior as well (Gorbman, 1969).

     c. Amphibians
     Many populations of frogs, toads, and salamanders are in decline in North America and
worldwide (Blaustein and Wake, 1995).  Several reasons have been put forth for the declines,
including habitat loss, disease, ultraviolet radiation (UV), and pollution.  The role of endocrine-
disrupting chemicals to these declines, if any, is unknown. Hypotheses that a disrupted endocrine
process could weaken an immune system response and make an individual amphibian more
susceptible to a bacterial pathogen or less resistant to a UV stress have not been fully explored.
Because monitoring efforts for these populations also have been very limited, a concerted effort
would be needed to confirm or rule out an endocrine-disrupting chemical etiology for any of the
population losses.  Because anurans (frogs  and toads) have both aquatic and terrestrial life
histories and are subject to varied and multiple exposures (oral, dermal, and inhalation) at
different stages in their life cycle, this class of vertebrate might represent a unique sentinel animal
model for laboratory and field exposure studies.

     d. Reptiles
     Perhaps the best known example of putative environmental disruption is that from Florida's
fourth largest lake, Lake Apopka.  In 1980, a chemical spill from nearby Tower Chemical
Company contaminated the lake. Guillette et al. (1994) reported this spill as a mixture of dicofol,
DDT, and DDE. The spill was characterized as being primarily dicofol.  More specifically, Tower
Chemical Company was a manufacturer of generic chlorbenzilate, which was produced from DDT
feedstock. Dicofol is closely related to chlorbenzilate and is a byproduct of its manufacturing
process. Dicofol and chlorbenzilate both principally degrade to dichlorobenzophenone. The
relative proportions of DDT, DDE, other DDT-related materials, dicofol, chlorbenzilate, and
dichlorobenzophenone  in the spill are not definite, but certainly all of these compounds were
     A variety of endocrine-related abnormalities have been reported as a consequence of this
spill.  The majority of male alligators from this lake appear to have been demasculinized, with

their phalluses one-half to one-fourth the normal size. Histologically, their seminiferous tubules
show abnormal development and are marked by the presence of cell types and cell structures not
seen in male alligators from (relatively unpolluted) Lake Woodruff (Guillette et al., 1994). Lake
Apopka male alligators were further characterized by having extremely low serum levels of both
testosterone and estrogen, but comparatively more estrogen (Guillette et al., 1994).  This
diminished hormone level and altered ratio was evident in the eggs, hatchlings, and juvenile
animals (Guillette et al., 1994, 1995a,b, 1996). For example, male Lake Apopka hatchlings had a
ratio of estradiol to testosterone of 2 versus the 0.5 ratio seen in normal animals (Guillette et al.,
1994). The female alligators, on the other hand, were "super-feminized" having an estradiol to
testosterone ratio twice as high as normal. Histologically, the ovaries of Lake Apopka females
were marked by the presence of numerous polyovular follicles and polynuclear oocytes, which
were never observed in alligators from Lake Woodruff (Guillette et al., 1994).  A population of
juvenile male alligators from Lake Apopka exhibited smaller penis size and plasma testosterone
was much reduced compared with similar-sized animals from Lake Woodruff (Guillette et al.,
1996). It should be  mentioned that the hypothesis that these abnormalities in male sexual
development heretofore attributed to xenoestrogenic activity of DDT and its metabolites may be
mediated through inhibition of the AR (Kelce et al., 1995a,b).
     Red-eared turtles in Lake Apopka also are being demasculinized. Amniotic fluid
concentrations of estradiol and testosterone indicate that no turtle hatchling has a normal
androgen synthesis pattern.  Histopathologically, the hatchlings have either normal appearing
ovaries or else are intersex, having ovotestes, with no normal males observed (Guillette, 1994).
     The effects of this spill in Lake Apopka apparently include not only the developmental
effects noted above, but also effects on hatching success and population growth.  For example, in
Lake Apopka, only  5% to 20% of alligator eggs hatched in each nest examined, compared with a
normal hatching rate of 65% to 80% (Woodward  et al., 1993).  Furthermore, the mortality rate of
Lake Apopka hatchlings was close to 50% in the first 2 weeks, a rate that is 10 times higher than
that in nests from unaffected areas.  Woodward et al. (1993) noted that juvenile alligator densities
on Lake Apopka declined by 90% during 1980 to  1987. They attributed this decline to acute
reproductive failure, perhaps due to exposure to ODD and DDE as demonstrated by the
association of decreasing egg viability  and the 1980 spill (Woodward et al., 1993). Alligator eggs
from Lake Apopka were found to have p,p'-DDE  at levels 5.6 ppm (wet weight) (Heinz et al.,
1991), roughly twice that known to adversely affect the eggs and embryos of bald eagles.
However, in an earlier study, Heinz et al. (1991) looked at hatching success in 1985 of artificially
incubated eggs from Lake Apopka that contained significantly higher levels of organochlorine
pesticides compared with Lake Griffin (where eggs were relatively clean).  Of the analytes, p,p'-
DDE was present at the highest concentration in Lake Apopka eggs with a geometric mean

concentration of 3.5 ppm wet weight (vs. 0.58 ppm in Lake Griffin.) The levels of heavy metals
were similar in both lakes and did not appear to be present at harmful levels. While hatching
success was lower for Lake Apopka eggs compared with Lake Griffin, within Lake Apopka there
was no clear association between pesticide levels in eggs and hatching success.  Given this lack of
association, Heinz et al.  (1991) concluded that the observed depression in egg viability could not
be readily attributed to the organochlorine or metal compounds (toxaphene, dieldrin, DDT and its
metabolites, nonachlor, chlordane and oxychlordane, and 16 metals) analyzed for and detected.
Hexachlorobenzene, hexachlorocyclohexane, heptachlor epoxide, PCBs,  endrin, mirex, and
dicofol and its metabolites were analyzed also, but not detected in 1985.
     The example of Lake Apopka demonstrates the difficulty of determining the exact causative
agent in cases where a mixture of chemicals and heavy metals is involved and points up the need
for coordinating both laboratory and field studies in these cases.  It also points up the need to
focus not only on direct mortality, but also on the far more common, but less easily measured,
sublethal effects of endocrine disruption which may have detrimental consequences to populations
in the long-term (and especially as these disruptions occur to embryos, adversely affecting the
organization of the reproductive, immune, or nervous systems) (Guillette et al., 1995a,b).
     As another case in point, Bishop et al.  (1991) collected snapping turtle eggs from five
locations in the Great Lakes region and assayed them for a variety of organochlorine
contaminants, including  hexachlorobenzene, o-chlordane, t-nonachlor, p,p'-DDE, mirex, dieldrin,
heptachlor epoxide, pentachlorobiphenyls, dibenzo-p-dioxins, and dibenzofurans.  Based on
analyses of the eggs, two of the sites could be classified as relatively highly contaminated (total
PCBs 1,500-3,000 ppb, DDE 500-900 ppb,  other [total] organochlorine pesticides 250-500 ppb,
and [total] dioxins/furans 0.06-0.15 ng/g or  [ppb] wet weight); two others as moderately
contaminated (total PCBs 300-500 ppb, DDE 40-80 ppb, other [total] organochlorine pesticides
100 ppb, and [total] dioxins and furans 0.01-0.02 ng/g or [ppb] wet weight); and the fifth site as
relatively clean (total PCBs 30 ppb, DDE 8  ppb, other [total] organochlorine pesticides 5 ng/g or
[ppb] wet weight, and dioxins and furans [not detectable]). (Data have been rounded off and
combined in this paper for comparative purposes; see Bishop et al., 1991, for exact figures.)
     There was a strong statistical association between the presence of these chemicals
(especially the PCB congener 2,3,3',4,4'-pentachlorobiphenyl) and decreased hatching success and
increased developmental abnormalities.  However, the study could not conclusively demonstrate
that any particular organochlorine chemical  analyzed was the responsible agent. Interaction
analyses of the variables examined indicated that site effects were more strongly correlated with
developmental abnormalities than individual contaminant levels in eggs.  That is, although there
was a strong correlation between the presence of these chemicals  individually and adverse effects,
there was a stronger relationship between adverse effects and areas of high contamination in

general. The authors judged that no single chemical substance could be conclusively implicated as
the causative agent for the observed developmental effects.  They concluded that controlled
reproductive effects studies of polychlorinated chemicals on this species of turtle would make the
results of this study more convincing.
     A further complication that must be considered is the way in which sexual development is
normally regulated in vertebrates. Among mammals, the development of the male reproductive
tract and sexual characteristics are regulated by androgens (including testosterone) and anti-
Mullerian hormone (as discussed earlier). However, in many poikilotherm (cold-blooded)
vertebrates (fish and reptiles), individuals lack sex chromosomes and have evolved other
mechanisms of sexual differentiation.  The determining factor may be the temperature at which
embryos develop; in others, it may be the social surroundings that control sex determination.
Finally, some individuals may reproduce asexually by a process of parthenogenesis. Pertinent to
this discussion is the fact that alligators, many turtles, and some lizards establish their gender
during embryonic development coincident with differentiation of the gonads. Temperature
regulation of sexual differentiation takes place in an all-or-nothing fashion. Temperature acts by
modulating enzymes and sex steroid receptors. Depending on the species, the embryos develop
into males predominantly at low, intermediate, or high temperatures; females develop at different
temperatures (Crews, 1994).  Reptiles with temperature-dependent sexual determination (TSD)
should be good  indicators of estrogenic response (personal communication, David Crews,
University of Texas at Austin, 1996; Bergeron et al., 1994).
      Gross and Guillette, reproductive endocrinologists at the University of Florida, completed a
laboratory study taking advantage of the TSD (Gross and Guillette, 1994). They wanted to
determine if the abnormalities seen in Lake Apopka's alligators could be induced with normal eggs
treated with DDE.  They took eggs from Lake Woodruff, a relatively clean lake, and painted
estradiol on some and DDE on others. They then incubated the eggs at a temperature that, in a
clean environment, would produce mostly male hatchlings.  For the eggs treated with DDE (or
estradiol), there was observed, when measured at hatching, a decrease in allantoic testosterone
concentrations that mimicked the estrogen-testosterone ratios seen in the eggs collected from
Lake Apopka. Estradiol, but not DDE, also increased allantoic estradiol levels.  These observed
hormone ratios indicate a strong demasculinizing effect due to exposure to these chemicals.  In a
followup interview concerning this work, Hileman (1994) reported that 80% of the eggs painted
with estradiol produced females.  Those eggs painted with DDE produced 20% female, 40%
intersex, and 40% male hatchlings.
     In another experiment using a TSD species,  Bergeron et al. (1994) dosed the eggs of the
red-eared slider turtle, Trachemys scripta, with various combinations and concentrations  of 11
PCB compounds. The test substances were dissolved in 95% ethanol and applied to the outside

of the shell of the eggs. Two compounds, both hydroxylated forms of PCBs, 2',4',6'-trichloro-4-
biphenylol and 2',3',4',5'-tetrachloro-4-biphenylol, resulted in a significant percentage of turtles
hatching as females at temperatures that normally produced males. In the case of 2',4',6'-
trichloro-4-biphenylol, there was 100% sex reversal at the high dose (100 jig or approximately 9
ppm). Both of these compounds when tested in mouse tissue also showed marked estrogen
receptor affinity (McKinney et al., 1990). Although no other PCBs (whether hydroxylated or
nonhydroxylated) showed sex reversal, Bergeron et al. (1994) postulated that the two active
hydroxybiphenyls could exist in steady-state concentrations in the aquatic environment as
metabolites of other PCBs.  Furthermore, when these two compounds were combined, they had a
synergistic effect. There was a significant increase in ovarian development at a dose of 10 jig
(about 0.9 ppm), a dose tenfold less than the effect observed when the chemicals were tested
singly. Estradiol-l?P, the positive control chemical, gave similar results when applied at a dose of
0.5  jig (0.04 ppm). Bergeron et al. (1994) noted that  the PCB concentrations showing estrogenic
effects and disruption of normal  gonadal differentiation in their turtle experiments are similar to
average concentrations of PCBs found in human breast milk.
     As with fish, vitellogenin induction is thought to have some utility as an estrogenic
biomarker of exposure to environmental endocrine disrupters for amphibia and reptiles. To test
this, Palmer and Palmer (1995) injected 1 |ig/g estradiol-l?P (E2), 1 |ig/g DBS, 250 |ig/g o,p'-
DDT, or 1 |ig/g o,p'-DDT (ip,  dissolved in corn oil) into adult male red-eared turtles (Trachemys
scripta) and adult male African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis).  Single injections of test substance
were given daily for 7 days, and plasma was collected on day 14 for analysis. Both the DBS and
estradiol treatments induced relatively high concentrations of vitellogenin.  DDT induced smaller
amounts, in a dose-dependant manner, and corn-oil only (control) animals  showed no extractable
vitellogenin in their plasma. On the basis of the results of these laboratory studies, Palmer and
Palmer (1995) concluded that the vitellogenin assay may be a useful biomarker of xenobiotic
estrogen activity in reptiles and amphibians in wild  populations as well.   Palmer and Palmer
(1995) also noted that in the case of lipophilic compounds,  like o,p'-DDT, which have estrogenic
activity  and which also bioaccumulate, there may be negative impacts on fertilizability of the egg
and development of the embryo as these lipophilic contaminants are mobilized and transferred to
sensitive tissues during the reproductive and developmental processes.

     e.  Birds
     Hatching success of birds also has been suspected of being affected by environmental
hormones.  DDT and DDE continue to be a problem in the Great Lakes due to these chemicals'
persistence and ability to bioaccumulate (Colborn,  1991). Reproductive success of the fish-eating
Forster's tern was dramatically impaired on organochlorine-contaminated Green Bay, Lake

Michigan (Kubiak et al., 1989).  Compared with the Wisconsin control eggs from Lake Poygan,
eggs from Green Bay had an order of magnitude higher residues of TCDD, PCDD, and PCBs
(201 pg/g vs. 2175 pg/g). Hatching success of eggs at Green Bay was 75% lower than that of
those at Lake Poygan (Kubiak et al., 1989). In the 1983 nesting season, hatchability of Forster's
tern eggs taken from other nests and artificially incubated was about 50% lower for Green Bay
than for Lake Poygan (Kubiak et al., 1989).
     The insecticide chlordecone (Kepone) reportedly also has an estrogenic effect, as observed
in Japanese quail fed diets contaminated with 10, 40,  80, or 160 ppm chlordecone for 6 to 26
days. Effects were observed in a dose-dependent fashion for all the doses after 26 days of
exposure, and very rapid changes were noted at the highest dose, with effects approaching those
of estradiol-17p, the positive control (Eroschenko, 1981). In these experiments, Kepone was
found to stimulate the female reproductive system of immature quail, but decrease follicular
development, induce ovarian regression, and inhibit ovulation and egg-laying in adults
(Eroschenko, 1981). With chronic exposure, eggs laid by treated birds were significantly weaker
and thinner shelled than control birds. Additional studies by Palmiter and Mulvihill (1978) and
Eroschenko and Palmiter (1980) indicate that Kepone competes for, and binds to, estrogen-
sensitive cells in the reproductive system. Also, messenger RNAs for conalbumin and ovalbumin
were induced. Such induction of egg white protein synthesis is also typical of estradiol.  Kepone
also affects male birds, causing highly dilated seminiferous tubules, a reduction in germinal
epithelium and reduced numbers of sperm (Eroschenko and Wilson, 1975; Eroschenko, 1981).
     Fry et al. (1987) noted that gulls are relatively resistant to the eggshell thinning effects of
organochlorine compounds such as DDT; however, gulls appear to be much more sensitive to the
teratogenic (specifically, the feminizing) effects of chemicals identified as having estrogenic
properties (e.g., DDT and methoxychlor). Indeed, gulls appear to be 10 to 50 times more
sensitive to chemicals inducing feminization than chickens, Japanese quail, or finches, other
species that have been tested using estrogenic teratogens (Fry et al., 1987). These pollutant
effects may be the cause of locally observed population declines and skewed sex-ratios of
breeding populations of Western gulls in California and Herring gulls in the Great Lakes in the
1960s and 1970s (Fry et al., 1987). In examination of this hypothesis, Fry et al. (1987) injected
the eggs of Western and California gulls with estrogenic compounds (o,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDT, and
methoxychlor) at concentrations (2, 5, 20, 50, and 100 |ig/g [ppm] fresh egg wt) that would
simulate levels that have been observed in eggs in the environment.  The positive control
compound, estradiol, injected even at the lowest concentration (0.5 ppm) caused complete
feminization of male embryos, such that male embryos could only be distinguished histologically
by the presence of seminiferous  tubules in the left ovotestis. O,p'-DDT at 5 ppm and higher and
methoxychlor at high concentrations (20, 50, and 100 ppm) also caused extensive feminization

(e.g., persistence of right oviducts in female embryos, left or left and right oviducts present in
males, and right testes of feminized males either normal or reduced in size). A 4:1 mixture of
p,p'-DDE plus p,p'-DDT also resulted in feminization of male and female embryos at the high
dose of 50 ppm.  Embryos from eggs injected with p,p'-DDT or p,p'-DDE alone were not
noticeably affected at the  doses tested. It should be mentioned again that the above studies
treated p,p'-DDE as an estrogen when it has recently been shown to be a potent AR antagonist
(Kelceetal., 1995a,b).
     In addition, Fry et al. (1987) examined several colonies of Glaucus-winged gulls (Larus
glaucescens) breeding in localized polluted areas of Puget Sound, Washington. Average eggshell
thinning was 8, 9, and 10%, respectively, in the three target sites of Seattle, Tacoma, and Shelton.
This is a remarkable amount of thinning for a gull species and, as Fry et al. (1987) noted, is
comparable to thinning caused by high levels of DDT in Lake Michigan in the 1960s.  A
significant percentage (50, 86, and 100%, respectively) of birds from these three sites also had
persistent right oviducts, evidence of exposure to an estrogenic substance, and also a high
frequency of supernormal clutches of eggs. Interestingly, Puget Sound, historically, has not been
characterized by extensive amounts of pollution by DDT, unlike other areas where the above-
observed effects have been noted.  However, high levels of PCBs and PAHs—both classes of
compounds that also  are considered to be environmental endocrine disrupters (this paper)~are
characteristic pollutants in the Sound, and birds from urban  areas of Puget Sound have been
found with comparatively high levels of these compounds in their tissues (Fry et al., 1987). Fry et
al. (1987) concluded that because only very low levels of DDE have ever been found in Puget
Sound, the specific cause of the observed eggshell thinning and feminization of Glaucus-winged
gulls in this area is unknown.
     Moccia et al. (1986) did histologic examinations of 213 herring gulls collected from nine
colonies in the Great Lakes basin between 1974 and 1983 and also of birds from a single colony in
the Bay of Fundy (a coastal marine population) between 1977 and 1982. Abnormal thyroid
histology was the rule for gulls from the Great Lakes area, versus those from the Bay of Fundy,
which demonstrated normal thyroid structure. Epithelial hyperplasia, microfollicular organization
of the thyroid tissue, and enlarged thyroids (goiter) were prevalent in gulls from the Great Lakes
but not from the Bay of Fundy.  Moccia et  al. (1986) noted that the Great Lakes region is
deficient in concentrations of iodine in both soil and water, and iodine deficiency can cause goiter.
Indeed, iodized salt is legislated for use by the human population in this area.  Nonetheless, the
spatial and temporal differences in thyroid pathology seen in the gulls, compared with the
interlake differences in iodine content, does not, according to Moccia et al. (1986), support a
hypothesis of iodine deficiency being the sole cause of the observed thyroid abnormalities in the
gull populations sampled.

     Moccia et al. (1986) also noted that a number of substances present in the Great Lakes food
chain, including PCBs, PBBs, DDT, DDD, DDE, dieldrin, and mirex, reportedly affect thyroid
activity in birds.  In this study, the authors found that those colonies of gulls with the highest
prevalence of epithelial hyperplasia were from those sites that were most contaminated with PCBs
and polyhalogenated aromatic hydrocarbons. Furthermore there has been a temporal decline in
the incidence and severity of abnormal thyroid histopathology, corresponding to a temporal
decrease in contaminant levels in the gulls. A similar decrease also has been observed in salmon
populations in the Lakes.  Given that the herring gull diet consists in large part offish, and that
Great Lakes fish (Coho salmon) have been found to accumulate substances found to be
goitrogenic in rats, Moccia et al. (1986) hypothesized that the agents responsible for the goiter
and thyrotoxic effects observed in Great Lakes herring gulls are probably some fishborne
polyhalogenated hydrocarbons, but probably not PCBs (which produce an effect that is
histologically different from that observed in the Great Lakes gulls). Specific identification of
these substances remains to be determined.

     f. Mammals
     Laboratory evidence of the effects of estrogenic environmental hormones on sexual
differentiation was demonstrated in a study by Gray (1982). Female hamsters treated neonatally
with 0.25, 0.5, or 1 mg/pup of Kepone (chlordecone) or 20 |ig/kg of estradiol benzoate were
masculinized but not defeminized.  They had normal estrous cycles but displayed abnormal sexual
behavior by mounting receptive females (Gray, 1982).
     The linkage of observed effects on wild mammalian species to environmental endocrine
disrupters is somewhat tenuous, with perhaps certain populations of marine mammals providing
the most likely examples of such an association.   As in the example of herring gulls  along the
Great Lakes, the common theme appears to be a diet offish contaminated by chemicals that have
demonstrated or suspected influence on endocrine systems affecting reproduction and
immunocompetence (e.g., PCBs, DDT, DDE, mirex, mercury). Reijnders (1986) reported on the
collapse of a population of common seals (Phoca vitulind) in the western most part  of the
Wadden Sea, The Netherlands.  In 25 years, between  1950 and 1975, the seal population in this
area plummeted from 3,000 to fewer than 500 animals. The western (Dutch) area of the Wadden
Sea is heavily polluted due to pollutants carried to this portion of the sea by the Rhine River.  A
comparative analysis of organochlorine chemicals and heavy metals in the tissues of seals from the
western and northern portions of the Wadden Sea revealed that only PCB levels were significantly
higher in the western seal population. PCBs are the chemical agents thought to be the cause of
the poor reproduction observed in the western population.

     To investigate this hypothesis, Reijnders (1986) fed two groups of 12 female common seals
fish taken from different areas. Group 1 received fish species caught in the western part of the
Wadden Sea; Group 2 received those fish caught in the northeast Atlantic.  Analysis of the fish for
chemical residues (aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, hepox, a,P,Y-hexachlorocyclohexane,
pentachlorobenzene, hexachlorobenzene, p,p'-DDE, o,p'-dichlorodiphenyl-dichloroethane, p,p'-
dichlorodiphenyl-dichloroethane, and PCBs) showed PCBs and p,p'-DDE to be significantly
higher in fish taken from the western portion of the Wadden Sea versus levels in fish taken from
the northeast Atlantic. The seals were fed their respective diets for approximately 2 years, during
which time the average daily intake of Group 1 seals was 1.5 mg PCBs and 0.4 mg p,p'-DDE and
of Group 2 seals, 0.22 mg PCBs and 0.13 mg p,p'-DDE.  Reproductive success was significantly
lower in Group 1 versus Group 2 seals.  Profiles of hormones from the two seal groups showed
no significant differences in circulating blood levels of progesterone or estradiol-l?P between the
two groups on a circumannual basis.  However, the rise in estradiol levels  of nonpregnant seals in
Group 2, which indicates follicle growth, was not seen in nonpregnant seals in Group  1 (although
too few seals [two] were nonpregnant in Group 2 to test the significance of this result
statistically).  Also, the level of elevated estradiol in the combined Group 1  seals was statistically
lower than that of Group 2 seals but apparently was still high enough to result in reproductive
success in some of the animals.
     In additional experiments, Reijnders (1986) fed American mink (Mustela vison) livers offish
from the Wadden Sea or mink chow dosed with pure PCBs (Clopen A-60 or A-30). Mink were
affected equally under both regimens, with reproductive effects evidenced even at very low doses
(25 jig/day). Reijnders  (1986) concluded that available evidence indicated that PCBs  were the
likely cause of the reproductive failure observed in the western Wadden Sea seals. Reijnders
(1986) further concluded that effects occur postovulation and perhaps especially during the period
around implantation.  However, whether the cause of reproductive failure is a result of impaired
steroid binding capacity by PCBs and a disruption of the  steroid synthetic pathways
(endocrine disruption), a dominant-lethal action, or an embryo lethal effect could not be
determined at the time.
     In addition to possible steroidal effects, Brouwer et al. (1989) found that the seals fed the
diet of Wadden Sea fish (same experimental group as  Reijnders, 1986) had greatly reduced levels
of plasma retinol concentrations (e.g., 55%, and 30% to 40% reductions in June 1983 and
September 1983, respectively-two time periods selected  for sampling and analysis during the
pregnancy period) compared with seals fed the northeast  Atlantic fish diet.  Plasma
triiodothyronine levels were also significantly reduced in the high vs. the low PCB diet in the June
1983 sampling. There were also lesser reductions in plasma total and free thyroxine at that point.
Unlike the observations on plasma retinol, this relative diminution in thyroid hormone  levels

apparently did not persist throughout pregnancy. The September 1983 sampling showed
comparable thyroid hormone levels in both treatment groups. Brouwer et al. (1989) postulated
that PCBs interfere with thyroid hormone and, especially, vitamin A metabolism in these seals,
which could, over time, lead to a persistent vitamin A deficiency, resulting in retarded growth,
adverse reproductive effects, skin and eye disorders, and increased susceptibility to microbial
infections—effects observed in wild marine mammal populations in the Baltic, North, and Wadden
     De Guise et al.  (1995) similarly found that a local population of beluga whales
(Delphinapterus leucas) in the St. Lawrence estuary, Quebec, Canada, suffered a population
decline from 5,000 animals at the turn of the century to approximately 500 animals currently.
Like the Wadden Sea seals studied by Reijnders (1986), this population of whales lives in a highly
polluted area and does not appear to reproduce  at a normal rate. Abnormalities observed in the
ovaries during the reproductive cycle, the presence of relatively few pregnant animals, and the
unusual occurrence of an adult hermaphroditic beluga (with two ovaries, two testes, complete
male genital tract, and partial female genital tract) also were considered indicative of endocrine
disrupting effects with a possible chemical etiology.  Thyroid lesions (abscesses, and, in one
animal,  adenomas) and adrenal cortex lesions (hyperplastic nodules and  serous cysts) have also
been observed in this population of whales.  De Guise et al. (1995) also postulated that exposure
to environmental contaminants (such as PCBs, dieldrin, and 2,3,7,8,-TCDD) may be
compromising the immune system of the St. Lawrence beluga whales as evidenced by a relatively
high prevalence of neoplasms and observed frequent infections of mildly pathogenic bacteria in
this population.
     Lahvis et al. (1995) reported on the massive stranding and die-offs of bottlenose dolphins
(Turslops truncatus) that have occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s. One such incident
cited by Lahvis et al. (1995) involved more than 740 dolphins from New Jersey to central Florida,
representing as much as 53% of the coastal migratory stock of this species (Scott et al., 1988).
Gulf of Mexico dolphins experienced similar episodes of high or unusual mortality in the early
1990s, as did striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) in the Mediterranean Sea.  Lahvis et al.
(1995) reported that in each of these cases the dolphins were marked by skin and  organ lesions
believed to be caused by (in many cases opportunistic) infections of common bacteria, viruses,
and fungi. Several hypotheses have been proposed concerning the cause of the observed
mortalities. In the case of the dolphin deaths in the Atlantic, the presence of a "red tide" just prior
to the observed mortalities was noted.  In a red  tide, produced by the toxic dinoflagellate alga
Ptychodiscus brevis, the animals would have been exposed to a neurotoxicant, brevetoxin,
produced by the  algae. Brevetoxin, it was suggested, could induce immunosuppression in
exposed dolphins, making them susceptible to the observed opportunistic infections. Another

hypothesis was that the Atlantic dolphin developed a morbilli virus infection, which can lead also
to immunosuppression and  additional (opportunistic) infections. Neither of these two hypotheses
are totally persuading. Lahvis et al. (1995) noted that not all of the dead dolphins contained
brevetoxin, and morbilli virus infection could perhaps be secondary to some primary
immunosuppressive event, as appeared to be the case in the incident involving mortalities of
Mediterranean striped dolphin.
     The hypothesis that these animals' immune systems were suppressed due to chronic
exposure to immunosuppressive pollutants such as PCBs, p,p'-DDT, p,p'-DDE, or 2,3,7,8,-TCDD
should be considered. High levels of these toxicants have been found in the stranded animals.
Lahvis et al. (1995) took blood samples from 15 male bottlenose dolphins from a resident
population near Sarasota, Florida, in an attempt to see if a relationship between toxicant load and
immunosuppression could be determined. Immunosuppression was measured for each blood
sample using lymphocyte proliferation assays. Blood samples also were assayed for
concentrations of poly chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzo-furans, PCBs,
pesticides, and other chlorinated compounds. Only  5 of the 15 animals were selected for analysis,
with samples from the high and low ends being analyzed.  This small, and necessarily biased,
sample plus the lack of uncontaminated control dolphins make the conclusions of the analysis
tentative. Nonetheless, the investigators found that immunosuppression as measured by this assay
was positively correlated with increasing levels of pollutants, especially o,p'-DDE,  p,p'-DDE, o,p'-
DDT, and the PCB congeners assayed.  Additional work would be necessary to confirm and
further define the significance of these results as they relate to dolphin mortalities.
     In Florida panthers (Felis concolor coryi), cryptorchidism (one or both testes retained
within the body cavity) is present in 90% of the male population (Facemire et al., 1995).
Furthermore, sperm abnormalities for this population are the highest reported for any feline, and
sterility has been observed in at least four animals examined from this population between 1978
and 1990 (Facemire et al., 1995). While the cause of cryptorchidism is unknown, the exposure of
developing embryos to endocrine disrupters is suspected.  Another explanation, lack of genetic
diversity in this isolated population, also has been proposed.
      Facemire et al. (1995), however, while not discounting that possibility, think that exposure
to environmental endocrine disrupters may also account for some, and perhaps even the larger
part, of the observed reproductive abnormalities. They base their conclusions on several
observations. First, the genetic diversity of Florida panthers, when  compared with  other species
of large cats (e.g., Asian and African lions), was slightly higher or slightly lower than average,
depending on the specific population being compared, and was only slightly lower to roughly
equivalent to most other subpopulations of panthers (e.g., those in Texas, although a Latin
American panther population had markedly higher genetic diversity than the Florida population).

Second, cryptorchidism is rare in captive panthers and has never been reported in any other
species of wild feline, regardless of the degree of inbreeding.  Third, several animals that have
been found dead for unknown reasons or after failing health have been found to have what appear
to be toxic levels of mercury in their tissues. Mercury and other contaminants, when present in
the environment, can be accumulated from the aquatic food chain with the upper end of that chain
represented by, in this case, the raccoon, which feeds on aquatic fish, molluscs, and crustaceans.
Panthers whose diet consists of large numbers of raccoons will likewise accumulate high doses of
lipophilic compounds, such as mercury, and also p,p'-DDE and PCBs, which are suspected
endocrine disrupters, and which also have been found in Florida panthers and raccoons.
Endocrine disrupters could possibly cause cryptorchidism by influencing the synthesis of anti-
Mullerian hormone or the synthesis of androgens—for example, through an antiandrogenic effect
of DDE. Fourth, Facemire et al. (1995) examined estradiol and testosterone levels from whole
blood samples from 19 male (6 normal and 13 cryptorchid) and 5 female Florida panthers and
found that there was no significant difference in estradiol levels between these three groups,
although testosterone levels were generally greater for males and increased as the males aged.
However, there were also several males whose estradiol/testosterone (E/T) ratio was relatively
high, greater than 1 or near  1,  and also a female panther whose E/T ratio was relatively low, 0.77,
indicating possible feminization of the male and masculinization of the female animals.  There
were no significant differences between the hormone levels of normal versus cryptorchid males.
Facemire et al. (1995) concluded that additional studies (e.g., to determine normal seasonal
hormone levels of panthers, to examine other possible causes of the observed abnormalities such
as vitamin A deficiency, which has been associated with a raccoon diet) should be conducted to
further elucidate the observed reproductive failure of this population of panthers.
     In an unusual report of endocrine disruption in mammals,  possibly deserving additional
followup studies, Cattet (1988) reported that 4 of 15 female black bears and 1 of 4 female brown
bears in Alberta, Canada, had male sex organs, formed to a greater or lesser extent.  Upon gross
dissection, the bears' reproductive tract was completely female, but externally, some degree of
masculinization of the genitalia was evident. This ranged from  "a small piece of cartilage
embedded in a muscular process attached to the ventral wall of the vaginal canal to a nearly full-
sized penis-like structure with a urethra and baculum" (Cattet,  1988). The author reported no
evidence for what might be  the cause of this observed masculinization but suggested that these
effects might be due to exposure of the developing fetus to androgen-mimetic chemicals. Another
possibility suggested by Cattet (1988) for the observed pseudohermaphroditism was a freemartin
type phenomenon (an intersexual female calf twin born with a male), as is seen in cattle when the
blood supply of male and female twin calves are commingled.  However, a freemartin

phenomenon was considered less likely because the bears examined had evidence of prior
reproduction (placental scars, lactation, and cubs) whereas freemartins are usually sterile.

4. Test Methods
     Ecological effects observed and suspected of being caused by environmental endocrine
disrupters are listed in table 3 (appendix). For these effects and others discussed in the above
paragraphs, even though an endocrine-disrupting etiology seems clear in several of these, it can
still be disputed to some degree for all. What is not disputed is that a true cause-and-effect
relationship is difficult to establish.
     A variety  of test methods are available, but it is not known which one(s) is the best to
determine the effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on fish and wildlife.  While it is beyond
the scope of this document to list and discuss various tests for each hormone and process,
consider just one class of hormones-estrogens, for example. Several in vitro bioassays have been
developed for assessing the estrogenicity of chemicals using human breast estrogen-sensitive
MCF-7-cells (Gierthy and Lincoln, 1988; Gierthy et al., 1991; Soto et al., 1992). The assays
compare the cell yield after 6 days of culture in medium plus 10% charcoal-dextran stripped
human serum with and without estradiol and chemicals suspected of being environmental
estrogenic agents.
     Many tests have been conducted to determine the endocrine action and potency of
environmental chemicals by using developmental or physiologic effects as endpoints.
Developmental  effects are those that affect the developing organism and may result in irreversible
changes. Physiological effects are those that occur any time after development and may be
reversible. For  example, Gellert and Wilson (1979) have demonstrated that the offspring of
chlordecone (Kepone)-treated dams exhibit persistent vaginal estrus and anovulation.
Eroschenko  (1981) also reported that administration of Kepone to pregnant rats or mice during
the main period of fetal organogenesis results in fetal toxicities and malformations in the offspring.
As another example, a study by Gray et al.  (1989) measured reproductive alterations in rats by
age at vaginal opening, first estrus, and preputial separation in males being dosed with
methoxychlor at 25, 50, 100, or 200 mg/kg/day from weaning through puberty, gestation to
postnatal day 15. Methoxychlor accelerates the age at vaginal opening and first estrus. In the
highest dosed group, females go from constant estrus into pseudopregnancy following mating, but
do not implant.  In males, methoxychlor treatment reduces growth, seminal vesicle weight, caudal
epididymal weight, caudal sperm count, and pituitary weight.
     Vitellogenin, whose relevance in fish has already been discussed, provides an example of a
biomarker that may be determined very useful in assessing endocrine, especially estrogenic or
other feminization, effects.  A vitellogenin assay is available that Pelissero et al. (1993) improved

by developing a procedure to isolate rainbow trout hepatocytes, treat the cells with a suspected
estrogen, and then measure the vitellogenin that is secreted into the culture medium. Jobling and
Sumpter (1993) utilized this in vitro bioassay to evaluate the estrogenic activities of alkylphenol
ethoxylates and their breakdown products. Their results are  summarized in table 4 (appendix).
     The vitellogenin assay and the MCF-7 cell assay (Soto et al., 1992) are methods that can
screen for estrogenic activity. The results of these assays have actual implications  for animals.
For instance, nonylphenol has been shown to reduce testicular development in fish and also had a
positive response in both assays. Likewise, octylphenol and  its ethoxylates and benzyl butyl
phthalate were estrogenic in the vitellogenin assay and both were found to reduce testicular size
and sperm production in the offspring of female rats exposed to the substances via drinking water
(Sharpe et al., 1995). Screening assays are not limited to breast cell cultures or hepatocytes.
Routledge and Sumpter (1996) have developed an estrogen assay using the yeast Saccharomyces
cerevisae to screen for estrogens, and this assay has been used to assess rivers in the United
Kingdom for the presence of estrogenic compounds. The next challenging step will be to modify
existing test methods or develop new ones to further evaluate the results of bioassays or other
screening methods.  For practical and cost reasons,  tests will have to be developed in a tiered
fashion. A consensus-building approach will be needed, and this area will be the subject of intense
activity for some years to come. Furthermore,  other endocrine disruption effects, in addition to
estrogen or androgen mimics, will have to be evaluated as more information becomes available.
     Development and use of tests targeting endocrine function could assist the risk assessor in
the determination of whether a particular agent is an endocrine disrupter and of what
toxicological significance. Tests may vary as the creative minds of their developers and be as
numerous as there are hormones and hormone-controlled processes. Of immediate need,
however, is an array of test methods utilizing in vitro, whole animal, and field-level approaches for
identifying, quantifying, and elucidating endocrine-related toxicological effects. A framework
establishing the more useful of available methods and for linking or "tiering" these for a
coordinated assessment of potential endocrine effects is also essential for prudent regulatory
intervention. The Agency is  establishing a Federal advisory  working group called  the Endocrine
Disrupter Screening and Testing Advisory Subcommittee to develop a screening and testing
strategy for new and existing chemicals that may  act as endocrine disrupters. This subcommittee
will be composed of representatives from environmental groups, industry, academia, and


     With few exceptions (e.g., DBS, dioxin, DDT/DDE), a causal relationship between
exposure to a specific environmental agent and an adverse effect on human health operating via an
endocrine disruption mechanism has not been established.
     An important consideration in the evaluation of endocrine-disrupting mechanisms is the
concept of negative feedback control of hormone concentrations. Endogenous secretion and
elimination of hormones are highly regulated, and mechanisms for controlling modest fluctuations
of hormones are in place.  Therefore, minor increases of exogenous hormones following dietary
absorption and hepatic detoxification of these xenobiotics may be inconsequential in disrupting
endocrine homeostasis in the adult.  Whether the fetus and the young are capable of regulating
minor changes to the endocrine milieu is uncertain.
     An essential question in the analysis and discussion of the issue of environmental hormone
disruption for risk assessment is whether the exposure and endocrine potency levels of the agents
are sufficient to adversely affect human populations. If endocrine disruption is operating through
a hormone receptor mechanism, low ambient concentrations along with low affinity binding of
purported xenobiotics are probably insufficient to activate an adverse response. For example,
exposure concentrations of weak estrogenic alkylphenols are on the order of ppm to ppb.  White
et al. (1994) reported effluent concentrations from sewage discharge plants in the United
Kingdom at 0.1 ppm. Approximately 1/100 of the total (bound plus free) serum estradiol
available is free to activate a physiologic response in female rats (Montano et al., 1995).
According to White et al.  (1994), of the alkylphenols tested, it requires some 1,000 to 10,000
times more of the weak estrogen to bind 50% of the estrogen receptor than estradiol.  If these
data are correct, it means that 100,000 to 1,000,000 times more of the agent is needed to activate
a physiological response.  In other words, there would have to be 100 to 1,000 times more in the
water to activate an estrogenic response. Clearly, the normal human female is able to regulate
ppb concentrations of estradiol  without difficulty.  In addition, Safe (1995) points out that dietary
exposure to xenoestrogens derived from industrial chemicals is minimal compared with estrogen
equivalents from naturally occurring bioflavonoids. Furthermore, in the case of environmental
estrogens as endocrine disrupters, it is known that competition for binding sites by anti-estrogens
and down-regulation of estrogen receptors via Ah receptor-mediated chemicals in the
environment may  mitigate estrogenic effects of some chemicals (Safe et al., 1991). Taken
together, the Technical Panel concludes, based on the available evidence, that exposure to a single
xenoestrogenic chemical, at current environmental concentrations, is probably insufficient to
evoke an adverse effect in adults. More information is needed to determine whether this holds for

the human fetus and the neonate. Also, whether additional chemicals may overcome a body
burden or operate at nonestrogenic receptor sites to stimulate or inhibit estrogenic or other
responses needs to be determined.
     Another unknown of relevancy is whether a mixture of chemicals with endocrine-disrupting
potential (via additivity [Harries et al., 1995; Soto et al.,  1994] or synergy [Arnold et al., 1996]) is
sufficient to elicit a response and whether antagonists within the same mixture are sufficient to
negate the response (Harris et al., 1990). These uncertainties will require considerable
     Another issue is whether existing guidelines and testing protocols are adequate to detect
endocrine-mediated effects of a disrupter in the general population as well as in sensitive
individuals (the fetus, children, the infirm, and elderly). Clearly, there are age-dependent
differences in susceptibility to endocrine disrupters.  In adult ovariectomized C57BL/Tw mice,
three daily doses of 100 jig of clomiphene, tamoxifen, or nafoxidine or 1  jig of estradiol but not
keoxifene increases uterine and vaginal weight, DNA, and protein (Chou et al., 1992). In
contrast, neonatal mice given five daily doses of the antiestrogen keoxifene exhibit decreased
uterine and vaginal weights at 60 days of age. Similarly, while 2,3,7,8-TCDD can inhibit certain
estrogenic effects in adults, weanling Sprague-Dawley female rats are apparently insensitive to the
antiestrogenic effects of TCDD (White et al., 1995).  No test guidelines/protocols exist to
specifically evaluate endocrine disruption effects.
     For human health risk assessment two-generation reproduction studies, the new EPA
harmonized reproductive and developmental  toxicity testing guidelines and the 2-year cancer
bioassay should be able to detect many adverse effects. However, these were not designed to
identify mechanisms  of action of endocrine disruption, subtle functional deficits, or "transplacental
carcinogenesis" that might result following exposures at critical stages of development not
currently included in testing protocols. Current tests also are inadequate to evaluate endocrine-
mediated effects of mixtures. Some attempt has been made to expand on this issue under specific
endpoints discussed above. Of course, it should be remembered that first-tier toxicity testing
protocols are designed not to determine specific endpoints or mechanism of action, but are apical
in design. As such, they employ a paradigm  intended to detect a broad spectrum of endpoints and
adverse effects in the overall reproductive process.
     With respect to risk assessment, it should be kept in mind that all of the data should be
considered in the evaluation. For example, in the case of evaluating estrogen-mimetic, natural,
and synthetic chemical influences in the development of hypothalamic centers and sex
differentiation of the fetus, what is the role of natural products such as the phytoestrogens  in the
diet of mothers? Are the adverse effects observed the result of additive, synergistic, or
antagonistic mechanisms of action? In adults, do the phytoestrogens have any protective role in

regulating/restricting estrogen influences in breast cancer development?  For industrial chemicals
and pesticides (including inert ingredients) that are used in the workplace and home, there is a
need to accurately assess the exposure posed by their uses. Basic questions such as what are the
exposure potentials due to leaching from containers, dermal contact, and inhalation need to be
addressed.  To obtain answers to these questions, a concerted effort will be needed from industry
and the Agency to compile accurate information on how these chemicals are used.

     Evidence has been presented that a number of environmental agents (both synthetic and
natural) have the potential  of disrupting endocrine systems in aquatic life and wildlife.  The
problem is characterized by varied adverse effects on the endocrine systems of a wide range of
species. Effects observed include abnormal thyroid function, sex alteration, poor hatching
success, decreased fertility, and reduced growth.
     The evidence that has accumulated in the scientific literature is compelling that the
endocrine systems of certain fish and wildlife have indeed been disturbed by chemicals that
contaminate their habitats. At present, it is not clear whether the adverse effects seen at various
sites are confined to isolated areas or are representative of more widespread conditions.  In many
cases, the chemicals identified are ones that already have been identified as problem substances
due to their toxicity and persistence (DDT, PCBs, heavy metals, etc.) and therefore are heavily
regulated or banned from commercial use in the United States, or the chemicals are complex
mixtures (pulp mill effluents, Superfund site drainage,  etc.) that are known to be hazardous and to
have deleterious effects in highly exposed populations. For many of the cases, however, the
evidence lacks specific cause-and-effect data, and alternative explanations for the observed effects
cannot be completely ruled out.  For instance, goiter in Great Lakes fish has no specific chemical
or mixture of chemicals identified or specific exposure  level  quantified that produces the anomaly.
It seems likely that there is a chemical etiology for the phenomenon, besides low iodine levels in
the Great Lakes, but much more research is needed in this case and for many others as well.
     It is significant that these chemicals that affect fish and wildlife in their natural habitat have
been shown to cause similar adverse effects in laboratory test animals. In addition, specific
chemicals have been detected in fish and wildlife coincident with the onset of adverse
reproductive effects.
     For virtually all toxic chemicals, the toxic action or stress imparted on an organism will
likely be moderated by endocrine and immune processes that exist to maintain homeostasis.
Because of this, it is difficult to  elucidate whether a toxic action is directed specifically at an
endocrine function or whether an endocrine process disruption is an indirect consequence of some

other stress to the immune, nervous, and/or reproductive system.  This fact may provide an
explanation as to why many compounds have been postulated as endocrine disrupters.
     While great attention has been focused mainly on environmental estrogens (xenoestrogens)
and their possible adverse effects to human and other animal well-being, it should be kept in mind
that these and other environmental agents may act at several target sites promoting, directly or
indirectly, endocrine disruption, disease, and adverse population effects. Furthermore, it should
be kept in mind that certain pesticidal agents have been synthesized to function intentionally as
hormone/growth regulators to control pest populations.  Although it is clear that exogenous
chemicals can interfere with hormonally mediated processes, the extent to which exposure to
these environmental chemicals occurs at levels that may cause endocrine disruption is uncertain.
Until additional laboratory animal, wildlife, and some human studies provide sufficient evidence
for an environmental  endocrine disruption phenomenon, it seems reasonable to call the endocrine
disruption issue a working hypothesis.
     In summary, while the majority of the effects listed above are of concern, whether these
observations represent widespread or isolated phenomena and whether these effects can be
attributed to a specific endocrine disrupter will require additional research.

     The data gaps and research needs on potential endocrine disrupters summarized below
under specific human health and ecological research needs support and complement those
presented in much greater detail in two recent workshops and addressed in the following
documents: (1) Research Needs for Risk Assessment of the Health and Environmental Effects of
Endocrine Disruptors:  A Report of the US EPA-Sponsored Workshop, Raleigh, NC, April 10-13,
1995 (Kavlock et al., 1996) and (2) Development of Research Strategy for Assessing the
Ecological Risk of Endocrine Disruptors., Duluth, MN, June 13-16, 1995 (Ankley et al., 1996).
These latter two documents, along with ORD's research strategy proposal,  present needs for
research information that will be useful to the Agency in responding appropriately to potential
effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals on health and the environment.
     In view of the current interest and concern in environmental endocrine disruption for human
health and ecological  well-being, additional epidemiologic, laboratory testing,  and field studies can
be undertaken to better define the nature and scope of the potential problem. Epidemiologic
studies of populations environmentally or occupationally exposed may provide an insight into the
actual risks posed by  chemicals. Both in vitro and short-term in vivo tests could be developed and
validated in independent laboratories in an effort to elucidate mechanisms. Biomarkers of
exposure could be defined and their concentrations related to degree of insult  (i.e., dose/response
assessment).  Pharmacokinetics studies will be helpful for improving risk assessments by allowing

extrapolation between species and assessing other routes of exposure.  Because of the
interrelationship of the endocrine glands, the potential disruption of either one could have
detrimental effects elsewhere. For example, the active metabolite of vitamin D3, 1,25-
dihydroxyvitamin D3, a hormone, causes a hypercalcemia with resulting disturbance of the estrous
cycle, corpus luteum dysfunction, reduced serum progesterone, and uterine function (Horii et al.,
1992). In other words, disruption of one endocrine gland function may influence other endocrine
glands.  Additionally, the endocrine system is related to nervous and immune systems, whereby
disruption of one component may affect others. Consequently, these interrelationships could be
fertile grounds for research exploration of environmental endocrine disruption.

1. Female Reproductive and Developmental Research
     a. Ovary and Reproductive Tract
     Updated reproductive and developmental testing guidelines have been proposed recently
that should improve the Agency's ability to indirectly assess hormonal disruption and the effects
on laboratory test animals, but there may be a need for additional tests to specifically  evaluate
chemicals perceived to be endocrine disrupters.
     The inclusion in the new guidelines of estrous cycle evaluation, vaginal opening, and
anogenital distance measurements when appropriate may provide information on whether
estrogen and androgen receptors have been affected by a given compound.  Specific inclusion of
ovarian and uterine weights and the histology on these reproductive organs  also may help in
evaluating potential endocrine active chemicals. Although all changes occurring in these organs
are not necessarily specific to endocrine effects, all changes in these endocrine-sensitive organs
should help indicate when further testing may be desirable. The measurement of serum hormone
levels in laboratory animals at appropriate times, if incorporated into testing guidelines, should
provide useful information as to whether an endocrine disruption mechanism may be  operating.
     Validation of certain experimental testing assays (both in vitro and in vivo), developed and
used in some research laboratories for use as estrogen assays, would be a valuable first step in the
development of more efficient approaches to determine whether the potential exists for agents to
cause hormonal disruption. However, these studies should not be used as a sole determinant of
whether a compound is an endocrine disrupter, and special in vivo studies would be necessary to
support the information obtained from in vitro screening tests or computer models. Finally,
research is needed to determine the feasibility of such a tier approach, the type of studies that are
needed, and  the impact that a battery of tests for endocrine disruption will have on the risk
assessment process.

     b. Endometriosis
     There is a need to develop and validate laboratory animal endometriosis models for testing
chemicals and xenobiotics with other than rhesus monkeys.  A rat model for endometriosis has
been reported (Cummings and Metcalf, 1995). The use of human endometrial transplants in nude
(immunologically compromised) rodents might provide an appropriate animal model for the
testing potential causative agents of endometriosis.

     c. Breast Cancer
     There are  a number of data gaps in our understanding of mechanisms of mammary gland
carcinogenesis.  Traditionally, safety and scaling factors and "mathematical models" have been
employed to estimate the risk to humans based on study results in test animals. Such procedures
are based on assumptions that may not be realistic for predicting human hazard/risk or
mechanisms.  Therefore, there is a need to develop and validate biologically based dose-response
test animal to human extrapolation models for studying mechanisms of toxicity and chemical
carcinogenesis,  thus improving human risk assessment.
     Because environmental estrogenlike chemicals have been implicated as possible contributing
factors in the etiology of human breast cancer, these agents could be tested in various appropriate
animal models.

2. Male Reproductive Research
     Testing for reproductive toxicity should include evaluation of both the quantity and quality
of sperm produced.  Such measures are emphasized in both the Draft EPA Guidelines for
Reproductive Toxicity Risk Assessment and the Draft Two-Generation Reproductive Toxicity
Test Guidelines. The recent revelations that agents such as estradiol and DBS, as well as the
DDT metabolite DDE, also have antiandrogenic activity place significantly increased importance
on that mechanism of action. It is quite possible that the effects attributed to estrogenic activity
are due to antiandrogenic activity instead of or in addition to estrogenic activity. Therefore, it is
important that testing for endocrine-disrupting potential of environmental chemicals include the
ability to detect antiandrogenic activity in addition to estrogenic activity.  Testing also should be
able to detect alteration in androgen receptor function as reflected in genome expression.
     Further intense research on the population exposed to DES might allow stratification of
adverse effects by timing and level of exposure.  Additionally, because retrospective examinations
of existing data are likely to yield ambiguous results, it is important that prospective studies of
human male sperm production be conducted.  Such studies should include examination of trends
in testicular cancer and sperm production over time  and attempt to relate results to body and
target tissue burdens of chemicals known to have antiandrogenic and/or estrogenic effects. The

need for information relatively quickly dictates that existing populations of men be studied.  For
the long term, ideally, a study would begin with the pregnancies from which the male study
population was derived.  Under those conditions, evaluation of the other known or
developmentally induced reproductive system effects could be done also.
     Whether herbicide exposure contributes to the increasing incidence of human
adenocarcinoma of the prostate and, if so, whether the mechanism is by way of an endocrine
disruption have yet to be confirmed. If additional epidemiology studies support the above finding,
then the next question is to identify which specific herbicide is the causative agent and what is the
mechanism by which the carcinogen acts. Because the association between prostate cancer and
herbicide spraying has been suggested, there is need to determine the most likely route (oral,
inhalation, and/or dermal) of human exposure. If a dietary risk factor (increased fat intake)  is
confirmed, perhaps an oral route of exposure is most likely. Is a genotoxic effect operational, or
is there an epigenetic mechanism working? Pertinent to this discussion, what is the evidence that
a hormonal mechanism is contributing to the increased incidence of this disease? Are androgen-
mimetic chemicals likely candidates? These and other questions require further research.

3.  Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Thyroid Research
     Future efforts should concentrate on developing improved tests to identify environmental
agents that alter endocrine function through their action on the CNS and pituitary.  Such tests are
needed to identify any adverse neuroendocrine changes that occur in response to exposure during
development and/or in adulthood. These tests might include direct measures  of the gonadotropins
and prolactin, as well as an assessment of the functional reproductive endpoints that are regulated
by the pituitary hormones. Further information is needed to better evaluate the extent to which
the normal sex differences in the neuroendocrine control of gonadal function may contribute to
gender differences in response to reproductive toxicants.  Because the CNS may develop
tolerance to exposure to environmental agents, further studies are needed to evaluate the impact
of tolerance on neuroendocrine/reproductive toxicity and to determine whether or not the current
tests will identify this phenomenon.
     Clearly, there is a need for protocols and multiple tests to identify chemicals that have the
potential of disrupting thyroid hormone function.  In rat studies, propylthiouracil treatment during
development impairs CNS function (i.e., hearing) in adulthood (Davenport and Dorcey, 1972).
Information on effects of chemicals in both sexes and the effects of exposure  to the fetus,
children, and adults are necessary.  Once these apical tests are developed and  validated, then
additional tests to ascertain mechanisms of action seem appropriate. In an effort to extrapolate
test animal to human equivalence, reasonable dose-response data are needed,  along with
pharmacokinetics studies.

4. Ecological Research
     Many questions must be addressed before the overall magnitude, extent, and specific causes
of this environmental concern can be resolved. Information is needed on what chemicals or class
of chemicals can be considered to be genuine endocrine disrupters. The quantity (dose) of a
chemical that is necessary to cause an adverse effect is important.  Next, there is a need to know
whether chemicals that are suspected of being endocrine disrupters act in an additive, synergistic,
or antagonistic manner.  While there are several available tests that are capable of evaluating a
chemical for possible unique endocrine  system disruption in some animal species, it is unclear
which one or ones are the most useful.  Apparently, there are no avian reproductive tests to
evaluate specific estrogenic effects in birds. Therefore, it is important to determine how well
current screening assays predict an adverse ecological effect due to endocrine disruption.
Methods need to be developed and validated to test for a cause-and-effect and a dose-response
relationship to allow for sound risk assessment and regulatory decisions to be made. Additional
research is needed to (1) determine whether a chemical or its metabolites have hormonal activity,
and if so, what the mechanism of action is; (2) prioritize chemicals in relative potency terms of
toxicity; (3) determine whether organisms are exposed to the chemical in the environment; (4)
ascertain whether there are sensitive species and individuals, and (5) predict effects in the
environment, including the effects on organisms, populations,  communities, and ecosystems.
Specifically, test methods are needed to identify potential endocrine disrupters,  quantify the
potency of such action, and demonstrate any adverse outcome.
      "Sentinel" species (organisms used to detect effects of hazardous exposures) have been used
to identify environmental contaminants. Therefore, there is a need to  determine whether current
sentinel species are adequate surrogates for identifying endocrine disrupters in wild and aquatic
life or if other sentinel species should be identified and validated for assessing the state of
ecosystems. Perhaps the development,  validation, and use of amphibian and/or  reptilian models
would be  appropriate in view of their widespread distribution and lack of information on these
classes of vertebrates. Evaluations of ecological effect generally do not consider factors such as
disease resistance (immune system dysfunction), behavior (mating disruption), or reproductive
viability of offspring (transgenerational effects). Consequently, there is a need to determine
whether existing ecological effects/endpoints are adequate for assessing endocrine system
perturbation. If not, then additional effects/endpoints are needed.
     Finally, there is a need to know what effects that occur at the earliest response threshold are
relevant for further risk characterization and what are the population, community, or ecosystem
consequences of the effects observed in fish and wildlife.

                                 V. APPENDIX

         Table 1.  Selected Chemicals With Thyroid Activity:
                   Potential to Induce Thyroid Tumors
Ethylene Thiourea
Thyroid Tumors
Dose Level
126 mg/kg (rats) a
1.04 mg/kg (rats)
1000 mg/kg (rats) b
20 mg/kg (rats)
80 mg/kg (rats)
4.15 mg/kg (rats)

30.90 mg/kg (rats)
varies with species
42.2 mg/kg (rats) b
135 mg/kg (rats) a
150 mg/kg (rats)
213 mg/kg (rats)
42.59 mg/kg (rats)

+ = Positive for thyroid tumors.
- = Negative for thyroid tumors.
* = Presumed positive because of ETTJ; complete data not available.
" Exceeds MTD (Maximum Tolerated Dose).
b Highest dose tested.

Table 2.   Attributed Endocrine Disruption Effects in
          Wildlife for Some Pesticides
Tributyltin oxide
Synthetic pyrethroids (various)
Reported effect (OPP files)

Fish vertebral anomalies

Fish growth impaired, reduced embryo survival; mysid reproduction
Altered bird behavior, reduced egg production, reduced hatchllng weight;
mysid reproduction impaired
Avian reproduction impaired, delay In egg laying
Avian reproduction impaired, reduced egg production, reduced fertility,
Embryonic deaths
Imposex In snails; oyster growth anomalies
Avian reproduction impaired, reduced egg production, reduced fertility,
impaired testicular development

Arthropod molt Inhibition
Avian reproduction impaired; fish reproduction impaired
Avian reproduction impaired
Avian reproduction impaired
Reduced testosterone In birds; arthropod cuticle deposition disruption
Avian reproduction impaired, eggshell thinning
Avian reproduction impaired, reduced egg production
Arthropod molt Inhibition
Fish growth reduced
Avian reproduction impaired
Avian reproduction impaired; fish growth reduced, impaired hatching
Avian reproduction impaired, reduced egg production, reduced adult body
weight; fish reproduction impaired, vertebral anomalies; mysid growth
Avian reproduction impaired, eggshell thinning; fish reproduction impaired
Avian adult growth reduced, shortened egg-laying period, reduced
hatchability; fish growth reduced, vertebral anomalies

      Table S.Organisms, Possible Chemical(s) Exposure,
                   and Types of Effects
Herring gulls
Western gulls
Marine snails
Mosquito fish
Grizzly and black
Rainbow trout
Atlantic croaker
Bald eagle
Forster's tem
Wood duck
mockingbirds, and
Snapping turtle
PCBs, dioxins, organochlorine pesticides
PCBs, dioxins, organochlorine pesticides
Pulp mill effluent
Sewage effluent
Organochlorine pesticides
Mercury, DDE, PCBs
Pulp mill effluent
Lead, cadmium, benzo[a]pyrene, and PCBs
Various pesticides
PCBs, dioxins, and furans
Type of Effect
Abnormal thyroid function
Abnormal thyroid function
Defeminization and
decreased fertility
Decreased hatchability
Decreased hatchability
Decreased hatchability
Decreased hatchability
Decreased hatchability
Decreased fertility
11 Chemical(s) to which organisms were exposed.
b Chemical(s) were not mentioned In the literature cited.

               Table 4.      Relative Estrogenic Potencies of Alkylphenol
                             Ethoxylates and Breakdown Products a
Nonylphenol ethoxylate (E0=9)
Nonylphenol ethoxylate (EO=2)
Nonylphenol carboxylate
P-tert butylphenol
Relative potency b
a Source: Jobling and Sumpter, 1993.
b Relative potency compared to estradiol.
0 In the MCF-7 assay p-nonylphenol had a relative potency of 0.000003 compared to estradiol (Soto et al, 1992).

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