London, May 11: Common chemicals found in household products may be the reason behind a range of medical problems such as cancer, reduced fertility and obesity, Europe’s environmental watchdog has warned.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned that other items such as cosmetics and medicines, which contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), could be harmful to humans.
In a study published on Thursday, officials said that there was strong evidence of harm and cautioned against their use but stopped just short of recommending a complete ban.
According to the agency five classes of chemicals need more scrutiny.
These included phthalates, which are often found in pesticides bisphenol A and other PCBs, which are used to make plastics parabens that are increasingly found in sunscreen and chemicals used in contraceptive pills.
It found those chemicals, which disrupt the hormone system “may be a contributing factor behind the significant increases in cancers, diabetes and obesity, falling fertility and an increased number of neurological development problems in both humans and animals”.
The agency said that in recent decades, there has been a “significant growth” in many human diseases and disorders including breast and prostate cancer, male infertility and diabetes.
It added that many scientists believe that the growth was connected to the “rising levels of exposure to mixtures of some chemicals in widespread use”.
The agency also said that the link between some diseases and these disrupter chemicals was now fully accepted.
The findings, in a report titled “The impacts of endocrine disrupters on wildlife, people and their environments”, were made following a review of scientific studies literature commissioned by agency over the past 15 years.
“Scientific research gathered over the last few decades shows us that endocrine disruption is a real problem, with serious effects on wildlife, and possibly people,” the Telegraph quoted Jacqueline McGlade, the EEA Executive Director, as saying.
“It would be prudent to take a precautionary approach to many of these chemicals until their effects are more fully understood,” McGlade said.
She said the real problem was not a single chemical but the “cocktail effect” of many of them together. (ANI)