Endocrine disruption in invertebrates: a survey of research progress

Alex Ford, Gerald A. LeBlanc

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Man-made chemicals can interfere with endocrine processes and have permeated many ecosystems. Arguably, the most devastating example of endocrine disruption occurred in gastropod molluscs which led to the banning of tributyltin. The invertebrates consist of ~95% of all known animals and possess endocrine systems that can significantly differ from that of vertebrates. An expert group in the late 1990s highlighted considerable paucity in our knowledge of these endocrine systems and the limited ability to ascertain risks of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to invertebrates. Twenty years later, we surveyed experts in this field on the current state of the science. Respondents agreed that endocrine disruption is still a significant issue and noted that there was key evidence that EDCs were impacting invertebrates groups. Respondents noted a variety of impediments to advancing the science, including inadequate funding, insufficient knowledge to develop appropriate assays, and generally low support for invertebrate studies. Several scientists highlighted that resources were being misdirected with studies that address impacts of vertebrate EDCs or using biomarkers specific to vertebrate endocrine disruption. Sadly, many of the recommendations proposed by respondents matched those made over two decades ago. Accordingly, the field has not advanced as much as one might have expected.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Early online date13 Oct 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 13 Oct 2020


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