Introduction

In a series of three articles we provide an overview of the impacts of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on human health, laboratory animals, and wildlife. We begin with a brief definition of endocrine disruption and a consideration of several interrelated developments in the field, which necessitate important conceptual shifts in the theory and practice of toxicology. We then examine some of the data behind these conceptual shifts, first from studies of wildlife, then from studies of laboratory animals. Finally, we shift to a consideration of the considerable challenges this new science of endocrine disruption presents to epidemiology. We then briefly describe the progress being made toward a more 'environmentally sensitive epidemiology' and illustrate these concepts with data from a recent study that uses biomarkers of low environmental levels of EDCs to identify some of the impacts of these chemicals on human health.

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