Estrogen Mimics: DES, DDT, and Dioxin

In 1994, the Vinyl Institute–a division under the trade association The Society of The Plastics Industry– sent a review on “Estrogen Mimics” to their Executive Board Technical Committee. Concern over estrogen mimics stems from their ability to cause multi-generational effects as observed with diethylstilbestrol (DES) including reproductive organ abnormalities, birth defects, reproductive organ cancers, infertility and reduced sperm counts.


Of particular interest for the Vinyl Institute was the flagged chemical “2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodioxin, commonly called dioxin, a contaminant in chlorinated pesticides and herbicides such as Agent Orange,” that shares similar behaviors to other harmful estrogen mimics like DES.


As the review explains, estrogen mimic behaviors were observed in dioxin–which is often created when chlorine-based chemicals like vinyl (polyvinyl chloride) are produced, used, or burned. Though dioxin shared similar behaviors to other estrogen mimics like DES, the Vinyl Institute included reports in their review that indicated little to no evidence of negative reproductive health effects. Despite concerns over how dioxin could behave like an endocrine disruptor which was known to cause harmful effects, the Vinyl Institute downplayed the potential hazard of this in their review to the Executive Board Technical Committee as seen in their final “Position on Endocrine Disruptors.”


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