Over the past 3-4 decades we have seen a decline in both male and female fertility. This may be related to growing number of environmental toxins called Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that mimic, block, or interfere with hormones in the body’s endocrine system and interfere with normal functioning of hormonal systems. EDCs have been associated with a diverse array of health issues and have become a major public health problem. These endocrine disruptors, are linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problem.

Endocrine disruptors are found in many everyday products, including some plastic bottles and containers, liners of metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.

EDCs in the female can contribute to an earlier onset of puberty; once they become adults, this exposure may also lengthen menstrual cycles and accelerate menopause. EDCs can also affect the duration of fertility and may shorten a woman’s reproductive lifespan. One needs to act to prevent exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) all around us and take steps toward making the world safer for all and also preventing loss of fertility.

Target audience

Reproductive medicine specialists, reproductive endocrinologists, gynaecologists, endocrinologists, embryologists, scientists interested in ART, nurses and midwives working in reproductive medicine

Expected educational outcomes

Participants having completed this course will be fully updated with evidence-based knowledge on effect of environmental toxins on fertility and how to prevent the effect of these endocrine disrupters on fertility.

Innovative aspects of the course

World experts in the field of reproductive endocrinology will provide lectures on this aspect.

Endocrine Disruptors: How They Affect Reproduction

Speaker: Professor Jaideep Malhotra (Agra, India) [ Click to view speaker’s bio ]

This will be updated soon.

Intervention Studies to Reduce the Effects of Environmental Toxins

Speaker: Professor Linda Giudice (San Francisco, USA) [ Click to view speaker’s bio ]

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and components of air pollution comprise environmental harm to human health broadly and specifically to reproductive health and child development. EDCs include, e.g., dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (persistent contaminants) and plasticizers such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), pesticides (e.g., methoxychlor), fungicides (e.g., vinclozolin), preservatives (e.g., parabens, BPA), and sanitizers (e.g., triclosan) that have shorter half-lives but accumulate in humans due to repetitive and prolonged exposures. Air pollutants include particulate matter (PM) of 2.5 m and 10m diameter (PM2.5, PM10), and heavy metals in diesel exhaust are also EDCs. Pollutants are ubiquitous in people across the globe, and limited human studies demonstrate that changes in diet (e.g., to organic/pesticide-free food) and personal habits (using BPA-free personal care products) can quantitatively reduce environmental toxicant body burdens of pesticides and BPA, respectively. Also, limited lab studies show that epigenetic modulators can reverse some adverse phenotypes. For example, methyl donors affecting DNA methylation reverse coat color, litter size and the obese phenotype of agouti mice exposed to BPA. Also, Trichostatin A, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, reverses adverse effects of maternal stress on offspring brain development and behavior. While these personal and epigenetic modulator interventions are beneficial in specific circumstances, prevention is overwhelmingly the projected most effective strategy to decrease reproductive harm by EDCs and air pollutants in humans. Education about risks of exposures and potential harms is essential but not sufficient. Advocacy is key, and health care professionals and scientists are effective and trusted voices in this regard. Governmental programs have reduced environmental toxicants and improved reproductive outcomes demonstrating huge benefits- .e.g., preterm birth reduction with smoking bans and closing coal-fueled power plants in California and Scotland. Advocacy for universal biomonitoring across the globe and establishing and enforcing guidelines for accurate chemical inventories, responsible disposal and recycling, and transparency of chemical constituents in consumer products (children’s toys, personal care products, home products furniture) are essential. It will take leadership and political will to reverse the course ahead.

What Did We Learn from Fukushima?

Speaker: Professor Atsushi Tanaka (Fukuoka, Japan) [ Click to view speaker’s bio ]

On 11 March 2011, at 14.46 local time, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake occurred in Tohoku area, Japan, creating a devastating tsunami that left a trail of death and destruction in its wake. The loss of off-site and on-site electrical power and compromised safety systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (FDNPS) led to severe core damage to three of the six nuclear reactors on the site; this resulted in the release, over a prolonged period, of very large amounts of radioactive material into the environment. The mandate of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) is to undertake broad reviews of the sources of ionizing radiation and the effects on human health and the environment.

UNSCEAR said after an exposure corresponding to an acute does of 100 mSv to the whole body, the lifetime risk of cancer could be estimated at about 1.3 %, in addition to the usual pre-existing 35% chance of developing cancer in a Japanese population that had not been exposed. The committee estimated doses to the thyroids of adults to be up to about 35 mGy in the most affected districts, albeit with considerable variation (from about two to three times lower or higher) between individuals. For one-year-old infants, the district-average thyroid does in the most affected areas was estimated to be up to about 80 mGy. UNSCEAR noted a theoretical possibility that the risk of thyroid cancer among the group of children most exposed to radiation could increase and concluded that the situation needed to be followed closely and further assessed in the future. However, no discernible increase in the incidence of other childhood cancers, including leukaemia, was expected. It is important to maintain a long-term medical follow-up of the exposed population, and in relation to certain diseases, to provide a clear picture of their health status development. While the overall impact in terms of population statistics was low, certain individuals and groups (especially workers) received doses of radiation that warranted medical follow-up.

Click here  to watch the lecture recordings – Accessible to ASPIRE members only. To register as an ASPIRE member, click here.


The live webinar session was held on 9 September 2021 at 5.30pm (GMT+8).

Moderator: Dr Madhuri Patil (Bangalore, India)

Panellists: Professor Jaideep Malhotra (Agra, India), Professor Atsushi Tanaka (Fukuoka, Japan)