Agrochemicals with estrogenic endocrine disrupting properties: Lessons Learned?

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2020 Dec 1;518:110860. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2020.110860. Epub 2020 May 12.


Many agrochemicals have endocrine disrupting properties. A subset of these chemicals is characterized as "estrogenic". In this review, we describe several distinct ways that chemicals used in crop production can affect estrogen signaling. Using three agrochemicals as examples (DDT, endosulfan, and atrazine), we illustrate how screening tests such as the US EPA's EDSP Tier 1 assays can be used as a first-pass approach to evaluate agrochemicals for endocrine activity. We then apply the "Key Characteristics" approach to illustrate how chemicals like DDT can be evaluated, together with the World Health Organization's definition of an endocrine disruptor, to identify data gaps. We conclude by describing important issues that must be addressed in the evaluation and regulation of hormonally active agrochemicals including mixture effects, efforts to reduce vertebrate animal use, chemical prioritization, and improvements in hazard, exposure, and risk assessments.

Keywords: Adverse effect; Aromatase; Estrogen receptor; Mode of action; Pesticide; Xenoestrogen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Agriculture* / trends
  • Agrochemicals / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Biological Assay / methods
  • Biological Assay / trends
  • Endocrine Disruptors / toxicity*
  • Endocrine System / drug effects
  • Estrogens / analogs & derivatives
  • Estrogens / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Risk Assessment
  • Toxicity Tests / methods


  • Agrochemicals
  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Estrogens