Strengthening Local Governments’ Preparedness to Address Endocrine Disruptors

Contact: Brianne Della Savia

Research Aims

Endocrine disruptors  (EDs) represent a major challenge for policy-makers. As in many other countries, the Canadian government is debating how to best manage these potentially harmful substances that interact with the hormonal system. Exposure is linked to health and environmental risks posed by their complex chemical and toxicological properties, but data is lacking and the uncertainties are large.

There are indications of a federal decree being introduced and it is unclear how regulatory changes would impact local governments. The aim of the present study is to describe the capacity and resource gaps within current practices to help local governments compare and contrast management options.

Using a case-study approach, this research investigates current chemicals management strategies in a local Canadian context focusing on pollution prevention and end-of-pipe wastewater treatment. Qualitative semi-structured interviews will be conducted with experienced staff members and decision-makers. Lessons will be drawn from analyzing the interviewees’ perceptions of the community’s preparedness and capacity to reduce citizens’ exposure to EDs.


Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the hormonal system. This type of chemicals are commonly present in pharmaceutical, personal care products, industrial products, pesticides etc. Some EDs are of increasing concern as they are suspected to pose risks to human health as exposure can bind or block hormone receptors threatening irregular cognitive development and reproductive growth. Globally, jurisdictions are in the process of revising policies and negotiating alternative risk management approaches to reduce or eliminate potentially adverse impacts caused by ED exposure. In Canada, the production and use of chemicals are federally regulated by the Health Canada and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. In response to emerging concerns and developing knowledge these federal agencies have committed to addressing existing policy gaps by adapting new EC guidelines and regulations post 2020. Once guidelines and regulations are announced, municipal utilities and industry professionals must be equipped with the capacity, technologies and knowledge to meet the policy requirements.

The result of this research will contribute theoretical understanding of successful implementation of federal policies, and ultimately lead to best-practice recommendations for effective  strategies, and position Canadian municipalities to meet the upcoming federal guidelines.