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  May 1999    

Experts discuss EDC pollution in East Asia
Leading experts on Endocrine Disruptor Compounds (EDCs) from around the world gathered at the UNU Headquarters on 9 and 10 February for a symposium on "Environmental Governance and Analytical Techniques - Environmental Issues Related to EDC Pollution in East Asia." This symposium was organized by the UNU in cooperation with the International Association for Environmental Analytical Chemistry (IAEAC) and Shimadzu Corporation. It marked the successful completion of a three-year UNU project on "Environmental Monitoring and Analysis in the East Asian Region" that involved over 100 researchers and scientists.

EDC pollutants include a broad range of chemicals that can interfere with the normal functioning of metabolic, growth, and reproductive hormones. They are resistant to natural degradation processes and thus persist and accumulate in the environment. Numerous animal species in coastal areas of East Asia have been found to be suffering adverse health effects from EDC exposure.

Day 1 of the programme was open to the public. It was attended by an audience of 300, including 21 journalists. In between the opening and closing sessions were three technical sessions on "Environmental Issues in East Asia," "Environmental Governance in East Asia," and "Endocrine Disruptors and the Environment."

On Day 2, which was by invitation only, sessions focused on "Key Issues Related to the Coastal Hydrosphere" and "Discussion of Future Directions."

In his welcoming address, UNU Rector Prof. Hans van Ginkel noted that, "The issue of pollutants that are labeled as Endocrine Disruptor Compounds is quite important to the future of our children as well as the ecology that surrounds us.... Knowledge of [EDC pollutant] functioning and the routes through which they can impact us are essential." The keynote speaker was Dr. Herman KoŽter, principal administrator of the OECD Environmental Health and Safety Division, who spoke on "Global Research and Policy Issues in OECD Member Countries." A total of 20 papers by representatives of various UN agencies and international organizations and researchers from leading universities were presented at the symposium, which ended with a panel discussion on "Proposed Future Research Directions."

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