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The Environment Agency on Thursday announced a basic framework for tackling the issue of endocrine disrupters — chemicals that can be found in the environment and disrupt the working of natural hormones in animals.

Thursday’s announcement was the agency’s first major attempt to deal with the issue, which has been at the center of controversy nationwide. The agenda, dubbed the Strategic Programs on Environmental Endocrine Disrupters ’98 (SPEED ’98), urges further scientific research on the chemicals as well as collaboration between central and local governments to promote the exchange of information.

So far, experts have confirmed 67 chemicals, including lethal DDT, PCBs and dioxin, as endocrine disrupters. Although these chemicals are known to cause deformities in some animals’ sexual organs, the effects on humans are still unknown.

Officials of the agency’s Environmental Safety Division said they will continue to study wild animals and begin counting human sperm with the help of medical institutions. The set of policies, however, does not regulate any of the existing hormone-disrupting chemicals. The officials said designing a basic framework for future regulations is the best they could do at the moment because there is little data on these chemicals.

Nonetheless, the agency is ready to set new regulations on the chemicals in collaboration with other ministries if they are confirmed to be harmful to humans, the officials said.

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