EU report - new approaches needed

Brussels — In a report released today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, it is stressed that despite certain achievements in environmental policy, major challenges still persist and the need for more integral and precautionary approaches is crucial.

Health Care Without Harm Europe welcomes the Environment and human health report as it highlights the need to focus on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) and nanomaterials – both of which are commonly found in medical devices throughout the world. As the report admits that EDCs and nanomaterials are extremely hazardous and cause serious harm to human health and the environment, HCWH Europe urges policy makers to advance the legislative process to more effectively control EDCs and to identify nanomaterials used in products where exposure to patients and healthcare staff may occur.

The report insists that the phthalate chemical commonly known as DEHP is of particular concern for children and workers due to its endocrine disrupting properties. Despite the potential hazard of this chemical and the safer alternatives available on the market, it has not yet been phased out in medical devices.

HCWH Europe hopes that the EEA report will give further stimulus to Members of the European Parliament who are currently debating the new European Commission regulation proposal on medical devices, to widely and strongly support the amendments to the EC proposal that call for a phase out of hazardous chemicals in medical devices, including endocrine disrupting chemicals and in particular phthalates.

If anything is taken out of this report, it is that there is an urgent need for a more integrated analytical framework so that the environmental factors that contribute to the burden of disease and address the interactions between the social, ecological and physical aspects of our environment are identified.

Health Care Without Harm is an international coalition of more than 500 organizations in 53 countries, working to transform the health care sector worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment.