Brussels — The European Parliament (EP) called today for effective and ambitious legislation to minimize risks from endocrine disruptors’ exposure and protect human health and the environment. At a moment when the European Commission is revising the EU strategy on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and defining new criteria for identifying EDCs , the report of Swedish MEP Åsa Westlund on “The Protection of Public Health from Endocrine Disruptors” is a timely contribution to the debate.
The European Parliament’s report follows on the recent report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that mentioned hormone-mimicking chemicals as a “global threat that should be addressed” . This shows that EU action to reduce human and environmental exposure to EDCs and develop horizontal criteria to identify substances with endocrine disrupting properties is urgent.
The EP report emphasises that current knowledge is not able to explain how responses to EDCs vary and that safe levels of exposure (thresholds), under which no adverse effects occur, cannot be predicted. The report further stresses the need to apply the precautionary principle and to develop new testing methodologies that cover the many areas of action of the endocrine system and address the specific properties of EDCs. Special concerns were also raised on the effects during critical stages of development and the need to protect vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women and children. Finally, the report calls on Member States to improve training programmes for health professionals on EDCs and emerging risks.
“The EP report highlights that immediate EU action is needed, and calls on the European Commission to base EDCs identifying criteria on hazard assessment, considering the potential cumulative effects of mixtures of chemicals, and making use of the best available scientific evidence. The Commission will also have the obligation to develop an EDC strategy that prioritises the protection of human health and the environment”, says Maria José Amaral, HCWH Europe Chemicals and Nanomaterials Policy Officer.
HCWH Europe hopes that the EP report will lead the way in the upcoming EDCs debate at the EU level, namely that the EDCs criteria to be defined by the end of the year will be transversal across all relevant EU legislation, including the new Medical Device Regulation where they shall be integrated.
See what HCWH Europe and other NGOs call for to protect public health from EDCs: CALL FOR ACTION ON EDCs
(1) Endocrine disruptors (EDCs) are naturally or synthetic occurring substances that can disrupt the functions of the endocrine system, which includes hormones essential for different metabolic functions like growth and development. Human exposure can occur via the ingestion of food, dust and water, inhalation or skin contact and EDCs are present in different products including, personal care products, food additives and containers or medical devices. Several scientific studies have suggested that EDCs are associated with an increase in the development of hormone related cancers, obesity and reproductive problems.
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. Visit the HCWH website for more information.