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European draft resolution urges action on EDCs

By Joe Whitworth , 25-Jan-2013
Last updated the 25-Jan-2013 at 13:39 GMT

An EU Parliament Committee has urged the European Commission to take tough action on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) and protect public health.

The European Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) has approved a draft resolution calling for the European Parliament to ensure public health from reducing exposure from endocrine disruptors.

The report will be presented to the European Parliament which will vote on the issue in March.

It calls for endocrine disruptors to be treated as substances of very high concern in the REACH regulation, the addition of tests identifying endocrine disruptors to existing EU legislation on chemicals and criteria for deciding which substances are endocrine disruptors and which are not.

Under the existing legislation within the EU, the assessment of the toxic potential of a chemical is dependent on its type.

BPA as an EDC

France, Belgium and Sweden all commenced bans on the use of endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) in some capacity from this year.

BPA is one of the EDCs included in the first Community Rolling Action Plan (CoRAP) for substance evaluation under REACH.

CoRAP lists 90 substances for evaluation by Member States which are suspected of posing risks to human health or the environment.

“The precautionary principle is, and must remain, a major plank of the EU’s chemicals policy,” said Swedish Social Democrat MEP Åsa Westlund, who wrote the report.

“The fact that we do not know everything cannot be used as a pretext for inactivity. The risks of irreversible damage to humans and the environment are simply too great.”

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals which have been linked to altering the functions of the endocrine system, which regulates much of what happens in the body including reproduction, immunity, metabolism and behaviour.

Quick action

Lisette van Vliet, senior policy advisor, of not-for-profit organisation the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), said the sooner the EU reorients itself to eliminating EDCs, the better.

“A recent EU-wide study that monitored synthetic chemicals stored in the bodies of Europeans showed that we carry these hormone disrupting chemicals.

“Scientific studies link exposure to these chemicals, particularly in the womb and in early life, to a range of health problems, including genital defects in baby boys, early puberty in girls, infertility, obesity, diabetes, hormone-related cancers and other chronic conditions.

“Reducing exposure to EDCs offers a major opportunity to stop the development of some of these diseases before they start.”