In an article published by Chemical Watch on December 4, 2019, Ninja Reineke and Pia Juul Nielsen from the non-governmental organization CHEM Trust discuss the European Union’s efforts over the past years to address endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The launch of the fitness check being carried out by the European Commission on EDCs (FPF reported) prompted the authors to ask “how many times will CHEM Trust and other stakeholders be called upon to provide more evidence that current EU laws are not sufficient to protect human health and the environment from the harmful impacts of EDCs?” In conclusion, the authors call for action rather than continued delays.
Results from the general fitness check, they write, “already pointed out gaps in protection in particular for pregnant workers and children,” and a report commissioned by the EU Parliament (FPF reported) also provided a summary of the science and “exposed many regulatory gaps.” The incoming EU Commission president has also now set EDCs as a point to address, and stakeholders at a recent EU forum on EDCs (FPF reported) argued that sufficient scientific evidence is available but identification of EDCs and action to manage exposures has been “excruciatingly slow.”
Going forward, the authors call for policy makers to keep in mind a set of eight demands submitted by the EDC-Free Europe coalition to the European Commission. Specifically, they recommend:
- developing a crosscutting regulatory framework that identifies and controls EDCs across all relevant laws, including revisions of new legislation;
- identifying and acting on suspected EDCs using the precautionary principle;
- extending information requirements to ensure sufficient data is available and treating EDCs as non-threshold substances;
- ensuring that all health costs are considered in impact assessments, including impacts on brain development, the immune system, thyroid disruption, and adverse environmental effects;
- promoting further research to improve testing methods, but still already acting now to manage the issue using available information.
In conclusion, the authors see the current fitness check as finally being “the European Commission’s chance to put their words into action and start long awaited measures to minimize exposures from endocrine disruptors.” This is achievable, they argue, if Europe ensures the swift identification of EDCs, their inclusion in protective rules in all relevant legislation with a focus on phase out, publication of lists of both EDCs and suspected EDCs, and implementation of bans in consumer products.
The European Commission has recently opened a separate survey specifically targeting stakeholder organizations to inform its fitness check of legislation. The survey is reported to be open until January 31, 2020, and a separate consultation for the general public is set to be launched in the coming weeks.
Ninja Reineke (December 4, 2019). “NGO Platform: EU fitness check on endocrine disruptors, another delay or potential game changer?” Chemical Watch
Chemical Watch (December 11, 2019). “Commission seeks views on EU EDC fitness check.”