Three deadlines missed on regulating endocrine disrupting chemicals

BEUC NEWS - 15.12.2015

It has now been two years since the Commission missed the deadlines for ways to identify Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). The Biocides Products Regulation and the Plant Protection Product Regulation require the Commission to adopt scientific criteria for identifying EDCs by 13 and 14 December 2013 respectively. Earlier this year, on 11 January 2015, the Commission missed a third deadline as it failed to take action on EDCs in cosmetics, as required under the Cosmetics Regulation.

Research has linked EDCs to obesity, diabetes and cancer. EDCs are chemical substances that interfere with the body's highly sensitive hormone system. Suspected endocrine disruptors are found in everyday items from food and cleaning products to plastic containers. Exposure to EDCs is estimated to cost the EU €157 billion per year1 in health care expenses and lost earning potential.

The Commission could have avoided this situation and met its legal obligations to protect consumers and the environment. After intense lobbying from chemicals manufacturers and pesticides companies2, the Commission decided to bin a proposal in June 2013. The Commission decided it first needed an impact assessment. With work on the impact assessment still ongoing, the final criteria to identify EDCs are not expected until the second half of 2016. Only then will the Commission decide how these criteria should be applied to various EU laws. 

Our everyday exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals – in our homes, workplaces and communities – must be reduced to protect the health of current and future generations. BEUC urges the Commission to take responsibility for regulating EDCs and respect the deadlines established under EU law. Setting out criteria which clearly identify all EDCs will enable the EU to address the threats posed by EDCs to long-term health and the environment. Until such criteria are adopted, the EU should apply the precautionary principle and ban the use of EDCs in consumer goods where safer alternatives are available.

Notes:

1 Trasande L, Zoeller RT, Hass U, Kortenkamp A, Grandjean P, Myers JP, et al. Estimating burden and disease costs of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the European Union. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015;100(4):1245–55. Abstract can be found here.

2 Stéphane Horel and Corporate Europe Observatory, A Toxic Affair: How the Chemical Lobby Blocked Action on Hormone Disrupting Chemicals, May 2015.

Learn more:
BEUC factsheet on EDCs