European Commission's revised proposal limits ability to protect public from endocrine-disrupting chemicals

February 14, 2017

Contact: Aaron Lohr
Chief Communications Officer
Phone: 202.971.3654
alohr@endocrine.org
Contact: Jenni Glenn Gingery
Associate Director, Communications and Media Relations
Phone: 202.971.3655
jgingery@endocrine.org

Washington, DC - The Endocrine Society expressed disappointment today in the European Commission's revised proposal on defining and identifying endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), citing unnecessarily narrow criteria for identifying EDCs that will make it nearly impossible for regulatory agencies to meet the unrealistically high burden of proof and protect the public from dangerous chemicals.

A provision in the revised proposal further complicates regulatory activities by creating broad exemptions for chemicals that disrupt the endocrine systems of pests, such as insects and animals that attack crops. If they go unregulated, it will create serious gaps in the identification criteria and create a regulatory system that does not reflect the state of the science on EDCs, causing confusion and delays in identifying EDCs that could cause harm.

EDCs can mimic, block or interfere with hormones that regulate key biological functions in humans and animals, including brain development, reproduction, metabolism and growth. Bisphenol A and other EDCs can be found in common products, including food containers, plastics, cosmetics and pesticides.

More than 1,300 studies have found connections between endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) exposure and serious health conditions such as infertility, diabetes, obesity, hormone-related cancers and neurological disorders, according to the Endocrine Society's 2015 Scientific Statement.

The European Union has taken important steps to better address these public health concerns. It is the largest single economy with regulations specific to EDCs. Enforcement of these regulations requires the European Commission to propose criteria to identify EDCs. The latest proposal does not represent an improvement of previous proposals. It asks for an unrealistically high level of scientific evidence for endocrine disruptors and exemptions for certain chemicals that ignore the capacity of chemicals to directly or indirectly alter function of the endocrine system, seriously limiting the ability to identify and regulate EDCs.

The Society opposes this proposal because it includes broad exemptions that ignore the ability of a chemical to interfere with the endocrine system. To effectively identify EDCs in a manner consistent with the state of the science, the Endocrine Society supports creating multiple categories based on the amount of existing evidence that shows how specific chemicals act as EDCs. This approach would be similar to the classification scheme used for cancer-causing substances. Using a category system would help prioritize chemicals for assessment and regulation and allow for incorporating new data as more studies are published. The latest proposal from the European Commission does not include categories for identifying EDCs.

Failure to effectively regulate EDCs comes with a high price tag. Recent studies have found that adverse health effects from EDC exposure cost the European Union more than €163 billion each year in healthcare expenses and lost productivity.

As the European Commission and member countries consider the final wording of the EDC criteria, the Society will continue to advocate for criteria that reflect the state of the science.

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Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.