European Commission's Overreaching Decision Fails to Protect Public Health

June 15, 2016

Contact: Aaron Lohr
Chief Communications Officer
Phone: 202.971.3654
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Endocrine Society experts say narrow definition will prevent effective regulation of endocrine disruptors

Washington, DC - The Endocrine Society expressed disappointment and concern today that the European Commission’s regulatory criteria are too strict to effectively protect the public from endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

“The European Commission has set the bar so high that it will be challenging for chemicals to meet the standard, even when there is scientific evidence of harm,” said Society President Henry M. Kronenberg, MD. “To protect pregnant women, children and future generations from chemicals of concern, we need science-based regulation that reflects the growing body of evidence documenting this public health threat.”

The Society is the oldest and largest global membership organization representing scientists and physicians who are experts on the body’s system of glands and hormones. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can mimic, block or interfere with hormones that regulate key biological functions, including brain development, reproduction, metabolism and growth.

More than 1,300 studies have tied EDC exposure to health problems such as infertility, diabetes, obesity, hormone-related cancers and neurological disorders, according to the Endocrine Society’s 2015 Scientific Statement. Because the health effects of exposure can take years or even generations to become apparent, scientists have used a variety of animal and epidemiological studies to document the effects of EDCs.

The European Commission’s overly strict criteria would result in very few EDCs being identified and regulated, at a high cost to the public’s health. 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. Bisphenol A and other EDCs can be found in common products, including food containers, plastics, cosmetics and pesticides.

The European Commission selected a more restrictive version of option 2. The Endocrine Society supported option 3, which would have ranked EDCs in multiple categories based on available scientific evidence. This option allowed for new data to be incorporated as more studies are published.

The European Parliament and member countries still need to approve the regulatory criteria before they take effect. The Society will continue to advocate for changes to ensure the criteria are grounded in scientific evidence.

“The Society is disappointed that the Commission disregarded scientific evidence in its decision, but our member experts are prepared to advise policymakers on what criteria are needed to effectively identify endocrine-disrupting chemicals,” Kronenberg said. “We want to work together to ensure the final result of the regulatory process will protect the public’s health.”

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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.