European Commission communication falls short of protecting public from EDC exposure

November 07, 2018

Contact: Jenni Glenn Gingery
Associate Director, Communications and Media Relations
Phone: 202.971.3655
jgingery@endocrine.org
Contact: Colleen Williams
Manager, Public Relations
Phone: 202.971.3611
cwilliams@endocrine.org

Washington, DC - The Endocrine Society expressed concerns that the European Commission’s communication on endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) released Wednesday fails to address the urgent need to protect children and other vulnerable populations from EDC exposure.

An EDC is a chemical that mimics, blocks or interferes with the body’s hormones. Children, unborn children, and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to their effects because their bodies are still developing, and hormones play a key role in that process. EDCs contribute to serious health problems such as diabetes, obesity, neurodevelopmental disorders and reproductive problems.

The Society has called for the European Union to adopt specific measures that will address legal gaps in the current approach to EDC regulation. The current approach is inconsistent across sectors and does not protect the public from endocrine-disrupting chemicals in areas that are regulated through specific EU legislation such as consumer products including toys, cosmetics, and food packaging. The communication also did not address the need to set targets for identifying harmful EDCs and replacing them with safer alternatives, consistent with some national strategies in EU member states.

The Society is concerned that the Communication refers to the existence of knowledge gaps.  As described in the Endocrine Society’s Scientific Statement on EDCs, we have sufficient knowledge to understand how EDCs contribute to numerous diseases—for example, by altering gene-environment interactions to produce harmful effects in individuals and their children. Additional research can help accelerate regulatory decision-making, but we currently know enough about many EDCs to take needed action to protect the public from this threat.

The Society was pleased that the Commission acknowledged the need for better EDC test methods in the communication. The communication also calls for continued research on EDCs, which is an important priority. New studies could explain how EDC exposures affect people during various life stages, including adolescence. More research also could shed light on how EDC exposure contributes to reproductive health issues, such as declining sperm counts.


The original EU strategy on EDCs is nearly 20 years old, and new scientific information has emerged in the ensuing years that is not reflected in the strategy. In its position statement, the Society called for the EU to revise its 1999 strategy to account for new scientific information and with the aim of minimizing exposure to hazardous EDCs throughout the environment and in consumer products. An update to the strategy is long overdue, and implementation of specific protections is increasingly urgent as the public continues to be exposed to EDCs.

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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.