S&Ds call for EU action to protect public health from endocrine disruptive substances


The plenary of the European Parliament will vote today on an initiative report from S&D MEP Åsa Westlund which warns against unseen damage to health caused by so-called 'endocrine disruptors', substances that can alter the functions of a person's hormone system and contribute to hormone-related disorders and diseases.
Åsa Westlund said:
"Many different substances are suspected of having endocrine-disruptive properties*, which means that it is impossible to protect oneself against them as an individual consumer.
"The EU's legislation regulating chemicals is insufficient to determine whether a substance has endocrine-disrupting properties and lacks standard data requirements. This is why we demand appropriate information and testing methods.
"A review of the existing legislation is needed, together with proposals for new legislation, in order to reduce the risks of exposure – particularly for those who are affected the most: pregnant women, babies, children and teenagers.
"Endocrine disruptors should be regarded as 'substances of very high concern' within Europe's Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation, which means that they should be banned or limited and replaced with safer alternatives.
"Europe has a responsibility for its citizens' health and the time for political action has come."
* Note to the editors: Potential endocrine disruptors, their uses and effects include:
  • Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in plastics due to its binding properties. BPA can affect brain development, behaviour, prostate glands, mammary glands, thyroid function etc. BPA is widely used in products we come in contact with every day, including water bottles, plastic food storage containers and electronics to name a few. 
  • Parabens, such as butylparaben and propylparaben, are used as preservatives in personal care products like body lotion and shampoo. These parabens have oestrogenic and antiandrogenic properties, which have been shown to decrease sperm production in male rats. 
  • Phthalates have numerous uses, for example dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP) is found in PVC products, in paints, inks and in food packaging. DCHP is one of the most oestrogenic phthalates and also affects neurotransmitters in the brain. 
  • UV-filters such as 3-benzylidene camphor and 4-methylbenzylidene camphor are used in cosmetics and in sun screens and affect the immune system and brain function.
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