MEPs call for clampdown on chemicals affecting hormones

The European Union should act to reduce exposure to suspected hormone-affecting “endocrine disruptors”, which have been linked to recent increase in cases of impaired sperm quality, early onset of puberty, certain cancers and other disorders. Current rules should be closely examined with a view to updating or proposing new legislation by June 2015 at the latest, says a resolution approved recently. “This report aims to identify the way forward on how we should handle the issue of endocrine disrupting chemicals. I want to make it clear that the time for political action has come,” said Åsa Westlund (S&D, SE) after her resolution was adopted by 489 votes to 102, with 19 abstentions. Given the increase in hormone-related disorders over the past 20 years, MEPs urge increased investment in research and call on the European Commission to propose criteria – based on international standards – to define and assess endocrine disruptors. Potential endocrine disruptors include substances such as steroid hormones, some pesticides, dioxins, and plastic additives. While question marks remain, MEPs say action should be taken to protect human health, especially in vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and infants. “Even if we do not have all the answers, we do know enough to regulate these substances in accordance with the precautionary principle,” says Åsa Westlund. Endocrine disruptors should also be treated as “substances of very high concern” in the EU’s “REACH” rules, which regulate chemicals, say MEPs. MEPs stress that current science does not provide a sufficient basis for setting a limit value below which adverse effects do not occur. Therefore, endocrine disrupters should be regarded as “non-threshold” substances, with any exposure to such substances deemed to entail a risk unless the manufacturer can provide scientific proof that a threshold can be identified.

Europa, 14 March 2013 ; ;