A less strict approach on defining endocrine disruptors will help industries producing such substances pollute and not pay, the association representing Europes water sector (EurEau) told EurActiv.com. Last week, the European chemical industry heated up the debate over the definition of endocrine disruptors in the EU warning that the Commissions proposed criteria are not operational. The European Commissions draft criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors in pesticides and biocides are not sufficient to protect people and the environment, the European chemical industry has warned. In June, the Commission said that the hazard-based approach of the Pesticides Regulation should be adopted, meaning that substances are banned on the basis of hazard without taking into account the exposure. On the other hand, a risk-based approach, backed by the chemical industry, would also include exposure. The pesticide industry is extremely disappointed with the European Commissions proposal to identify endocrine disruptors that was presented on 15 June. The proposed definition from the European Commission is based on the World Health Organization WHO definition, which in its short version does not mention exposure through the environment or through plant protection products (such as pesticides), water suppliers claim. WHO defines an endocrine disruptor as an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations. We want a scientifically based, well grounded, horizontal and clear EDC definition that can be understood, communicated, and applied on various products to allow the protection of water resources across Europe, EurEaus communications manager Caroline Greene said. For EurEau, such criteria would help it steer its long-term strategy for water resource protection as well as the communication with customers. A clear definition will support the revision of the Water Framework Directive and stimulate control at source measures for endocrine disruptors compounds (substitution of EDC by more harmless alternatives), Greene said, adding that this would also support and reinforce the polluter pays principle. This means that endocrine disruptors-producing industries will finance the possible extra treatment needed to phase out these substances to protect water resources and human health, Greene explained. EurEau advocates strong criteria such as the assessment of endocrine disrupting properties of chemical substances in the authorisation process for all substances, which could have an impact on water resources. It believes that the ban of substances should be decided according to a hazard based approach which takes into consideration the risk of adverse impacts on water resources (groundwater and surface water). Historic experiences show that once products are introduced in the economy, these products inevitably will diffuse into the environment regardless of the regulations, Greene stressed. Water suppliers fear that less strict criteria defining endocrine disruptors will be exploited by the industry resulting in increased costs for consumers. Less strict criteria will allow endocrine disruptors-producing industries to pollute and not pay, EurEau noted, adding that the Commission should enforce the source control approach, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle. Pesticides, their metabolites and transformation products are increasingly having a negative impact on the quality of water resources, and drinking water operators have to resort to extra and expensive treatments more regularly while consumers bear the costs, she underlined, stressing that by making the polluter pay, water operators avoid passing the costs of treating water onto consumers.
Euractiv, 9 August 2016 ;http://www.euractiv.com/ ;