MEPs want stronger regulation on chemicals affecting hormones

REACH chemicals science.JPG

The EU must take action to reduce human's exposure to suspected hormone-affecting endocrine disruptors. Current regulation should be closely examined with a view to updating or proposing new legislation by June 2015 at the latest, the European Parliament's Public Health Committee said in resolution approved yesterday (23 January).

Endocrine disruptors have been linked to the recent increase in cases of impaired sperm quality for men and early onset of puberty for young girls as well as certain cancers and other disorders.

Potential endocrine disruptors include substances such as steroid hormones, some pesticides, dioxins and plastic additives.

"The parliament draft report aims to identify a 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 Swedish MEP and rapporteur Åsa Westlund, from the Socialists an Democrats politicial group.

Since hormone-related disorders have increased over the last 20 years, MEPs want a greater investment in research and call on the Commission to propose criteria to define and assess endocrine disruptors, based on international standards.

While question marks remain, the committee says preventive action should be taken to protect human health, especially 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," Westlund stated.

The MEPs also want endocrine disruptors treated as "substances of very high concern" under the EU's REACH rules, which regulate chemicals.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with endocrine (or hormone system) in animals, including humans.

These disruptions can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects, and other developmental disorders.

Specifically, they are known to cause learning disabilities; severe attention deficit disorder; cognitive and brain development problems; deformations of the body (including limbs); sexual development problems; and feminising of males or masculine effects on females.

Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors, health experts say.

  • 11-14 March: The resolution to be put to a vote in the plenary session.

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