child playing with plastic trucks to illustrate story calling for single criteria to indentify endoctine disruptors

Campaigners call for single system to identify hormone disruptors in cosmetics, water and toys

A single system to identify hormone-harming chemicals is the best way to keep endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) out of our food, water, toys, and household products. This is the conclusion of a new report by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and ClientEarth, and endorsed by MEPs from five parties.

Nearly everyone is exposed to hormone disruptors, as they are found in pesticide residues in our food, in cosmetic products, in clothes, cleaning products and in many plastics. They are conservatively estimated to cost Europeans more than €160 billion each year in additional health expenses.

The European Commission has proposed draft criteria to identify EDCs — but only for substances contained in pesticides and biocides. Hormone disruptors, however, lurk in a wide variety of other products. They contaminate the water we drink, the toys our children play with, and the soaps and cleaners we use on a daily basis.

The new legal analysis by CIEL and ClientEarth concludes that the Commission’s draft criteria to identify hormones disruptors must be redesigned to more fully identify these harmful substances across sectors and ensure protection under EU law. This includes creating horizontal criteria that spans the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), the Cosmetics Regulation, the Water Framework Directive, the Toys Directive, the Medical Devices Regulations, and the Food Contact Materials Regulation.

ClientEarth lawyer Vito Buonsante said: “The Commission should look itself in the mirror and set out coherent criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors. These must work alongside other laws, for example on cosmetics, water, or chemicals in general. This is the only way to effectively protect people and the environment from hormone-harming chemicals.”

“The EU criteria to identify endocrine disruptors would be the first standards for these chemicals worldwide and set a precedent,” says Giulia Carlini, Staff Attorney at CIEL and co-author of the report. “The Commission must redesign the criteria to identify these hazardous substances wherever they are located. If the Commission refuses to change its restrictive approach, the European Parliament and the Council must veto the current criteria to protect people and the environment,” she adds.

Should the European Commission fail to provide horizontal criteria to identify hormone disruptors, people’s health would not only continue to be exposed to toxic chemicals, but also lead to inconsistencies and further delay in more effective regulation of EDCs. It will also create an unclear, unstable, and unpredictable regulatory framework for businesses, workers, and citizens.

What MEPs are saying about this report:

“Horizontal criteria for endocrine disruptors is the only way to reduce their appearance in the environment, consumer products and food,” says Sirpa Pietikäinen, Finnish MEP from the group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats).

“We need to ensure protection of consumers and especially vulnerable groups such as children from endocrine disrupting chemicals in cosmetics and other daily use products including for example softened plastics,” says Pavel Poc, Czech MEP from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

“Our political commitment prioritizes our health and environment, rather than the profits of certain plastics and pesticides producers,” says Michèle Rivasi, French MEP from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance. “It’s high time the Commission understands this and regulates endocrine disruptors strictly,” she adds.

“The European Commission needs to make sure that the criteria to identify endocrine disruptors are both scientific and can apply to all relevant laws to increase the protection of EU citizens,” says Piernicola Pedicini, Italian MEP from the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group.

“Endocrine disruptors are present everywhere. The Commission needs to propose criteria that would enable the identification of endocrine disruptors wherever they are, because the health of our citizens depends on it,” says Younous Omarjee, French MEP from the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left.

Read the report: Disrupted criteria. The criteria to identify endocrine disruptors: implications beyond pesticides and biocides

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Markus Spiske