Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

During recent years, the issue of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) has received increasing attention by endocrine researchers, regulatory authorities as well as public and political bodies. The level of interest generated indicates the need to increase awareness and scientific information available on EDCs.

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: exposure and health risks:  Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are substances that mimic, block or interfere with hormones in the body’s endocrine system. EDCs are found in everyday consumer items including detergents, flame retardants, food additives, children’s toys, sunscreen, textiles, anti-bacterial soaps, cosmetics, plastic bottles, metal food cans and pesticides. Recent studies estimate that EDCs contribute substantially to disease and disability across a person’s lifetime, costing hundreds of billions of Euros per year.

To this end, ESE has established the Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Working Group to increase visibility of EDCs through the inclusion of this topic in ESE-supported conferences, workshops, training courses and other educational activities.

More than 400,000,000 European and International endocrine patients urge Brussels to take action on REACH revision

On 3 April 2023, a broad coalition of endocrine patient representatives and experience experts for over 400,000,000 European and international patients called on EU legislators to publish the revised REACH proposal without any further delay and no later than June 2023.

Citing the urgent and immediate need to minimise exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) in the interest of public health, the patients insist that flaws in the REACH regulation must be addressed without delay. EDCs are not a compromise area, and extending the current legislation is required to fulfil the mentioned objectives.

The petition was launched by the Patient Advocacy Group of European Society of Endocrinology (EPAG) and signed until now by 8 international patient associations representing about 300 national patient organisations across the world and more than 40 national endocrine patient (informing) organisations. Together they represent the European and international endocrine patient community. The petition has been submitted to the European Commission.

ESE and partners submit petition to the European Commission calling for the immediate publication of a proposal for the revision of REACH – Restriction, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals.

The European Society of Endocrinology, the Endocrine Society and 42 other European national and specialist societies have partnered to submit a petition on Tuesday 14 March 2023 to the European Commission to demand the immediate publication of a proposal for the revision of REACH – Restriction, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals.

The revision of this critical EU legislative dossier is needed to cement the progress that has been made at the EU level to reduce the presence of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in our environment.

Exposure to BisphenolA, including at small quantities is harmful for human and ecological health. Read our joint statement with the The Endocrine Society.

Following a session around Bisphenol A (BPA) at the 4th edition of the Annual Forum on Endocrine Disruptors, ESE and the Endocrine Society recognise the need to reiterate that there is widespread scientific evidence that exposure to BPA is harmful for human, animal, and ecological health.

We urge decision makers to implement without further delay the necessary measures to address the continuous high presence of BPA and other bisphenols in our environment. Please read our joint statement with the Endocrine Society here.

Open letter to the European Commission over the proposed delay for the REACH revision

On 7 November 2022, ESE, in a unique joint effort with the Endocrine Society, the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology and the European Thyroid Association, has expressed its concerns in an open letter to the European Commission over the proposed delay of the REACH revision (originally scheduled for 2022 and now possibly being moved to the end of 2023).

REACH stands for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals and is at the centre of all EU legislation around chemicals including those with endocrine disrupting properties.

Further delay of REACH will have a severe adverse impact on EU population health and undermines the EU ambition to create a toxic-free environment by 2050.

Numerous publications by the European and Global endocrine community have shown the harm Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals cause to human and animal health, as well as our environment. Further delay is not an option and regulatory measures must be put in place now that properly address the harms caused by EDC exposure. 

Read the Letter HERE.  

ESE continues to push for a toxic free environment 

In coordination with partner organisations including the Endocrine Society and the European Society of Paediatric Endocrinology, ESE has submitted a response (on 18 October 2022) to the consultation on the revision of the Classification Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Legislation. Overall ESE welcomes the proposal by the European Commission which together with the adoption of the EU Green Deal and the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability represents a real shift in thinking within the EU institutions.

As outlined in its response (PDF document here) to the CLP consultation, ESE especially welcomes the proposed establishment of legally binding hazard identification of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) by adding hazard classes. This will make it easier to restrict EDCs once the criteria are met. ESE further applauds hazard classes and criteria for the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures. 

Together with its partners, ESE will continue to work on further reducing the presence of endocrine disruptors in our environment. With the final CLP proposal expected to be published soon and the upcoming revision of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) by the end of next year, still a lot of work remains to be done in this area.

ESE and ESPE give joint session at the European Commission DG Environment third annual Forum on Endocrine Disrupters

On 21 September 2021, the European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) and the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) organised a scientific session at the Third Annual Forum on Endocrine Disruptors (21-22 September) which was organised by the European Commission DG Environment. Read more here and watch the recording of day one and two of the conference.

ESE's key recommendations towards a less toxic EU environment to the benefit of human and animal health.

The EDC Working Group has compiled all their scientific knowledge in the field of EDCs to produce a concise Recommendations Report (dated October 2020) aspiring to contribute to more science based policy at the EU level. Read the recommendations here

ESE provides input to the European Commission’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.

On 20 June 2020, ESE submitted its input on the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. This EU Strategy is one of the cornerstones of the ongoing European Commission’s work to build a healthier and more resilient EU society. Read the ESE Submission.

The ESE input to the Chemicals Strategy primarily focused around Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). Also, this response was coordinated by the ESE EDC Working Group, chaired by Prof Josef Köhrle (Charité, Berlin, Germany). This input is very relevant also in times of COVID 19. There is increasing evidence that EDCs increase the prevalence of diseases that cause underlying conditions like obesity and diabetes, that result in higher susceptibility to COVID 19.

Increased attention needs to be given to consistent definitions, criteria and identification data requirements for EDCs across all EU related legislations. Additionally, new guidelines are needed for the burden of proof required for an EDC to be classified as such. And coordinated funding for independent research is a prerequisite to obtain impartial insights in the impact of EDCs.

ESE continues to provide expert input in the EU consultations. After the EDC’s Fitness Test earlier this year, ESE also provide expert opinions on the consultation rounds related to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan.  

Endocrine experts united in disappointment with European Commission's proposed criteria on EDCs

In June 2017, the European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) co-signed a joint letter with the Endocrine Society (ES) and the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) to the European Commission expressing concern with the proposed criteria for the identification of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs).

The letter, sent to 75 European Health, Agriculture and Environment Ministers, outlines the key issues with these criteria; that they will likely fail to identify harmful EDCs, will fail to ensure a high level of health and environment protection, and that arbitrary exemptions will allow harmful chemicals to escape classification as EDCs.

Through this letter, ESE, ESPE and ES united in criticising the failure to base these criteria on coherent scientific reasoning and in recommending that EU member states improve these accordingly.

Click here to read more.

On Thursday 28 September 2017, The European Parliament’s environment (ENVI) committee objected to the Commission’s proposed criteria for endocrine disruptors.

The European Society of Endocrinology, along with ES and ESPE, welcomed the objection proposed by MEPs Jytte Guteland and Bas Eickhout, which was approved by 389 votes to 235, with 70 abstentions, producing the absolute majority needed to block the proposal. The proposal will therefore need to be revised and resubmitted, taking into account the concerns raised.

Public Consultation on draft guidance document for identifying endocrine disruptors under EU legislation for pesticides and biocides

In December 2017, on request of the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) invited interested parties to comment on a draft guidance document for identifying endocrine disruptors under EU legislation for pesticides and biocides.

The European Society of Endocrinology and the ESE EDC Working Group have prepared and submitted a formal response to the guidance document as part of this consultation (see related documents below).

ESE statement responding to the latest Endocrine Commission communication statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and the NGO health community disapprove of the latest European Commission (EC) communication on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) and call for a comprehensive EU strategy.

In a joint effort the European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) and the Endocrine Society organised, on Monday 19 November 2019, a high-level policy debate inside the European Parliament. MEPs and other stakeholders gathered to discuss the ongoing EU activities around EDCs, and in particular the recent EC communication towards a comprehensive EU framework on endocrine disruptors.

Hosted by MEP’s Eric Andrieu (S&D) and Lieve Wierinck (ALDE) and co-moderated by ESE CEO Helen Gregson, the meeting featured presentations by Prof Vera Popovic (Serbia) and Prof Angel Nadal (Spain). The experts conveyed the positions of ESE and the Endocrine Society on the EC Communication and the issue of EDCs in general. Prof Jorma Toppari (Finland) discussed the detrimental effects of EDC’s on fertility and the enormous societal consequences of reduced fertility in the future. During the discussion with the audience he extended the debate beyond the classical scope of estrogen-adrenal- thyroid-steroidogenesis axes by highlighting the concerns of the scientific community around metabolic diseases like type 1 diabetes and their potential association with EDCs.

The meeting was a strong call for action to the EC to not further delay improved EU regulation in this area.

‘In view of overwhelming evidence and the long-term impact of EDCs across generations concrete measures cannot be procrastinated any longer’, commented Helen Gregson.

It was agreed that while further research is needed and welcomed, this cannot serve as an excuse to further postpone action and not renew the current EDC strategy that was initiated in 1999.

Prof Vera Popovic commented on the discussion: ‘This meeting was an excellent engagement with around 40 stakeholders in the EDC debate. I felt a keen interest from the MEP’s to further engage with the experts and consider additional action in the future.’

See the ESE statement responding to the latest EC communication on EDC’s.

See the press release relating to the latest EC communication on the issue.