There is a need to consolidate legislation on endocrine disruptors and improve testing, according to a JRC-led Fitness Check of chemicals legislation.
This is an important step towards the Commission’s zero pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment, as set out in the European Green Deal.
Endocrine disruptors are chemical substances that cause adverse effects by interfering with the hormonal (endocrine) system.
Our exposure to them can occur from different sources, such as food, cosmetics, packaging and toys.
The Fitness Check evaluated whether relevant EU laws deliver on their objectives to minimise exposure of people and the environment to endocrine disrupting substances. It also evaluated whether the relevant laws work in a coherent way.
Conclusions of the Fitness Check
- Although there were no cases of inconsistent identification of endocrine disrupting substances across legislation, differences in risk management approaches were evident;
- The principles guiding risk management of these substances should be consolidated across legislation and better communicated to stakeholders;
- There is a need for a horizontal approach to identifying endocrine disruptors across different sectorial legislation that builds on the World Health Organization (WHO) definition and on the criteria already developed for pesticides and biocides;
- There is a need to review and strengthen information requirements on endocrine disruptors to aid their identification, including their potential effects on vulnerable groups;
- No conclusions could be drawn regarding the effectiveness of legislation in protecting against the adverse effects of endocrine disruptors. Future research should focus on better health and ecosystem indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of EU laws (e.g. biomonitoring).
- There is also a need to further develop methods for identifying endocrine disruptors focussing on new approaches that minimise the use of animals (e.g. in vitro and in silico approaches).
About the study
The JRC led the Fitness Check in close consultation with several other departments of the Commission supporting EU policies that promote the safe use of chemicals to protect human health and the environment.
In total, the JRC analysed about 30 regulations and directives related to the identification and control of manufactured substances used in products, as well as those found in waste and the environment.
Stakeholder groups (companies and business associations, regulatory authorities, civil society organisations and academia), citizens and small and medium-sized enterprises were also consulted.
A number of case studies were developed for selected endocrine disruptors. These illustrate how the chemicals were assessed and risk-managed through an interplay of different pieces of legislation.
The JRC will now focus its attention on supporting the development, validation and regulatory acceptance of new approach methodologies for the testing and assessment of potential endocrine disruptors.
- 29 oktoober 2020