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European Parliament vote on EDCs conveys urgency of protecting health

Brussels, 13 March 2013 – The European Parliament vote adopting MEP Asa Westlund’s report on the protection of public health from endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) today reflects the serious concern and the strong desire to see comprehensive and multifaceted EU policy action, says the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) (1).

“The Parliament has rightly called for the European Commission and other legislators to take measures to reduce people’s exposures to endocrine disruptors, and that measures to protect health should not wait for final proof of causal links between EDCs and diseases,” says Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Adviser for chemicals and chronic disease prevention at HEAL (2).

“MEPs want to see a systematic overhaul of EU legislation and policy so that by June 2015, existing laws are changed and new laws are proposed to properly deal with EDCs, including requiring the right tests to correctly identify them – the whole purpose being to protect people especially during vulnerable phases of their lives” (3).

“The vote mirrors the implications of a recent World Health Organisation and United Nations Environment Programme report, which clearly shows that this leading international health agency is very concerned about the potential negative health impact of EDCs,” adds Lisette van Vliet.

The WHO/UNEP report entitled “The State of the Science on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012” released in mid February notes that although there remains significant knowledge gaps about the links between EDCs and some endocrine diseases, associations are apparent for harmful effects on the reproductive system (male genital defects); the neurological system (impaired brain development) and increased risks for certain types of cancer (e.g. breast, prostate) (4). Moreover, the WHO/UNEP clearly states that the risk of disease due to EDCs may be significantly underestimated, and that an important focus should be on reducing exposures to humans and wildlife.

HEAL welcomes the Parliament’s report, and particularly the way in which it recognises that the EU must shape its chemical policies to address vulnerable phases of life and the ‘cocktail effect’ of mixtures. “We need an EU Strategy and laws that catch up to the reality of EDC exposures that our bodies face every day. The laws should protect us before every last scientist and the chemical manufacturing industry organisations concede the relationship between our internal contamination and our expanding rates of endocrine-related diseases,” emphasises Lisette van Vliet.

The Parliament’s report: “Calls on the Commission to revise its EU Strategy on endocrine disruptors so that it delivers effective protection of human health by placing greater emphasis on the precautionary principle ... to work towards reducing human exposure to endocrine disruptors where necessary.” (Para 18)

A number of EU member states have already legislated on EDCs on the basis of existing science to protect public health.

France has banned the use of the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) in all food contact materials intended for the under three year olds from 2013, and for all ages from 2015 (5). From January, Belgium has banned the use of BPA in food contact materials for children under three. Sweden has also banned BPA in children’s food contact materials starting this year.

Last year, Denmark announced that four phthalates (DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP) would no longer be allowed in shower curtains, table cloths and other consumer goods as they are EDCs (6). The Danish authorities had already banned bisphenol A in food contact materials for young children in 2010.


Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Adviser, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Tel: +32 2 234 36 45. Mob: +32 484 614 528, Email:

Notes to editors

1. Asa Westlund is rapporteur for the EP’s own initiative report on the “Protection of public health from endocrine disruptors”. Report on the protection of public health from endocrine disrupters (2012/2066(INI)) prior to the Plenary vote:

2. Paragraphs 1 and 3 of Westlund Report

3. Paragraph 5, 12, 20, 22 of Westlund Report

4. WHO and UNEP report State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals 2012 (PDF, 2.77 MB), published 19 February 2013 - HEAL has an article about the WHO Report and a link to it at:

5. French parliament takes the path towards BPA- and EDC-free products

6. Newsletter from the Danish Consumer Council, Four phthalates banned in Denmark, August 2012,

Last updated on 25 March 2013

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


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