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On 30th January 2019, the European environmental health community lost one of its inspiring pioneers, when Jean-Pierre Bourguignon passed away. Today the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) would like to pay tribute and express our gratitude to this forward-looking paediatrician and endocrinologist.

His commitment has been instrumental in educating and helping policy makers, politicians, civil society groups and the public at large to understand the public health opportunity in reducing our exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals, also known as EDCs.

We had the pleasure to collaborate or to have him accept our invites and see first-hand how he was a truly dedicated advocate of environmental health and children’s health. For HEAL and many other civil society organisations, Jean-Pierre’s role and expertise within the Endocrine Society was key in making progress at the 2014 international chemicals meeting SAICM, where he gave several interventions which helped secure that EDCS were considered as an emerging topic, and one of the first times that we met him.

In the following years, we collaborated with him on many occasions. He was a tireless environmental health advocate with a natural talent for translating complex processes into understandable language and reaching out to many different audiences. In January 2015 he supported the outreach to a group of Members of the European Parliament against cancer, to raise their awareness on the prevention potential of EDC identification and regulation at the European level.

In 2016, he accepted our invitation to speak at a high-level briefing on EDCs that HEAL organised at the World Health Organization (WHO), just before the European Commission came out with their proposal for the criteria of EDCs for pesticides and biocides. Once again, his way of style of sharing why EDCs were so special and how they were linked to our health and many chronic diseases and conditions like neurodevelopmental disorders and diabetes was accurate, simple and engaging.

Marie-Christine de Wolf, HEAL’s Vice-President, who collaborated with him in the context of numerous projects said: “With his advanced knowledge on EDCs and his high profile, Jean-Pierre was fully committed to explain complex scientific facts in a clear language to a wide public. Until his very last days, he was really active in raising awareness among the public and policy-makers, with particular emphasis on the public health costs of inaction regarding endocrine disrupting chemicals. His commitment, attention to detail, and pedagogical vision will continue to inspire us in the future.”

Thank you, Jean-Pierre, for sharing your knowledge, wisdom, deep insight on moving forward and your care for the health of future generations with so many colleagues from so many different, diverse corners across this planet.

Further reading

Another tribute: https://www.lameuse.be/340317/article/2019-01-31/le-chu-de-liege-perd-le-professeur-jean-pierre-bourguignon.

The Endocrine Society’s involvement on EDCs research and policy, in remembrance of the pioneering work of Jean-Pierre Bourguignon https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31070722