Breaking: Society Statement on EDCs at ICCM4

Today members and staff of the Endocrine Society are attending the 4th International Conference on Chemical Management (ICCM4) in Geneva, Switzerland, where 800 attendees from around the world representing governments, NGOs, and industry to discuss chemical management policy. An emerging policy issue that has been identified is environmentally persistent pharmaceutical pollutants (EPPPs), which can include EDCs. 

Leo Trasande, MD, from the NYU School of Medicine delivered the Society’s intervention on EDCs, which called for support of the resolution of EDCs at ICCM4, which was introduced by Bangladesh. The statement also noted the latest science and economic costs of inaction. The complete intervention follows below:

The Endocrine Society is pleased that SAICM continues to prioritize Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals as an emerging policy issue at ICCM4. Since 2008, the Endocrine Society has been engaged in efforts to improve the regulatory environment for EDCs, including meetings with international bodies such as SAICM. We appreciate SAICM initiatives on EDCs and acknowledge that important progress has been made, including the UNEP/WHO State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals – 2012.

However, many EDCs continue to present unique challenges worldwide, and regulatory frameworks still are not equipped to adequately address harms associated with exposures to EDCs, even though the scientific evidence for EDC-associated harms continues to advance. Indeed, the costs of inaction on EDCs are on the order of €157 billion annually in Europe, corresponding to 1.2% of GDP. Costs in low- and middle-income countries may be higher insofar as exposures are less controlled.

Yesterday, the Endocrine Society released the executive summary of a new Scientific Statement on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals available at the Endocrine Society website. Recent evidence from hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies confirms that EDCs harm various aspects of human health by interfering with hormone action, especially during critical developmental windows. Emerging evidence more clearly links EDCs to public health threats, such as diabetes and obesity and impaired brain development and cognition. The statement also examines the evidence linking EDCs to reproductive health problems, hormone-related cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer, prostate conditions and thyroid disorders.

The Statement recognizes that EDCs are an international problem and issues several recommendations appropriate to SAICM, including:

  • Recognition that EDCs are a global problem and implementation of further international collaborations and solutions.
  • Cultivation of the next generation of EDC researchers, green chemists, physicians, and public health specialists with expertise in endocrine systems.
  • Education of the public, the media, policy makers, and governmental agencies on ways to minimize exposure to EDCs and to protect vulnerable groups, particularly developing children.
  • Development of industrial partnerships towards creation of new and replacement products free of potential EDCs.

The Endocrine Society considers CRP 5 on endocrine disrupters to be consistent with the scientific evidence and policy recommendations of the new scientific statement. We therefore urge countries and stakeholders to support CRP 5 on endocrine disruptors.

We also wish to address the notion that potency should be used together with exposure to assess risk. Scientific studies prove that potency is variable depending on endpoint and conditions (e.g. in vitro versus in vivo, life stage). Selection of an endpoint and study conditions will always involve biasing concerns such as obtaining the most sensitive conditions or using the endpoint which is related to the EDC effect accounting for the biggest concern.

After Trasande delivered the statement on behalf of the Endocrine Society, three countries joined the sponsors in support of the resolution: Kenya, Senegal, and Oman.  Kenya, in particular, suggested that UNEP develop a list of institutions with departments of endocrinology to serve as potential collaborators in efforts to address EDCs.

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