European Parliament Dances Around EDC Legislation

The Endocrine Society has worked in the European Union (EU) to advance legislation to regulate endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) consistent with the ambitions of the EU Green Deal. As the European Parliament returns in September following the summer recess, legislation is moving forward in certain areas, but a comprehensive approach remains just beyond the horizon for the time being.

We are pleased to see progress on several important legislative initiatives. In July, the European Commission published a proposal to update laws on toy safety with specific bans on EDCs. Consistent with the Society’s recommendations, the proposal covers both known and suspected EDCs with strict limits on exemptions and an obligation for agencies to consider combination exposures. In addition to this ‘sectoral’ approach to legislation, the Commission also has signaled plans to follow up on the decision by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) to dramatically lower the tolerable daily intake level of bisphenol A (BPA) by working on amendments to the Food Contact Materials Legislation that would impose strict controls on BPA in foodstuffs.

Our Task Force members will connect with our champions in the European Parliament to ensure that the final regulations are sufficiently strong and backed by science.

While these are important developments and the Society celebrates these milestones in public health protection, more ambitious measures are required to minimize exposures for all populations. As of mid-August, the Commission had yet to deliver proposals for updating the regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) with measures to restrict EDCs based on the categories currently recognized in other legislation passed last year. We are also concerned that the legislative proposals targeting BPA would not cover so-called regrettable substitutions such as BPF and BPS which may have similar effects on endocrine health.

The forthcoming REACH initiative is critical as it will provide a more comprehensive approach to restrictions on harmful chemicals, and the public health community has recognized the need to update this critical legislation to reflect the latest science on EDCs and other hazards. The Commission has repeatedly stated that it intends to publish proposals on REACH by the end of 2023, and the Endocrine Society’s EU EDC Task Force is ready to assess these proposals and develop our position once published, but even if the text of a legislative proposal is delivered as promised, the likelihood of the legislation progressing into law within the current term is extremely small. Recognizing this, the Society will work with our members to make as much progress on our goals in the current term and set the stage for results following the EU elections.

We expect September to be a busy month as the Parliament will take up the legislation on toys and the Commission will collect input on potential controls for BPA. Our Task Force members will connect with our champions in the European Parliament to ensure that the final regulations are sufficiently strong and backed by science. We will also point to ongoing efforts to consider category-based approaches for regulating bisphenols in the environment, and for addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as a class, as appropriate paths forward for chemical classes of concern.

As fall progresses, there will be opportunities for our members in the EU to contact policymakers on these issues. If you are interested in being an advocate for better regulation of EDCs, please contact Joe Laakso, director of science policy at [email protected].

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