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Recent and expected developments in Europe on endocrine disruptors

July 17th, 2013

In June 2013 the European Commission (EC) published a report (available here as a pdf) on endocrine disruption issues. This references the more detailed report prepared for the Commission in 2011. This meets its first obligation in the REACH Regulation, but detailed guidance for registrants based on this report is not yet available. However, precedents are being established by the decisions being made about substances being reviewed by ECHA and the member states.

The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) has published an opinion on the assessment of endocrine disrupters. The opinion agrees with the EC report in the criteria for defining endocrine disrupting chemicals in terms of adverse effects caused by endocrine activity.

There has been much discussion amongst EU member states about whether or not endocrine disruption can be regarded in the same way as systemic toxicity. Chemicals causing systemic toxicity are considered to have a threshold below which adverse effects will not be observed. The other possibility is that endocrine disruption is a non-threshold effect, in which case ‘safe levels’ cannot be set. No firm conclusion has been reached.

An appeal has been made to the EC by a group of scientists calling for urgent action on EDCs and research into assessment and identification of such substances. This group of scientists consider that testing and information requirements of REACH and plant protection products (PPPR) should be updated. In addition they state that some EDCs cannot be considered as having a threshold of effect below which exposure can be considered to be safe. The document is available here (pdf).

A more detailed discussion of endocrine disruption will be available on the PFA website soon.