Endocrine disruption is a fairly recent way of looking at the toxicity of chemicals. Diverging views still exist on important points within the scientific community and regulators worldwide. However, significant progress has been achieved in the last years, also by EU agencies or Committees as well as international organisations, leading to an increase in the scientific basis now available.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines an endocrine disruptor as "an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism, or its progeny, or (sub)populations".

Legislative framework

In 1999, the Commission adopted a Strategy on Endocrine Disruptors. The revision of the legislation on chemicals performed during subsequent years took this strategy into consideration.

EU legislation in force already considers endocrine disruptors. As a consequence, consumers are protected from endocrine disruptors via the authorization of chemical substances to be used in plant protection products, biocidal products, chemicals (REACH), and cosmetics. However, no formal criteria have been established, internationally or at EU level, for identifying substances with endocrine disrupting properties.

Impact assessment

The European Commission is currently carrying out an impact assessment to set criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors as requested in the Plant Protection Products Regulation (EC) 1107/2009pdf and the Biocidal Products Regulation (EU) 528/2012pdf. Until these criteria are set, protective interim criteria defined in these Regulations are in place and applicable.

The impact assessment process follows standard rules of the Commission and intends to involve stakeholders, engaging in a dialogue with them during the process.

The Commission seeks to establish an appropriate evidence-base for the impact assessment for criteria to identify endocrine disruptors. This assessment will analyse the impact on inter alia health, environment, agriculture, socio-economy and trade.

The decision making regarding the criteria will take place once the impact assessment is concluded.