Endocrine disruptors


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Endocrine disruption is a fairly recent way of looking at the toxicity of chemicals. The scientific community and public authorities worldwide have been discussing this sensitive topic and in particular how to regulate it. 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".

On 15 June 2016, the Commission adopted a Communication  presenting the latest state of play on the file and the way forward.

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.

The Commission presented on 15 June 2016 two draft legal acts – one under the Biocidal Products legislation , the other under the Plant Protection Products legislation  – which set the criteria to identify endocrine disruptors.

These two drafts will now need to be adopted according to their relevant procedures, which in both cases involve Parliament and Council. In accordance with normal procedures, they were notified to the World Trade Organisation (TBT/PPP draft act; TBT/BP draft act and SPS/PPP draft act). They are also subject to the feedback mechanism.

Impact assessment

The European Commission  carried out an impact assessment to set criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors as requested in the Plant Protection Products Regulation (EC) 1107/2009 and the Biocidal Products Regulation (EU) 528/2012.

The impact assessment process followed standard rules of the Commission and has involved stakeholders, engaging in a dialogue with them during the process.

The impact assessment is now published, together with its executive summary .