In its Communication of 7 November 2018, the Commission presented its strategy for protecting
citizens and the environment from endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors
are chemicals that can damage a person’s health by altering the hormonal
system. Examples of endocrine disruptors include residues from plant protection
products in food or phthalates and plastics in bottles or packaging materials.
A study conducted by the Greens/EFA Group of the European Parliament found that 60% of
hair samples taken contained residues of hormone-altering pesticides. Every
second subject had substantial amounts of endocrine disruptors in their body.
The project was carried out in six EU Member States. A total of 148 samples
were collected and tested for 30 EU-approved pesticides.
The Commission has adopted measures in
several legislative acts for dealing with endocrine disruptors. For example,
Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on chemicals (REACH) and Regulation (EU) 2017/745
on medical devices contain specific provisions for dealing with endocrine
Although endocrine disruptors are not
explicitly mentioned in connection with the protection of workers in the
workplace, they are classified as substances that are harmful to human health.
They are regulated on a case-by-case basis as per the rules laid down in the
relevant legal acts. On this basis, substances with hormone damaging properties
are either banned or exposure to these substances has been reduced as much as
Strategic approach of the EU
Commission’s strategy, as stated in the Communication, is to continue the
implementation of existing legislation and protective measures to address endocrine
disruptors. Specifically, the Commission is currently working on the following
1. developing a horizontal
approach for identifying endocrine disruptors across all EU legislation based
on the criteria for pesticides and biocides;
2. updating data requirements in
the different legal frameworks (in particular those for pesticides and biocides
as well as in the REACH Regulation) with the aim of having better data
available to identify endocrine disruptors;
3. assessing how to improve communication
along the supply chain for endocrine disruptors under the REACH Regulation via
safety data sheets. Safety data sheets are aimed at end-users and contain
information on the properties of substances;
4. promoting the scientific
evaluation of endocrine disruptors in several different areas in order to take
further legislative action.
In addition, the EU Commission is planning
to subject legislation on endocrine disruptors to a Fitness Check for the first
time. The Fitness Check will involve consultation with citizens and
stakeholders, including a public consultation.
The Commission’s strategic approach has the
1. minimise overall exposure to
endocrine disruptors, paying particular attention to important life phases such
as puberty and pregnancy;
2. accelerate the development of a
comprehensive research basis as part of Horizon, building on existing research
work, particularly in areas where there are knowledge gaps;
3. promote an active dialogue
between all stakeholders.
order to achieve these objectives, the Commission has also announced that it
will organise an annual forum on endocrine disruptors and provide more support
to international organisations. In order to provide citizens with clear and
comprehensive information on the subject, the Commission plans to set up a
central web portal, which will pool all current information from different EU