EU Commission presents communication with set of protective measures.

FL/SW – 12/2018

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. 

Current regulations

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 disruptors.

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 possible.

Strategic approach of the EU

The 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 actions: 

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 following objectives:

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.    

In 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 agencies