NEWS: Human health endangered by flawed EDC criteria | Breast Cancer UK

NEWS: Human health endangered by flawed EDC criteria

Published 4 Jul 2017

We are one step closer to having EU-wide criteria for identifying hormone disrupting chemicals, after they were approved by a key EU committee today (4th July 2017).  

Unfortunately, the proposed criteria are deeply flawed and will fail to protect human health.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) disrupt the hormone (endocrine) system. Exposure to EDCs, such as bisphenols in food packaging, during critical moments of development, for example in the womb and during early infancy, may increase breast cancer risk over a lifetime. (For more information, see Breast Cancer UK’s page on EDCs).

The European Commission will apply the proposed set of criteria for identifying EDCs to pesticides and biocides, assuming there is approval by the European Parliament. Today’s decision will also allow the Commission to start work on a new strategy that will aim to address EDC exposure via cosmetics, toys and food packaging. 

However, the proposed criteria are deeply flawed and represent a missed opportunity to establish the best regulatory system for reducing our exposures to hormone disrupting chemicals, and helping prevent breast cancer and other hormone-related illnesses.

Serious flaws in the proposed EDC criteria:

  • The proposed criteria require an unrealistically high burden of proof, which makes the identification of substances as EDCs extraordinarily difficult
  • The proposed criteria include an exemption for certain pesticides and biocides that are designed to be endocrine disrupting, which would strongly undermine protective measures.

The failure to minimise exposure to EDCs will be a burden on public health budgets. Diseases arising from exposure to EDCs in the European Union is estimated to cost 163 billion Euros per year. (1)

The draft criteria must now be agreed by the European Parliament and European Council. Breast Cancer UK (2) will be campaigning for them to respect the precautionary principle and put the health of EU citizens first by rejecting the proposed criteria as it stands.

Lynn Ladbrook, Chief Executive of Breast Cancer UK, said: “The Commission has finally pushed through its EDC criteria after many years of delay. However, the result falls short of the measures needed. We are now relying on MEPs to use their veto in the European Parliament to reject the proposals and push for a criteria and strategy that properly protects human health and leads to proactive measures to minimise human exposure to EDCs.”


For further information press contacts:

Lynn Ladbrook, Chief Executive - 07786 393181

Louise Bowers, Communications Manager - 07930 854 527


Notes to Editors

  1. Burden of Disease and Costs of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in the European Union: an updated analysis,
  2. Breast Cancer UK works to save lives and reduce breast cancer rates by tackling the environmental and chemical causes of the disease.

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