As part of Breast Cancer UK’s work to highlight the dangers of hormone disrupting chemicals (EDCs), our Public Affairs officer, Kit Bowerin, joined the EDC-Free Alliance in Brussels to talk to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) about how these EDCs are present in everyday products and may be increasing our vulnerability to breast cancer.

Kit was also part of the delegation to discuss the potential dangers of widespread public exposure to these chemicals and explain to MEPs and EU officials where legislation needs to be tightened. Over thirty MEPs attended the event briefing, and they indicated their readiness to support legislative action to deliver an EDC-free future.

During the briefing, the EDC-Free Alliance outlined its key policy priorities for 2020 which included:

  • Closing loopholes which allow EDCs to enter toys, food contact materials and cosmetics.
  • Establishing an EU list of the most problematic and suspected groups of EDCs.
  • Ensuring legislative safety nets to build a clean circular economy and a non-toxic environment.

We showed our strong support for the need for stronger EU laws on EDCs. With countries like France, Denmark and Belgium developing their own EDC strategies – it’s time the UK followed suit. We also expressed our wish for the UK to adopt its own EDC action plan, whilst remaining part of the EU’s REACH system to safeguard public health and ensure Brexit does not weaken environmental protections from harmful chemicals linked to breast cancer.

The European Parliament has, for years, called on the Commission to tackle this issue. In April, it passed a resolution calling on the Commission to “take all necessary action to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment against EDCs”. These calls were later endorsed by EU Environment Ministers.

EDCs are mainly regulated through the EU REACH system. However, this treats chemicals as single substances, failing to account for the cocktail of chemicals EU citizens are exposed to on a regular basis. To date, EU action on EDCs has been a case of “too little too late”. EDCs remain unregulated in food contact materials, cosmetics and toys, and following multiple delays, the Commission released an EDC communique in 2018 which contained no concrete actions or targets to address legislative gaps.

New Commission President, Ursula Von Der Layen, has pledged to improve public health and environmental protections from EDCs. This has provided a renewed focus and opportunity to finally deliver the concrete proposals necessary to keep EDCs linked breast cancer out of daily lives, workplaces and consumer products. Breast Cancer UK is continuing to push for these changes at an EU and national level.

To find out more about our current campaign work see here

For more information on the links between EDCs and breast cancer see our background reading section here

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