The EU voted last night in favour of a measure which would allow the continued use of the banned toxic chemical DEHP (bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) in recycled plastics.

Until recently, DEHP was widely used as a plasticiser in PVC plastics, such as footwear, building materials and floor coverings. However, following concerns that this common environmental contaminant can adversely effect male fertility, it was classified as a reproductive toxicant and listed as an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC). In February 2015, DEHP was banned from general use under EU law in what was seen by many as a positive move for health and the environment.

However, the European Union’s Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) committee agreed yesterday to grant authorisation of plastics containing DEHP in consumer articles made with recycled PVC. This means that DEHP will continue to be used in consumer products and will therefore continue to pose a threat to the environment and human health.

The EU’s decision goes against a non-binding resolution by MEPs last November, which called on the European Commission not to approve the applications for authorisation, on the basis that companies involved had not adequately demonstrated that socio-economic benefits of authorisation would outweigh the risks, including male infertility.

DEHP is widespread in the environment and detected regularly in human body fluids. It has been linked to a range of health problems, including male infertility and breast cancer (1). Low concentrations of DEHP are oestrogenic and have been found to increase breast cancer cell proliferation in tissue culture studies (e.g. 2). The decision to allow continued use of DEHP will contribute further to environmental exposures and potential health risk.

Lynn Ladbrook, CEO of Breast Cancer UK said “This is a hugely disappointing and very surprising decision on the part of the EU and one that sadly puts profit before people. We’re particularly concerned that this decision appears to set a dangerous precedent and seriously undermines the spirit and purpose of the EU’s Chemicals Regulation ie the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals.”

The same EU committee is currently considering listing DEHP and three other phthalates, DBP, BBP and DIBP, as substances of very high concern (SVHCs) due to their endocrine disrupting properties and consequent implications for human health. All four phthalates are reproductive toxicants.

Breast Cancer UK strongly urge the committee to vote in favour of listing the four phthalates as SVHCs, as this would lead to different risk management considerations in the REACH authorisation and restriction processes. The identification is important because as EDCs for human health, any level of exposure would constitute a risk which would need to be taken into consideration, and it would mean a ban on all imported products containing DEHP and the three other phthalates.

See Breast Cancer UK’s letter to EU REACH committee objecting to authorisation

1. López‐Carrillo L. et al. (2010). Exposure to phthalates and breast cancer risk in northern Mexico. Environmental Health Perspectives 118: 539‐544. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20368132

2. Chen, F.P. and Chien, M.H. (2014). Lower concentrations of phthalates induce proliferation in human breast cancer cells. Climacteric 17(4): 377‐384. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24228746


Related Articles

4 December 2019

EDC-Free Europe calls for urgent action on hormone disrupting chemicals

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...

Read full story

4 December 2019

New research grant announced

Examining how EDCs and a high fat diet affect breast cancer Breast Cancer UK is pleased to announce the award of a new research grant to Dr Elisabete Silva. Dr...

Read full story

2 October 2019

Put prevention first for
Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month we’ve got some exciting new resources and ideas to help you immerse yourself in all things breast-friendly. We’ve devised an interactive quiz to...

Read full story

29 January 2018

NEWS: New figures suggest a small drop in breast cancer incidence rates

New figures released by the Office of National Statistics (1) show a small reduction in the number of breast cancer cases reported in England. This is the...

Read full story

A donation of just £5 can help us reach out to new mums with educational information and guidance on how they can protect the future health of their children.

Donate £5

A donation of £30 can help provide a Breast Cancer Prevention kit to help our Ambassadors deliver talks, providing healthy lifestyle advice and practical tips that can help people reduce their risk of breast cancer.

Donate £30

Your donation of £100 can help train one of our PhD students, who work on vital research which aims to understand the causes of breast cancer and identify risk factors.

Donate £100

Just want to help in some way? donate an amount that feels right for you

Start Your Donation

Donate Now

Make a Donation

Share:

My One Time Donation

I want to make a one time donation of

Thank you. You’re just a few steps away from completing your donation.

+25% with Gift Aid

If you are a UK taxpayer, the value of your gift can be increased by 25% under the Gift Aid scheme at no extra cost to you.

This means that your donation of £100.00 could be worth an extra £25.00 to us, and it doesn't cost you a penny!

My Monthly Donation

I want to make a monthly donation of

Thank you. You’re just a few steps away from completing your donation.

+25% with Gift Aid

If you are a UK taxpayer, the value of your gift can be increased by 25% under the Gift Aid scheme at no extra cost to you.

This means that your donation of £100.00 could be worth an extra £25.00 to us, and it doesn't cost you a penny!

One Time Donation Monthly Donation
Make a donation with Gift Aid

Gift Aid is reclaimed by the Breast Cancer UK from the tax that I pay for the current tax year. If I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations, it is my responsibility to pay any difference. Breast Cancer UK will reclaim 25p in tax back for every £1 I donate.

Your payment details

Pay By Card
Pay with Paypal
Pay By Direct Debit

Donation Allocation (Optional)

Additional Comments (Optional)

Stay in Touch

We’d love to keep you posted on how your support can make a difference to Breast Cancer UK and the exciting ways you can support us in the future.

Please tick if you’re happy to receive information from us by:

By completing an online donation, your data will be handled in accordance with the Breast Cancer UK’s privacy policy, and the privacy policy of our payment processing supplier BBMS (a Blackbaud company).

Processing...

Need help making your donation?

If you need help to make a donation or have any questions about making one, please do not hesitate to contact us…

Call 08456801322