On Wednesday 15 June the EU Commission finally, delayed far beyond the legal deadline, presented two draft measures for identifying Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) for the Plant Protection Product and the Biocides regulations.
The criteria proposed are based on the established WHO/IPCS definition for identifying EDCs and do not include potency as part of the identification, which is in line with scientific consensus.
-We are of course glad that potency in the end was left out. However, as the wording has now been tweaked, EDCs cannot in practice be identified until they have been proven to cause adverse effects in humans. Obviously, such criteria will fail to protect human health, says Dr Anna Lennquist, ChemSec toxicologist.
It is the detailed wording that makes the defining difference. While the legal text in the Plant Protection Products regulation says that chemicals that “may cause adverse effect” should be regulated, the criteria text states that chemicals “known to cause an adverse effect” should be covered. Another seemingly small alteration with major consequences is the change of wording from ”negligible exposure” to ”negligible risk”, which raises the burden of proof enormously.
The current proposals also avoid using categories based on level of evidence for identifying EDCs. This is not in line with how other substances, including carcinogens, mutagenic and chemicals toxic to reproduction, are identified.
-While striving at streamlining chemicals regulation, the Commission strangely introduces a different approach for EDCs. Having additional categories for suspected and potential EDCs would have facilitated the work for everyone, including progressive companies, that wish to take a precautionary approach, Dr Lennquist continues.
ChemSec now calls for the Parliament, the Council and Member States to not accept these versions of the proposals. Criteria for identifying EDCs need to be in line with the identification of other chemicals so that the precautionary principle can be functional and the criteria can be used to prevent harm.