WEN has been campaigning against endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) since its inception, initially on dioxins in the food chain, then on the links between EDCs and breast cancer. In the 2000s WEN shifted its focus to EDCs in cosmetics, launching its first cosmetics campaign ‘Ending the Cosmetics Cover Up’. More recently WEN has been supporting the EDC-free Europe Campaign and in 2014 screened the fantastic documentary Endocrination by Stéphane Horel in 2014 which is still available to view on the website.

EDCs are chemicals that can interfere with our hormones. Debate over their use first came to public awareness in 1962 with the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson and her discussion of the effects of DDT on sexual development and reproduction. A growing body of research now suggests that EDCs could be altering female reproductive development and contributing to declines in male fertility. The EU ban on EDC Bisphenol A from baby bottles in 2011 reflects rising concern over the negative effects of EDCs on human health. Environmentally, EDCs have been seen to damage fish population levels with the UK government in 2004 accepting that EDCs such as EE2 pose a significant risk to aquatic life.

EDCs are present in food packaging, plastics, cosmetics, cleaning products, but despite broad scientific consensus as to the dangers of their use, the process within the EU to define criteria to regulate their use has often been thwarted by the powerful chemical industry lobby.

In June of this year, after a delay of 3 years, the EU finally proposed its criteria for a definition of EDCs. These criteria has been met with dismay by scientists and campaigners who strongly condemn the proposal as failing to protect human and environmental health due to the high burden of proof required before any potential ban on chemicals acting as EDCs. Two public consultations on the proposed criteria closed on the 28th July, with the results yet to be published. If the control of EDCs within Europe is seen as inadequate and uncertain, the impact of Brexit on their use in the UK poses even more uncertainty, with the UK government having stood in the past with Germany calling for all but the worst offenders to remain unregulated. UK companies outside of the EU would no longer necessarily be subject to regulations such as REACH which considers EDCs to be substances of very high concern.

For more information on EDCs and to watch Horel's documentary, click here: http://www.wen.org.uk/blog/edcs-what-are-they?rq=endocrine

With thanks to Helen Lynn