It has taken nearly 4 years for the European Commission to progress regulation on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These harmful chemicals are found in a vast array of consumer products, products we all use and work with on a daily basis. Yet the EU Commission has set the bar so high for the identification of these harmful chemicals – even higher than the level of proof required for a cancer causing chemical - the current legislation will do nothing to protect human health and will only serve to protect corporate profits.

Despite three reviews the legislation still remains woefully inadequate. Over 280,000 EU citizens have signed a petition calling on EU governments not to vote in the Commission’s current disastrously unworkable proposal on EDCs. Several EU countries including France, Denmark and Sweden have expressed serious concerns with the draft legislation. The UK has remained stubbornly silent. EDC Free Europe sent a letter to the Commission before Christmas outlining our concerns. A subsequent letter calls for greater coherence, transparency, and an effective and evidence based approach to managing EDCs.

EDCs potential to harm is highlighted in their name.  They have been linked with cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, obesity, diabetes, asthma and allergies and because of their impact on our endocrine system (the body’s messenger system) can adversely impact every aspect of our lives from womb to grave. They are also called hormone disruptors as our endocrine system sends messages around the body via our hormones which EDCs can interfere with in terms of how these messages are received and acted on. It is considered that there may be no safe level of these chemicals for human bodies, especially in early development.

WEN has campaigned on EDCSs for decades, initially with our work on dioxins and the pesticide lindane and later through our campaigns on breast cancer and cosmetics.

You may have come across mentions of these chemicals in the media for example Bisphenol A in baby bottles or parabens in cosmetics. They are also found in carpets, furniture, cars, food packaging, dust, water, and in the very air we breathe. Over 1000 known and suspected EDCs have already been identified.

Inaction on EDCs is estimated to cost the EU is €157 annually, a cost no country can afford. The AIM, an umbrella group which provides health insurance to 290 million people in Europe, has recently called for more thorough criteria to protect public health from exposure to EDCs.

The time to act is now. The legislation will be coming up for voting again in the next few weeks.  Please lobby where and when you can, write to your government representative and your MEP expressing your concern about the lack of action and the urgent need to properly regulate EDCs. Follow @EDCFree and @WEN_UK – spread the word via social media, talk to friends and neighbours, ask for greater transparency about what’s in the products you buy for yourself and your family, makes sure health and safety policies are followed at work even if you think you work in a ‘safe’ environment. Also in light of impending Brexit we must not let the UK slide backwards from existing EU legislation which offers protection from toxic chemicals including EDCs for workers and consumers.


Useful links:

For more information on what you can do please visit the EDC Free Europe website:

A useful series of article in Le Monde from Stéphane Horel:

Information about EDCs can be found here at The Endocrine Society:

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