The Alliance for Cancer Prevention reacts to the proposed EDC criteria from the EU Commission.

The long awaited and highly contested proposed criteria on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were announced on the 16th June by Commissioner Andriukaitis from the European Commission. But the long wait did not result in the much hoped for rigorous criteria which would protect human and animal health and our environment.

The proposed criteria have been called ‘shameful’, ‘astounding’ and woefully inadequate by the many scientists  and organisations who have lobbied for binding control of EDCs and proper legislation for the last 3 years while the process was stalled by industry lobbying and the resulting  internal EU processes.

In a series of articles for the Corporate Europe Observatory the acclaimed French Journalist Stéphane Horel outlined the massive industry lobby that sought to derail, delay and weaken the EU EDC regulations.

The disappointment and frustration at the failure of the proposed criteria to offer any protection against EDCs is palpable as they demand an impossibly high burden of proof to link EDCs to adverse human health effects, which means that few EDCs will be banned as a result. Shockingly the core underpinning principle of all EU chemicals legislation, the precautionary principle, has been totally omitted.

In over 1,300 studies EDC exposure have been linked with cancer,  infertility, reproductive disorders for both male and female, cancer, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, neurological and behavioural defects, and learning difficulties.

The EDC Free Europe Coalition, of which the Alliance for Cancer Prevention is a founding member,  strongly condemned the Commission and called on member states to: “insist on major changes because these proposals will do nothing to protect human health and environment from further harm but instead allows the pesticide and chemical industries to continue using harmful substances to which we are all daily exposed”.

We also demanded that the criteria must include the World Health Organisation definition of potential endocrine disruptors and the modification to the pesticides derogation on negligible exposure must be eliminated. See our Press Release for details.

In a letter sent today by the EDC Free Europe Coalition  calling on Environment Ministers to rectify the problematic issues to do with the criteria proposal, concern was once again expressed about the inability of the proposed criteria to protect wildlife and to address the urgent public health threat from EDCs.

A recent research paper estimated the cost to be 157 Billion euros to the EU each year from such exposures. Leonard Trasande the main author of the paper said of the proposed criteria that they were based on antiquated science and approaches to the causation of disease, and the costs in terms of health, disability and lives lost will reverberate long after this unfortunate decision.

The World Health Organisation cautiously acknowledged in its assessment of EDCs that there is: “sufficient evidence to conclude that adverse endocrine-mediated effects have occurred in some wildlife species, even if evidence of such adverse effects on human health is weak”.

But waiting for 100% evidence on harm to human health places the burden on our health and not on industry to show harmful and often fatal effects from EDCs. Chemtrust called this approach cynical and the proposal unacceptable unless it is radically improved by the Member states. If not then the European Parliament should veto it.

The Endocrine Society also questioned the high level of evidence required by the Commission stating that the EU Commission: “set the bar so high that it will be challenging for chemicals to meet the standard, even when there is scientific evidence of harm. To protect pregnant women, children and future generations from chemicals of concern, we need science-based regulation that reflects the growing body of evidence documenting this public health threat.”

So the type of evidence the Commission is aiming for could take decades to agree, as its very rare in sceince to find 100% certainty. But maybe the delay is intentional as there is speculation that weakening the EU chemicals regulation paves the way for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States. TTIP seeks to undermine the existing EU legislation on chemicals which offers better protection than that afforded to US citizens.

The Alliance believes that the EU Commission will be responsible for the diseases and deaths of millions by adopting these abysmally inadequate criteria. We will not see any ceasation in the epidemic of cancers related to exposures to endocrine disruptors in the home, workplace or in the wider environment. We are bitterly disappointed that the long hoped for strongly worded criteria which could finally eliminate exposure to these harmful chemicals has not been forthcoming. It is unbelievable that the EU Commission would bow to industry lobbying when our health is at stake. The costs to health care budgets will be unsustainable andmore importantly the needless suffering and pain endured by those harmed by exposure to EDCs in the workplace, home or wider environment is totally unacceptable given what we know about EDCs.

We are disappointed and concerned that the UK government has been revealed as one of the countries seeking to water down the EDC criteria from the onset. We feel there is little point in lobbying our government given their flagrant disregard for their citizen’s health and their preoccupation at getting rid of what they and industry consider ‘red tape’.

Please support our work with the EDC Free Europe Coalition and join with us in calling for proper regulation to eliminate these harmful EDCs from our homes, workplaces, wildlife and the wider environment.

A link to the EU documents – http://ec.europa.eu/health/endocrine_disruptors/policy/index_en.htm

And direct link to the Communication http://ec.europa.eu/health/endocrine_disruptors/docs/com_2016_350_en.pdf

Useful resources:
The EDC Free Europe site.
Cancer Hazards.
From Pan Europe a compilation of Scientific Opinions on EDCs for public information.

EDC Free Europe Coalition astounded by EU Commissions criteria on endocrine disruptors

Commission’s EDC criteria proposal: More humans will have to be harmed before action is taken.

The EDC-Free Europe coalition is astounded at and strongly condemns today`s Commission proposal for criteria to identify endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

The Commission proposed to identify EDCs based on an unprecedentedly high level of proof. This proposal requires such a high amount of evidence that it will be nearly impossible to identify more than a small fraction of substances posing a threat to human health and the environment from hormone disruption. The health costs of diseases associated with exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals, including infertility and male reproductive dysfunctions, female reproductive problems (endometriosis and uterine fibroids), birth defects, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurobehavioral and learning disorders, have been estimated at 158.4 billion Euros per year in the EU.

Press Release in full.

The Alliance is one of the founding members of the EDC Free Europe Campaign.

Call for Juncker to protect EU citizens health by choosing the right criteria for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

The Alliance joined with over 65 organisations from the EDC-Free Europe Coalition to call on President Juncker and the EU College of Commissioners to make the right decision to protect us from Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) on the 15th June.

We are expecting President Juncker and his colleagues in the EU Commission to uphold obligations and lead the EU to a healthier and more environmentally sustainable future. The obligation of the EU Commission is to now decide on scientific criteria by which endocrine disrupting properties can be IDENTIFIED. This means any potential text changes beyond pure identification, such as potency or ‘hazard characterisation’ (see letter), would change the balance which the law strikes between protection of human/animal health/environment and the internal market and would be unacceptable and illegal, as per the EU court of justice ruling in December 2015.

The pesticides and biocides laws set out strict controls for EDCs and chemicals that cause cancer, change DNA and harm reproduction. But these laws still allow continued use if needed when there are no safer alternatives, so claims of major agricultural and economic disruption must be treated with caution.

At the same time, the societal impacts of health problems arising from EDCs are typically underestimated. Scientific studies show that these chemicals are very likely contributing to the increases in hormone-related diseases such as breast or testicular cancer, fertility problems, diabetes and obesity as well as learning and behavioural problems in children.

In addition to the suffering of individuals and their families, these life threatening diseases come with a cost to Europe’s health systems and worker productivity, estimated in the billions annually for just a few of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals assessed. A recent study on the “Health costs that may be associated with Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals” found that when looking at only five potentially EDC-health related effects “according to currently available literature, the socio-economic burden for the EU may be substantial, ranging between 46 – 288 billion EUR per year”.

The letter calls on those making this important decision to instill confidence in European citizens by upholding the treaty and laws and to choose a path which triggers innovation and protects health at the same time. Moving us to an environmentally sustainable, healthy, and economically vigorous future requires taking effective steps: choosing the right EDC identification criteria is one of those, and will substantially contribute to the goal of the EU’s 7th Environmental Action Programme to minimise exposure to EDCs.

Download the letter here

For more information on the campaign see here.

UK groups join with Health Care Without Harm to raise concerns about Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals in Medical Devices.

 

The Alliance joined with other UK charities and the European organsiation Health Care Without Harm in writing a letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Elizabeth Truss MP.

The letter outlines concerns about the discussions on the proposed Medical Devices Regulation in successive meetings of the Council Working Party on Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices. The discussions seek to reach agreement between the position of the Council and the European Parliament (EP) with a view to reaching an agreement by 30th June, still under the auspices of the Dutch Presidency.

One of the outstanding issues, where an agreement must be reached with the EP, appears to be the provision on the phasing-out of Carcinogenic, Mutagenic and Reprotoxic substances (CMRs) and Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) contained in medical devices. The letter draws attention to the amendment 355 to the proposed Medical Devices Regulation that was adopted by the European Parliament in April 2014. This amendment seeks to phase out CMRs and EDCs contained in medical devices when safer alternatives are available, technically feasible, and do not compromise the safety of patients. As you know, there is a growing scientific consensus about the harmful effects of these hazardous chemicals on human health.

To us, the proposed amendment has a clear merit: it meets the substitution objectives of REACH in ensuring that toxic substances are replaced by safer alternatives. It additionally provides for a derogation period that would allow the medical device industry to substitute CMRs and EDCs with safer alternatives. The groups want to join with HCWH in reiterating the call to the Council in particular to rise to the occasion in reaching an agreement that complies with the objectives of REACH, thus ensuring that in the future toxic substances are indeed replaced by safer alternatives.

It is worth pointing out that DEHP, an EDC, will be phased out under REACH and it would therefore seem inconsistent and confusing to allow continued exposure to DEHP through medical devices.

The letter can be seen here.

A recent report from HCWH on Non-Toxic Healthcare and alternatives to the EDCs Phthalates and Bisphenol A used in certain medical devices can be accessed here.

The full Healt Care Without Hram infogram can be viewed here.

 

 

International Workers Memorial Day 2016

Today is International Workers Memorial day – a global day of remembrance for all those who have died at work or because of work due to none existing or non-implemented health and safety laws, inappropriate safety procedures or equipment, employers who treat their employees as expendable with little or no respect for their lives or their health or  just through plain ignorance or neglect about the adverse impacts of processes, chemicals, pesticides or machinery.

Maybe we sometimes forget with all the focus on chemicals legislation that workers are at the front lines of usage. Whether it be in the laboratory developing new and untested ingredients, or through constant exposure on the production line, or through using a product repeatedly day in day out. Maybe by inhaling toxic chemicals, pesticides or harmful substances through the skin, nose and mouth while spraying, washing, cleaning, stirring or even being or living in the same space where toxic chemicals are used. Many handle products which leach endocrine disruptors minute by minute as part of their job or expose the developing foetus unwittingly to toxic insults because of the work they do.

We must remember that much of this work is done for below the basic minimum wage, and in countries where resources are plundered and environments and wildlife destroyed to satisfy an often unnecessary need or sometimes for just plain greed. We all need to work together to bring an end to this injustice and to protect the health of workers, citizens, consumers and save our precious wildlife and planet.

Please remember today and every day – one worker dies every 15 seconds due to occupational injury or illness worldwide.

No one deserves to die at work, no one deserves to be exposure unknowingly or unwittingly to anything which may hurt, maim or kill them or their families. We need to remember the dead and continue to fight like hell for the living.

Hash tag: #IWMD16

Website: Produced by Hazards Magazine and the ITUC – http://28april.org/ Resources, up to date information and graphics available here.

Relevant twitter handles: @hazardsmagazine @hazardseditor @ITUC @etuc_ces – only a selection of the wrodlwide action today.

ITUC Statement: http://www.ituc-csi.org/one-worker-dies-every-15-seconds
http://www.ituc-csi.org/28-april-2016-mobilising-for

Cancer Hazards produced by the ITUC, Hazards magazine and the Alliance for Cancer Prevention: http://www.ituc-csi.org/28-april-2016-mobilising-for

 

Organisations call for glyphosate ban ahead of EU vote.

Pesticide Action Network (Pan UK) and 12 UK based organisations have sent a signed letter to MEPs asking them to support an objection to the renewal of EU market approval for the toxic ingredient used in many widley used herbicides, Glyphosate. The vote will be held in Strasburg on the 13th of April.

The organisations object due to the very serious health, environmental and occupational concerns raises by the scientific community about glyphosate.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are widely used in agriculture, forests, public areas and private gardens. The use of this substance is so extensive that it is now detected in food, drinks and in the human body (including babies and young children).

Last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen”.

Glyphosate may also disrupt the human hormone system – the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and leading scientists have called for further investigation. Both its cancer causing and hormone disrupting properties would disqualify glyphosate from EU market approval under EU pesticides law. In addition, there are “many environmental, plant health and soil-ecosystem problems associated with heavy and repeated uses of glyphosate-based herbicides” according to the scientists.

The EU should immediately ban all uses of glyphosate that result in worker or public exposure.

To support the call please send a letter or email to your MEP – you can find your local representative here.

Download our letter and background information Glyphosate letter to MEPs

Endorse the call from the Global Food and Farming Union and PAN International for a glyphosate ban here.

 

EDC-Free Europe calls on Environment Ministers to make strong statement on EDCs

68 organisations have sent a letter to the EU Environment Ministers urging them to make a strong statement calling on the European Commission to comply immediately with the ruling of the European Court of Justice (Case T-521/14 Sweden vs. Commission) on scientific criteria to identify Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) at the upcoming meeting of the European Council.

EDCs can contribute to diseases and disorders such as hormonal cancers (prostate, testicular, breast), reproductive health problems, impaired child development, and obesity and diabetes. The EDC Free Europe Coalition is not alone in its call, scientists, health professionals, trade unions and medical doctors have all issued warnings about the potentail and ongoing adverse health impacts if EDCs continue to be unregulated. We are already paying the price for letting these chemicals contaminate our air, food and water for decades.

The Court ruling found that no impact assessment was legally required to produce the scientific criteria, and that any work on the impact assessment did not justify missing the legally binding deadline (Paragraph 74). Hence, any work on or from the impact assessment cannot be used to help decide or influence the final criteria, as the impact assessment is entirely irrelevant to the final completion and adoption of scientific criteria for identification of EDCs.

The group looks forward to the EU taking a position and affirmative action on EDCs with no more delays. Our health depends on it. Read our letter here

Europe’s unions push for better laws on work cancers

ETUC picUnions are to work throughout the Dutch Presidency of the European Union to develop a preventive approach to occupational cancer. During this presidency, which runs from January to June, the Dutch government has expressed a desire to update the EU Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, a longstanding union objective.

A new report from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) says the union objective is to “eliminate occupational cancer.” Promoting a six-point preventive charter, it urges unions to run a political and awareness campaign. This should include approaching embassies and consulates of the Netherlands to present the union campaign objectives, it notes.

See more at: Cancer Hazards