You can take some steps yourself to reduce your exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals, but ultimately it is only through Government action that we can really be protected.
Within the European Union
If you live in the European Union (EU), then most decisions on chemicals are taken at an EU level – but your government will be involved in taking these decisions, as will, in many cases, your Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Influencing your government
It’s important that governments are aware that people care about not being exposed to hormone disrupting chemicals. They will often be lobbied heavily by companies that make and use such chemicals , arguing that controls are not necessarily. For example, there has been massive industry lobbying about setting criteria for identifying hormone disrupting chemicals.
You can write to your government about what you want them to do at EU level (e.g. push for rapid action to phase out hormone disrupting chemicals), or what they could do at national level (e.g. national bans or voluntary agreements, or introduction of a tax on hazardous chemicals).
Who should you write to?
- Write to your Member of Parliament, expressing your concerns. In the UK you can find your MP on the UK Parliament web site.
- Write to government ministers, particularly those covering Environment and Health. In the UK, the minister responsible for industrial chemicals in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is Rory Stewart; the Secretary of State at DEFRA is Elizabeth Truss. In the Department of Health the minister responsible is Jane Ellison.
What should you ask for?
- Rapid action in Europe to identify and phase out hormone disrupting chemicals (see this blog post for background)
- Proper EU regulation of chemicals in paper and card food contact materials – including in inks and glues (see this blog post for background).
Influencing your Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
Write to your MEPs, they are your representatives at EU level. You can find out who they are on the European Parliament’s web site (you probably have more than one representing your area). You can write to them, email them – even phone their office.
In some cases MEPs have a vote on important decisions, like whether the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) should be signed. In other cases they will just have an advisory role, and will be able to challenge what the Commission is doing (or not doing).
What could you ask your MEPs to do?
- Ask them to vote against the inclusion of chemicals in TTIP (see this blog post for background)
- Ask them to question the European Commission about why they aren’t properly regulating chemicals in food packaging (see this blog post for background)
Influencing the European Commission
The European Commission is an important part of EU chemicals policy, as they draft most regulation, though it must later be supported by a EU governments and in many cases the European Parliament.
The European Commission is made up of a President (currently President Juncker), and 27 other Commissioners, one from each country. Each Commissioner has different responsibilities, and they are the political head of one of the Commission departments (Directorate Generals – DG’s).
For chemicals, the most relevant commissioners are:
- Frans Timmermans, First Vice President – responsible for Better Regulation, Sustainable Development
- Vytenis Andriukaitis, Health and Food safety – responsible for EDC criteria, packaging regulations, pesticides
- Karmenu Vella, Environment – co-responsible with Growth for industrial chemicals, responsible for water pollution and other environmental laws
- Elzbieta Bienkowska, Growth – co-responsible with Environment for industrial chemicals
Other Commissioners are also involved in the discussions – the Commission operates a bit like ministers in a government.
What could you ask Commissioners to do?
- Work for rapid action in Europe to identify and phase out hormone disrupting chemicals (see this blog post for background)
- Adoption of proper EU regulation of chemicals in paper and card food contact materials – including in inks and glues (see this blog post for background).
CHEM Trust is also part of the EDC Free Europe alliance, campaigning for EU action on hormone disrupting chemicals – visit their site to sign up for actions & to learn more.
Outside the EU
- Check out the International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN) web site