Although endocrine disruption has been debated for 20 years, the problem has not been solved because only a few chemicals have been restricted (see this question).
Why is it taking so long?
- The regulation of chemicals has been inadequate and full of loop-holes. The EU’s new REACH regulatory system is starting to address some of these holes (like a lack of safety data for most chemicals in use), but this takes time.
- Revised EU laws on pesticides and biocides have provisions which do not permit authorisation of active substances with endocrine disrupting properties. However, the EDC criteria for identifying these chemicals are still under debate, which means that these restrictions have not had an impact yet (see the Q&A section on regulation).
- Many chemicals have not yet been tested for EDC effects, and current test methods are not very good at identifying all EDCs. They often do not include the relevant test endpoints (indicators of effects) or the right exposure windows when the organism is particularly sensitive, so that endocrine disrupting effects may be overlooked.
- There is still much secrecy about the use of chemicals – for example, it was only widely realised in 2009 that Bisphenol A (BPA) was used in many shop till receipts & that this was an important exposure route in people (particularly shop workers) [i]. This use is still allowed today, although there are ongoing discussions about whether this should be restricted.
- The more economically important a chemical is, the more difficult it is to ban or restrict its use. This is noticeable, for example, with BPA, one of the most high production volume chemicals in the world, which is widely used in so many products and therefore is very hard to restrict, partly due to strong lobbying from the chemical industry.
This page is part of CHEM Trust’s Hormone Disrupting Chemicals FAQ – Full list of questions here.
The next question is “Industry claims chocolate could be banned as an EDC. Is it true?“.
[i]. “Concerned about BPA: Check your receipts”, Science News, October 7th 2009