Top hormone disruption scientists worried REACH will fail to protect citizens | WWF

Top hormone disruption scientists worried REACH will fail to protect citizens

Posted on 20 November 2006

In the final days before the new EU chemicals law (REACH) is finally agreed, and in the light of its continuous weakening, top scientists have raised the alarm bells and warned that, unless strengthened, REACH will fail to protect citizens and wildlife from the most hazardous chemicals.

Having analysed the wording of the current REACH text, Europe’s leading 38 hormone disruption scientists have signed a letter calling for an effective regulatory framework for endocrine disruptor chemicals under REACH. The researchers had been recently invited to a conference in Helsinki under the auspices of the Finnish EU Presidency to discuss the threat to wildlife and people from hormone disrupting pollutants.

The scientists, coming from prestigious universities and research groups from all over Europe, expressed specific concern at the inappropriate phrasing of the proposed regulation with respect to combination and mixture effects of substances interfering with the hormone system . As they say in the letter, “given endocrine disrupting substances can act in an additive manner, precautionary action needs to be taken, even though, in isolation, such a substance may be judged unlikely to cause serious effects at current exposure levels”.

The current Council text requires a too high burden of proof before hormone disrupting chemicals can even enter the authorisation process, which is the control regime for chemicals of very high concern under REACH. The proposed legal base is such that in practice, authorities would have to wait until the damage is done before they can take any action.

In opposition to this, scientists insist that “where scientific evidence shows a substance to have endocrine disrupting properties, there should not be a need to show that serious effects are probable, before this substance is subject to the REACH authorisation procedure.

As the current Council text on REACH stands, substances with endocrine disrupting properties –but also carcinogens and chemicals that are toxic to reproduction- may be allowed to stay on the market, even if safer alternatives are available. In opposition to this, the scientists conclude: ”We believe that where there are suitable safer alternatives to chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties then substitution should be a requirement.”

For more information, please contact:
Noemi Cano, WWF DetoX Campaign, or call +32 (0)2 743 88 06