Endocrine Disruption

The endocrine system regulates growth development, metabolism, mood, the reproductive system and many other processes in the body via a number of glands and their hormonal products.  Indeed, it acts as co-director with the nervous system for many activities that occur in the body.

Endocrine Disrupters (EDs) cause their adverse effects by disrupting this system to produce toxicity in animals, man and the environment.  In the past, endocrine disrupters have been classified and controlled in the same way as all other substances.  However, because these substances may have unusual toxicological characteristics such as toxicity at very low doses and/or the ability to produce permanent effects on reproduction or development, the EU has been developing a system to categorise and control them as a separate and specific group of toxicants.

The EU Commission had aimed to reach agreement on an over-arching categorisation system for EDs covering all chemicals, from human and veterinary medicines, to pesticides, industrial chemicals and cosmetics.  However, there were incompatibilities with the cosmetics regulation and uncertainties about the potential regulatory consequences of this categorisation system.  This resulted in the need for an assessment of the impact of the proposal.  This impact assessment is on-going in Europe at present.

The Commission is expected to report on the chemicals that will be categorised as EDs under the proposed system by early 2016.  The report on the socio-economic effects of a specific ED categorisation system is expected in late 2016 or early 2017.