New website provides overview of endocrine disruptors in the EU
Five countries, including Denmark, have teamed up to make a list of endocrine disruptors, hoping it will pave the way for tighter EU regulations.
Endocrine disrupting substances are prioritised by many politicians, scientists and consumers.
There is widespread agreement that they can be dangerous to both humans and the environment, and Denmark is one of the countries pushing for stricter EU legislation.
But according to Lea Wermelin, Danish Minister for Environment, reaching common rules in the EU is going too slow, and therefore, Denmark and four other European countries have now launched a website with a list of endocrine disruptors.
At the forefront of legislation
– The list is of value to consumers, the industry and, of course, decision-makers. With it, consumers can avoid endocrine disruptors. The industry can find information about what substances are already under suspicion, and thus can get a little ahead, which many manufacturers are interested in, says Jane Ebsen Morthorst, ecotoxicologist at the University of Southern Denmark, SDU.
Together with her colleague, Henrik Holbech from SDU Ecotoxicology and the Danish Center on Endocrine Disruptors, she has provided knowledge to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency on which substances are candidates for the website.
The website contains three lists:
- List I: 19 substances already officially identified by the EU as endocrine disruptors
- List II: 84 substances under investigation for endocrine disruption in the EU
- List III: 9 substances that are considered to be endocrine disruptors in one or more of the countries behind the website
About the website
- The five countries behind the website are Denmark, Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
- The website is administered by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, on behalf of all participating national authorities.
Related substances under suspicion
One of the substances that the Danish Center on Endocrine Disruptors has put on List III is Bisphenol AF.
It is a substance that has replaced the previous use of Bisphenol A, which has now been identified by the EU as an endocrine disruptor. Like Bisphenol A, Bisphenol AF is today often used to make plastic.
– This is a typical example of the fact that when a substance is banned, the industry begins to use a structurally related substance that is not banned, but which proves to be just as harmful when it is eventually examined. There are many such closely related substances that are not banned today, but can be expected to be, as studies already show – or can be expected to show – that they are just as harmful, says Jane Ebsen Morthorst.
Thus, Bisphenol AF does not appear on the EU list of endocrine disruptors, but "only" on the list of substances considered to be endocrine disruptors in one of the countries contributing to the list.
– But there is enough knowledge about Bisphenol AF to regulate the use of it, because the harmful effect has already been described in the scientific literature. If we have to keep re-examining something that has already been investigated, then we will never reach the finishing line. Therefore, we are very pleased with the efforts of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency with this list, based on scientific studies that we as researchers can vouch for, says Jane Ebsen Morthorst.
From Denmark's part, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, has put nine substances on the list.
Meet the researcher
Associate Professor Jane Ebsen Morthorst is a biologist and part of the Exotoxicology research group at SDU's Department of Biology.