Thursday

18th Oct 2018

EU wants action on threat from 'chemical cocktails'

  • The effects of endocrine disruptors are thought to have their greatest effect on animals in their infancy (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

Widespread declining sperm counts, increased rates of breast and testicular cancer, earlier onset of puberty and children's behaviour problems are a handful of the health effects attributed to so-called chemical cocktails, a growing concern amongst European Union governments.

On Tuesday (22 december), environment ministers from across the bloc ordered the European Commission to take action on the matter and investigate where current legislation is lacking and to plug the holes.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The EU, like most other powers, focuses on the benefits and dangers of chemicals on a "chemical-by-chemical" basis. That is, regulators look at the effects of each individual chemical. Only recently have scientists begun to be concerned about the combination effects of chemicals that otherwise appear safe in isolation but when absorbed together - in a "chemical cocktail" - could have unexpected and dangerous consequences.

"Chemicals that we surround ourselves with every day can be dangerous to public health in combination. Evaluating the risks posed by individual chemicals on their own is not enough," the ministers said in a statement after meeting in Brussels.

Such effects are most pronounced when animals and people are in their infancy.

The ministers noted with particular concern a recent Danish study that raised fears that two-year-olds may be at risk particularly from chemicals with hormone disrupting properties.

There is worry among some in the scientific community that combined exposure to chemicals that mimic hormones - known as endocrine disruptors - in the womb or early in life may be associated with reduced IQ, attention deficit disorders and autism.

At the same time, some of these chemicals are found in some of the most common household products such as flooring, shoes, babies bottles, tin can linings and DVDs. Critics of theories of such effects argue the amounts of the chemicals actually in the environment are too low to cause these problems.

The ministers tasked the commission with producing a recommendation in 2010 on how exposure to combinations of endocrine disruptors should be dealt with in existing legislation and then to evaluate in 2011 if any new laws are needed.

A group of eight green NGOs, including WWF, Greenpeace, the CHEM Trust and the European Environmental Bureau, warned that the timetable for action was far too relaxed for an issue that is rapidly climbing the environmental agenda.

"What is really needed are urgent measures to reduce exposure to hazardous chemicals from various sources and their substitution with safer alternatives," they said in a statement. "The deadline for a European Commission report was postponed until 2012, meaning it will be years before much-needed amendments to legislation will be discussed."

The groups want concrete legislative proposals from the European Commission now.

MEPs back stricter CO2 levels for cars after nail-biter vote

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday on draft legislation that will determine the CO2 emission reductions required by 2030. Where the EU commission had proposed a 30 percent cut, MEPs opted for a 40 percent reduction.

Commission 'non-paper' on car CO2 levels backfires

The European Commission published additional information on its proposal for new regulations on cars' CO2 levels - a week before the European Parliament was due to vote on it. Lead MEP Miriam Dalli is not amused.

Visual Data

Every major city in Europe is getting warmer

An exclusive analysis of over 100 million meteorological data points shows that every major city in Europe is warmer in the 21s​t​ century than it was in the 20t​h​. Northern regions, Andalusia and southern Romania are most affected.

News in Brief

  1. Rutte: summit was 'not the moment' for higher climate ambition
  2. Legal text for Brexit relocation EU agencies agreed
  3. Greek foreign minister resigns over Macedonia deal
  4. No Brexit backstop means no approval, says EU parliament
  5. Poland questions supremacy of EU court
  6. Medvedev to meet Juncker and Merkel in Brussels
  7. Italians and Czechs least favourable to remaining in EU
  8. Facebook hack set to be first major test of EU data rules

Opinion

Crunch time to end overfishing in the EU

What happens when a difficult deadline hits? This is precisely what is being played out in EU fisheries as we approach the landmark legal commitment under the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing by 2020.

Opinion

No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Following the 2030 renewable target of 32 percent, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee Adina Valean argues in order to reach our climate and energy goals, we need both public and private investment over the next decade and beyond.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. Asylum reforms derailed, as EU looks to north Africa
  2. EU leaders worried about Italy's budget
  3. Russian activist warning on 'fake news' as EU backs action
  4. Kaczynski: No question of Polish EU exit
  5. EU summit to accept urgency of climate action – but no measures planned
  6. MEPs demand more from EU on human rights in Asia
  7. EU migration solutions are on the table - let's adopt them
  8. No progress at Brexit summit, talks continue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us