Toiletry chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility cost EU millions, report says
If you have been constantly using toiletries, cosmetics, medicines, plastics and pesticides, be wary as the hormone-mimicking chemicals that are used in these products have caused hundreds of millions of Euros of damage to EU citizens every year.
A study have showed that testicular cancer, infertility, deformation of the penis and undescended testicles are thought to have been caused by endocrine disruptor compounds (EDCs), which are particularly harmful to the male reproductive health.
The Nordic Council of Ministers, representing the governments of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, is demanding the European Union expedite the plan of identifying, assessing and applying the ban to the harmful EDCs, where Sweden is already taking legal action against the EU due to its missed deadlines.
“I am not happy that taxpayers have to pay for the damage caused by EDCs, while industry saves money by not investigating their chemicals properly,” said Danish environment minister Kirsten Brosbøl on publication of the new report.
Michael Warhurst, of campaign group Chem Trust, said: “Companies should focus on developing and producing products that don’t contain hormone disruptors and other problem chemicals. This will give them a competitive advantage as controls on these chemicals become stricter around the world – and as consumers become more aware of this issue.”
The Cost of Inaction, a report that suggests how the extensive health records were being used. These records were collected by the Nordic countries to determine the incidence of the male reproductive health problems linked to EDCs and then uses Swedish data to estimate costs, where these are then extrapolated to EU’s 28 nations.
“Minimising exposure to endocrine disruptors will not only remove distress and pain for the persons (and the wildlife) affected, it will also save the society from considerable economic
costs,” the report states, which also assesses the proportion of the health problems attributable to EDCs, with a central estimate of 20%, leading to a conclusion that the male reproductive health problems cost the EU €592m (£470m) a year.
Being the first authority in the world to regulate EDCs, the EU is also currently conducting a public consultation on a scientific method to identify the chemicals. The UK and German governments have lobbied to EU to restrict the definition of EDCs to only the most potent chemicals, a proposal which critics have described as “loophole.”
Peter Smith, executive director for product stewardship at CEFIC, which represents the European chemical industry, said the Nordic report attribution of health problems to EDCs was “arbitrary”. He said: “The link between exposure to a chemical and an illness has not been shown in many cases. The authors themselves say they have some trouble with causality.”
Smith said the delays to EDC regulation in the EU did not suit the industry. “Nobody is happy with the delays. But we would prefer it to be permanent and right rather than temporary and wrong.” He said case-by-case rigorous assessment was needed and that any precautionary action had to be proportional to the evidence of harm.
However, Professor Andreas Kortenkamp, a human toxicologist at Brunel University London in the UK, said the epidemiological work needed to prove causation is very difficult. For example, he said, analysing links to birth defects would having taken tissue samples from mothers before they gave birth.
“Hard evidence for effects in humans is difficult to demonstrate, though there are some exceptions,” he said. “But there is very good, strong evidence from animal and cell line test systems. The chemical industry only likes to emphasis the first part of that.” He said precaution was the only safe approach and said the Nordic report was good work.
“Industry lobbying has put regulation back by 3-5 years, which was entirely the intention,” said Kortenkamp, who led a 2012 review of EDCs for the EU which found new regulations were needed. “Every year of no regulation means millions of euros to the industry. That is what it is all about.”
A major report on the state of EDC science was published in 2012 by the World Health Organization and the UN environment programme, which provided conclusions that communities worldwide were being exposed to EDCs and their associated risks. Urgent research on the health and environmental impacts was required. Dr. Maria Neira, the WHO’s director for public health and environment said at the time, “We all have a responsibility to protect future generations.” The European Environment Agency have advised in another review in 2012 that “a precautionary approach must be applied to many of these chemicals until their effects are more fully understood.”
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