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A Toxics-Free Future


UN reports risk 'oversimplifying EDCs science', says ACC

NGOs welcome list but call it a ‘missed opportunity’


The American Chemistry Council says three UN overview reports on endocrine disrupting chemicals risk "oversimplifying the science".

It says they do this by referring to "chemical blacklists, like the NGO-created SIN List and Danish EPA list".

The recently published reports provide a global overview of the initiatives, policies and scientific knowledge around identifying the chemicals. They include a list that, having gone through at least one "thorough scientific assessment", have been identified as (potential) EDCs.

"While working hard to compile and present an array of scientific viewpoints on this issue, UN Environment has unfortunately also included some of the more alarming, decades-old allegations that today's science does not support," the ACC says.

Some of the lists of chemicals referred to do not carry regulatory authority, the trade body says. This is because they have not undergone robust scientific review; been compiled through a weight-of-evidence approach; or subject to peer and public review and comment.

"As UN Environment notes in the report and on its website, these lists should not be mischaracterised as definitive science on EDCs, or classifications," it says.

Scientists and regulators who engage in risk communication about endocrine disruption "must use accurate and precise characterisations and refrain from applying labels that imply concern, when that concern is not supported by the evidence," it adds.

However, the ACC does say the reports "appear to reflect diverse viewpoints around issues related to endocrine science", which is consistent with the UN advisory group's goal to disseminate information to the global community. 

The reports arose from a resolution adopted in 2015 at the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4). This asked UN Environment to develop and share information on EDCs.

The ACC also says developing countries may find the reports useful for guiding their own policy making.

The European Chemical Industry Council, Cefic, says it is still reviewing them and so could not comment.

'Many more EDCs'

NGOs Health Environment Justice and the Center for International Environmental Law (Ciel) have welcomed the three reports.

HEJ's co-director Alexandra Caterbow told Chemical Watch she is pleased the report includes a list of 45 substances and references to others, such as TEDX and the SIN List.

Ciel's staff attorney for its environmental health programme, Giulia Carlini, said her organisation is "looking forward to their dissemination and translation into action".

However, both organistations observed there were many more EDCs and they expected the list to be longer. They highlighted the absence of BPA; Echa's Member State Committee (MSC) identified it, in June last year, as a substance of very high concern (SVHC), due to its endocrine disrupting properties that cause probable serious effects to human health.

UN Environment has missed an opportunity by not listing more chemicals, because this would help inform governments and stakeholders, Ms Caterbow said.

"It has to be a follow-up task to amend the list with the ones that are clearly EDCs, such as BPA, which should definitely be on the list," she said.

Ms Carlini added that the "non-exhaustive listing of the 45 EDCs" is a start but it will be crucial to expand this in the future.

The first of the three reports says the set of chemicals included is not definitive, and further (potential) EDCs can be included in future efforts to disseminate information.


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