At this critical junction for EU chemicals legislation, the independent scientific voice took center stage at the 5th Annual Forum on Endocrine Disruptors. Together with an impressive number of concerned stakeholders, they called for the immediate adoption implementation of better EU legislation. While a restriction on per-and polyfluoroalkaline substances (PFAS) is ongoing, it risks being watered down by the massive volume of industry submissions to the public consultation. In addition, the European Commission's legislative proposal on a revision of the main chemicals legislation REACH is still noticeably absent and is unlikely to still be published during the current term of the European Commission and Parliament.
The Forum brought together policy makers, scientists, industry leaders, and civil society to discuss the most pressing topics in the area of endocrine disruptors, including the most recent scientific developments in the field. The European Society of Endocrinology (ESE) once again took an active part in the Forum organized by the European Commission on October 19-20, 2023, and several of ESE's affiliated experts were invited to present their research and voice their concerns on behalf of the European endocrine community.
This year's conference put the adverse health effects of PFAS and the links with endocrine disruption at the heart of the agenda and discussed ongoing national and regional initiatives in Europe aimed at reducing exposure to endocrine disruptors.
Prof. Tina Kold Jensen, CPPEM, Environmental Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, described PFAS' impact on children's development by showing data from a child cohort. "The data is clear –PFAS continues to hamper the health of our children including their neurological function, fertility and overall development, stricter EU regulation is needed now to eradicate the presence of PFAS in our environment", said Prof Jensen.
PFAS differ from other EDCs by their highly persistent and bio-accumulative nature, which leads to contemporary exposures having effects on human and animal health as well as our environment far into the future for generations to come. Extensive peer reviewed literature has described the many adverse health outcomes linked to exposure to PFAS, including altered reproductive function in men and women, abnormalities in reproductive organs, early puberty, immune system disruption, cancers, neuroendocrine tumors, respiratory problems, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular conditions, altered nervous system development and function, and learning disabilities.
The need for strict regulation on PFAS and other Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) was stressed multiple times in the event by the different participating stakeholders.
"I wonder how long it will take for policy makers to catch up with the science and put in place an EU framework that will effectively protect us from PFAS and other EDCs" said Prof. Aleksandra Buha-Djordjevic, Department of Toxicology, University of Belgrade, Faculty of Pharmacy, Serbia.
ESE remains ready to share its expertise to further the regulation of harmful substances and looks forward to continuing to work with the European Commission and other stakeholders to address the issue of endocrine disruptors.