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ChildProtect-Life – Protecting Children's Health from Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

The ‘ChildProtect-Life’ project coordinated by WECF aims to speed-up implementation of EU environmental regulations with regard to the substitution of EDCs, in line with the EU 2020 goal of minimising adverse effects of chemicals on public health.

18.02.2014 | WECF Project


Countries: Belgium (Flanders) and The Netherlands
Donors: Life+ project European Commission, DG Environment
Partners: PAN Europe, Gezinsbond, WECF Germany, WECF France, BabyBeGood
Issues: chemicals & health
Duration: 02/2014 - 01/2016

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found in our daily lives. Phthalates are used in flooring, toys and furniture. Flame retardants are used in curtains and mattresses and Bisphenol-A (BPA) is used in plastics, papers and can linings, as well as in some cosmetics. Many pesticides and biocides contain EDCs and exposure can occur not only via food but also from spray in homes, gardens, public parks and playgrounds.

Although there are a number of environmental regulations that include procedures for addressing EDCs (such as REACH), and the EU Commission has promised to bring out a revised EDCs strategy, many policy makers are not aware of their threat to public health and the environment.

The ‘ChildProtect-Life’ project coordinated by WECF aims to speed-up implementation of EU environmental regulations with regard to the substitution of EDCs, in line with the EU 2020 goal of minimising adverse effects of chemicals on public health.

Exposure to EDCs can cause harmful health effects in both adults and children. Pregnant women for example can transfer chemicals to the developing child in the womb and later through breast milk. Even very low doses can have life-long, irreversible effects, limiting a child’s full development and future participation in social and professional life. Public authorities in charge of public health protection and food and product safety need to be better informed about EDCs.

The project seeks to develop innovative and multi-sectorial actions that speed-up policy measures and voluntary actions that especially protect children and pregnant women from the harmful effects of EDCs. Such modules can then be replicated in other EU Member States.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are found in many situations. Phthalates are used for floorings, toys, furniture and homeware. Brominated flame retardants used in curtains, upholstered furniture and mattresses are also likely to be endocrine disrupting. Bisphenol-A is used in plastics, papers and can linings, while parabens continue to be used in many cosmetics. Moreover, many pesticides and biocides contain EDCs and exposure occurs not only via food, but also via spraying in homes, gardens, playgrounds and public parks.

Exposure to endocrine disrupters can cause harmful health effects such as testicular, prostate and breast cancer and fertility problems (reduced sperm quality), hypospadias (abnormality in male genitalia) and early puberty, and may contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and disrupted brain development (autism, attention disorders, developmental delays). Humans accumulate EDCs in their body tissue, and pregnant women transfer these chemicals to the developing child in the womb and later through breast milk. Even very low doses can have life-long, irreversible effects, limiting a child’s full development and future participation in social and professional life.

A number of environmental regulations include procedures for addressing EDCs. The main ones are the chemicals regulation, REACH, and the plant protection regulations. The European Commission is currently working on criteria for EDCs, which will be horizontal and apply to all EU regulations. Many policy-makers, however, are not aware of EDCs and that existing EU regulations already contain procedures for addressing them in national legislation. Public authorities in charge of public health protection and food and product safety also need to be better informed about EDCs.

OBJECTIVES

The ‘ChildProtect-Life’ project aims to speed-up implementation of EU environmental regulations with regard to the substitution of EDCs, in line with the EU 2020 goal of minimising adverse effects of chemicals on public health. The project seeks to develop innovative and multi-sectorial modular actions that speed-up policy measures and voluntary actions that protect children and pregnant women, in particular, from the harmful effects of EDCs. Such modules can then be replicated in other EU Member States.

Specific project objectives include:
  • Providing information to policy-makers in order that they can proactively strengthen the implementation of EU chemicals and plant protection regulation, leading to a quicker replacement of products containing EDCs;
  • Increasing voluntary substitution by the business sector of products containing EDCs, thus speeding up implementation of EU regulations;
  • Increasing access to consumer information on EDCs in products in order to affect a change in consumption patterns and further acceptance for policy measures on EDC substitution; and Creating a ‘Health Sector Alliance’ that involves health experts and health insurance companies with an interest in preventing health effects from EDC exposure.

The ChildProtect project has been made possible thanks to the LIFE program of DG Environment, European Commission





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