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Dangers of prenatal exposure to harmful chemicals outlined in Dutch Health Council report

WECF applauds findings but is left with important questions

25.03.2014 |WECF

Mosaique presented to EU President Baroso during an action of the EDC Free Alliance in Brussels, November 2013

Last week the Dutch Health Council released a report on prenatal exposure to chemical substances stating that the Dutch government should do more to trace the harmful impacts of these substances, especially during pregnancy. They find that chemical substances can affect the development of the immune system, endocrine system and nervous system of the foetus with lifelong impacts.

According to WECF this report underscores the urgent need for immediate action to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from the detrimental effects of prenatal exposure to harmful chemicals, including Bisphenol A (BPA).

WECF commends the advice of the Health Council to adjust testing methods to account for the heightened vulnerability of the foetus. However, the press release announcing the report’s findings elicited confusion and critique. Firstly, WECF critiques the timing of the press release, as it was published on the day of the Dutch local elections. All media attention was therefore diverted from these findings. Secondly, the press release summarises findings from the report in conjunction with an advisory letter regarding BPA, stating that its replacement is currently not advised because the health risks of possible replacement materials have not been adequately investigated. This is contradictory to the dangerous health impacts outlined in detail in the report, which specifically states that current exposure to BPA is at a level where studies have found harmful effects. It is also contradictory to a unanimous decision made last week by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to reclassify BPA into a more dangerous category of harmful chemicals. While the full report calls for urgent action within the Netherlands and the EU to replace BPA, this recommendation was left out of the press release, which therefore seems to suggest no action for the time being.

WECF criticizes the advisory letter; so much is known about the health risks of BPA exposure that delaying regulations is unacceptable. Sascha Gabizon, director of WECF, states that protecting unborn children from the risks of prenatal exposure to harmful chemicals such as BPA should receive the highest priority. Gabizon: “It seems short-term business interests still outweigh considerations for the health of our children”.

  • For the summary (in English) of the Report of the Dutch Health Council you can click here.
  • The WECF press release (in Dutch) can be found here.