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Sudden shift in position Dutch Ministry of Environment regarding EDCs

Last week suddenly showed a shift in the position of the Dutch Ministry of Environment and in particular that of the Secretary of State for the Environment, regarding EDC policy

13.11.2014 |WECF

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

Last week suddenly showed a shift in the position of the Dutch Ministry of Environment and in particular that of the Secretary of State for the Environment, regarding EDC policy.

Finally our advocacy work - now in collaboration with Wemos, Pan-Europe  and recently Greenpace the Netherlands - is paying off with the first visible results. This will also will mean more support by the Netherlands for Denmark, Sweden, France, Belgium and Austria in their efforts to strengthen EDC policy at EU level.

On November 6 an interesting debate took place in Dutch Parliament with the Secretary of State on Environment on the earlier this year published report of the Dutch Health Council.  A week later, Thursday November 13, members of Parliament continued asking questions on EDCs in a debate with the Minister of Health during a special session dedicated to pregnancy and birth.  With the Minister of Health promising to look into a renewed research in the needs for information for pregnant women.

Dutch position shift in EU policy on EDCs.

On November 6 there was a meeting of the parliament committee for environment with the Secretary of State mrs. Wilma Mansveld, on a.o. the report by the National Health Council on risks of prenatal exposure to chemicals. WECF has been lobbying particularly on risks of pre- and postnatal exposure to EDCs. The letter by Wemos, PAN-E and WECF was also supported by Greenpeace the Netherlands.This letter was sent to four ministers and to MPís in the parliament committees for Health and for Environment. The letter asked particularly priority for policy on EDCs in food contact materials such as BPA. And for information to pregnant women how to reduce exposure to EDCs.

Another letter to parliament members by WECF addressed in a wider sense the conclusions and recommendations by the Health Council. We asked e.g. attention for pre-and post natal risks of nanoparticles in cosmetics, food and food additives and in consumer products, mentioning that nanomaterials can also have EDC properties. The need for precautionary legislation to protect pre- and postnatal development, taking into account the risks of irreversible, lifelong effects; adapting test methods and standards to protect prenatal development; prioritizing substitution of  EDCs in medical devices in neonatal clinics and substances causing daily exposure risks to pregnant women e.g. BPA,BFRs;PFOs; and  to reduce prenatal exposure hazards at work..

Dutch visit to Denmark

Several MPís addressed the health risks of prenatal exposure very critically and asked many questions, how the State Secretary was planning to act on the conclusions and recommendations of the Health Council and earlier reports by WHO/UNEP and EEA and groups of independent scientists such as the Berlaymont Declaration.  The State secretary responded in a positive way. She told the parliament members in her reaction, that  she had been visiting her new colleague in Denmark ( certainly inspired by the Zembla documentary that showed the good example of Denmark on EDC policy).This visit had created a common zeal and enthusiasm and she has decided to cooperate closely with her Danish colleague on chemical policy and particularly EDC.

She said she wants to work at EU level on better legislation under REACH to protect prenatal development, on the necessary adaptation of test methods and standards. As has been recommended by the National Health Council. Mansveld also mentioned that further policy measures on triclosan were necessary. Recently, for the first time, she supported Denmark France and Sweden in the EU to ask for a stricter and faster EDC policy development. She announced to come with a proposal for a national legal framework on environmental health and safety issues in the new year.

Proposal by Greens for information for pregnant women
The Green MPís have urged for national action on BPA, phthalates (those not yet regulated) in food packaging and on  flame retardants. They also addressed nanomaterials and prenatal risks of not regulated application in many products. This point was immediately supported by the State Secretary and she shared the concerns and need for good monitoring of possible health threats of nanoparticles in consumer articles and food. A proposal by the Greens for good information to pregnant women how to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals, was supported by all MPís present. Both the ministries of environment and health need to cooperate on this, but the health ministry has the lead and is slow to deliver a brochure. The State Secretary of ENVI will discuss with the RIVM if they can make information for pregnant women on EDCs available on their website. 

Read more on the report here: Dangers of prenatal exposure to harmful chemicals outlined in Dutch Health Council report: WECF applauds findings but is left with important questions

The work by WECF done on this issue has been made possible by the  LIFE program of DG Environment, European Commission, through the ChildProtect Project

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