Hormone-mimicking endocrine disruptor compounds (EDCs) are commonly used in toiletries, cosmetics and medications around the globe. However, alarm has been growing for some time now that these EDCs come with a few devastating side effects, most notably increased rates of testicular cancer and infertility. Now, a new report by the Nordic Council of Ministers has gathered medical evidence from several countries and quantified the economic impact of EDCs in the hope of expediting an EU ban on the chemicals—a ban which would be the first regulation of EDCs in the world.

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The report, The Cost of Inaction, focuses specifically on the effect of EDCs on male reproductive health. It finds that the cost to the EU of these health impacts stands at €592 million ($730m) a year. The report cites a 2012 WHO report, which summarizes: “Taking the wildlife and human evidence together, there is a possibility that exposure to EDCs during fetal life and/or during puberty plays a role in the causation of male reproductive health problems in humans.”

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This may sound a tad vague, but as Professor Andreas Kortenkamp, a human toxicologist at Brunel University,  explained to the Guardian, “Hard evidence for effects in humans is difficult to demonstrate.” In order to analyze birth defects, tissues samples would have to be taken from mothers before birth. “But there is very good, strong evidence from animal and cell line test systems. The chemical industry only likes to emphasis the first part of that.” In essence, precaution is perhaps our best, and only option.

And precaution is precisely what the Nordic nations behind this report (Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland) are calling for. The EU has been slow to act on the matter of identifying and enacting bans against the most harmful EDCs. At present the EU is in the process of conducting a public consultation period as to how to identify the most harmful EDCs. This period will end on January 16, 2015.

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In the meantime, as Sweden seeks to enact its own ban on EDCs and member nations push the EU for faster action, others call for the industry, and consumers, to self-regulate. Michael Warhurst, of campaign group Chem Trust, states in the Guardian: “Companies should focus on developing and producing products that don’t contain hormone disruptors and other problem chemicals. This will give them a competitive advantage as controls on these chemicals become stricter around the world—and as consumers become more aware of this issue.”

Via The Guardian

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