IPEN: WHO-UNEP Report on endocrine disruptors highlights need for global action

Feb 19, 2013, 09:15 ET from IPEN

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A highly anticipated report released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Environment Program (UNEP) underlines the urgent need for global action to address the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals.  The WHO-UNEP report, the "Global Assessment of the State of the Science on Endocrine Disruptors" a highly-anticipated update the 2002 report of the same title raises concerns about the increased incidence of endocrine-related diseases in people and wildlife recently that it states cannot be explained by genetics alone.  The report finds that "[w]orldwide, there has been a failure to adequately address the underlying environmental causes of trends in endocrine diseases and disorders."

At the September 2012 meeting of the governing body of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) governments, industry, international organizations and civil society issued a consensus statement on "the potential adverse effects of endocrine disruptors on human health and the environment [… and] the need to protect humans, and ecosystems and their constituent parts that are especially vulnerable."

At the same meeting, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) were approved as an "emerging policy issue" under SAICM.  However, now, five months later, civil society organizations are concerned by the slow pace of progress on the development of a SAICM work plan on EDCs as an "emerging policy issue."  Activities requested by the governing body of SAICM on EDCs include an update to today's report by WHO-UNEP with particular attention to the needs of developing countries, case studies, and awareness-raising and capacity-building activities around the world. 

"Today's report further highlights the need for global measures on endocrine disrupting chemicals," states Baskut Tuncak, attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and coordinator of the IPEN working group on endocrine disrupting chemicals.  "The organizations tasked with the development of this work plan need to give the development of the work plan the priority it deserves, in an open, participatory and transparent manner, as mandated last fall." 

The Endocrine Society, the world's oldest, largest, and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology, defines EDCs as "a compound, either natural or synthetic, which through environmental or inappropriate developmental exposures alters the hormonal and homeostatic systems that enable the organism to communicate with and respond to its environment." 

The adverse effects that are increasingly linked to exposure to chemicals with endocrine disrupting properties include:  effects on reproduction, such as infertility and reduced sperm count and viability; breast, mammary, testicular, and prostate cancers; type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease; neurobehavioral outcomes; and thyroid and immune system dysfunction.  Endocrine disrupting chemicals are found in food, indoor and outdoor environments, and a wide range of consumer products.

Press contact:
Baskut Tuncak
Staff Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
Coordinator, IPEN working group on endocrine disrupting chemicals
+1 202 742 5854 or btuncak@ciel.org

IPEN is a leading global organization working to establish and implement safe chemicals policies and practices to protect human health and the environment whose mission is a toxics-free future for all. IPEN helps build the capacity of its member organizations to implement on-the-ground activities, learn from each other's work, and work at the international level to set priorities and achieve new policies. http://www.ipen.org/