You can take some steps yourself to reduce your exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals, but ultimately it is only through Government action that we can really be protected.
Within the United Kingdom
It’s important that governments are aware that people care about not being exposed to hormone disrupting chemicals. They will often be lobbied heavily by companies that make and use such chemicals , arguing that controls are not necessarily. For example, there has been massive industry lobbying about setting criteria for identifying hormone disrupting chemicals.
Whilst most decisions on chemicals are made at EU level, the UK Government are also involved as a Member State in decision making processes and are responsible for enforcement in the UK. You can therefore write to your Member of Parliament (MP) to ask for action on hazardous chemicals.
Who should you write to?
Find your MP on the UK Parliament website. There are 650 constituencies (areas) in the UK and each is represented by one MP.
What should you ask your MP for?
CHEM Trust recently published research that demonstrated a severe lack of resources to protect the UK public from hidden chemicals in consumer products, which you can read about here.
You could write to your MP about the postcode lottery of environmental and public health protection that exists in the UK, and ask for:
- Increased funding for trading standards services and local authorities across the UK who are responsible for enforcing chemical regulations.
- Stronger prioritisation from the UK Government to identify priority areas of focus for consumer protection across local trading standards services.
- A commitment to ensure the UK maintains high regulatory standards on hazardous chemicals as it leaves the EU through dynamic alignment with EU outcomes.
You can read more about Brexit and chemicals policy here.
You could also write to Government Ministers, particularly covering Environment and Health:
- Michael Gove MP is the Secretary of State for the environment, at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
- Kelly Tolhurst MP is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for consumer protection, at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
- Steve Brine MP is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State with responsibility for health protection and prevention at the Department of Health and Social Care.
Within the European Union
If you live in the European Union (EU), then most decisions on chemicals are taken at an EU level – but your government will be involved in taking these decisions, as will, in many cases, your Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Influencing your Members of the European Parliament (MEPs)
Write to your MEPs, they are your representatives at EU level. You can find out who they are on the European Parliament’s web site (you probably have more than one representing your area). You can write to them, email them – even phone their office.
In many cases MEPs have a vote on important decisions. In other cases they will just have an advisory role, and will be able to challenge what the Commission is doing (or not doing).
What could you ask your MEPs to do?
- Ask them to question the European Commission about why they aren’t properly regulating chemicals in food packaging (see this blog post for background)
Influencing the European Commission
The European Commission is an important part of EU chemicals policy, as they draft most regulation, though it must later be supported by a EU governments and in many cases the European Parliament.
The European Commission is made up of a President (currently President Juncker), and 27 other Commissioners, one from each country. Each Commissioner has different responsibilities, and they are the political head of one of the Commission departments (Directorate Generals – DG’s).
For chemicals, the most relevant commissioners are:
- Frans Timmermans, First Vice President – responsible for Better Regulation, Sustainable Development
- Vytenis Andriukaitis, Health and Food safety – responsible for EDC criteria, packaging regulations, pesticides
- Karmenu Vella, Environment – co-responsible with Growth for industrial chemicals, responsible for water pollution and other environmental laws
- Elzbieta Bienkowska, Growth – co-responsible with Environment for industrial chemicals
Other Commissioners are also involved in the discussions – the Commission operates a bit like ministers in a government.
What could you ask Commissioners to do?
- Work for rapid action in Europe to identify and phase out hormone disrupting chemicals (see this blog post for background)
- Adoption of proper EU regulation of chemicals in paper and card food contact materials – including in inks and glues (see this blog post for background).
CHEM Trust is also part of the EDC Free Europe alliance, campaigning for EU action on hormone disrupting chemicals – visit their site to sign up for actions & to learn more.
Outside the EU
- Check out the International POPS Elimination Network (IPEN) web site