BASTA takes an overall approach to endocrine disrupting substances in construction products

2019-09-25

BASTA is working to phase out substances of concern in building- and construction products. After the EU has agreed on a definition for endocrine disruptors, BASTA now takes an overall approach to the issue and works together with the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and industry representatives to provide guidance for assessing endocrine disruptors in construction products.

Chemical substances that can have an endocrine disrupting effect on humans or the environment are a controversial group. The mechanisms behind how these substances affect us are complex, which makes the group difficult to handle from a scientific perspective. Necessary legislation in this area has also been delayed and endocrine disrupting substances are still not fully covered by the EU’s common system for classification and labeling of chemical substances, CLP.

For BASTA, which is working to phase out substances of concern in building and construction products, this has meant difficulties in obtaining transparent and clear criteria. In the absence of criteria, BASTA, in consultation with the industry, decided to use the European Commission’s EDS database from 2014, where several confirmed and suspected endocrine disruptors are listed. This has worked satisfactorily, but at the same time it has not been possible to ignore that the database has not been updated when new scientific findings have been published.

– This may mean that the industry fails to limit substances that may be a problem, but also that we remove substances that are not really problematic. We risk putting considerable resources into phasing out topics where the benefits to health and the environment can be called into question instead of putting the efforts where they are really needed, ”says Sussi Wetterlin, CEO of BASTA.

This is the problem with using lists – there may be some uncertainty about which selection criteria are the basis of the list, for what purpose the list is created and when it is updated and if “all” substances are included. BASTA, which works with national criteria for phasing out substance of concern, has therefore always strived to have property-related criteria instead of lists. Which in this context means that all substances with a certain property should be limited, not just a selection in a particular list.

In 2018, the EU finally agreed on a definition of the criteria that must be met for a substance to be considered as endocrine disruptor. The definition is currently used in legislation relating to biocides and plant protection products, two groups where endocrine disruptive substances are often found. A number of tools are being developed to provide support to manufacturers who are to properly classify their substances and the hope is that the definition will soon be incorporated into other legislation.

BASTA has therefore decided to introduce the EU’s definition of an endocrine disrupting substance as a criterion. In practice, this means that we:
• Limits all substances that have an endocrine disrupting effect as defined.
• Handles all properties in the same way in our criteria. Thus, there is the same strict treatment for endocrine disruptors as for example carcinogens or substances that affect our reproduction.
• Place a greater responsibility on those who manufacture and market substances, chemical products and goods.
• It is still considered that external lists can be used as a basis for the manufacturer’s assessment of what is an endocrine disrupting substance if other scientific documentation is missing.

– We are aware that there are still difficulties and question marks regarding the inclusion of criteria for endocrine disruptors. BASTA will therefore, together with the industry’s players, develop guidance and tools for how our guidelines are to be interpreted and used, says Sussi Wetterlin.

Work on developing the guidance is ongoing during the autumn and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. In connection with the introduction, a phase-out plan for the EDS database as part of the criteria definition will also be developed.

In BASTA’s criterion for endocrine disruptors, all substances that are included in the candidate list are still included as endocrine disruptors, and, like other endocrine disruptors, are limited from 0.1% by weight.

If you have questions about our criteria or work with guidance documents, you are welcome to contact us at bastaonline@ivl.se or tel. + 46 10-788 65 00