Together with the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) of the VU University Amsterdam, Wemos studied urine samples of four Dutch politicians to determine whether they had been exposed to the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) BPA and phthalates. In the Dutch TV programme Radar, Wemos’ global health advocate Annelies den Boer showed them the results of the test: all four had indeed been exposed to BPA and phthalates.
The Dutch politicians (of political parties PvdA (Labor Party), GroenLinks (Green Party), SP (Socialist Party), PvdD (Party for the Animals)) were shocked by the result of the test. Most thought of themselves as having healthy lifestyles by eating organic products, not using plastic food containers, and reading labels. Despite all this, the test showed that reducing or limiting exposure to EDCs is extremely difficult, nearly impossible. The test even found DEHP – a phthalate that the EU has listed as a Substance of Very High Concern – in all four politicians.
The outcome of the test is similar to that of other European and American studies, which revealed that basically everyone is exposed to EDCs – on a day-to-day basis – due to their ubiquitous presence. Exposure can result in health problems in the long run. Unborn and young children are especially vulnerable.
‘I’ve known about this issue for a long time now. I really do my best: I read most labels, I try not to use plastic food containers. So I’m surprised that you still managed to find something after all,’ says Liesbeth van Tongeren (GroenLinks MP). Marianne Thieme (PvdD MP) is confronted by the test result: ‘It is confronting to see that you’ve been exposed to all EDCs that can be tested. And even the substances that Brussels has categorized as being of high concern. Brussels is usually fairly lenient, so knowing that this case is an exception is very shocking.’ Anne-Marie Mineur (SP MEP) is not amused by the test result: ‘These chemicals have been found in my urine. I thought I had a healthy lifestyle, but this is apparently not the case – or at least, it is not healthy enough. Apparently, the chemicals are consumed after all. I don’t like this.’
National plan for EDCs
Wemos wants the Dutch government to implement a national plan for harmful substances, similar to France and Denmark. Such a plan would include, for example, biomonitoring programs and a ban on the use of BPA in food contact materials, which Belgium and the USA already have. ‘Countries such as Denmark already have a national plan. As the Netherlands has seen an increase in hormone-related diseases, like breast and prostate cancer, it is all the more important to follow this example,’ says Annelies den Boer.
Watch the RADAR programme (Dutch)
Read more about what Wemos does on harmful substances
We have a new factsheet on EDCs (Dutch)