Chemical additives in plastic and the threat they pose to human health and the environment is an emerging issue of global concern that is garnering increasing attention as society is beginning to address the world-wide plastic pollution problem.

The publication Plastics, EDCs and Health, produced by the Endocrine Society and authored by a leading international group of scientists and professors, is an authoritative and comprehensive resource. The report details the endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in plastics and the hazards that these chemicals pose to human health throughout the life-cycle of plastics.

Many plastic additives are known to interfere with hormone functioning and are, by definition, endocrine disrupting chemicals.

This publication provides clear and extensive evidence of the human health impacts of many chemicals in common plastics. The health impacts of these widely used chemicals can be profound and life threatening. Cancers, diabetes, kidney, liver, and thyroid impacts, metabolic disorders, neurological impacts, inflammation, alterations to both male and female reproductive development, infertility, and impacts to future generations as a result of germ cell alterations are the consequence of many EDC exposures, EDCs that are integral to plastics. Following the World Health Organization and UN Environment Programme report on the State of the Science of EDCs, the international community identified the need for action on EDCs.

By 2015, more than 100 countries at the 4th International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM4) concurred that policy action on EDCs was called for. Since then, UNEP developed three overview reports on EDCs, and a list of EDCs recommended for regulatory control was recently published by European Union member states. In addition, in 2020, a UN Chemicals Conventions Expert Group, led by a Stockholm Convention Regional Center, released a report on Plastics’ Toxic Additives and the Circular Economy that identified many common and widespread “substances of concern” in plastics, many of which are EDCs.

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, has taken action to list several plastic chemical additives, including flame retardant substances, for global elimination as they pose unmanageable threats to human health and the environment.

In May 2020, the Swiss Government submitted a proposal to the Stockholm Convention to list another plastic chemical additive, the first ultra-violet (UV) stabilizer, UV-328, to Plastics, EDCs & Health 7 be proposed for listing under Annex A of the Convention. The Stockholm Convention is the definitive global instrument for assessing, identifying, and controlling some of the most hazardous chemical substances on the planet to protect human health and the environment.

This publication provides insights to several UV stabilizers that are also EDCs and chemical additives to plastics. The Swiss Government recognizes the threat from UV-328 to public health and the environment, noting it is a high production volume chemical used in transparent plastics, coatings, personal care products and single use plastics, including food contact materials. It has the defining characteristics of a Persistent Organic Pollutant: it is persistent (it does not readily break down), it is dispersive (it travels great distances and can be found in environments far removed from where products are made and used), it is bio-accumulative, and it is toxic, including to humans. Plastics, EDCs and Health coalesces the science on EDCs and plastics. It is our collective responsibility to enact public policies to address this clear scientific evidence that EDCs in plastics are hazardous. It is our hope that the science will lead to global policy action to address the hazards that are widespread in plastics that threaten our environment, our health, and our future.