Dáil Éireann - Volume 532 - 20 March, 2001

Written Answers. - Health Action Plan.

395. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children if research linking endocrine disrupting chemicals to a variety of human disorders including cancer and alleged falling sperm count in males is a matter of concern to him; if so, the measures he proposes to take to protect the public from possible harmful effects of these chemicals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8220/01]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): I am advised that endocrine disrupting chemicals possess the characteristic ability to alter hormone or endocrine systems. Known or suspected endocrine disrupters include industrial chemicals like dioxins and PCBs, organo-chlorine pesticides and a number of now banned pesticides such as DDT [1222] and chlordane and certain other synthetic chemicals.

EU directives in the area of industrial chemical safety and subsequent national legislation and regulations are implemented and monitored by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Health and Safety Authority. The Environmental Protection Agency has also carried out some work in this area particularly in relation to the effects on the reproduction of wildlife populations and suggests the main risk from endocrine disrupters as likely to arise through dispersal from products such as pesticides rather than industrial discharges. The pesticides control unit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development monitors the use of pesticides in the agriculture sector.

The EU is currently reviewing its chemicals policy in this area and several substances identified as endocrine disrupters are under review. I would be concerned over a possible link to human disorders, including cancers, with these chemicals. The National Cancer Registry Board identifies, collects, classifies and analyses information relating to the incidence and prevalence of cancer and related tumours in Ireland.

Question No. 396 answered with Question No. 390