The Swedish government is to take legal action against the European Commission (EC), which it claims has "dragged its heels" on adopting scientific criteria for endocrine disruptors - often used in textiles.

According to the government, without these criteria it is very difficult to begin to phase out the use of endocrine disruptors in certain products.

It adds that the EC has "disregarded its responsibility" to adopt scientific criteria on such substances that can disrupt the body's endocrine system, and cause serious illnesses or injuries.

The speedy adoption of such criteria, it added, is crucial if the EU's biocidal products regulation and other chemical regulations are to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment.

"It is a serious matter, not least with regard to the protection of young children, that the Commission is delaying this important process," said Lena Ek, Sweden's minister for the environment.

"I am also concerned that the Commission does not make a clear distinction between what science says about the intrinsic characteristics of these substances and the consequences of a substance being identified as an endocrine disruptor."

Birgitta Olsson, Sweden's Minister for EU Affairs added: "For the first time, the government is using the Court of Justice of the European Union to hurry up the Commission, which has deliberately dragged its heels.

"Member States must have the right to prohibit certain endocrine disruptors that affect people's health and involve risks to the environment. We must put our foot down and put pressure on the Commission. Science and health must be paramount."