Eliminate toxic chemicals

Pregnant women protest outside the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel against man-made toxic chemicals that contaminate unborn babies


Dangerous chemicals threaten our water, air, land and ultimately the health of all living beings. Many are knowingly released into the environment, causing disease, mutation and stunted fertility. Even newborn babies enter the world contaminated with poisonous chemicals inherited from their mothers. The slow accumulation of such substances in the environment, food chain and our bodies is a serious problem. Greenpeace does not oppose the use of chemicals, but is against the release of dangerous ones, especially when there are safer alternatives.

Fortunately, the tide is turning towards the elimination of such substances. In 2007, the world’s most progressive chemical legislation entered into force for EU countries. The EU law, called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals), requires firms to be more transparent regarding the chemicals they manufacture and use.  It is based on a precautionary principle, shifting the burden of proof regarding for safety onto manufacturers and importers, and it provides for restrictions and phasing out of dangerous chemicals.

If properly implemented, REACH will result in the replacement of the most dangerous chemicals with safe/r alternatives. The proof of its effectiveness will be in how well and how quickly phase outs occur, pursuant to commitments to make chemical management safe by 2020. The impacts of REACH stand to be felt in the wider world too, with non-European manufacturers and governments aligning their policies to Europe’s. In the coming years, additional dangerous substances will be added to the REACH phase out process.

The latest updates


Call to develop a comprehensive REACH candidate list

Publication | June 16, 2008 at 0:00

Letter to the REACH Competent Authorities Meeting (16 & 17 June 2008)

NGO response to review of RoHS Directive

Publication | February 13, 2008 at 0:00

Environmental and Health NGOs response on the review of Directive 2002/95/EC (RoHS)Directive: technical changes to the scope of the directive, definitions and facilitating implementation

Navigating REACH

Publication | August 29, 2007 at 0:00


Letter to European Ombudsman further to Greenpeace 'revolving doors' complaint...

Publication | May 29, 2007 at 0:00

Letter to EU Ombudsman Mr Diamandouros to assist his enquiry into a Greenpeace complaint regarding misleading statements to the press by the European Commission in response to Greenpeace charges of chemical industry lobby influence on the REACH...

Joint NGO open letter to European Commission on the occasion of REACH entry into force...

Publication | May 25, 2007 at 0:00

Environmental, health, women's and consumer organisations address an open letter to the European Commission, in which they warn that there is no cause to celebrate entry into force on 1 June 2007 of the new EU chemicals legislation REACH, until...

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