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.

In addition to REACH, the EU’s Water Framework Directive is meant to halt the release of dangerous chemicals into European waters.  The directive is set to be expanded in 2011 and 2012.

 

The latest updates

 

Chemicals beyond control

Publication | November 1, 2004 at 15:06

Background on proposed EU chemical policy reform and how it needs to be amended to achieve it goals.

Man made chemicals in human blood

Publication | November 1, 2004 at 0:00

The objective of this study is to determine the presence of a number of chemicals from blood samples of volunteers in The Netherlands. The results show many industrial chemicals are present in the human body, sometimes in relatively high...

Commission report shows alternative materials are preferable to PVC

Publication | June 4, 2004 at 0:00

Greenpeace Statement

Toxic childrenswear by Disney

Publication | April 14, 2004 at 0:00

This report shows that chemicals that may present a long-term hazard to human health are present in Disney childrenswear. Disney garments, including T-shirts, pyjamas and underwear, were bought in retail outlets in 19 countries around the world...

Rapport Hazardous Chemicals in Belgian House Dust

Publication | March 23, 2004 at 15:39

House dust is a repository for environmental pollutants that may accumulate indoors. In October, Greenpeace examinated samples of house dust collected in 50 Belgian homes and in offices and the European Parlement. The results of the analysis show...

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