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


Business as Usual

Publication | May 1, 2002 at 0:00

‘Vinyl 2010’, The Voluntary Commitment of the PVC Industry

Strategy for a future Chemicals Policy

Publication | November 1, 2001 at 0:00

Greenpeace International comments on the Commission White Paper

PVC-Free Future

Publication | August 1, 2001 at 0:00

A Review of Restrictions and PVC free Policies Worldwide

Parliament buildings dust samples

Publication | June 2, 2001 at 0:00

Samples of dust were collected from Parliament buildings in a total of 8 countries (Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and UK) during the year 2000. The samples revealed the presence of brominated flame retardants and...

Toxic chemicals in a child's world

Publication | June 1, 2001 at 0:00

An investigation in PVC plastic products

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