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


REACH Regulation - Public Internet Consultation

Publication | July 1, 2003 at 0:00

Submission to the Commission's consultation on a new chemicals policy

EU Chemicals control

Publication | June 13, 2003 at 0:00

Out of sight or within REACH?

Hazardous Chemicals in Precipitation

Publication | May 26, 2003 at 0:00

This report studies the role of the atmosphere as a transport medium for persistent organic pollutants - results of the rainwater project. Scientists analysed 50 samples of rainwater collected by Greenpeace across the Netherlands, with secondary...

House Dust 1

Publication | May 3, 2003 at 0:00

This study has been conducted in order to describe in more detail the chemical environment of the home, using samples of dust collected from 100 volunteer households representing a total of 10 regions across the UK from Scotland to the South...

Consuming Chemicals

Publication | April 30, 2003 at 15:22

What this report shows is that chemicals that may present a long-term hazard to human health are present in significant amounts in virtually every one of over 100 homes we visited.

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