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

 

Danish EU presidency - Greenpeace priorities for the environment

Publication | January 9, 2012 at 12:39

Denmark will take the helm of the Council of the European Union from January 2012 at a crucial time for the future of Europe and its citizens. As government cuts start to bite and the debt and Euro-zone crises unfold, Europeans continue to be...

Herbicide tolerance and GM crops - why we should round up glyphosate

Publication | June 30, 2011 at 11:31

This report demonstrates the adverse human and animal health impacts of popular glyphosate pesticides and the need for a safety review.

Hidden Consequences - The costs of industrial water pollution on people, planet and...

Publication | May 25, 2011 at 15:53

Industrial pollution is a severe threat to water resources around the world, particularly in the Global South where the view prevails that pollution is the price to pay for progress. The only way to address these hidden dangers in our water is...

Our demands of the Hungarian EU Presidency

Publication | November 18, 2010 at 0:00

Greenpeace demands of the Hungarian EU Presidency 2011

Heads in the sand over Europe’s most dangerous chemicals

Publication | May 11, 2010 at 15:33

At least five national governments are failing to protect citizens and aquatic ecosystems from a highly toxic, gender-bending industrial chemical, according to a new Greenpeace report. Such disregard over nonylphenol (NP) is typical of their...

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