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

 

Evaluation: The Swedish Presidency gets a red card for environmental failure

Publication | December 22, 2009 at 12:03

In June 2009, Greenpeace ranked Sweden’s preparation ahead of its six months as EU president with the red and yellow card system used in football. Greenpeace found that Sweden was already playing a dangerous game in a number of environmental...

Yellow card! 2009 Swedish EU Presidency checklist

Publication | June 25, 2009 at 0:00

The boots are on and the referee is about to blow the whistle: the Swedish Presidency is almost underway. But before the game has even started, Greenpeace has ranked the Swedish government for its performance in the lead up to this crucial moment...

OFF TARGET: European Commission 2004-2009 environmental progress report & lessons for...

Publication | June 10, 2009 at 0:00

The Green 10 coalition of environmental organisations has a track record of producing European Commission scorecards. This latest publication presents the final grades for the 2004-2009 Barroso Commission, assessing its performance in a number of...

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

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