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

 

NGO comments on RoHS Directive

Publication | May 22, 2007 at 0:00

NGO Response to Invitation for Comments on Topics and for Information Supply regarding the Review of Directive 2002/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (RoHS)

‘Could Try Harder’: A mid-term report on the European Commission’s environmental record

Publication | April 27, 2007 at 0:00

A review produced by the Green 10, a group of leading environmental NGOs active at EU level

Cleaning up our Chemical Homes

Publication | January 16, 2007 at 14:40

Greenpeace’s Chemical Home database was launched in 2003 to demonstrate that the substitution of hazardous substances with safer alternatives is already happening. In many cases, the use of hazardous substances is not necessary, as suitable...

REACH - Flowchart on the EU chemicals reform

Publication | December 1, 2006 at 0:00

Second reading agreement on Authorisation within REACH.

Essentials on REACH

Publication | December 1, 2006 at 0:00

The essentials of the EU chemicals reform.

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