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

 

REACH: Economic facts and figures

Publication | October 1, 2006 at 0:00

Reaching the right conclusions.

Slipping away

Publication | September 27, 2006 at 0:00

This report investigates the contamination of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), substances used to produce non-stick and water-repellant coatings for a multitude of products. Our findings show that there...

Extended Producer Responsibility - An examination of its impact on innovation and...

Publication | September 1, 2006 at 0:00

This report provides evidence based on existing EPR programmes and anticipated EPR legislation, that EPR laws – both those mandating substance bans and setting re-use/recycling targets – do indeed prompt positive product design change.

Lost in Transposition?

Publication | September 1, 2006 at 0:00

This study shows that Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) as set up in the European Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive can “make the market work for the environment”. However, the inadequate transposition of the...

The Seveso disaster 30 years on

Publication | July 1, 2006 at 0:00

Lessons learned for EU policy

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