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

 

Toxic Lobby - How the chemical industry is trying to kill REACH

Publication | May 4, 2006 at 0:00

REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) has become one of the most intensely lobbied pieces of legislation in EU history. This investigative report from Greenpeace shows how vested interests sought to first delay, attack...

FRAGILE - Our reproductive health and chemical exposure

Publication | May 2, 2006 at 0:00

This report collates the findings of a number of peer-reviewed scientific studies of recent years. Together, the studies show for the first time a comprehensive picture of an increase in reproductive health disorders, mirroring the rising...

Fatal Flaws

Publication | April 1, 2006 at 0:00

Effect thresholds and "adequate control" of risks: the fatal flaws in the Council position on Authorisation within REACH

"A programme for the Sustainable Development of the European Union"

Publication | March 1, 2006 at 0:00

Proposals from Environmental Organisations for a realistic and ambitious Sustainable Development Strategy – to be adopted by the June 2006 European Summit.

REACH at Council

Publication | December 12, 2005 at 0:00

Key features of the Presidency proposal explained.

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