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.

The latest updates


Juncker Commission 1st anniversary: a ‘lost year’ for environmental protection

Press release | November 2, 2015 at 9:42

Brussels – One year since the entry into office of the current European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, environmental groups have criticised the EU executive for a paralysis in policymaking on issues related to the environment.

TTIP negotiators contemplate systematic dismantling of environmental standards,...

Press release | October 23, 2015 at 11:22

Brussels – Negotiators at EU-US trade talks ending in Miami later on Friday have discussed a system to weaken environmental standards that stand in the way of corporate interests, said Greenpeace. The talks are taking place against a backdrop of...

Commission TTIP plan retains privileged corporate justice system

Press release | September 16, 2015 at 13:19

Brussels – The European Commission’s modified plan for an Investment Court System under an EU-US trade agreement (known as TTIP) continues to give foreign investors a privileged justice system to challenge EU standards on the environment, health...

Juncker plan could break promise on democratisation of EU GM crop decisions

Press release | April 8, 2015 at 12:31

Brussels – A new plan by the European Commission to review the way decisions are made on genetically modified (GM) crops could break a promise by its president, Jean-Claude Juncker, to make the EU system more democratic. In a letter released...

Concerns remain over Juncker Commission’s commitment to environment

Press release | October 22, 2014 at 14:17

With today’s vote by the European Parliament a new political phase begins in the European Union. The Green 10 alliance of leading environmental organisations calls on President Juncker and his team of Commissioners to give European citizens, and...

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