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

 

NGOs call for debate on how to put science at the heart of EU politics

Press release | August 19, 2014 at 8:30

Brussels - Scientific advice should be transparent, objective and independent, and there should be more science and more diverse expertise available to the European Commission’s President, a coalition of 28 international and national NGOs wrote...

Syngenta takes Commission to court over ban of bee-killing pesticide

Press release | August 27, 2013 at 12:49

[UPDATE] - At least one other agrochemicals company (Bayer) has joined Syngenta in challenging the EU pesticide ban. Brussels – Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta has legally challenged a partial EU ban of one of its pesticides that...

Irish government unveils ‘trio’ EU presidency programme

Press release | December 11, 2012 at 15:45

Brussels – Today the Irish government laid out plans for its presidency of the Council of the European Union, which is due to begin on 1 January 2013. Statements today by Irish Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and foreign minister Eamon Gilmore...

Parliament committee fails to rein in river pollution by gender-bending drugs

Press release | November 27, 2012 at 17:14

Brussels – The European Parliament’s environment committee today supported taking advantage of the links between different pieces of legislation that affect water pollution to help phase out the most dangerous chemicals. In its vote the committee...

Green groups: no medals in sight for Barroso II

Press release | July 3, 2012 at 11:30

Brussels – Halfway through its term in office, the European Commission is falling behind in the race to create sustainable long-term prosperity in Europe, warn Europe’s leading green groups in a critical assessment of the Commission’s...

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