A new legislative proposal in Europe, called REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), could help to pave the way out of the current chemicals crisis by driving the development and use of safer alternatives. This law could provide a solution to lead the world closer to a toxics free future.
Sampling activists blood outside a Bayer chemical plant. Previous test showed that chemicals produced by companies like Bayer are in his blood. To highlight this issue we attempted to return the contaminated blood to Bayer because it includes types of chemicals that Bayer produces at the plant. It refused to accept the blood sample.
Over 30,000 chemicals are currently produced in quantities
overone tonne per year within the European Union. More chemicals
enterEurope as additives or contaminants in chemical preparations
orconsumer products. Others are generated as unintentional
by-products ofmanufacturing or waste management processes and are
released in wastestreams or distributed as contaminants in consumer
Only a handful of these chemicals have been assessed for
therisks they pose. Even where risks have been identified,
littleeffective action has resulted.
Many chemicals are still widely used even though they are known
to be hazardous.
A proposal for a new European law currently being decided
bygovernments and the European Parliament offers a real opportunity
tobegin controlling the spread of chemicals. Europe is the
world'slargest chemical producer, so what starts here could change
howchemicals are regulated around the world.
The proposed legislation is called REACH (Registration,
Evaluation andAuthorisation of Chemicals). It could help ensure
that the mosthazardous chemicals currently used and produced are
substituted withsafer alternatives. Substitution of hazardous
chemicals is the only waythat we can reduce our exposure to
chemicals in the home, as toxicadditives are contained in a
multitude of consumer products. It is alsoimportant that the new
legislation gives sufficient information aboutthe properties and
possible hazards of the chemicals on the marketincluding the ones
in imported products, and that the public know whatchemicals are in
what products so that we can begin to take control ofour chemical
If agreed in a good form, the new EU law could trigger a phase
out ofsome of the world's most dangerous chemicals. But the
chemicalsindustry is fighting back and has mounted a strong lobby
both insideEurope and globally to persuade the EU to weaken its
proposal. The USadministration has joined forces with the powerful
chemicals industry,and is threatening to take the EU to the World
Trade Organisation onthe grounds that REACH damages US commercial
We urgently need to tell EU Governments and
Help us to
- To stand up to polluting chemical producers and put our health
and environment first.
- To make substitution of all hazardous chemicals mandatory
wheresafer alternatives are available. If no suitable alternatives
arecurrently available and its use is essential to society, a time
limitshould be set for the continued use of a hazardous substance,
toencourage the development of a safer replacement.
- That industry must be obliged to provide sufficient
informationabout the properties and hazards of chemicals they
produce or importinto the EU.
- That we need a system to make industry accountable for the
impact of their products, now and in the future.
- That we have the right to know what's in the products we bring
into our homes.
politicians to vote forsafer chemicals