European politicians have voted on a landmark law to better regulate toxic chemicals. There was good news that the law will force the replacement of toxic chemicals with safer alternatives but pressure from polluting industry ensured many thousands of chemicals will not be tested.
Monica Gibbs lives next to a chemical plant and has suffered from respiratory problems since birth. Politicians should put people's health before chemical industry profits.
The vote is the latest round in the progress of the new
Europeanlegislation called REACH which was originally intended to
replacecurrent ineffective laws that are failing to protect us from
toxicpollution. But almost from the moment it was suggested it has
beenunder fire from vested interests who profit from pollution.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) resisted industry
pressurewhen they supported replacing hazardous chemicals with
saferalternatives. In the past month concerned citizens have sent
almost15,000 emails and photos to MEPs demanding protection from
chemicalpollution. But industry lobbying succeeded in convincing
MEPs toexempt thousands of chemicals from the need to provide any
health andsafety information.
Currently about 90 percent of the thousands of chemicals in
daily usehave no or insufficient health and safety data. If the law
fails torequire basic safety information about chemicals it will
make itimpossible to systematically identify and replace the most
hazardoussubstances which is the one of the principle aims of
The road from proposal to law for any European legislation is
long andwinding and REACH has taken longer than most and still has
a few roundsleft to go. Intense industry lobbying has helped delay
and weaken theproposal and it will next be discussed by national
governments.Hopefully national governments will stand up for their
people andstrengthen the proposal rather than weaken it further in
favour ofpolluting industry pressure.
We'll be campaigning hard to pressure the national governments
to takedecisive action on toxic pollution and not cave into
pressure comingfrom the German government that is trying to wreak
the proposal tofavour its large chemical industry lobby. Recently
we have behighlighting the
top Brussels politicians who are doing the bidding ofpolluting
Rest of the world?
While the intricacies of European law makingcan seem somewhat
mundane and remote, this proposed law has farreaching consequences.
As the world's largest market for chemicals newlaw in Europe will
set a global standard for the regulation ofchemicals. The chemical
industry knows that this could cut theirpolluting practices and
have spent millions lobbying against it.
This is a unique opportunity toprotect us and the environment and it should not be sacrificed for theshort-sighted interests of the large chemicals producers.
Help our work for a toxic free future.