Public health and protection of the environment must take priority over chemical pollution.
After five years of discussion and many delays, the European
Commission has finally proposed new laws for regulating chemicals
safety called REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of
Chemicals). When originally proposed the legislation put the
protection of human health and the environment above the profits
and pollution of the chemicals industry. But industry demands have
weakened the regulations almost beyond recognition.
These laws are important because they govern many hazardous
chemicals found in everyday products -- chemicals which are in all
of our bodies, and which can be detected all over the globe.
Industry lobbying and high profile political support
France, Germany and the UK claimed that the proposed laws would
cost jobs in the industry and affect gross domestic product, with
companies moving out of Europe. However an independent impact
assessment estimated that the changes will cost industry only 0.05
percent of its turnover.
This heavy pressure has lead to loopholes in the current draft
laws which will deliver pollution as usual rather than protecting
our health. Instead of forcing industry to innovate and find
alternatives for dangerous chemicals, it asks them to demonstrate
undefined 'adequate control.' What the laws should contain is the
principle of 'mandatory substitution,' which would mean companies
would have a legal obligation to replace dangerous chemicals with
Now the proposed laws will be debated in the European Parliament
and by national governments before finally entering into law in the
EU sometime in 2005 or early 2006. We, and other environmental,
health, and women's groups, will be campaigning to ensure that the
current loopholes are closed and the laws meet their original goal
of protecting our health and the environment rather than the
chemical industry's right to pollute. For this we need your
How you can help -
1. Visit our chemical home site to find these chemicals in your home and body. Use your consumer power to vote for green products, and against dangerous chemicals.
Look at our chemical products and don't buy the ones on the red
list. Shop wisely by buying the products on the green list instead.
This is simple yet very effective: every time you buy a product,
you vote for that product. If you know Fairy liquid contains toxic
chemicals and Ecover doesn't, you will always choose Ecover. The
more people that do this, the more quickly manufacturers will be
forced into action.
2: Help us lobby:
An impressive 30,000 people sent messages in on two weeks from
website to the Comission on chemicals to counter the industry
lobbying. When the laws are debated in the EU Parliment we will
need your help again. Also in
3. Return to sender!
Got any products on our red list? Think you would be better off
without them? Send your toxic products, or the empty packaging to
Patricia Hewitt, UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. She
is determined to wreck new legislation designed to protect human
health and the environment from the chemical pollution. She
complains that it will be too expensive and if chemical companies
are forced to test their products for safety before they sell them
they will move abroad. She has not said anything about protection
of health and the environment.
Follow these easy steps to return you toxic products:
4. Spread the word
- Find toxic products on our 'red' list that you have in your house, such
as shampoo or children's toys
- Print out this letter and sign it, or better still write
your own letter.
- Package up the product or wrapper put it in an envelope or wrap
it in (recycled!) paper, along with the letter
- Print out this address label and stick it to the
- Put it in the post
Tell your friends about the Chemical Home
website, so that they can arm themselves with information too.
5. Join Greenpeace
For a general introduction to the problem of hazardous chemicals
chemicals out of control section.
For a detailed response on the REACH legislation read the
'Chemical legacy - contamination of the child'(pdf file).
Human impacts of man-made chemicals(pdf file).
Safer Chemicals Within Reach(pdf file).