Chemicals legislation throughout the world has been woefully inadequate at protecting humans, wildlife and the environment. Better legislation and new policies are particularly needed to prevent harm from chemicals that can mimic or de-rail the normal function of our hormones.
Chemicals used in different applications are subject to different legislation, such that pharmaceuticals, pesticides, or industrial chemicals (used for example, to make TVs or flooring etc), are all controlled by different regulatory frameworks. Similarly, discharges from large factories and waste treatment works are regulated under yet more legislation.
At CHEM Trust we are working to protect humans and wildlife from harmful chemicals and our main focus is on the EU regulation of industrial chemicals in consumer products and pesticides, with particular emphasis on those that can disrupt the normal functioning of hormones. . However, when the opportunity arises, we also work on other legislation including, for example, legislation relating to cosmetics or workers. Hormone or endocrine disrupting chemicals have now also been established as an emerging issue under UN global chemicals agreements, such that CHEM Trust is active not just at EU level, but also at the global level. .
The regulation of industrial chemicals in the EU
In the EU, all chemicals legislation has been tinkered with over time, but the legislation related to industrial chemicals was particularly a hotch-potch mess with bits being added constantly. Safety data on many chemicals were inadequate or non-existent, and old chemicals and new chemicals were not treated equally.
After a long and intense battle new legislation was finally agreed, and in 2007 the EU chemicals legislation called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) came into force. This legislation, which requires manufacturers to bring forward a certain amount of data on their chemicals and assess whether they are safe, is being seen as a possible template for better regulation which could be adapted for use elsewhere in the world. However, there is still much that needs to be done to ensure that REACH is implemented in such a way that harmful chemicals are adequately regulated. Please see REACH section.
To see further information of the lobbying work that CHEM Trust has carried out on the implementation of REACH and other chemicals issues please see:
- Our blog – see the right hand column, e.g. blog posts on REACH
- CHEM Trust responses to consultations and letters to decision makers