We spend up to 90% of our time indoors – in our homes, our offices or at school. However, studies show that indoor air can be more polluted and therefore worse for our health than air outdoors, as indoor air and dust can contain a number of worrying harmful chemical pollutants.
Image via Stromcarlson/Wikimedia
Children, particularly babies and toddlers playing on floors, are specifically vulnerable to ingesting these pollutants through breathing in or eating dust.
Chemicals of concern include flame retardants, plasticisers and non-stick and water-proofing chemicals. Many are toxic and some are persistent (do not break down) and bioaccumulative (increase in concentration in our bodies and we do not tend to excrete them)’ there’s more information on these below.
It’s worth noting that the chemicals listed are just a selection of what is found in house dust – we are exposed to a complex cocktail of chemicals all the time, whether we like it or not.
The European Commission is currently consulting on its proposed criteria to identify endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). In mid-June the European Commission proposed draft criteria, which CHEM Trust has strongly criticised for not adequately dealing with the threat to health and the environment from EDCs.
The proposals have also been criticised by EU governments, scientists and by the construction company Skanska for not being protective enough. CHEM Trust has today submitted its response to the consultation, which is open for comments until July 28th. [read more]
The main lobby organisation for Europe’s chemical industry, CEFIC, has been keen to publicise a new study from the European Commission, a “Cumulative Cost Assessment” of the cost of regulation on Europe’s chemical industry. However, as the European Commission has pointed out, the study doesn’t consider economic or broader societal benefits of the legislation (such as protection of workers, public and environment), nor does it provide any data on regulatory costs for chemical companies elsewhere in the world. The data also comes from the chemical industry, who have a long record of exaggerating costs, and assumes full compliance with the law, which is not the reality. [read more]
MEPs on the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee have this morning voted to strengthen their draft report on the regulation of Food Contact Materials. They are calling for the European Commission to create new regulations to ensure that people’s health is protected from chemicals in paper and board packaging, and for particularly problematic chemicals to be phased out of food contact applications. The full European Parliament will vote on the report in the autumn. [read more]
There’s increasing debate on the problems with the laws covering chemicals in food contact materials such as packaging, with the European Parliament currently discussing a report on the issue. On 10th March 2016 CHEM Trust organised a workshop in Brussels to discuss one important aspect, the overlap and gaps between the main chemicals regulation REACH and the laws on chemicals in food contact materials. [read more]
The European Commission has finally presented its long delayed criteria for identifying endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) today. CHEM Trust is shocked by the proposal, which in effect means that there must almost certainly be harm to humans before a chemical can be identified as human EDC.
The Commission proposes a very scientifically demanding wording for identification of EDCs, calling for evidence to show that it is ‘known to cause an adverse effect’. This is in spite of the fact that the pesticides legislation currently refers to “endocrine disrupting properties that may cause adverse effect in humans“, a wording that is also proposed to be abandoned. In contrast, the identification of a chemical as cancer causing (a carcinogen) is based on “presumed carcinogenic potential”. [read more]
It’s well known that the UK was once the ‘dirty man of Europe’, and that the EU has helped us clean up our beaches and rivers. However, the EU has been working on something even more important to you and your family’s health: controlling the chemicals used in your food and everyday products. [read more]
The debate on the regulation of chemicals in Food Contact Materials – such as packaging – is starting to heat up, with a new study from the European Parliament’s Research Service (EPRS) echoing many of the criticisms that CHEM Trust made in our briefing on the subject.
In addition, the MEP acting as a rapporteur on the European Parliament’s investigation of this issue, Christel Schaldemose, has published her draft report, which suggests possible areas of improvement.
Nigel Haigh, who is one of CHEM Trust’s trustees, has recently published a book examining the evolution of EU environmental policy – something he has been closely involved with since the 1970s. The book describes the creation of a fairly comprehensive system of environmental policy, which in many areas has a global impact. It includes a history of EU chemicals regulation, and of the precautionary principle in Europe.
New research, published today finds that people in the US who eat more fast food have higher levels of certain phthalate chemicals in their urine. The chemicals found, DEHP and DINP, are used as plasticisers in PVC plastics, and their use is partially restricted in Europe due to health concerns; they are also hormone (endocrine) disrupters. [read more]