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A year ago we wrote about new research which found that hazardous chemicals are used in food packaging, and that chemicals in many food packaging materials are not properly regulated by the EU. We sent a letter to the then EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, and the reply from his office said that the Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) was going to start an analysis of this problem. An outline of the terms of reference (TOR) of this analysis was finally released at the end of June 2015, following months of pushing from CHEM Trust, and the study is due to be completed by the beginning of 2016.

This is a very important study, which will hopefully provide the basis for closing the current regulatory gaps on chemicals in many food contact materials. CHEM Trust is surprised at how long it has taken for DG Santé (Health) to disclose the TOR for this analysis – and even more surprised at how long it is taking for the European Commission to put in place adequate regulations. It’s not a new problem, as we explain below. [read more]

Just over a week ago we published our new briefing and detailed report looking at chemical pollution from fracking. It’s been a busy 10 days since publication, with inaccurate criticism of our report from the UK fracking industry, two decisions on fracking applications in Lancashire, UK, and an EU Commission stakeholder meeting. [read more]

CHEM Trust yesterday launched a new report “Chemical Pollution from Fracking” and briefing “Fracking pollution: How toxic chemicals from fracking could affect wildlife and people in the UK and EU“. The report was the result of months of research and was written by a very experienced technical journalist [1].
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new analysis for chemicals charity CHEM Trust finds that chemicals from fracking sites have the potential to cause significant pollution [1]. This pollution with hazardous chemicals could cause damage to sensitive ecosystems, including killing wildlife, as has happened in the US. Important UK wildlife sites are threatened, which could harm a wide range of species such as butterflies, dragonflies and bats.

CHEM Trust makes 18 recommendations for vital improvements that are needed in the regulation of fracking in order to reduce risks to the environment and human health. In addition, it warns that cuts in regulators such as the Environment Agency in the UK could jeopardise the effectiveness of any regulations [2].

Fracking BriefingThis publication comes days before Councillors in Lancashire, in North West England, vote on whether to permit Cuadrilla to frack two sites [3], which could potentially affect wildlife in and around Morecambe Bay, a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar convention [4]. CHEM Trust is sending our report to the key Councillors in Lancashire prior to this vote.

The European Commission is also currently considering the effectiveness of the current regulations on fracking [5], and CHEM Trust will be sending our report to the EU’s Environment Commissioner and key Members of the European Parliament, in order to push for stronger regulation. We have already met officials in the EU’s environment department to call for tighter controls on chemical use in fracking operations. [read more]

The hormone disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in many till (cash) receipts, and the French government has proposed that the EU should ban this use. This proposal has been under discussion in the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), who have just stated that they agree with the French government that this chemical presents a risk to workers: [read more]

New research, published today [1,2], finds that low doses of a chemical that leaches from many till receipts and food cans, can change the behaviour of female mice towards their offspring.

The chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), has already been banned from use in baby bottles, and the French government has asked for an EU-wide ban on its use in thermal paper till receipts [3].

The researchers exposed the mice to either the female hormone or BPA during their development, then later observed their behaviour after they gave birth to young. The level of BPA they were exposed to was considered to be similar to that found in pregnant women. [read more]

Two recent reports have highlighted the way in which certain industries have been lobbying against EU regulation of hormone disrupting chemicals.

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CHEM Trust was among the many participants in yesterday’s European Commission conference on hormone (or endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The Commission’s Health Department (DG Santé) had organised the conference to discuss the next steps of an impact assessment on the potential socio-economic impacts of draft criteria to identify EDCs. Once finalised, these criteria will be applied in several EU laws, including laws on the regulation of pesticides and biocides.

The large interest in the topic was reflected by there being nearly 300 participants in the room, including representatives from industry associations, health and environment groups, consumer organisations, EU Member States, medical professionals, and scientists from universities & research institutes.

From our perspective we took away 3 key things at the end of the day:

  1. It is unclear what the impact assessment will be able to deliver
  2. The question is not about scientific controversy but the consequences of regulatory control
  3. There’s a need to focus on the benefits for human health and savings in health costs

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On 10th of June the full European Parliament will vote on its recommendations to the European Commission regarding the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). In the lead up to this vote, several of the Parliament’s committees are discussing the key issues at stake. CHEM Trust has today joined with over 25 organisations in sending a letter to Bernd Lange MEP, who chairs the Parliament’s International Trade Committee, asking for the committee to support exclusion of chemicals from TTIP.

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One of the main objectives of the EU’s REACH chemical regulation system is to provide a high level of protection for people and the environment. A key part of this system is the authorisation process, which incentivises companies that are using the most problematic chemicals to move to safer alternatives. The European Commission have just been consulting on two ways in which this system can be ‘simplified’, and CHEM Trust is concerned about the potential impacts of aspects of this simplification.

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