Chemicals legislation throughout the world has been woefully inadequate at protecting humans, wildlife and the environment.
Chemicals used in different applications are subject to different legislation, such that pharmaceuticals, pesticides, or industrial chemical¬s (used for example, to make TVs or flooring etc), are all controlled by different regulatory frameworks. Similarly, discharges from large factories are regulated under yet more legislation. In the EU, this is the IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) Directive, which the Commission started to review at the end of 2005.
At CHEM Trust we focus our work efforts on the regulation of industrial chemicals in consumer products within the EU. Our particular emphasis is on hormone disrupting chemicals. However, when the opportunity arises, we also work on other legislation such as EU pesticides legislation or UN global chemicals conventions.
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.
The situation was also similar in North America. The USA still has ‘TSCA' (Toxic Substances Control Act 1976), again where old chemicals are given ‘squatters rights' and new chemicals have to have more data. What's more the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has found it almost impossible to restrict any dangerous chemicals via TSCA and so they are forced to use voluntary programmes. Canada was the first to try and look back at all the chemicals that had been on the market for a long time (often termed ‘the existing chemical problem') with their 1999 Environmental Protection Act. However, this legislation still puts a big burden on the regulator and only uses existing data and computer modelling, rather than asking for a particular safety data a chemical.
The situation in the EU has now been updated. In 2007 new chemicals legislation called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) came into force. 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:
Previous press releases concerning REACH legislation
Previous CHEM Trust responses to UK Government consultations and letters to UK & EU Ministers