Commission and Member States Improve Criteria for Hazardous Chemicals | WWF

Commission and Member States Improve Criteria for Hazardous Chemicals

Posted on 23 September 2010    
A growing number of boys are born with malformed genitals
© WWF / Martin HARVEY
Brussels, Belgium – Earlier this week the European Commission and Member States decided to improve the approach for identifying chemicals with hazardous properties which are long lasting (persistent) or build up in wildlife and humans (bioaccumulative).

Better criteria for chemicals with (very) persistent, (very) bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT/vPvB) properties, were adopted under the EU’s chemical legislation REACH. The previous criteria was considered inadequate by many Member States, the EU Parliament and NGOs because many relevant hazardous chemicals would have been overlooked.

Many chemicals with these problematic properties are still used in production processes and consumer goods and scientists have not only found them contaminating wildlife such as seals, whales, dolphins, polar bears and birds but also humans, including children. They are being passed on from mother to child, down the generations, and even if releases are stopped now, because of their persistence, exposure will continue for many years to come.

The draft Commission regulation still has to be approved by the European Parliament and is expected to enter into force early 2011. Companies will then have to apply the revised PBT criteria in their chemical safety assessments under REACH and have to update their chemical assessments within two years. EU governments and the EU Commission can nominate PBT chemicals for the REACH ‘candidate list’ in the authorisation procedure and thereby ensure their replacement or tough restrictions over their usage.

'Although the decision has been long overdue, we are pleased to see it provides a better basis for controls and the replacement of these chemicals which represent an invisible burden and a risk to wildlife and people,' said Ninja Reineke, Senior Policy Officer at WWF’s European Policy Office.

‘Now Member States and the Commission need to step up their efforts in implementing controls over these unwanted substances. Companies are well advised to replace them now with safer alternatives.’

For further information:
Ninja Reineke, Senior Policy Officer, Chemicals, WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 740 09 26

Stefania Campogianni, Press Officer, WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 743 88 15

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