Today CHEM Trust has written to the UK Government, alongside 26 UK public health and environmental NGOs, to outline 12 Key Asks that must be prioritised in the UK’s new Chemicals Strategy. If implemented, these asks would provide strong protection from hazardous chemicals for people, wildlife, and the environment.
Synthetic chemicals are used in many different applications in our modern society, in everything from food packaging to soft furnishings. Many have been linked to serious health concerns, including fertility problems, issues with reproductive development and hormone-related cancers. Ubiquitous chemical pollution is also fuelling our biodiversity crisis, placing an additional burden on wildlife populations already under threat from the climate emergency.
The UK Government has promised a new Chemicals Strategy to set out its approach for managing chemicals, following the UK’s departure from the EU. The process to develop this strategy is still underway, with a consultation expected in late 2021.
The 12 Key Asks highlight a range of actions that need to be implemented:
- Apply the precautionary principle;
- Phase out the most hazardous chemicals from consumer products, for all non-essential uses;
- A plan to address endocrine disrupting chemicals including timelines to phase them out;
- Phase out the use of PFAS and other very persistent chemicals;
- Speed up regulation of harmful chemicals and avoid regrettable substitution by adopting a grouping approach;
- Address the combined exposure to chemicals – the ‘cocktail effect’;
- Maintain and expand on workers’ health and safety;
- Ensure a clean circular economy with products that are safe by design;
- Develop an effective monitoring and alert system;
- Stop the continued accumulation of legacy chemicals in the environment;
- Remain aligned with the world-leading chemical regulation EU REACH;
- Ensure more transparency and use of all relevant science for assessing health risks.
The UK must keep pace with EU improvements to chemical regulations
In October 2020, the European Commission published its Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), as part of the delivery of the EU’s zero pollution ambition in the European Green Deal. The strategy commits to a range of actions that will better protect human health and the environment from harmful chemicals, including several that are reflected in these 12 Key Asks.
If the UK Government does not implement these 12 Key Asks in the new Chemicals Strategy, the UK runs the risk of falling behind EU controls on hazardous chemicals.
Dr Anna Watson, Head of Advocacy at CHEM Trust, said:
“The UK Government must develop a chemicals strategy that properly protects citizens, wildlife, and the environment from hazardous chemicals. These 12 Key Asks must be prioritised to ensure this protection.
The UK should also keep step with the ambitious EU Chemicals Strategy and EU chemical related regulations. Otherwise UK consumers and environment will be considerably less protected than in the EU, and this could give rise to the dumping of products on the UK market that do not meet EU safety standards.”
If your organisation would like to sign on to support the 12 Key Asks, please send your logo to: firstname.lastname@example.org