The European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen today launched a “European Green Deal”, which includes a plan to produce a new “Chemicals strategy for sustainability” by June 2020. The Green Deal states that this strategy will include action on a number of CHEM Trust’s priorities, including Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, combination (mixture) effects and very persistent chemicals.
The strategy is described in the Green Deal as follows:
“To ensure a toxic-free environment, the Commission will present a chemicals strategy for sustainability. This will both help to protect citizens and the environment better against hazardous chemicals and encourage innovation for the development of safe and sustainable alternatives. All parties including industry should work together to combine better health and environmental protection and increased global competitiveness. This can be achieved by simplifying and strengthening the legal framework. The Commission will review how to use better the EU’s agencies and scientific bodies to move towards a process of ‘one substance – one assessment’ and to provide greater transparency when prioritising action to deal with chemicals. In parallel, the regulatory framework will need to rapidly reflect scientific evidence on the risk posed by endocrine disruptors, hazardous chemicals in products including imports, combination effects of different chemicals and very persistent chemicals.”
The Green Deal also makes specific commitments on addressing chemical pollution of water:
“The natural functions of ground and surface water must be restored…..In addition, the Commission will propose measures to address pollution from urban runoff and from new or particularly harmful sources of pollution such as micro plastics and chemicals, including pharmaceuticals. There is also a need to address the combined effects of different pollutants.”
The Green Deal also proposes a new “Farm to Fork” strategy, which includes commitments on pesticides:
“The strategic plans will need to reflect an increased level of ambition to reduce significantly the use and risk of chemical pesticides”
The Commission also published an Annex which lays out the key dates for different components of the Green Deal, including:
- A “Chemicals strategy for sustainability” in Summer 2020
- A “Zero pollution action plan for water, air and soil” in 2021
- “Farm to Fork” strategy, Spring 2020
- “Measures, including legislative, to significantly reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides, as well as the use of fertilizers and antibiotics”, 2021
Dr Michael Warhurst, Executive Directive of CHEM Trust, said:
“CHEM Trust welcomes the new Commission’s commitment to produce a chemicals strategy for sustainability, covering vital issues such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, mixture exposure and very persistent chemicals.
We wish the Commission well in delivering this programme, and we will be monitoring it closely to ensure that it really does lead to a toxic free environment and sustainable use of chemicals”
CHEM Trust has produced reports, briefings and blogs on a number of the issues mentioned in the Green Deal, including:
- Very persistent chemicals: For example, the perfluorinated PFAS chemicals have been widely used in applications as diverse as food packaging, clothes, ski wax and cosmetics, but they pollute our bodies and those of wildlife – see our recent briefing for details.
- Policies to address endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are a key priority for CHEM Trust, see our FAQ for more about EDCs, and see the “CHEM Trust Response to Commission Roadmap “Fitness Check on endocrine disruptors”.
- CHEM Trust highlighted environmental pollution from pharmaceuticals in a detailed report in 2014.
- On mixtures and combination effects, where science shows that realistic mixtures of low levels of individual chemicals can produce toxic effects.
Update: Our comments on the European Green Deal have been covered by Chemical Watch and ENDS Europe.