European assessment reports progress and areas for improvement in chemical safety

18 April 2024 | Muriel Cozier

Joint EEA-ECHA assessment tracks chemical pollution and identifies the need for better knowledge sharing on chemicals management.

‘There is a need to more effectively ensure that consumer products do not contain the most harmful substances, for example chemicals that are endocrine disrupting, or are bioaccumulative and toxic.’ This is one of the findings from the first joint Europe-wide assessment of the drivers and impact of chemical pollution by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

The ECHA says that the number of industrial chemicals scrutinised under EU legislation to determine their safety has increased substantially. But it added that authorities now have much better knowledge about the hazardous properties of chemicals that are used across the EU, resulting in ‘many actions to minimise and control the risks of several groups of substances’.

The assessment, EU Indicator Framework for Chemicals, is based on 25 key indicators,which will be regularly updated to monitor chemical pollution and measure the effectiveness of European chemical legislation.

The ECHA reports that while the transition towards safer and more sustainable chemicals is progressing in some areas, in others it is just getting started. The data shows limited progress in removing harmful substances from waste streams, for example. ‘This is a barrier to transition towards a more circular economy’, the assessment states.

ECHA’s Executive Director Sharon McGuinness said: ‘Action by authorities and industry has helped to minimise and control the risks from hazardous chemicals. But we need to further increase knowledge in chemicals and support risk management of groups of chemicals to protect people and the environment.’

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