In the comments on my recent Trichloroethylene blog, there is clearly concern about "chemicals". But did you know that there is a huge project to try to improve the situation?
Many, many products have been reformulated to avoid the worst substances. I know, for example, that the paint industry has been very seriously affected.
Rather than me trying to re-word what they say, here it is in their words:
Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of CHemicals (REACH)
What is REACH?
REACH is a European Union regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals. It came into force on 1st June 2007 and replaced a number of European Directives and Regulations with a single system.
REACH has several aims:
To provide a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the use of chemicals.
To make the people who place chemicals on the market (manufacturers and importers responsible for understanding and managing the risks associated with their use.)
To allow the free movement of substances on the EU market.
To enhance innovation in and the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry.
To promote the use of alternative methods for the assessment of the hazardous properties of substances e.g. quantitative structure-activity relationships (QSAR) and read across.
Scope and exemptions
REACH applies to substances manufactured or imported into the EU in quantities of 1 tonne or more per year. Generally, it applies to all individual chemical substances on their own, in preparations or in articles (if the substance is intended to be released during normal and reasonably foreseeable conditions of use from an article).
Some substances are specifically excluded:
Substances under customs supervision
The transport of substances
Some naturally occurring low-hazard substances
Some substances, covered by more specific legislation, have tailored provisions, including:
Human and veterinary medicines
Food and foodstuff additives
Plant protection products and biocides
Other substances have tailored provisions within the REACH legislation, as long they are used in specified conditions:
Substances used for research and development
It is certainly to be hoped that impacts such as endocrine-disruption are properly considered and managed. But it is at least the case that there is an organisation charged with looking at the issues. Even if they get things wrong, there is at least someone to point our fingers at, someone to complain to, someone to blame. With the possibility of things improving over time.