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Yesterday, the European Parliament committee on the environment, health and food safety (ENVI) adopted, with an overwhelming majority, a resolution setting its position on the European chemicals strategy for sustainability [1]. The strategy is currently under development and expected for the second half of 2020.

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) applauds MEPs for supporting ambitious proposals in favour of a shift towards a ‘health and environment-first’ approach in European chemicals legislations, in order to reduce people’s exposure to mixtures of harmful substances, prevent diseases, and support the transition to a non-toxic circular economy [2].

Natacha Cingotti, senior health and chemicals policy officer at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) said: “The proposed resolution provides a strong basis for a health-first approach in the Parliament position towards the future European chemicals strategy. In order to live up to Europe’s Zero Pollution ambition, we call on MEPs to support this proposal at the next plenary voting and to keep the European Commission and Member States accountable all throughout their mandate.”

HEAL welcomes MEPs’ demands for further regulatory measures needed to adequately protect vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and older generations.

The resolution calls for a comprehensive EU framework on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to effectively minimise the extent to which humans and the environment are exposed to EDCs, and insert specific provisions into legislation on toys, food contact materials and cosmetics to treat EDCs like substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction.

Notes to the editor

[1] The European Parliament committee on the environment, health and food safety (ENVI) adopted the resolution by 65 votes to 1, and 14 abstentions https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200622IPR81708/meps-call-on-eu-commission-to-step-up-action-against-dangerous-chemicals

Highlights of the proposed resolution include:

  • The reaffirming of the Zero Pollution Ambition for a toxic-free environment and links with other initiatives related to its delivery such as the EU Beating Cancer Plan and the biodiversity strategy.
  • Emphasis on the importance of preventive action and essential principles of EU laws such as the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principles.
  • It calls for:
    • A hierarchy of actions in risk management that prioritises exposure prevention, phasing out of hazardous substances and substitution to safer alternatives;
    • Better implementation of existing legislations such as REACH to promote safe substitution and to develop non-toxic material cycles;
    • Extending the use of generic risk assessment;
    • A definition of and criteria for “essential uses” for hazardous chemicals;
    • Accelerated action on priority chemicals, including: provisions for a horizontal definition of known and suspected endocrine disruptors and actions to minimise exposure; an action plan to phase out non-essential uses of PFAS; speeding up the phasing out of high-risk pesticides by 2030;
    • Better accounting of mixtures and using of grouping approaches in assessments;
    • A revision of the food contact materials legislation for more heath protection and coherence.

[2] HEAL’s proposals for the Chemicals strategy for sustainability can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/have-your-say/initiatives/12264-Chemicals-strategy-for-sustainability-/F524518