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6 November 2005 | Printer friendly

Environment and Public Health Committee vote to protect Vulnerable Groups

The European Parliament’s Committee for Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) have voted to ensure that vulnerable populations are specifically considered in the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals) chemicals legislative proposal.

Genon Jensen Director EPHA Environment Network stated after the vote, “We welcome the Parliament’s support to ensure that vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly and those already sick, are specifically taken into consideration under future EU Chemicals policy. However, we feel that without a minimum mandatory set of data for low volume chemicals their health could still be at risk. Members of Parliament have a unique chance at plenary in November to protect the most vulnerable by voting to get more information on these chemicals

The amendments tabled and sponsored by Madame Ries (Belgium, MEP, ALDE) in the ENVI committee and supported by the women’s committee (FEMM) and other MEPs are important to ensure a high level of protection for vulnerable populations including children, the elderly and those already suffering from illness.

Public and professional support for these amendments has come from many different constituencies including European Standing Committee of Doctors and their member the British Medical Association, Women in Europe for a Common Future, the European Public Health Alliance, EuroCoop, European Council for Classical Homeopathy, Association Française pour la Recherche Thérapeutique Anti-Cancéreuse, Health Care Without Harm and Environmental Organisations including WWF, European Environmental Bureau, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, amongst others.

Press Release from Health, Environment, Consumer and Women’s groups.

REACH: Parliament’s lead committee backs REACH principles but falls short of guaranteeing safety information Brussels, 4 October 2005 -

Environmental, women’s, health and consumer organisations welcomed the strengthening of controls on hazardous chemicals adopted within the report on REACH at the Parliament’s environment and public health committee today, but criticised the weak requirements on the provision of safety data for a vast number of chemicals. The groups were pleased to see members of the European Parliament’s environment and public health committee support the mandatory substitution of hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives when these are available. This requirement is essential to end the build-up of harmful chemicals in our bodies and the environment.

For substitution to work, however, it is essential to obtain basic safety information about chemicals for which we lack data on the environmental and health impacts, which REACH is supposed to deliver. At present we lack this basic information on 90% of chemicals. The groups therefore regret that the feeble compromise on lower volume chemicals (produced in volumes of 1-10 tonnes per year), adopted by the committee - under intense pressure from industry - leaves dangerous gaps in the provision of safety information.

A REACH adopted on this basis would not deliver the health and environment protection the public expects, as it would leave thousands of lower volume chemicals without basic toxicity data and so would hamper the identification of potentially harmful chemicals, such as hormonedisruptors.

In November, the European Parliament has the chance to reinforce REACH in its plenary session, to ensure that the legislation will help both identify and replace all hazardous chemicals. This is a unique opportunity to protect future generations and their environment and it should not be sacrificed for the short-sighted interests of the chemicals industry, argue the groups.

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