Denmark prioritises chemicals to be reduced

Environmental Protection Agency unveils list of 100 chemicals to be controlled or phased out

A list of 100 priority chemicals, the use of which "should be reduced or stopped" in the longer term, has been published by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The move is designed to encourage companies to take proactive action on the listed substances, according to the EPA, and to start a dialogue with other EU member states leading to stronger regulation.

First issued in draft form in December 1996, the list was twice updated and revised before being officially published. The EPA began with 9000 registered substances in Denmark and the European Union, narrowing it down to 1,100 that had certain toxic or ecotoxic effects.

Substances that are already highly regulated, such as pesticides, were removed, though many of the chemicals on the list are already regulated to some extent. Chemicals used in Denmark at a rate of less than 100 tonnes a year were also excluded.

The list was then boiled down to 100 chemicals. Within this, a special priority group of 26 chemicals has been identified, such as nonylphenol ethoxylates in cleaning agents, phthalates and sulphur hexafluoride, for which the EPA will push for a formal ban.

Danish industry groups say that the list does not represent anything significantly new in Denmark's official policy on chemicals. "It is not a regulation, " Jacob Jessen of the Association of Danish Chemical Industry told ENDS Daily. "It is a compilation of existing data, listing the reasons for concern along with the target end point for official action, as well as the gaps in existing data."

However, industry is concerned that green groups will use the list's existence to argue for immediate regulatory action. Ulla Hansen Telcs of the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) cites the case of the independent consumer information organisation Green Information, which has published the list on its web site as well as the names of products sold in Denmark that contain the listed chemicals. "The list is not intended for lay people," Ms Hansen Telcs told ENDS Daily.

The DI is also concerned over the possibility of national action on chemicals that are widely used internationally. Any bans that are instituted should be done on the international level rather than just in Denmark, Ms Hansen Telcs said.

Follow Up:
Danish EPA, tel: +45 32 66 01 00; DI, tel: +45 33 77 33 77; Confederation of Danish Chemical Industry, +45 33 15 17 48. References: The EPA's list of priority chemicals can be found on the web site of Green Information.

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