UK NGOs demand action against toxic chemicals

Groups call for new chemical licensing system, introduction of producer liability

A coalition of British NGOs, ranging from environmental groups to public health officers and food consumer bodies, has called on the UK government to urgently introduce a more rigorous system for licensing chemicals for use. Led by Friends of the Earth (FoE), the coalition is also calling for a phase-out of persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals, substitution of more toxic chemicals for safer ones and for producers to be made liable for any adverse effects caused by chemicals. It made its demands on the day of a seminar organised by the UK environment ministry to gauge views on a recently published consultation paper on chemicals policy (ENDS Daily 27 July). The NGOs say that basic toxicity data are missing for the majority of high volume chemicals in everyday use and accuse the chemical industry of "playing Russian roulette with our planet." Toxic chemicals, FoE says, may be "poisoning our children" and leading to increased rates of breast and testicular cancer and asthma in children and adults. The group advises consumers to avoid obvious source of toxic substances, including potential hormone disrupters, by boycotting household organophosphorus pesticides, PVC goods, certain cosmetics and household cleaners, and certain types of packaging.

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