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Chemicals and health policy update - April 2010

- On March 25th, the EU Commissioners for Environment, Mr Potocnik, and for Industry, Mr. Tajani, visited the Chemicals Agency in Helsinki and announced an agreement to resolve problems hindering the implementation of REACH.

The Commission agreed to add 106 chemicals to REACH’s most harmful list by 2012 (although details are missing as to how many of these the Agency will be responsible for, and how many will be left to Member States). The agreement broke the stalemate on the dispute over criteria to identify Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic chemicals, which is a growing public health concern.

- The European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) is finalising its report on the revision of the 2001 directive and the 2004 regulation on Pharmacovigilance, and includes recommendations on taking into account environmental health impacts of pharmaceuticals in water quality. The vote will be on April 27th, and subsequently in the entire Parliament Plenary in early May.

HEAL’s action on chemicals and health

- HEAL, along with other NGOs working on REACH, met with the Cabinets of the EU commissioners prior to their Helsinki visit, and reiterated our concerns in a joint letter about issues which were stalling implementation. Read the joint NGO letter.

- HEAL is in touch with Members of the Parliament concerning the problems of pharmaceutical residues in the environment, and the dangers which those pose for human health and the environment.

- HEAL has sent a letter to the Members of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee asking for support of amendments relating to environmental monitoring, including for impacts which affect public health.

- HEAL is joining other groups in calling for a complete elimination of all bromine and chlorine in electronic products put on the market by 2014. To sign on this letter, please contact

- Lisette van Vliet made a presentation about Bisphenol A at an event in the European Parliament entitled “Health: Questioning Expertise – Deficient Evaluation and Conflicts of Interest”. More information on the event (in French), and the PDF files of the presentations is available here.

- HEAL in the Media: For a full overview of HEAL’s chemical policy activities please visit our Media Coverage page.

Your action

-  Contact your MEP to let them know your concern about pharmaceutical residues in the environment, and use HEAL’s letter. Please contact Lisette for more details.

-  Last chance to submit comments on the study about combined effects or the cocktail effect. The deadline is April 30th. You can submit scientific or general comments on the study and on determining what regulatory action is necessary. More details

Written on 23 April 2010.