Anchor links Go to main navigation Go to subnavigation Go to content Go to search

Chemicals

Some 15 or 20 years ago, environmental pollution and chemicals were to all intents and purposes synonymous by virtue of the fact that our waterbodies, soil and air were being polluted by an onslaught of chemical products. Since then, the situation has greatly improved and other environmental concerns have come to the fore.

Significant progress has been made in the chemical industry in terms of emissions and chemical safety. The industry itself is now far more aware of the fact that apart from being a driver of progress, chemicals also pose a threat to human health and the environment. This increased awareness was largely attributable to the adoption of laws requiring that chemicals be investigated and assessed before being placed on the market. Hence the chemical industry is one of the most strictly regulated sectors when it comes environmental protection.

But there’s still work to be done. While cases of acute poisoning have become less frequent, chronic illnesses provoked by chemicals in indoor air, consumer products and food remain a concern. And unfortunately, pesticides – their name notwithstanding – affect not only pests but also non-pests, whereby examples of this phenomenon abound. The decline in farmland biodiversity is largely attributable to the fact that pesticides are a death knoll for the forage of many animal species.

Biocides from facade plaster and boat paint are harmful to water. And while pharmaceutical drugs help keep both humans, farm animals and pets healthy, the residues they leave in our soil and water can be detrimental to the organisms that live there. Also, new risks and threats are becoming a cause of great concern: Minute concentrations of hormones from various chemical substances are reprotoxic for both plants and animals. Persistent non-biodegradable inputs accumulate in ecosystems and living organisms. New investigation methods are needed in order to investigate the properties of nanomaterials. And finally, these kinds of toxic substances have an environmental impact not singly, but rather collectively and often cumulatively as well.

Chemical safety is a major cause for concern nowadays in Europe and around the world. In the interest of strengthening domestic markets and cutting costs, the EU has been gradually replacing national approval and assessment procedures with European ones. But this of course does not absolve the member states from meeting their responsibilities, for they are still required to take on the key assessment, management and monitoring tasks. As the leading chemical producer in Europe and number four worldwide, Germany has a particular stewardship responsibility in this domain. Moreover, the steady growth in international trade calls for worldwide measures; for many problems that once afflicted Europe such as DDT toxicity and dioxin and furan emissions remain unresolved elsewhere. And while some progress has been made, we are far from achieving sustainable chemicals policies.

Chemicals in articles: EU LIFE Project AskREACH

Ein Barcode auf einem Produkt wir mit einem Smartphone gescannt

Certain substances are harmful to man and the environment. The AskREACH project will raise awareness on Substances of Very High Concern in articles among the European population, retailers and industry. Consumers can use a smartphone app to get information on such substances or send requests for information to suppliers. The European Chemicals Regulation REACH provides the legal framework. read more

0

Fish Embryo Acute Toxicity (FET) test: workshop report available

Fischembryo

UBA and the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) organised an expert workshop in May 2017. The aim was to exchange views on the potential applicability of the FET test for regulatory purposes under REACH, Biocidal Products- and Classifcation and Packaging Regulation and explore how it might be used as part of weight of evidence approaches for acute fish toxicity. read more

10

First OECD Test Guideline on the investigation of nanomaterials

Nano structures

The OECD Test Guideline No. 318 features the very first standardized test method particular for nanomaterials adopted by OECD. It is one important component needed for the adaptation of nanospecific requirements for environmental risk assessment applied within legislations on chemical safety. read more

41

Chemicals in articles: EU LIFE Projekt AskREACH started

Ein Barcode auf einem Produkt wir mit einem Smartphone gescannt

Certain substances are harmful to man and the environment. The AskREACH project will raise awareness on Substances of Very High Concern in articles among the European population, retailers and industry. Consumers can use a smartphone app to get information on such substances or send requests for information to suppliers. The European Chemicals Regulation REACH provides the legal framework. read more

72

The Umweltbundesamt

For our environment