News > EEB: Major brands ‘breaking EU chemical safety law’

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  • 23rd May 2019 - 11:54 GMT

EEB: Major brands ‘breaking EU chemical safety law’

Major cosmetics, food, medicine and plastic producers across Europe are breaking the law by using millions of tonnes of chemicals without completing important safety checks, according to an analysis of government files.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) says this is a priority problem and acknowledged in November that two thirds of the 700 chemicals it has investigated break important aspects of the EU’s key chemical safety regulation REACH. Some are calling it ‘the dieselgate of the chemical industry’.

Today, Germany’s largest environmental charity BUND, a member of the European Environmental Bureau, revealed some of the chemicals, companies and sectors implicated. It used freedom of information rules to obtain details of a German government investigation into chemical safety files from 2014 which concluded that 940 substances did not meet REACH data safety standards. Transparency barriers blocked BUND from verifying whether most of the chemicals remain non-compliant today.

Between 12 and 121 million tonnes of the 41 chemicals are used in Europe annually. Some are widely found in industrial and consumer products, including toys or food contact products. The true scale of the problem may be much larger, but transparency barriers prevented BUND verifying the compliance status of around 700 of the 940 chemicals identified in the German investigation or the identity of more than 5,000 out of nearly 7,000 responsible companies. Precise numbers were impossible to obtain due to duplicates, typos and 124 cases where the company names are marked as “confidential”.

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