Chemical pollution is real, serious and growing. But we can overcome it. Here’s how.


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Tatiana Santos is a policy manager for chemicals at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

That is the reality of modern life. I’ll spare you the details, but scientists describe the situation variously as “alarming” and “serious”.

Understanding the threat, the EU put in place some of the strongest chemical safety laws anywhere, a shining example to the rest of the world. However, today, just 43 of a target 1,400 hazardous substances are strictly controlled and even then, firms get official permission to continue using them in 99.54% of requests. Perhaps worse, chemical safety rules are routinely broken and when national officials find substances used dangerously, they fail to act in 74% of cases. What this clearly demonstrates is that we have the laws we need, but we are not using them properly. 

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