Protecting people from cancer-inducing chemicals at work | European Parliament



On 25 October MEPs adopted stricter rules to eliminate and reduce carcinogens and mutagens, which are chemical agents that may cause cancer or genetic mutations, in the workplace.The new legislation will add 11 harmful substances to the list of materials subject to exposure limits, impose a closer study of materials that can affect fertility and sexual function, and force employers to better assess risks to their workers.

“You should not die from your work," said Swedish S&D member Marita Ulvskog, the MEP in charge of steering the new rules through Parliament. "It should not be that you are taking a risk and you can lose your life."

The new legislation could potentially save up to 100,000 over the next 50 years.

Sectors are especially affected are the construction sector, chemicals manufacturers, automotive and furniture industries, food producers, textiles manufacturers, the wood working industry and the healthcare sector.


Lower exposure limits

Occupational exposure limits, i.e. the maximum quantity of harmful substances (usually expressed in milligrams per cubic metre  of air) that workers can be exposed to, have been set for:

  • process-generated Crystalline silica dust, created by mining, cutting or crushing of materials such as concrete, bricks or rocks.

The new legislation also revises exposure limits for two substances already on the list:

  • hardwood dusts (produced by cutting or pulverising wood), and
  • vinyl chloride monomer (mainly used to produce PVC)


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