In an article published on October 18, 2017 by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch, reporter Clelia Oziel informed that ministers from EU Member States (MS) France, Italy, and Luxembourg have presented a proposal to the EU Council’s Environment Council calling for “A more transparent, more effective and safer assessment of chemical substances.

The ministers pointed out that certain chemicals can have significant effects on human health and the environment which has received “increasing attention from European citizens” who are “increasingly expressing concern.” In order to strengthen chemical safety assessments and the confidence of citizens, the ministers deem “necessary that the Union should develop a strategy for a general reduction of exposure to chemicals, whatever their source, in order to ensure a high level of environmental and human health protection.” The ministers expect the preparation and adoption of such a strategy in 2018, stating that it “will lead to the definition of a cross-sectoral and ambitious harmonized framework.”

Further, the MS noted that full responsibility for the safety of chemicals lies with the industry that places the products on the market and this fundamental principle must be maintained. However, “this system is regularly criticized” because “certain data and studies provided by the industry are protected by a data protection regime and are therefore not accessible to the public,” and because the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) “do not have the possibility to finance scientific studies that are complementary to those provided by the industry, when, in specific cases, contradictory results or controversies cast doubt on the quality of the expertise provided.” Therefore, it should be investigated how and to what extent the results of industry studies can be made more accessible and transparent. Also, a mechanism should be established that allows the agencies (ECHA and EFSA) to carry out independent studies “to check for consistency” in case of controversy or doubt. Lastly, the MS called for more research to improve “methods for the identification of hazards related to substances.”

Read more

Clelia Oziel (October 18, 2017). “Independent EU agency tests needed to assess ‘controversial’ chemicals.Chemical Watch

Council of the European Union (October 5, 2017). “A more transparent, more effective and safer assessment of chemicals substances.(pdf)