On December 4, 2019, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published its report ‘Europe’s state of the environment 2020,’ which includes a chapter specifically on chemical pollution. Overall, the report found that “Europe faces environmental challenges of unprecedented scale and urgency” but that “there is reason for hope, amid increased public awareness of the need to shift to a sustainable future, technological innovations, growing community initiatives and stepped up EU action like the European Green Deal.”
In the chapter on chemical pollution, the EEA examined trends, set targets, and likely scenarios regarding the use of, exposure to, and management of chemicals in Europe. Some of the key messages presented in the findings include that:
- The projected increase in chemical production and ongoing emissions of persistent and hazardous chemicals signals that chemical burden on health and the environment is not likely to decrease.
- The wide variety of chemicals used in Europe makes robust risk assessments and monitoring of individual chemicals impossible, with significant knowledge gaps remaining on health and environmental impacts.
- A shift is needed to a more integrated approach for chemicals. “The current single substance approach is not fit for assessing and managing the risks of the large number of chemicals on the European market in the immediate future.” The EEA recommends shifting towards managing groups of substances.
- Transition is needed towards producing chemicals that are safe by design, including using less hazardous chemicals along the entire life cycle of products. This could reduce chemical pollution and improve the circularity of Europe’s economy.
ChemSec (December 12, 2019). “Top three chemical trends from the EEA’s new report.”
Caterina Tani (December 12, 2019). “EU chemicals policy to fall short of meeting 2030 challenges – EEA.” Chemical Watch