In an article published on March 27, 2019, news provider Chemical Watch reported on comments made by U.S. and EU regulatory leaders during their Global Business Summit on the general public’s poor view and awareness of chemicals. Bjorn Hansen, head of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), and Nancy Beck, principal deputy assistant administration for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), discussed the issue. The article references a 2017 survey carried out by the European Commission, which found that two thirds of EU citizens are concerned about exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Hansen argued that this is largely due to a lack of information. Beck agreed and described the current situation as a “crisis of confidence in chemicals.” Hansen said, however, that “we are on the right road to getting this information, which will enable us to make the right decisions and, once we achieve this, we can start regaining the confidence of the public.” He referenced ECHA’s new database that will require manufacturers to provide information on substances of very high concern (SVHCs) in their articles (FPF reported).

Frank Michel, executive director of Zero Discharge Hazardous Chemicals, recommended that “to tackle this, there is a need to demystify chemistry and ensure rigorous transparency.” Achim Halpaap from UN Environment noted the unique complexity of chemicals given that, unlike climate change, “we don’t have the 1.5 degrees goal. Instead we have thousands of chemicals, each with its own story and exposure scenario.”

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Leigh Stringer (March 27, 2019). “Lack of chemicals information has caused public ‘crisis in confidence’.” Chemical Watch