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Why we care about ‘forever chemicals’ and why you should too
PFAS have been used in consumer products since the 1940s. They are extremely persistent, build up in the environment and some also in our bodies. This is why they are often called forever chemicals. Tests indicate that some cause serious health effects such as cancer and liver damage. The good news is that the EU is taking action to reduce their use.
One third of chemical products labelled incorrectly
An EU enforcement project shows that 1 out of 3 inspected mixtures, such as washing and cleaning products, are not correctly labelled. Inspections also showed that many liquid laundry detergent outer packaging could not withstand repeated use.
Companies need to improve information about hazardous chemicals to consumers
An EU enforcement project shows that companies are not providing consumers with sufficient information about substances of very high concern in products.
Chemicals in a circular economy
All materials around us, our furniture, computer screens, and the clothes we wear, are a mixture of different chemicals. A circular economy is about material cycles – how we use, re-use and dispose of materials, how we minimise waste and how we make the most of resources in that process. Risks to humans or the environment should be avoided, so the use of hazardous chemicals in products should be reduced throughout their entire life cycle.
Substances we don’t want in our clothes
The EU has taken action to restrict the presence in textiles of chemicals known to cause cancer, change DNA or be harmful to human reproduction.
Chemicals in feminine hygiene products
The EU is gathering information on potential health risks of feminine hygiene products after experts find hazardous chemicals in low concentrations.
The problem with microplastics
Plastics are important materials. They make our lives easier and are often lighter and cost less than alternative materials. However, if they are not properly disposed of or recycled, they can persist for long periods in the environment and can also degrade into small pieces that are of concern – microplastics.
Tattoos are a popular form of body art – 12 % of Europeans have them. They are made by injecting coloured inks under the skin to leave a permanent design. The health risks of using dirty needles to inject the inks have already been under scrutiny for some time, but there may be chemical-related concerns to consider, too.
Glyphosate is one of the most widely used active substances in pesticides to prevent unwanted plant growth around planted crops or to kill plants or parts of plants. These substances are often called ‘herbicides' or ‘weedkillers'.
Are artificial football pitches safe?
For many years, all-weather pitches have been used for a variety of sports including football, rugby, lacrosse and gaelic sports. These artificial playing surfaces often use rubber granules to make them weather-proof and to add shock absorption and traction. But are the rubber granules safe?
What do Europeans think about chemicals?
The Eurobarometer study of almost 28 000 people in 28 countries shows that 65 % are concerned about being exposed to hazardous chemicals, 26% were very concerned, and 39% were a little concerned.
Combined effects of chemicals
Chemicals are all around us but what happens to our health or the environment when the effects of individual substances are combined?