REACH law aims at dangerous chemicals

European consumers are being exposed to dangerous chemical elements in retail products despite EU law prohibiting these products, reports a recent study.  “Substances of Very High Concern” (SVHC) were found to be used in the manufacture of everything from toys to shoes, earphones, pencil cases, children’s products, and erasers.

An EU law called REACH was introduced in 2007 in order to guarantee the gradual removal of dangerous chemicals from everyday products.  A recent compliance study, however, finds that the chemicals can still be found almost everywhere.

The main reason for these violations of the REACH law is that retailers fail to report to the EEB (European Environmental Bureau) about the use of these elements.

These substances are believed to be extremely hazardous to human health, since they contain mutagens, toxins, and carcinogens.  Because of this, the REACH law demands transparency on the part of retailers to advise consumers if there is a SVHC in a product.  Such labelling and notification is absent through most of Europe.

Manufacturers and retailers openly flaunt the REACH law.  As an example of this all we have to do is to look at the work of the EEB so far this year.  From April to August, the EEB sent 158 letters to European retailers requesting information on SVHCs in products.  Over half of the letters received no response whatsoever and of the ones that did, only 22 per cent answered the questions properly or forthrightly.

The EEB says that getting retailers to conform to the REACH law is a matter of political will and initiative.  Some countries are not willing to interfere with the manufacturing and retailing mechanics of their economies, given the current troubled times.