Everyone uses and comes into contact with chemicals in a multitude of everyday products. Our knowledge about the risks for consumers and about how chemicals prevent recycling is still very limited. In order to protect consumers, new knowledge must be procured about chemicals of concern in products so that they do not harm humans or the environment. There will be specials initiatives for vulnerable groups; unborn babies as well as children and young persons. On an informed basis, consumers will be able to make active choices and select products with less problematic chemicals.
Themes in this section
Consumer products will be examined for hazardous chemicals
Today, Danish initiatives in the consumer area concentrate on the extent to which the chemicals found in products such as cosmetics, toys and tattoo pigments can pose a risk to health and the environment. The initiatives therefore also include products and chemicals which are not already subject to regulations, for example chemicals evaporating from carpets designed for children, the content of perflourinated substances in textiles and the content of phthalates in children’s products. The Danish EPA’s consumer programme is generating solid expert knowledge about chemicals in consumer products. The results of the initiative will form an important basis for consumer information and they will also be important input to EU for regulation in the area. If the studies show that there is a risk in using the substance, this will usually trigger measures to limit exposure, either through regulation, collaboration with stakeholders, or information.
In the Chemicals Initiatives 2014-2017, knowledge about what chemical substances are present in products, and whether they pose a risk to the consumer or environment, will continue to be generated. In order to ensure that the products and materials of the future can also become part of the resources cycle, there must be more consideration of the significance of chemicals for recycling of consumer products.
Special initiatives for products
used by children and young persons
Children and young persons are especially sensitive to chemical impacts. Therefore focus will be on consumer products used routinely by children and young persons such as toys, textiles, and electronic equipment.
The Chemicals Initiatives 2014-2017 will have special focus on risk assessments of products used by children and young persons aged less than 14 years. The initiatives will ensure targeted and proactive efforts to prevent illegal and problematic products through close collaboration between authorities and enterprises. The initiatives will also focus on non-regulated substances with which children and young persons come into contact, in order to ensure that these substances do not pose a risk. This will involve identification of use and risk assessment of the substances. Once the results of the different risk assessments are available, an evaluation will be made of the combined effect of substances with the same impact mechanisms in the body, in order to establish whether the total impact may give grounds for concern (cocktail effects).
The initial phase will analyse the needs of enterprises for knowledge about the rules, and this will be followed by dissemination of information aimed at individual product types, such as toys, textiles etc. This is to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises obtain better knowledge about the relevant legislation, and enterprises will also receive information on unwanted or unnecessary substances in products for children and young persons.
Finally, product-inspection initiatives will be strengthened for products designed for children and young persons, e.g. toys, electronic equipment, cosmetics and textiles. There will be particular focus on articles and products from non-EU countries.
Knowledge about allergies will prevent allergy as well as form the basis for regulation
Allergies have high priority in the chemicals area, as an increasing number of people have, or risk developing, allergies to specific chemicals.
The National Allergy Research Centre collects and disseminates the knowledge which forms the basis for special regulation both nationally and in the EU. This Danish research centre is an international front-runner in the area, and it supplies direct input to the European Commission. Most recently, work from the National Allergy Research Centre has formed the basis for the Danish proposal for EU regulation of chromium in leather.
In addition to this, in the allergies area it has been well documented that there is an economic advantage for society in regulating these substances. Therefore, work in the allergies area and the grant for the National Allergy Research Centre will be extended to cover the period 2014-2017.
General focus on use of unnecessary chemicals will continue, including fragrances, and there will be long-term efforts to reduce overall exposures of humans to unnecessary chemicals. This will also contribute to reducing impacts on people who are hypersensitive to chemicals and fragrances. In this respect it will be ensured that the knowledge generated by the Danish Research Centre for Chemical Sensitivities is not lost and that it continues to be available for patients. The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment will continue their advisory function for people who are hypersensitive to fragrances and other chemicals.
New types of consumer information and collaboration to develop eco-friendly products
The Danish EPA’s consumer programme provides advice about environmentally sound behaviour and about how to avoid hazardous chemicals as a consumer. The Chemicals Initiatives 2014-2017 will entail needs for new information activities in order to ensure that consumers are aware of the most recent knowledge on the effects of chemicals on the environment and health. This may be as information campaigns or as new methods to transmit messages in an up-to-date and engaging manner, such as ‘nudging’. The objective is that consumers have an informed basis to make active choices regarding products containing chemicals of concern.
At the same time, consumer demand is decisive with regard to establishing a larger supply of eco-friendly products. Therefore a coupling must be secured to the possibilities and motivation of enterprises in the consumer area. Initiatives by the Danish EPA will be organised such that they are oriented towards the recipients in dialogue with industry, and they will increasingly be aimed at selected product areas, for example products for children and young persons. For example, a new partnership in the textile area will be set up in which enterprises can work together for better management and minimisation of the use of chemicals. This will create new opportunities for industry to lead the way in the green transition. Another example is the authorities’ collaboration with the PVC Information Council on alternatives for DEHP in medical devices.
Thereare many dangerous chemicals in comsumer products which we need to ban. Therefore, I am pleased that we put full focus on providing the comprehensive documentation which are needed in order to get the many problematic chemicals regulated and phased out, states Per Clausen, Environment Spokesman for the Red-Green Alliance
A new Chemicals Forum will ensure knowledge-sharing and dialogue
In order to promote innovation, supply and demand for the least environmentally intensive and resource-intensive products, initiatives for consumer products will increasingly involve collaboration between authorities and stakeholders.
Establishment of a new Chemicals Forum composed of authorities, industry, consumer organisations and other relevant stakeholders, will ensure knowledge-sharing and dialogue for the products area. The Chemicals Forum could recommend implementation of new initiatives such as identification, assessment and guidance on the basis of the challenges facing the sector, and it could point to new solutions in the products area. One or more product-specific or sector-specific councils could also be established under the Chemicals Forum (e.g. textiles, ROHS, toys, cosmetics etc.) The Chemicals Forum could, in collaboration with the Danish EPA, disseminate information about new regulations to enterprises and consumers, and could also contribute to voluntary phasing-out and substitution of certain chemicals.
By far the majority of products are imported from countries outside the EU. Stronger collaboration between the authorities, consumer organisations, trade associations and retailers involved in the new Chemicals Forum will support the work in the consumer area on imported products, new trends and products of the future.
An everyday life without harmfull chemicals has for many years been a key issue for the Socialist People’s Party. With this agreement we keep the focus on everyday-chemistry. This is a clear step in the right direction, states Karina Lorentzen Dehnhardt, Environment Spokesman for The Socialist People’s Party
Increased communication will improve enterprises’ awareness of regulations
Many, especially small and medium-sized, enterprises do not have adequate knowledge about their obligations in the chemicals area and about chemicals regulations in general. This means that in many cases enterprises have difficulty complying with the legislation.
REACH generally generates an enormous amount of knowledge about chemicals, and this knowledge must be exploited as well as possible by authorities, enterprises, consumers and NGOs. More openness and accessibility to data and chemicals assessments is therefore important. The authorities will develop their role as communicators to enterprises of the information in REACH on the harmful properties of chemical substances.
A number of information activities on REACH for Danish enterprises are already underway, including dialogue meetings, workshops and helpdesk information. The information activities will be developed so that they focus more on helping enterprises to intensify their substitution work and thereby phase-out the chemicals of concern in products.
Therefore the Chemicals Initiatives 2014-2017 focus on communication about the chemicals regulations to Danish manufacturers and importers. If manufacturers and importers are informed earlier and more thoroughly about new regulations in the area, they will be better able to reorganise production and thereby develop and adapt their products to the new regulations in good time.
It is particularly important to issue information about regulations and enforcement to small and medium-sized enterprises, and this is generally a challenge for the authorities. Entrepreneurs and start-up companies will also be informed so that they know about the regulations before they commence imports or production. Specifically, information for enterprises will focus on the chemicals regulations which especially affect products aimed at children and young persons (e.g. toys and textiles). The information projects will be followed up with comprehensive inspection campaigns.
New information channels and platforms will be explored in collaboration with various actors, including networks and sectors, in order to provide targeted and easy-to-read information.
Stronger national collaboration on inspection benefits both enterprises and consumers
Stronger and targeted enforcement and inspection benefits enterprises, as this means that responsible enterprises are secured equal terms of competition. Risk-based strategies will be developed to enforce the regulations in selected areas. The strategies will ensure that inspection work aims at areas in which breaches are likely and entail risks for the environment or human health.
The Chemicals Initiatives 2014-2017 will focus on strengthening collaboration with other authorities such as the Central Customs and Tax Administration (SKAT), the Danish Working Environment Authority (WEA), the Danish Safety Technology Authority, the Danish Maritime Authority, the Danish Energy Agency and municipalities. For example there is already a collaboration with SKAT on imported products, and with the Danish WEA on inspections regarding REACH. This collaboration can be expanded and strengthened in several areas. The first step towards enhancing this area will be to initiate an elucidation of where stronger collaboration will be most appropriate.
Det er særlig vigtigt for mig, at der er fundet midler til at fortsætte indsatsen indenfor hormonforstyrrende stoffer. Det er et felt, hvor Danmark længe har ligget i front, og det skal vi blive ved med, så vi kan få disse stoffer væk fra borgerne, siger Jørn Dohrmann, miljøordfører for Dansk Folkeparti
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