CHEM Trust Newsletter - July 2019

We have been busy here at CHEM Trust since our last newsletter in April - here are the latest updates!

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CHEM Trust challenges the UK Government on post-Brexit plans for chemicals
New UK Parliament report on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life supports CHEM Trust's policy priorities
EDCs: EU Parliament passes a resolution on endocrine disrupting chemicals
Ursula von der Leyen elected as next EU Commission President
UK Marine Strategy: the Government must act now to protect UK seas
Key principles for safe Food Contact Materials
Our latest talks and presentations 
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CHEM Trust challenges the UK Government on post-Brexit plans for chemicals
In June, CHEM Trust challenged the UK Government on its Brexit plans for pesticides and chemicals regulation. Represented by law firm Leigh Day, we sent a Pre-Action Protocol letter to Environment Minister Michael Gove setting out concerns that environmental protections post-Brexit would be weakened, and threatening to proceed with legal action. Following this letter, on 20th June, the Government announced that they would re-instate the ban on pesticides with hormone disrupting properties. They claimed that the deletion of two key paragraphs was a ‘drafting error’. The Statutory Instrument (SI) on pesticides was subsequently re-laid and the key paragraphs re-inserted. 
CHEM Trust’s Executive Director Dr Michael Warhurst said:
“It is very welcome that the UK has re-introduced this ban on endocrine disrupting pesticides in their no-deal regulations. However, we are finding it quite hard to believe that the initial deletion of these paragraphs was a drafting error, given the substantial industry – and US Government – lobbying against this ban over many years. How is it possible to accidentally delete the two most controversial paragraphs in a 50-page law, and how come no-one who works in this sector reported the error to the Government?”
Our letter also addressed the removal of stakeholder participation in the UK’s proposed post-Brexit chemical regulatory system, which is set out by the REACH SI. In their response, the Government makes a commitment to “not undermine opportunities for public participation and stakeholder engagement”. CHEM Trust has decided not to proceed further with our legal action on the REACH SI at this time, but we will be monitoring the implementation of the SI in line with the Government’s commitments. 
Our blogs on challenging the UK Government
New UK Parliament report on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life supports CHEM Trust's policy priorities
In May we gave oral evidence to the UK Parliament Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) inquiry into Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life. We highlighted our concerns around brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and regulations for chemicals (such as bisphenols and PFAS) in food contact materials.

The EAC have now published their report on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life. They warned that the UK population, including unborn babies, are at risk from toxic chemicals, and declared that “current regulation does not account for the cocktail of chemicals we are exposed to”. The committee made a range of important recommendations, and supported a number of CHEM Trust’s key policy priorities, including: CHEM Trust’s Executive Director Dr Michael Warhurst said:
“CHEM Trust is calling for rapid action from Government and industry to prevent further contamination of our bodies and the environment, and to stop the chemical industry replacing one hazardous chemical with another.
The MPs rightly highlight the disturbing reality that poorly-written UK laws are driving the use of hazardous flame retardant chemicals, leadings to our bodies and those of our children being polluted by these toxic substances.”

Read more about the report here.

Dr Warhurst also appeared in Mary Creagh MP’s podcast “Emergency on Planet Earth”, to discuss the issues raised during the evidence session on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life.
Our blogs on toxic chemicals in everyday life
EDCs: EU Parliament passes resolution on endocrine disrupting chemicals
In the final plenary session of the European Parliament in April, MEPs voted to adopt a resolution on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), calling on the next Commission to take action to ensure human health and the environment are protected, and close existing policy gaps by 2020. This is a great result, as the text is strong and includes most of the demands set out in EDC-Free Europe’s position paper

EU Environment Ministers met on 26th June to adopt a position on chemicals. They demanded swifter, more ambitious action on harmful chemicals from the European Commission, Member States and The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), and identified REACH, endocrine disruptors, nano materials and pharmaceuticals as priority areas for action.

On 27th June ECHA announced that the 'forever chemical' HFPO-DA - a fluorinated substance used in the so-called GenX technology - has been identified as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) under REACH. Increasingly used as a replacement for PFOA in the production of non-stick coatings, HFPO-DA is a suspected endocrine disrupting chemical and carcinogen. This is welcome news; we had earlier written to the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in June asking them to support this nomination.  
In May, our Head of Science Dr Ninja Reineke gave a presentation at the Helsinki Chemicals Forum on the topic of regulating hazardous chemicals in groups. Chemicals are typically assessed and restricted using a substance-by-substance approach, but this is a slow process and allows for regrettable substitutions. In our view restricting groups of similar chemicals should become the standard approach in the main EU chemicals law REACH, as well as in other chemical regulations, such as laws on chemicals in food contact materials. Dr Reineke wrote an article on regulating substances as groups for Chemical Watch, which has been republished on our website.
We have been working with a small coalition of UK NGOs, including Fidra and From Pink to Prevention, to put pressure on mainstream UK retailers to remove bisphenols from their till receipts. We have signed onto an open letter to Asda on this issue, who responded with an admission that they are switching from bisphenol A (BPA) to bisphenol S (BPS). We are currently following up on this with Asda. 
Our latest blogs on EDCs
Ursula von der Leyen elected as next EU Commission President
Ursula von der Leyen has been elected as the next EU Commission President after winning the support of 383 MEPs. She will take over from Jean-Claude Juncker in November 2019.

Her guidelines for the next Commission (2019-2024) include a strong environmental programme, and specifically mention protecting human health from hazardous chemicals:

"For the health of our citizens, our children and grandchildren, Europe needs to move towards a zero-pollution ambition. I will put forward a cross-cutting strategy to protect citizens’ health from environmental degradation and pollution, addressing air and water quality, hazardous chemicals, industrial emissions, pesticides and endocrine disrupters."
UK Marine Strategy: the Government must act now to protect UK seas
We submitted a response to the UK Government’s consultation on the UK Marine Strategy Part 1, in which we addressed the misleading statement that Good Environmental Status had been achieved for contaminants (including chemical pollutants) in the marine environment. We were particularly critical of the short list of chemicals monitored in territorial waters, and the UK Governments inaction on PCB-contaminated marine sediment. Our response is summarised here.
We also submitted comments to the Wildlife and Countryside LINK’s joint response to the consultation, and wrote a guest blog on their website outlining the reality of contamination in UK seas.
Ahead of the triple COP on the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions in April and May, which CHEM Trust attended as an observer, we sent a letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove, asking for action to reduce global pollution from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). We received a response from Dr Therese Coffey MP stating that the UK Government was committed to eliminating POPs.
During the triple COP, the persistent and toxic chemical PFOA was finally banned globally under the Stockholm convention. This is welcome news, as we have been campaigning on this chemical for over 10 years and supported the ban at EU level under REACH.
We also signed up to a Wildlife and Countryside LINK letter, published in The Guardian, calling for action to protect UK seas.
Our latest blog on the marine environment
Key principles for safe Food Contact Materials
At present, EU laws regulating the chemicals used in FCM, such as packaging, cutlery and factory equipment, do not properly protect public health. In our last newsletter we wrote about the 5 key principles that we believe should guide the future regulatory system for FCM to ensure that consumers are protected from harmful chemicals in their food. 
These 5 key principles are:
  • A high level of protection of human health
  • Thorough assessment of chemicals in materials and final articles
  • Effective enforcement
  • A clean circular economy based on non-toxic material cycles
  • Transparency and participation
Many NGOs have already signed up to support the five key principles, and we hope to receive even more signatures in the coming months to be able to send a strong signal to regulators about the need for new legislation to ensure public health.

Your support is needed. If your organisation wishes to support these principles, please send an e-mail with your logo to or
These key principles also featured prominently in our response to the European Commission’s public consultation on FCM. We expect the results of this consultation, along with draft results of the FCM evaluation, to be released in September 2019.
In late April, CHEM Trust arranged a workshop with representatives from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), three Commission Directorate-Generals, as well as experts from Denmark, Belgium, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), and the Food Packaging Forum, to discuss the role that the REACH system could have in assisting with regulation of chemicals in FCM. 
Sidsel Dyekjaer, CHEM Trust’s Science and Policy Consultant, said:

Although the provisions in legislations such as REACH, the Cosmetics Regulations and the Toy Safety Directive are not perfect, they include some good principles that could be transferred to modernised FCM legislation. This must include the basic “no data – no market” principle of REACH as a guide for revised legislation on finished food contact articles in the future”.
Our latest blog on FCMs
Latest CHEM Trust presentations
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