ARCHIVE: Chemicals policy
There are a large number of industrial chemicals with many widespread uses, including consumer products, for which there is inadequate data to judge whether they are likely to present a risk to the environment and/or human health.
The current European legislation to assess the risks posed by these chemicals and to take action where necessary is widely acknowledged to be too slow. There is also agreement that the legislation has not adequately addressed the long term risks from some of these chemicals. A more effective system known as the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH), has been agreed and was adopted as a regulation by the EU in December 2006.
At the same time as working with European partners to develop more effective EU legislation, the Government is working with UK stakeholders to develop solutions that can be applied to reduce the risk of chemicals damaging the environment at national level.
- See current EU policy for information on consolidated legislation transposing the Marketing and Use Directive.
The UK Chemicals Strategy was published in December 1999 to address growing concerns about the adequacy of existing legislation to address the risk from chemicals. This set out an approach for voluntary action in the UK.
The Strategy established the UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum in 2000 to advise the Government on action to take forward the aims of the strategy as well as to advise it on general chemicals policy.
The Government's Response (PDF 150 KB) is now available to The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution Report on Chemicals in Products.
The first stage of the Government's review of the UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum announced in March 2003, was the commissioning of a consultant's report into the way the Forum functions. This report presented the views of stakeholders on the Forum's effectiveness since its inception in 2000.
Mercury: UK restrictions on marketing of mercury in certain measuring devices
Following the consultation on European Commission Draft Instrument 6693/06, the proposed restrictions on the sale of mercury in specific instruments will be adopted in the UK. See Proposal for a Commission Directive on restrictions on the Marketing and Use of Mercury in certain measuring devices.
Voluntary Agreement on Nonylphenols, Octylphenols and their Ethoxylates
Following advice from the UK Chemicals Stakeholder Forum, the Government has encouraged industry to take voluntary action to reduce the risks to the environment from nonylphenols, octylphenols and their ethoxylates.
Risk reduction strategy and analysis of advantages and drawbacks for Perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS)
Perfluorooctane sulphonate (PFOS) has been demonstrated to be a chemical of high concern as it meets the criteria of persistence (P), bioaccumulative (B) and toxicity (T). As a national initiative, the UK conducted a risk reduction strategy for PFOS and substances that degrade to it for reasons described in the background note below. The note also has details of the 2004 consultation on UK proposals to restrict the use and marketing of PFOS and substances that degrade to PFOS.
In 2007 EU measures have now been adopted which aim to introduce legislation across Europe in restricting PFOS.
- UK plan national action on PFOS and substances that degrade to it (PDF 6 KB) (now superseded by EU measures - see below)
Following the recommendations from the consultation on Perfluorooctane sufonates (PFOS) new restrictions for this substance have been introduced and will be effective from 27 June 2008. Details of the regulation as a Statutory Instrument (SI) can be found at The Office of Public Sector Information.
Advice for business on the introduction of the new restrictions can be viewed on the Business Link website.
Page last modified
9 May 2008
Page published 15 October 2003