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Posted on 06/09/2019
UK Parliament report on “Toxic Chemicals”

The UK Parliament (Environmental Audit Committee) has published its report on “Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life”, following a Parliamentary public enquiry process (see pinfa Newsletter n°102). The Government now has two months to respond. The report has been widely mediatised with alarmist titles (e.g. The Guardian “Britons being exposed to toxic chemicals from birth, MP’s say”) with flame retardants fingered as the first issue, despite the report also pointing to other questions, such as chemicals in plastic food and beverage packaging. The UK Parliament website suggests that 71% of the public are “very concerned” about chemicals in consumer products, but in fact this is not representative because it is based only on the c. 500 respondents to the consultation. This website flags three recommendations: a) develop a new “flammability test standard” for furniture, based on smouldering cigarette; (b) wildlife and human biomonitoring; and (c) labelling for chemicals in consumer products. In fact the report makes twenty-seven recommendations, covering circular economy for chemicals, disposal of waste furniture containing brominated FRs, biomonitoring, limitations on chemicals in food and drinks packaging, addressing PFOA and PFOS, fire safety requirements for furniture (finalise the currently pending revision of the UK Furniture Fire Safety Regulations and “bring the UK into line with the rest of the EU” – that is considerably reduce the fire safety requirements), exclude children’s products from the scope of the Furniture Fire Safety Regulations, classify certain firefighter cancers as work-related, increase compliance control resources for chemicals in products, reform the labelling for chemicals in consumer products (e.g. pictograms for chemicals of concern), define a “non toxic environment” UK chemicals policy (including eliminating endocrine disrupter chemicals from children’s products) and launch a national chemicals safety research programme. Flame retardants specifically cited in the report are several brominated FRs (PBDEs, TBBA, HBCDD), chlorinated FRs (TCEP, TCPP, TDCP) and triaryl phosphates.

UK Parliament, House of Commons, Environmental Audit Committee report “Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life”, 16th July 2019, 87 pages https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1805/1805.pdf

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