Dutch in one generation pledge on chemicals
The Dutch government yesterday published a strategy on dangerous chemicals aimed at achieving near zero risks to human health and the environment and forcing industry to take life-cycle responsibility for substances. Echoing established Swedish policy, the strategy calls for an end to all emissions of substances that are persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic \"within one generation\" and by 2020 at the latest.
Now due to be considered by the national parliament, the Dutch strategy will add further impetus to an EU-wide debate on how to improve management of chemical risks (ENDS Daily 14 February). The government sets out its own timetable for getting industry to take more responsibility for assessing chemical risks and achieving more safe products, but acknowledges that implementation of the policies will depend in part on how the debate progresses at European level.
Key constituents of the strategy are as follows: the precautionary principle must be implemented, and information on chemicals must be made widely available. Within a short time, industry must gather information about risks that substances and products could have, and take risk reduction measures on the basis of their findings. Companies must take a life-cycle responsibility for their products and make an active commitment to controlling risks. It will not be acceptable to use substances that bring unacceptable dangers or risks. There should be no use of dangerous substances in consumer products, and as little as possible in industrial use.
Three draft deadlines for Dutch industry to improve its knowledge of chemicals sold in the Netherlands are set out in the strategy. By 2004, all substances and products should have been subjected to a \"quick scan\" and classified into five risk categories. By 2010, more extensive \"basic information\" sets should have been completed for all potentially dangerous substances. By 2015, these more detailed data sets should have been completed for all chemicals.
Dutch industry is due to come forward with a declaration on how it intends to meet the government\'s goals within the next few days.
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