News 2016 / November

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Sweden is suing the Commission over lead chromates authorisation

Sweden is suing the Commission over the decision to grant authorisation for a Canadian company to use lead chromates. The health aspects entailed with the use of these toxic substances and the fact that authorisation has been given even though alternatives are available, are the main reasons behind Sweden’s move to sue the Commission.

The decision was made public this weekend in an op-ed by the ministers of innovation, trade and environment.

“I think Sweden is doing the right thing here by clearly showing that this authorisation decision is unacceptable. Another thing I notice is the three ministers behind the op-ed. Traditionally this would be considered solely an environmental issue. But in this case it is clear that the leadership of Sweden has understood this is just as much a question of business and innovation”, says ChemSec Policy Advisor Frida Hök.

Lead chromates are composed of lead, a neurotoxin which harms the nervous system, and chromium, a carcinogen causing lung tumours. Children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure and the health effects are generally irreversible and have a lifelong impact. Lead chromates are also extremely toxic to aquatic life.

The use of these toxic paint components has been abandoned for decades in many EU countries. In Sweden, they have not been used for 30 years. Many paint companies publicly state that alternatives do exist and that they have been using them for years. The decision to allow one company to continue the use disfavors these progressive companies who already invested in alternative techniques.

This news comes just a month after ChemSec alongside Client Earth, EEB and IPEN publically stated that they will also legally challenge the Commission over the same issue.