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The REFIT programme can stimulate business and protect health and the environment at the same time

Did you know that soaps used in healthcare and soaps used in households are covered by different chemical regulations? The hazardous chemical Triclosan is therefor allowed in soaps for consumer use but restricted for use in soaps and shampoos used by medical professionals, even though the residues of both soaps are flushed down the drain ending up at the same place.

There are a number of inconsistencies like this, or gaps and overlaps, within several of the EUs different chemical legislations. The Commission now aims to rectify these errors via the REFIT programme; inconsistencies should be ironed out, gaps closed and overlaps removed.

But the way to go about this will be very different depending on your outlook. A chemical banned under one regulation, but allowed for under another might be an inconsistency. The question is what do about it. Should use be allowed for or banned under both regulations? This is what is at stake in the REFIT programme.

ChemSec is convinced that the current regulatory systems are fit to protect both human health and the environment and stimulate progressive business at the same time. But in order to achieve this a number of adjustments need to be made.

  1. Make chemical regulation interact more – When a substance is regulated in one framework, a system should alert all relevant bodies and trigger actions or evaluations within these accordingly.
  2. Add environmental aspects – Many of the chemical regulations do not include environmental aspects; their focus is on health only. For example cosmetic regulation and pharmaceutical regulation do not have environmental aspects included which is a clear gap since these substances to a large extent end up in the environment via the drain or the waste bin.
  3. Streamline hazard evaluations – Today different bodies evaluate substances for their hazard properties. Sometimes these bodies come to different results, which leads to frustration and confusion. Moreover, the different pieces of regulation do necessarily make use of each other’s evaluations, leading to unnecessary work and inconsistencies.
  4. Harmonise classification – The information in CLP is applicable to all kinds of chemical regulations, but as of today some information in CLP is not harmonised with other regulations.

Read ChemSec’s full proposal for the REFIT programme