Don’t play hard Brexit with our health – House of Lords.

In light of the upcoming debate in the House of Lords on Monday 5th and Wednesday 7th March discussing what will happen to UK chemicals regulations after Brexit, From Pink to Prevention calls on the Lords not play hard Brexit with our health. For the sake of the health of current and future generations, we hope the Lords will ultimately vote to keep the UK under current and upcoming European pesticide and chemicals regulations.

In October, From Pink to Prevention joined with 20 other NGOs in a letter to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove MP, calling on him to protect our health, environment and wildlife by remaining under REACH (Registration, Authorisation and Evaluation of Chemicals) current European Chemicals regulation. His ambiguous response did not reassure us that the government was putting our health at the forefront of any chemicals regulation. Brexit, it seems, could pave the way for separate UK chemicals regulation or a ‘REACH replicant’ which was termed an ‘ideological indulgence’ by Mary Creagh MP.

Now is not the time for ideological indulgencies considering the time and energy, and the decades of sheer hard work that went into developing the highly sophisticated and progressive REACH legislation. Which by the way, the UK helped shape. While not perfect it is regarded as gold standard regulation throughout the world and has at its heart the core aims of protecting human and animal health, and  ‘the precautionary principle’ which means to take action to prevent harm, even in the face of uncertainty.

FPTP’s subsequent seminar in Portcullis House along with the Alliance for Cancer Prevention, Pesticide Action Network UK  and the National Alliance of Women’s Organisations, cemented our view that, for the UK to be de-coupled from REACH as a consequence of Brexit would have a devastating impact on many aspects of consumer, workplace and environmental health, as well as our economic wellbeing. Even the chemicals industry  want to keep us under REACH.

Our health is being impacted on a daily basis by exposure to harmful chemicals in our homes, workplaces and through contaminated air, soil and water in the wider environment. REACH demands that every chemical used from the initial raw materials through to the manufacturing of a product is registered with up to date and comprehensive information about its impacts on health and safety. The results should be available to everyone even consumers unless commercially  confidential and aims to ensure that the products placed on the market do not adversely affect human and animal health or the environment.

This year the REACH legislation celebrates its 10 year and in that time it has significantly enhanced the protection of human health and environmental protection, while promoting alternatives to animal testing. A Press Release from the European Commission highlights REACH’s achievements including the 18 restrictions of  harmful chemicals in consumer products such as Bisphenol A (found in till receipts) and Nonylphenols (used for textiles).

Speccifically related to the Lords debate, REACH has gathered information on more than 17,000 substances in 65,000 registration dossiers on the main chemicals manufactured and used in the EU.  Dossiers which may no loonger be made available to the UK chemicals industry if we sever our ties with REACH.

We know from bad experience that many chemicals in products we use on a daily basis at work or in the home such as plastics, cosmetics, toys etc can contain chemicals linked to breast and other cancers, reproductive and developmental disorders, and asthma and allergies. REACH aims to regulate these harmful chemicals, it cannot be replicated, tinkered with around the edges or cherry picked to suit UK hard Brexiteers.

The House of Lords debate will consider various amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, all of which aim to keep the UK under current European chemical and pesticide regulations.  It is vital we make our voices heard and call on them to keep REACH, and ensure the UK protects its citizens and workers by remaining under all current and future European chemical and pesticide regulations. Please check here on how to contact a peer in the House of Lords.