Last updated on: 04/14/2010
Since the 1930s, global chemical substance production levels have increased 400-fold. Some of these chemicals may have major harmful effects on the environment and on health, even at low doses. These include aromatic amines and coal tars used in the workplace, which are involved in bladder cancer (2 to 14% of cases); benzene, which is responsible for 5 to 18% of cases of leukaemia; various products (wood, nickel, chromium, etc.) responsible for cancers of the nasal passage and sinuses; endocrine disruptors, such as dioxins, which are linked to breast cancer and malignant haemopathies or even medications, residues of which are present in the environment.
Public health measures have been taken to limit the population's exposure to these substances, ensure that they can be used safely and increase knowledge about them.
Chemical substances and public health plans
Action 12.2 of the 2009-2013 Cancer Plan involves "Carry out more stringent verification campaigns on the application of regulations with all firms, targeting the most commonly used carcinogens and making the necessary changes to regulations". Furthermore, action 12.3 involves "Develop ggod practice recommendations for company medical officers and referring doctors to improve medical supervision of workers exposed to CMR". Sheet 2 ("Reducing the volume of toxic substances in the air and in water") of the National Health Environment Action Plan 2 for 2009-2013 aims to reduce emissions of benzene, HAPs, PCBs and dioxins, arsenic, mercury and chlorinated solvents into water and the atmosphere by 30% between 2007 and 2013. Furthermore, one of the 12 key measures of this Plan is entitled: "Improving knowledge and reducing the risks associated with medications released into the environment by beginning work, as of July 2009, on a national action plan and setting up the monitoring and steering committee for this plan."
The Monitoring and Steering Committee for the National Plan on Medication Residue in Water was set up in November 2009. Its aim is to develop the action plan and act as a forum for consultation with institutions, researchers, healthcare professionals, professional, user, patient and environmental protection associations and industrial companies. The initial aim is to draw up a coherent plan that involves all stakeholders, then to monitor and report on the progress of any measures implemented and to suggest any necessary adaptations. Given the complexity of the subject matter (the range of different molecules involved, the need to develop new analytical methods, risk and hazard assessments required, etc.), a scientific support group will also be set up to assist the steering committee. This support group will comprise representatives of national bodies and recognised figures with relevant scientific expertise.
Finally, the European REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation, which has been in force since 1st June 2008, applies to all chemical product manufacturers. It covers more than 30,000 substances and requires the registration of all chemical substances of which more than one tonne is produced or imported per year, prior to their market release.
Documents for Download
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