Magazine article Geographical

A Breath of Fresh Air

Magazine article Geographical

A Breath of Fresh Air

Article excerpt

Human health and wildlife around the world is being affected by exposure to toxic chemicals, according to Greenpeace. The worldwide chemicals industry was reported to have produced 400 million tonnes of chemicals in 1995, with Europe the largest chemicals-producing region in the world (38 per cent of the world total). The exact number of existing chemicals on the market is unknown, but it has been estimated to be as many as 70,000. Our understanding of the potential toxic effects on wildlife and humans is still limited. Contamination from chemicals has been linked to a range of effects on wildlife such as interference with sexual characteristics and dramatic declines in populations. Humans are also suffering from toxic contamination from organochlorine pesticides, brominated flame retardants and by-products from industrial and combustion processes which are seeping into rivers and polluting the air we breath.

The chemical regulation systems in Europe is considered to have failed in its attempt to adequately protect the environment and human health. The lack of information about many of the chemicals means that even EU regulations controlling the risk of such substances are not effective because they can only come into force after a full risk assessment has been carried out, by which time the chemicals have already been put on the market. …

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