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Brexit could mean quicker decisions on dangerous chemicals

 

The government says that after Brexit, Britain will act faster than the EU to phase out or restrict some harmful chemicals. Some substances may need to be banned, while others will require the use of PPE (personal protective equipment) to prevent workers from being harmed by exposure to them.

 

On June 5, Therese Coffey MP, of the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), addressed the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee enquiry on how toxic chemicals affect everyday life. She explained the government's approach to dangerous chemicals post-Brexit.

 

She said that the EU is slow to act on the issues of dangerous chemicals. For example, it took over five years to restrict flame retardant chemicals in the EU. Defra is working on a new chemical strategy that will be finalised in 2020 or 2021, which will enable the quick introduction of regulations to ban or restrict dangerous chemicals.

 

Coffey said that the government is committed to basing any decisions about dangerous chemicals on scientific evidence, and said that she was frustrated that some EU countries did not always do the same.

 

The list of chemicals that the Defra is considering classifying as dangerous is similar to that of the EU but with some “additional UK-only assessment”.

 

Coffey said that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would continue to work on substance evaluation but will assess chemicals more quickly because the UK would not have to wait for EU decisions.


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