March 20, 2024 News

Recording: Planetary Health Dialogue – The Health Risks of Pollution: Finding Solutions

The last edition of our webinar series “Planetary Health Dialogues” on Tuesday, 19 March 2024, 4.00 – 5.00 pm CET focused on chemical pollution for the second time and discussed recent and prospective legislative efforts of the EU to tackle the pollution crisis. The recording is available now (see below).

In addition to climate change and biodiversity loss, environmental pollution is the third major anthropogenic planetary crisis of our time. Tons of harmful and sometimes persistent substances are released into the soil, water and air, particularly along the chemical value chain. At the same time, the chemical industry contributes significantly to exacerbating the other planetary crises, accounting for 6.3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The first Planetary Health Dialogue on the topic took place on 22 February 2024 and provided an overview of the extent of the health and environmental impacts of chemicals at the national, European and global level as well as international frameworks to manage chemical pollution. The recording can be found here.

Building on this overview of the status quo, the second webinar focused on EU laws, regulations and monitoring to tackle the pollution crisis. As this legislative term of the European Parliament is coming to an end, we looked at which specific legislative procedures have been initiated and implemented in the last five years to solve chemical pollution. Additionally, the webinar gave an outlook on outstanding needs for further political action and enforcement in the upcoming legislative term.

Firstly, Magnus Løfstedt, expert on Chemicals, Environment and Health at the European Environment Agency (EEA), provided an overview of the complex and interacting EU policy landscape tangent to regulating and monitoring the health and environmental hazards and exposure of chemical pollution. In addition to current activities, targets and proposals under the European Green Deal’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Zero Pollution Action Plan, he also discussed science to policy transfer initiatives.

Secondly, Alexandra Caterbow, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the NGO Health and Environment Justice Support (HEJ Support), outlined key policy areas of EU chemical legislation that the European Commission had planned but not managed to progress in this mandate and that she saw as particularly important to better protect human health and nature. She identified the revision of the REACH Regulation (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), the ban of so-called ‚forever chemicals‘ (PFAS) and bisphenol A (BPA) in consumer products, the phase-out of PFAS in all but essential products and the stop of exports of EU-banned chemicals to third countries as priorities for the next European Commission.

The contributions and discussions clearly showed that progress has been made to better protect EU citizens and environment from some of the hazards posed by chemicals but that in this complex global market, further legislative action by the next European Commission and better monitoring and assessment of the health impacts of chemicals is needed. 

The event took place via Zoom and was held in English.

Missed the webinar? Watch the recording here

The Health Risks of Pollution: Finding Solutions” is part of CPHP’s webinar series „Planetary Health Dialogues“, a monthly exchange between German and international scholars, policymakers, and civil society actors to reflect and to collaborate on ideas for a paradigm shift towards equity, health and well-being within planetary boundaries.