NEW SURVEY: Nearly Two-Thirds of Brits Want to Keep EU Chemical Safety Standards After Brexit

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Americas & Asia

September 28, 2017

Contact: Yasmina Dardari yasmina@unbendablemedia.com +1 407 922 8149

UNITED KINGDOM – Nearly two-thirds (63%) of British citizens, including 62% of Leave voters - believe that there should be no reduction in regulatory standards that protect people and the environment from potentially harmful chemicals when the UK leaves the EU, according to a new poll conducted on behalf of SumOfUs and CHEM Trust by GQR Research. [1]

As Brexit negotiations continue amid debates within the Cabinet over whether the UK should maintain EU regulatory standards or adopt a low-regulation landscape to attract business, it is clear that the the British public, whether they voted leave or remain, want to maintain current protections from potentially harmful chemicals.

Britain is currently a member of the EU's REACH system, which aims to ensure that all substances used and sold throughout the EU are safe for people and the environment [2]. It covers chemicals contained in thousands of everyday products, from furniture to till receipts to detergents. As with all EU level regulations, whether UK citizens will continue to enjoy protection from the world’s most comprehensive chemicals regulation system is currently in doubt.

CHEM Trust Executive Director Dr Michael Warhurst said:

“This survey shows that the public - whether Remain or Leave voters - do not want any reduction in the regulations that protect people and the environment from potentially harmful chemicals after Brexit. The only way to be sure of achieving this objective for the UK to stay in the EU’s chemicals regulatory system REACH after Brexit - and it is possible for the UK to be in REACH but not in the EU, as Norway is.”

SumOfUs campaigner Sondhya Gupta said:

‘It’s easy to forget that we all come into contact with chemicals in everyday products, and this survey shows that there is massive support among both Leave and Remain voters for strong regulations to ensure that companies use safer chemicals. Indeed, 83% of Leave voters supported companies having to use safer alternatives to chemicals with serious hazards. It’s clear that there is no appetite for post-Brexit UK to become a low regulation corporate free for all’ [3]

The results come on the eve of a major conference on chemicals regulation post-brexit, organised by Chemical Watch. The conference, on Friday 29th September in London [4], brings together experts from industry, governments and NGOs to examine the implications of Brexit in terms of UK/EU trade and environmental protection, current models of cooperation with the EU and possible options for UK chemicals law after Brexit.

For more information, or for interview with a SumOfUs or CHEM Trust spokesperson, please contact Yasmina Dardari at +1 407-922-8149 or by email at yasmina@unbendablemedia.com.

CHEM Trust is a UK registered charity that works at European, UK and International levels to prevent man-made chemicals from causing long term damage to wildlife or humans, by ensuring that chemicals which cause such harm are substituted with safer alternatives. See www.chemtrust.org

SumOfUs is a global consumer group that campaigns to hold big corporations accountable. Over 10 million people have taken over 50 million actions worldwide with SumOfUs since it launched

[1] GQR Research polled 1,203 adults aged 18 and over in Great Britain online between 11 and 13 September, 2017. Data was weighted to the national profile of adults in Great Britain.

Data tables for the poll can be found here: http://www.gqrr.com/news-and-reports/ . For more information contact GQR Vice President Peter McLeod via info@gqrr.com or on Twitter: @mcleodp

[2] e.g. see “A move to safer chemicals? Ten years of the EU’s REACH chemicals regulation”, CHEM Trust, June 2017 - http://www.chemtrust.org/reach-10-years-on/

[3] When asked to choose between the following two statements, 83% of Leave voters and 84% of Remain voters said that the first statement was closer to their views than the second.

Statement 1: “Where there is evidence that a chemical has serious hazards, companies should have to use safer alternatives if they are available.” or

Statement 2:“Companies should be able to use or sell any substances as long as they believe the risk associated with them is low or manageable.”

[4] “Post-Brexit options for UK chemicals law”, see: https://chemicalwatch.com/post-brexit. Media representatives who are interested in attending should contact Chemical Watch.