Published: Thursday 15 March 2001

sweden, the president of the European Union, has proposed stringent rules for the European chemical industry to achieve a "non-toxic environment". European Commission's (EC) recent 10-year plan for the environment did not have any policy on chemicals, despite its pledge to phase out 32 toxic chemicals in the next 20 years.

The proposals, announced by Kjell Larsson, Swedish environment minister, include the following main provisions: banning new organic bioaccumulative and persistent substances by 2005 and prohibition on the use of other organic persistent and bioaccumulative substances by 2015. The hazardous content of all chemical products must be mentioned on their labels by 2010.

The most controversial proposal is a ban on cadmium and lead from 2010. A recent proposal of Denmark to completely ban lead was termed as "unjustified" by the Scientific Committee on Toxicology, Ecotoxicology and Environment of the EC. Many of these proposals will require the approval of the EU.

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