Chemicals are all around us, from the natural chemicals in food to industrially produced ones. They are distributed by trade and by the long-range transport of pollutants, and they can be found in our workplaces, the environment and within consumers’ products. They may make our everyday lives easier, but at the same time they cause allergies, affect the reproductive system or have carcinogenic, teratogenic or chronic toxic effects. Therefore the management of chemicals risks is one of the high priority issues on a European and international level. A large number of European directives as well as international agreements are available as tools for the reduction of risks posed by chemicals. This is inevitably a complex field demanding great resources as well as very good cooperation from public institutions and the industry.
Industrial companies in particular are a potential source of environmental problems and it often requires considerable work to convince people that environmental costs should not externalised and that win-win solutions are possible. Apart from that, it is of course essential that binding legal standards on a national and international level are met by the companies. Continuous awareness and knowledge raising, know-how exchange, capacity building and initiating a dialogue between state authorities, the industry, trade and consumers is one of the priority issues within BEF. Workshops, meetings and trainings contribute to our aim of minimizing the environmental burden posed by chemicals and industrial pollutants.