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S&Ds welcome vital reform of EU legislation on carcinogens, but much more needs to be done to protect workers from toxic lead

Date

15 Nov 2023

Sections

Global Europe

The Socialists and Democrats welcome a deal on a vital reform of the EU legislation on carcinogens and other harmful substances reached today by negotiators from the European Parliament and EU member states. However, the S&D Group urges more action to better protect workers from toxic lead.

This is the fifth revision of the EU legislation on cancer-causing substances  bringing essential changes to the Carcinogens, Mutagens and Reprotoxic Directive as well as to the Chemical Agents Directive. 

For the first time in more than 40 years, the EU is revising the limits of exposure to lead. For the first time ever, it is setting the limits of exposure to diisocyanates. Both substances are key to the green transition, but dangerous for health, so they need to be strictly regulated, underline the S&Ds.

Ilan de Basso, S&D negotiator on the fifth revision of the EU legislation on carcinogens, said:

“Today, we have made a vital step forward. We have a deal on the first revision of the limits of exposure to lead in more than 40 years. We need stricter exposure limits to properly protect up to 150,000 workers in the EU who are currently exposed to lead. We need to work towards better protection of female workers and workers who are exposed to lead for a longer period of time.

“This is key because too much lead in our body can negatively affect the fertility of women and men. It can result in miscarriages or serious birth defects, as well as other harmful consequences, such as neurotoxicity, renal toxicity and cardiovascular or haematological effects.

“Secondly, it is good news for European workers that today  for the first time ever at the EU level – we are setting the limits of exposure to diisocyanates. These are hazardous chemical agents that can cause asthma and allergic reactions. 

“According to estimates, approximately 4.2 million workers are exposed to diisocyanates, which makes them one of the most common causes of work-related asthma. More than 2.4 million companies in the EU are affected by this. No worker should have to risk their health or life because of their job."

Agnes Jongerius, S&D spokesperson for employment, added:

“We are aware of the importance of lead for the battery industry. We are also aware of the relevance of diisocyanates for insulation in buildings and appliances, which is crucial for reducing CO2 emissions through energy efficiency. Both substances are essential for the green transition.

“However, we cannot accept either profit-making or the greening of our society at the expense of workers’ health. We need stricter rules. Therefore, we call on the European Commission to come up with the sixth revision of the EU legislation on carcinogens as soon as possible and no later than by the end of this mandate, as promised.”

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