How can I use chemicals safely?

Chemicals tend to be seen as frightening. The perception is often that chemicals are potentially dangerous and that they should be avoided. The truth is, chemicals are essential for life, you are made of them, and you need them.

You should, however, learn to treat them with respect. Some chemicals are hazardous and you should handle them with care. Look at the packaging of products you use and read the labels carefully. The labels on products are there to keep you aware of how to stay safe. Take the instructions seriously - they are there for your safety!

Try to reduce your exposure to hazardous chemicals to a minimum. The risk you face from a chemical is based on its intrinsic danger, multiplied by your exposure to it – the amount you are exposed to, or the time over which you have been exposed.

Take advantage of your right to know what is in the consumer products you buy. Ask retailers what hazardous chemicals are in them. They are legally obliged to give you this information. That way you can avoid products containing them.

Keep yourself informed by using ECHA's website. Here you can find information about the chemical substances that have been registered so far under the REACH Regulation and also those which are classified in some way and have to be labelled and specially packaged. The information will continue to be updated to make sure you have all the data needed to keep yourself safe.

For more information and concrete tips on how to avoid hazardous chemicals, many national and European organisations have prepared good advice.

 

Know what the labels mean

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A hazard pictogram is an image on a label that includes a warning symbol and specific colours. These are intended to provide information about the damage a particular substance or mixture can cause to our health or the environment.

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Find safer products

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As new information on the dangers from hazardous chemicals becomes known and consumer demand for safer chemicals grows, more and more companies are looking for safer alternatives.

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Use chemicals safely at work

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The safe use of chemicals in your workplace is essential for your health and wellbeing. The EU laws on chemicals, known as REACH, CLP and the Biocidal Products regulations, can help.

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Use your right to ask

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It is your right to ask if the products you buy contain certain hazardous chemicals. These are so called substances of very high concern (SVHCs), included on the Candidate List.

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