Issue: October 2017, Everything under control? – Regulating nanomaterials and other chemicals


Robust but proportionate regulation

Foreword by Michael Sailer, CEO, Oeko-Institut

More than three decades have passed since the publication of Chemie im Haushalt, Rainer Griesshammer’s guide to chemicals in the home. It became an instant non-fiction bestseller. Compared with the 1980s and the time before that, we now live in a world with far fewer unregulated hazardous chemicals in the home and – more importantly, for it is a much larger field of application – in industry. This is due to more robust regulation, a frequent area of work for us here at the Oeko-Institut in recent decades.

However, this does not mean that we can rest on our laurels. With so many new substances and users, we must be meticulous in monitoring and assessing the potential risks to human health and the natural environment. As with any area of scientific discovery, there are still gaps in our knowledge, which makes it more difficult to predict future scenarios, as we must. Nonetheless, the goal is clear: to keep substances that may cause problems out of the environment and prevent them from polluting our soils, water resources and atmosphere and harming our health. With that aim in mind, we need legislation, which must be proportionate and workable in practice.

This is where our experts and their years of experience come in. Our teams combine technical skills in the assessment of pollutants with an in-depth knowledge of the law. This carefully calibrated blend of interdisciplinary expertise is one of our particular strengths, which we have continuously refined since the Oeko-Institut was first established. In this issue of eco@work, we describe the challenges arising in the regulation of chemicals at the European level, with particular reference to nanomaterials and hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. And our interview with an expert from Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) offers you some insights into chemicals management at the international level.

With this issue, eco@work is back to its regular format after the special anniversary edition last time. We hope that you find both of them interesting and inspiring.


Michael Sailer
CEO, Oeko-Institut

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