EU deal to protect workers from cancer-causing chemical substances

In December 2021, the Slovenian presidency of the EU Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional deal to update the carcinogens and mutagens directive. This EU law aims to protect workers from exposure risks to carcinogenic and mutagenic substances.

This provisional agreement is part of the European Commission’s commitment to fighting cancer under Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and follows up the Commission’s proposal to limit workers’ exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, launched in September 2020. According to the Commission’s Press Release, ‘about 120,000 work-related cancer cases occur as a result of exposure to carcinogens at work in the EU’ every year.

Exposure limits for acrylonitrile and nickel compounds will be set and the limits for benzene exposure will be lowered. Under this agreement, reprotoxic substances will be covered by the carcinogens and mutagens directive.

The next steps relate to the examination and endorsement of the proposal by the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee. Voting in the Council and the European Parliament would follow at a later stage.

Read the Press Release.

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