New Eurobarometer study on chemical safety

The new Eurobarometer study on chemical safety shows that 65 % of EU citizens are concerned (of 28 000 EU citizens interviewed) , to different extents, about being exposed to hazardous chemicals. While 26% are very worry, 39% present little concern.

The level of concern varies according to the respondents’ Member State, with those in northern Europe generally feeling more informed and less concerned than those in southern Europe.

Are hazard pictograms helpful?

The survey also looked at citizens' awareness of the hazard pictograms.

92% have seen the ‘flammability’ pictogram and almost all of them (96 %) knew its meaning. Contrary, only 20 % recognized the ‘serious health hazard’ pictogram.

Citizens also act on the information provided on the product labels:

  • 76 % read the safety instructions,
  • 57 % read the instructions on the label, and
  • 19 % also search for further information.

Only 10 % said that they use the product as they would any other product. 9 % would not use a product with a hazard pictogram.

Are citizens more positive about EU products?

47 % of the respondents thought that products manufactured in the EU are safer than those produced elsewhere. Only 5 % thought inversely.

Interestingly, as many as 30 % had little confidence in either – believing that neither products manufactured inside or outside the EU contain safe chemicals.

Improvement perception

Respondents to the survey were also asked whether they thought the safety of products containing chemicals has improved or deteriorated, compared to 10 to 15 years ago.

  • 44 % think that the safety of chemicals in products has improved over the last 10 to 15 years;
  • 33 % feel it is more of less the same; while
  • 16 % feel that it has deteriorated.

  • Increasing transparency

    Checking products for harmful substances is getting easier. There are already some national apps that enable citizens to check if a product contains any SVHCs or hazardous chemicals. The apps use the list of SVHCs and combine it with the product’s barcode.

    This is only the beginning. A new app that covers the whole of the EU has been awarded EU funding and is on the drawing board, but it might take a few years before that is ready to download.

    Either way, the message is clear: The smart players are staying ahead of the game and making sure that their chemicals are as safe as they can be.

Font: ECHA