Today the Marine Conservation Society has launched Stop Ocean Poison, a campaign to address the chemical pollution crisis.
At a time when environmental laws are under attack, the charity warns that the UK government must deliver on its promises: a strong, fit-for-purpose UK Chemicals Strategy and tackling harmful forever chemicals.
Harmful chemicals are polluting the ocean and the planet. PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) or ‘forever chemicals’ are just one group – containing thousands of individual chemicals – of ocean poisons.
There’s now clear evidence that harmful chemicals are in all water on Earth, building up constantly and creating a toxic legacy.
Research has proven links between harmful chemicals and the health of animals, including harm to animals’ nervous systems, immunity and ability to reproduce, alongside reducing their resilience to other stressors such as climate change and disease.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, with more studies on the long-term effects of chemical pollution published regularly. Research is showing the frightening real-world consequences of inaction on chemical pollution on our blue planet.
‘My heart breaks every time I see another study detailing the impacts of chemical pollution on the planet, wildlife or people. We’ve been waiting patiently since 2020 for a Chemicals Strategy as promised by the UK government. But enough is enough, we’re running out of time, the ocean is running out of time.
‘Hazardous chemicals, including ‘forever chemicals’, shouldn’t be used in consumer products, and UK Government action should be taken to stop the most harmful chemicals being used. Instead, the pollution continues.’
DR FRANCESCA BEVAN
Chemicals policy and advocacy manager at the Marine Conservation Society
Global chemical production has been projected to double by 2030, with an increase in chemical pollution likely to follow closely behind.
Forever chemicals are widely used but far less often labelled – an invisible ‘ingredient’ used to make products resistant to heat, water and grease.
These harmful chemicals are in everyday products like saucepans and waterproof coats, but consumers aren’t told about them or about how they wash into waterways and find their way into the ocean.
A recent YouGov survey found that just 7% of those polled knew what forever chemicals were and what their impacts could be.
‘The impact of chemical pollution on our blue planet is profound. If we’re going to prevent further environmental breakdown and fight the biodiversity crisis, we must address chemical pollution.
‘The UK government’s recent announcements pit growing the economy against maintaining environmental protections. But there can be no long-term economic growth or national food security if our environment is a chemical crime scene.
‘We can’t allow progress on protection from chemical pollution to be put in jeopardy. We need a strong UK Chemicals Strategy to address the huge scale of the chemical pollution crisis. Instead, the UK government is proposing ripping up existing laws and taking a massive step back on progress.’
Chief executive of the Marine Conservation Society
The Marine Conservation Society wants to see urgent action, including a robust UK Chemicals Strategy that prioritises the protection of the environment, as promised in the 25 Year Environment Plan, and a ban on all PFAS from all non-essential uses.
In contrast, the UK government’s deregulation agenda, which seeks to review, remove or update EU law, could see existing chemical pollution protections scrapped.
‘The UK government is currently allowing the use of harmful chemicals which are poisoning our blue planet. This is a crime, but it isn’t illegal. We can’t allow protections to be forgotten while our ocean and wildlife suffer the consequences.
‘This is a critical time to act on the chemical pollution crisis. Take part in our campaign and join us in demanding the UK Government stop ocean poison. Let’s show them that while chemical pollution may be invisible, it can no longer be ignored!’
Campaigns officer at the Marine Conservation Society
The Marine Conservation Society is asking people to email their local MP, raising the issue of chemical pollution and the risks of inaction.
A template email can be found here.
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