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.
The impact of chemical pollution
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
What are forever chemicals?
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.