A Platform for Creating a Safe and Healthy Environment through Innovation
From the city of Louisville to the farthest reaches of the Arctic, all people are
exposed to hazardous industrial, agricultural, and household chemicals. Our
air and water, our homes, the food we eat, our bodies, and every baby born today
are all contaminated with these poisons. Diseases linked to chemicals are
on the rise, including birth defects, infertility, asthma, neurological problems
and some types of cancer. At the front lines of this chemical assault - the fencelines
of polluting facilities, in workplaces handling hazardous materials, in pesticide-laden
agricultural fields, and in the wombs of mothers - the burden is greatest.
This chemical burden is unprecedented in human history and calls for immediate action.
Fundamental reform to current chemical laws is necessary to protect children, workers,
communities, and the environment. We must shift market and government actions
to protect health and the natural systems that support us. As a priority,
we must act to phase out the most dangerous chemicals, develop safer alternatives,
protect high-risk communities, and ensure that those responsible for creating hazardous
chemicals bear the full costs of correcting damages to our health and the environment.
By designing new, safer chemicals, products, and production systems we will protect
people's health and create healthy, sustainable jobs. Some leading companies
are already on this path. They are creating safe products and new jobs by
using clean, innovative technologies. But transforming entire markets will
require policy change.
A first step to creating a safe and healthy global environment is a major reform
of our nation's chemicals policy. Any reform must:
- Require Safer Substitutes and Solutions: Seek to eliminate
the use and emissions of hazardous chemicals by altering production processes, substituting
safer chemicals, redesigning products and systems, rewarding innovation and re-examining
product function. Safer substitution includes an obligation on the part of the public
and private sectors to invest in research and development of sustainable chemicals,
products, materials and processes.
- Phase-out Persistent, Bioaccumulative, or Highly Toxic
Chemicals: Prioritize for elimination chemicals that are slow to degrade, accumulate
in our bodies or living organisms, or are highly hazardous to humans or the environment.
Ensure that chemicals eliminated in the United States are not exported to other
- Give the Public and Workers the Full Right-to-Know and
Participate: Provide meaningful involvement for the public and workers in
decisions on chemicals. Label products that contain chemicals, list quantities of
chemicals produced, used, released, and exported, and provide public/worker access
to chemical hazard data and government decisions.
- Act on Early Warnings: Act with foresight. Prevent
harm from new or existing chemicals when credible evidence of harm exists, even
when some uncertainty remains regarding the exact nature and magnitude of the harm.
- Require Comprehensive Safety Data for All Chemicals:
For a chemical to remain on or be placed on the market manufacturers must provide
publicly available safety information about that chemical. The information
must be sufficient to permit a reasonable evaluation of the safety of the chemical
for human health and the environment. This is the principle of "No Data,
- Take Immediate Action to Protect Communities and Workers:
When communities and workers are exposed to levels of chemicals that pose a health
hazard, immediate action is necessary to eliminate these exposures. We must
ensure that no population is disproportionately burdened by chemicals.
Dates must be set for implementing each of these demands. Together these demands
are a first step towards reforming a 30-year old chemical management system that
fails to protect public health and the environment. By implementing the Louisville
Charter and committing to the innovation of safer chemicals and processes, governments
and corporations will be leading the way toward a healthier economy and a healthier
The charter principles were agreed upon in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, in
May 2004 at a meeting of groups and individuals whose common goal is to work together
on chemical policies and campaigns to protect human health and the environment from
exposures to harmful chemicals.