EU citizens are concerned about being exposed to hazardous chemicals

According to the Eurobarometer survey, two-thirds of EU citizens are concerned about being exposed to hazardous chemicals in their daily life, although less than half feel well informed. 

The latest report of Eurobarometer chemical safety survey reveals that 65% of respondents are concerned about being exposed to hazardous chemicals in their daily life, this include a quarter (26%) who are very concerned. People are most concerned in Cyprus and Luxembourg and least concerned in Netherlands and United kingdom.

At the same time less than half of the citizens feel well informed about the potential dangers of the chemicals contained in consumer products. In general, people in northern Europe tend to feel better informed, especially in the Nordic countries, while those in southern Europe tend to fell less informed. Most respondents give an answer in the middle of the scale (‘rather well informed’ or ‘not very well informed’) rather than at the extremes (‘very well informed’ or ‘not informed at all’). This might indicate that most EU citizens feel they know something about the potential dangers of chemicals.

The two main sources where the public gets information on the potential dangers of chemicals are product labels and the media. Respondents were less likely to say that they get information from the other sources: family, friends or relatives (23%), companies that produce or sell these products (21%), NGOs or consumer organisations (18%) and public authorities (14%). One in seven respondents (14%) say spontaneously that they never look for this type of information.

Symbol of health hazard

Also, awareness and comprehension of four (out of nine) hazard pictograms was tested. The meaning for certain pictograms, especially for “flammability” pictogram, were correctly stated by most of the respondents. However, only one in five said that they have seen the serious health hazard pictogram before, and just 17% know the meaning of the exclamation mark pictogram (health hazard).

The latest report of Eurobarometer chemical safety survey was published in June 2017. Its aim is to understand EU citizen’s awareness and perceptions of chemical products. The survey was carried out in the 28 Member States of the European Union between 26th of November and 5th of December 2016. Some 27 929 EU citizens from social and demographic categories were interviewed face-to-face at home. Part of the European Union’s mission is to improve well-being of its citizens, among others by ensuring safe use of chemicals.