Burden of the past, challenge for the future
Over the past twenty years, the shift of emphasis in environmental policy from curing old problems to preventing new ones has achieved important successes in dealing with the hazards of chemicals. EC legislation requiring the pre-market testing and notification of post-1981 new substances has largely succeeded in keeping overtly hazardous chemicals off the market. EC rules on hazardous installations have also forced new disciplines on operators in preventing major accidents. In the UK, the integrated pollution control regime has pushed releases from chemical plants on a downward trend. And the chemical industry's "Responsible Care" programme has reinforced the effects of these and other legislative measures.