The European Commission (EC) will soon launch the legislative process for the fourth revision of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD). The ETUI, as a supporter of the Stop Cancer at Work campaign, has prepared a briefing note to highlight the importance of including Reprotoxic substances within the scope of the directive.

Reprotoxic substances are chemical substances that, if inhaled, ingested, or if they penetrate the skin, they pose a severe threat to fertility in both men and women. They may also severely alter a child’s development during gestation and after birth. Such substances are widely present in working environments as they are used in plasticisers, biocides, and in the manufacturing of, among other, alloys, batteries, and glass.

Although it is difficult to estimate how many workers in the EU are affected by the exposure to reprotoxins, studies have shown that victims are found especially in certain occupational sectors, namely, agriculture, care services, cleaning and maintenance, metallurgy and petrochemicals, hairdressing and cosmetology. According to the ETUI’s conservative estimates, a minimum of 1% of the workforce in each EU country is exposed to at least one substance toxic for reproduction at work. This represents more than 2 million workers in the EU-28.

Seven European Member States representing 46% of the EU workforce (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany and Sweden) have already extended the scope of the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive to substances toxic for reproduction when transposing it into national legislation. It is time for the EC to effectively protect all workers in the EU that come into contact with reprotoxic substances and extend the scope of the directive.

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