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Toxic Substances in Articles

The Need for Information

image of Toxic Substances in Articles

The use of toxic chemicals in articles is a growing concern for public health and the environment. International trade results in substances being transported among regions. From toys and household items to electronic equipment and automobiles, toxic substances in articles are an increasingly important factor contributing to the global burden of toxic substances. Toxic substances in articles may pose threats at every stage of the product life cycle - production, use, and disposal or recycling. In this report, we consider a factor that is critical for the sound management of substances in articles: the availability of information. At present, there is no global system for provision of information about substances in a wide range of articles. First, the report describes the problem of toxic substances in articles, with detailed case studies of selected examples and considers the advantages that would result from better information management systems. Second, the report considers existing efforts to generate and disseminate information about substances in articles, both regulatory requirements and voluntary initiatives. Third, the report offers suggestions as to the questions and themes that would need to be considered in order to improve management of information about substances in articles.

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Executive Summary

This report describes the problem of the lack of information on chemicals in articles. It illustrates specific cases where problems caused by chemicals in articles occur in all life cycle stages: manufacturing, use, recycling and disposal. The report explores the benefits that could result from the development of an internationally standardized information system for the chemical contents of articles; the challenges of disseminating such information; and existing models that could inform such a system. While an information system is not a substitute for other policy mechanisms to mitigate the harms from toxic substances in articles, it can be a powerful compliment.

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