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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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Understanding the Problem: Case Studies of Toxic Substances in Articles

Some tens of thousands of substances are used in commerce today. Some of these substances are known to pose a threat to health and the environment; many others have never been tested to determine their health and environmental effects. While no precise figure is available on total volume, it is clear that large amounts of substances known to be toxic are incorporated into articles each year. Little information is available to the people who come into contact with these articles as they move through the global economy.

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