Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Special Eurobarometer report published on the consumer perception of chemicals

05-20-2011: Eurobarometer findings show that most people in the EU are unable to identify everyday household chemicals as potentially hazardous and rarely follow safety instructions. The understanding of chemical products and public awareness of how to use these safely varies considerably from one country to another.

EU citizens are generally more inclined to characterise chemical products as 'dangerous' or 'harmful to the environment' rather than 'useful' or 'innovative'. While the majority say that they have used chemical products at work, a large number of people are unable to identify everyday household chemicals as "chemical products". Many read safety instructions before using household chemicals but the attention paid to such instructions is higher only for certain types of products like pesticides and detergents. The level of understanding about chemical products differs considerably from country to country.

These findings were published today in a 'Special Eurobarometer' survey report which has assessed consumers' perception of chemical products, and judged how those perceptions differ when people are in regular contact with them. The survey also looked at people's attitudes in dealing with safety instructions and illustrated their understanding of the hazard symbols and safety language (as provided by the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures (CLP Regulation) which entered into force on 20 January 2009).

This survey has been conducted for the first time in Europe and is part of a project conceived by ECHA to implement the requirement in the CLP Regulation on carrying out the communication study (Article 34). ECHA has joined forces with DG Joint Research Centre - Institute for Health and Consumer Protection (JRC) to prepare this special Eurobarometer Survey undertaken by TNS Opinion & Social Network for DG Communication of the European Commission.

The second and final part of the project is a piece of qualitative research to examine consumers' opinions and behaviours related to chemicals outlined in the Eurobarometer Survey results in more detail.

ECHA will submit the final report of the study to the European Commission by January 2012 and will provide recommendations on how to further improve hazard communication on chemicals aimed at the general public.

View the original article here

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