UK must keep new EU laws protecting workers from exposure to dangerous carcinogens, warn Labour MEPs

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Britain must keep new EU laws that will protect workers from work-related cancer if it leaves the EU, Labour MEPs warned as the European Parliament this week backed new measures that will give greater protection to more than 20 million workers, particularly those working in the automotive and construction industries.

The new measures impose stricter limits on exposure to dangerous chemicals, particularly through the skin, including:

  • Diesel engine exhaust emissions: New measures will limit exposure to fumes for mechanics, engineers and professional drivers;
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: Chemicals produced when coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage and tobacco are burned;
  • Trichloroethylene: Substance commonly used as an industrial solvent and in the manufacture of fluorocarbon refrigerants:
  • 4,4-methylenedianiline: Compound used as hardener in production of strong glues and resins, very toxic;
  • Epichlorohydrine: Substance used in the production of plastics and epoxy glues and resins (super-strong adhesives which set hard in just minutes, used to fill holes in and fuse metals, glass, plaster, brick and concrete);
  • Ethylene dibromide: Extremely toxic substance used in soil fumigant, insecticide, and nematocide (chemical pesticide used to kill plant-parasitic nematodes, e.g. nematode worms) – in humans, it causes severe burning of skin and irritation of the eyes;
  • Ethylene dichloride: Substance commonly used to produce vinyl chloride, which in turn is converted into polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons mixtures, particularly those containing benzo[a]pyrene: Exposure to such mixtures can occur during work involving burning processes, such as from combustion engine exhaust; and
  • UEOs (Used Engine Oils): Substances used in automobile, rail, marine and aero-transport engines and portable machinery, including chain saws and lawn mowers.

Further measures on exposure to cancerous substances will also protect healthcare workers across Europe from life-threatening cancer and devastating problems with pregnancy resulting from their work in treating cancer patients.

Workers in the chemical, metal and car industry, professional drivers, construction workers and workers in the dock and warehouse sector, in particular, will benefit from these new limits on exposure to harmful carcinogens, as will healthcare workers – and Labour MEPs believe it is vital Britain maintains these new laws so workers in the UK can benefit from them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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