Industry lobbyists are trying to kill a tool to let citizens trace harmful chemicals in products.

A dozen trade groups are urging the European Chemicals Agency to drop its plan to create a database of the most dangerous chemicals, known as ‘substances of very high concern‘. The database is obligatory under Article 9 of the Waste Framework Directive.

The problem of managing chemicals in waste should be dealt with by the recycling and waste industry instead, they said in a position paper. The lobbyists represent makers of toys, textilescars, motorbikes, planes, electronics, plastics, print products, lightbulbs.

Today, a large number of environmental NGOs pushed back, calling on the chemicals agency to stick to its guns.

The 41 pressure groups said in a letter that the database is “crucial to the circular economy and to protection of human health and the environment”. It is a legal requirement and would mostly contain information that industry has already been obliged to hold for over a decade, they say.

The letter includes a sketch contrasting industry’s enthusiasm to tackle complex futuristic challenges against its reluctance on basics like product safety.

The database is already beset by funding problems.

Society faces a “silent pandemic” of diseases linked to chemical exposure, according to UN special rapporteur Baskut Tuncak.

Paediatricians describe children today as born pre-polluted by a cocktail of toxic substances, many of which have no safe level of exposure. A silent pandemic of disease, disability and premature death is now widespread, in significant part due to childhood exposure.