The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is being sued over its refusal to release the names of companies producing some of the most dangerous chemicals in the EU market.

The lawsuit brought by environmental law organisation ClientEarth and chemicals watchdog ChemSec alleges several violations of European laws designed to promote transparency, democracy and legitimacy in EU policy-making.

The chemicals are 356 of those on the SIN (Substitute it Now!) list developed by ChemSec in collaboration with other NGOs. The list comprises chemicals identified as Substances of Very High Concern under the EU chemicals regulation REACH – those that can cause cancer, damage our reproductive system or alter our DNA, as well as toxic substances that accumulate in nature with serious and long-term irreversible effects.

“The public’s right to information on chemicals is a basic principle of the REACH Regulation,” comments Vito Buonsante, toxics lawyer at ClientEarth. “ECHA must not be allowed to withhold information on such a critical issue, especially as it relates to chemicals found in consumer products and present in the EU in large quantities. Having exhausted all avenues to make ECHA meet its transparency obligations we are now compelled to go to court.”

ClientEarth and ChemSec intend that their case will make the agency afford public health protection the precedence and immediacy it deserves.