The environmental quality objective “A Non-Toxic Environment”

Hazardous chemical substances in products, goods and buildings can end up in the environment and be absorbed by plants, animals and people. To protect human health and biodiversity, the spread of hazardous substances needs to be prevented and reduced.

Sweden’s environmental objectives are benchmarks for our environmental work. The generational goal, environmental objectives and milestone targets together constitute our environmental objectives system. The Swedish Parliament approved the environmental objectives system in April 1999. The Swedish Centre for Chemical Substitution is helping Sweden achieve the environmental objective Non-Toxic Environment. The term “non-toxic” is defined in this context as:

The presence of substances in the environment that have been created or extracted by humans should not threaten human health or biodiversity. The concentrations of foreign substances are near zero, and their impact on human health and ecosystems is negligible. The concentrations of naturally occurring substances are close to background levels.

“Non-toxic” does not mean that the environment is completely free of substances that can have harmful effects, such substances occurring naturally, nor is it realistic that the environment could be completely free of human-produced hazardous substances. Even if we were to stop using such substances, many of them persist and will remain in the environment for centuries. But the goal still means that we are to minimise the use of such substances.

Many different types of hazardous substances are used in products, goods, construction and building materials, and these substances can end up in the environment and be absorbed by plants, animals and humans. To protect human health and biodiversity, the spread of hazardous substances needs to be prevented and reduced.