Hazardous Substances and Activities

David A. Wirth

in The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552153
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

 Hazardous Substances and Activities

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Toxic substances are used in consumer products, as industrial chemicals, and as pesticides. Hazardous chemicals are found in waste from manufacturing plants and households and in the workplace, and also may be transported over long distances through air and water. Hazardous substances may have effects on human health or on the integrity of natural ecosystems, or both. International law governing toxic substances and activities inevitably evolves in tandem with policy, legislation, and regulation at the national and (in the case of the European Union) supranational level – strategies that serve as a backdrop against which multilateral efforts are negotiated and coordinated. This article looks at public policies for addressing toxics, hard and soft law for regulating toxics, hazard identification and testing, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) harmonisation initiatives, initiatives in the United Nations system, multilaterally agreed standards for pesticides and other toxics, UN Economic Commission for Europe protocols on air pollution, multilateral agreements on land-based sources of marine pollution, hazardous processes and industrial accidents, international trade in hazardous substances, disposal of toxic waste, and environmental impact assessment.

Keywords: OECD; hazardous substances; toxic substances; public policies; air pollution; multilateral agreements; industrial accidents; international trade; pesticides; international law

Article.  11603 words. 

Subjects: Law ; International Law ; Environment and Energy Law

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