A proposed revision of the carcinogens and mutagens directive – an EU law to protect workers from risks related to exposure to carcinogenic and mutagenic substances – has been approved by the EU Council as part of the fight against cancer and to protect the health of workers in a number of industries. According to the European Commission, 52% of occupational deaths in the European Union each year are cancer-related.

The original Directive on Carcinogens and Mutagens, adopted in 2004 has undergone four legislative amendments to cover a total of 29 priority chemical agents. Under the revised directive, workers will benefit from greater protection, owing to the setting of exposure limits for acrylonitrile and nickel compounds and the lowering of the limits for benzene. The directive would also include reprotoxic substances, which have adverse effects on reproduction and can cause impaired fertility or infertility. 

Healthcare workers who deal with hazardous medicinal products will receive better training on how to handle them safely.

Member states now have two years to comply with the agreed changes.