New chemicals of concern criteria for European healthcare

  • Europe

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A new set of criteria has been developed to support the removal of harmful chemicals from European healthcare products and services and has been endorsed by European healthcare organisations and regional authorities.

Developed by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe and leading European healthcare procurement organisations, this new common phase-out list of chemicals of concern will enable procurement organisations across Europe to select safer alternative products for the healthcare sector.


European healthcare’s phase-out list for chemicals of concern specifies chemicals that should be avoided in products purchased by the healthcare sector when safer alternatives exist:

  • Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs): substances that cause cancer, alter DNA, damage reproductive systems, and other harmful effects
  • PVC and Phthalates on the Candidate List, the Restriction List or the Substitute It Now List (SIN List), published by ChemSec
  • Bisphenols: regulated as a substance group
  • Flame retardants or antimicrobial agents: restricted as substance groups, unless specifically requested in products for essential use
  • Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): commonly referred to as “forever chemicals”.

“Our mission is to substitute chemicals that pose a threat to human health and the environment. This new phase-out list for healthcare consolidates current requirements and standardises criteria already in use by progressive healthcare institutions leading in this area. This will enable suppliers and procurement organisations to work together more efficiently to phase-out harmful chemicals.”

- Will Clark, Executive Director - Health Care Without Harm Europe

HCWH Europe will be responsible for reviewing and consolidating the list and will use it as the basis for sustainable procurement criteria. “We invite our members to endorse and commit to the common phase-out list for use in relevant tenders,” added Will Clark.

An annotated version of the list is also available, it provides further information on the chosen substances and the rationale behind restricting them in healthcare procurement. The Norwegian Hospital Procurement Trust led the development of the list.

“This phase-out list is a necessary alignment on how we restrict chemicals across a shared supply chain. It’s a win-win for hospitals and suppliers as it gives suppliers needed predictability and increased demand for safer products which helps drive down production costs.”

- Trude Ertresvåg, Project Lead and Environmental Manager of the Norwegian Hospital Procurement Trust.

“With the EU’s ambitious chemicals strategy, there will be tougher requirements for substitution of hazardous chemicals ahead. Acting on these chemicals now is about future-proofing the organisations and this new phase-out list makes it possible for organisations to stay a step ahead of regulation.”

- Anna Lennquist, Senior Toxicologist - ChemSec

Achieving more transparency about the use of chemicals on this list will also support the EU's aim to transition to a circular economy, as the list includes chemicals that should not be recycled into new products. 

“Knowing which products are the most problematic, it will be possible to redesign these products with chemicals that are safe and sustainable over entire product life cycles, including for reuse or recycling.”

- Hans Peter Arp, Professor - Norwegian Geotechnical Institute and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology

“This list is a fantastic and practical contribution to the Green Deal’s ‘do not harm’ oath as well as the zero pollution and toxic-free goals of the Chemicals Strategy. It informs governments’ procurement, the health sector, companies manufacturing or using chemicals, and citizens about the unwanted chemical properties they should avoid in order to protect the public and the environment.

The health sector is out of touch with the European Green Deal and its Chemicals Strategy if it doesn’t move away from hazardous chemicals to prevent health problems and achieve the toxic-free goal.”

- Tatiana Santos, Policy Manager for Chemicals & Nanotechnology   – European Environmental Bureau


For more information about the Chemicals of concern in healthcare list, please contact <> Communications Manager – HCWH Europe

To support implementation, the Norwegian Hospital Procurement Trust has developed a model template for procurement organisations to report chemical ingredients and simplify tender reporting requirements.

For more information about the template, please contact the Norwegian Hospital Procurement Trust at <>


  • Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe
  • The Norwegian Hospital Procurement Trust
  • ChemSec
  • European Environment Bureau (EEB)
  • Landspítali University Hospital, Iceland
  • Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI)

Written in collaboration

  • Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) Europe
  • The Norwegian Hospital Procurement Trust
  • Central Denmark Region
  • ChemSec
  • European Environment Bureau (EEB)
  • Landspítali University Hospital, Iceland
  • The National Secretariat for Sustainable Procurement, Sweden
  • Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI)
  • Region Stockholm, Sweden
  • Västra Götaland Region, Sweden