Every single English river is suffering from chemical pollution.

Water Pattern - Wildfish

The scale of chemical pollution

By 2030, the worldwide market for chemicals is predicted to double.

Manufactured chemicals are everywhere. They are found in drugs, toys, paints, textiles, plastics, carpets, pesticides and fertilisers.

Chemicals leach into the water, air and soil.

Today, more than 350,000 regulated chemicals are in use. Our rivers are currently only checked for 45 of these.

Chemical Pollution - Wildfish
Chemical Pollution - Wildfish
Chemical Pollution - Wildfish

Why chemicals are a problem for wild fish and water

Climate change

During heavier and more frequent rainfall a higher volume of chemicals are washed into rivers and streams from sewers, roads, and land.

Prolonged periods of drier weather also have an impact. Less rainfall reduces the water available for dilution and the concentration of chemicals increase.

Lethal harm to river life

Chemicals damage the environment irreversibly. Exposure to chemicals can cause death in freshwater species or have a sub-lethal impact by disrupting physiological pathways and natural behaviours.

Many of the risks associated with chemical pollution are not yet known or fully understood.  

What is needed to protect wild fish and water from chemical pollution?

The Government needs to:

1. Prioritise prevention and precaution.

2. Commit to a phasing-out of the most hazardous chemicals from household items and agricultural use. Chemicals for non-essential use should be banned.

3. Address the ‘cocktail effect’ in discharges. This refers to the mixing of different chemicals and the impact it has on the environment.

4. Establish an effective monitoring and alert system for chemicals that leak into the environment.

5. Ensure the effective regulation of chemicals. Chemicals needs to be grouped according to their structural similarities and their ability to persist in the environment. This will make sure we don’t replace one hazardous chemical with another.


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