Chemicals are a part of our daily lives, with thousands of them used every day. However, some chemicals present risks to the plants and animals that live in water, as well as to the animals that eat them and to humans.

Some of the risks have been recognised for decades but new risks emerge regularly.

Human exposure to hazardous man-made chemicals can occur via ingestion of contaminated water or seafood, or via bathing. Depending on the level of exposure, the subsequent effects can lead to a range of chronic diseases, such as cancer. Our briefing on how pesticides impact human health and ecosystem gives key information on pesticides' use and their impacts.

Chemicals also have negative impacts on marine ecosystems, reducing the services that they can provide to man and economy and destroying the natural balance of these ecosystems.

Please consult the EEA report on Chemicals in European waters or our briefing on Managing the systemic use of chemicals in Europe for further information.