Want to know what hazardous chemicals are lurking in your shopping basket? Soon there will be an app for that

The chemicals inside everyday products are often a mystery. Companies could be using toxic chemicals and consumers would be none the wiser but one project is hoping to change that.

A group of NGOs, academics, and environment agencies are starting a project which will allow consumers to find out if substances of very high concern (SVHCs) are used in the products they are buying.

Chemicals in this category include the likes of cancer causing substances, mutagens that change genetic material, substances that build up in the body and chemicals that interfere with hormones.

The idea is that you will have an app on your phone and when you are shopping you can scan products and see if they contain these controlled substances.

The group hope that it will give people the power to move away from goods that contain these hazardous chemicals and it will encourage producers to substitute them with safer ones when they can.

The app will not be available any time soon as the aim is to go public in the Spring of 2019.

According to the project team a number of large unnamed companies have already expressed support for the project and will be the first to put their information on the app.

The project, called askREACH, has 20 partner organisations in 13 EU member states.

Tatiana Santos, Senior Policy Officer for Chemicals & Nanotechnology at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and a partner in the project said:

“It is really important that people know what is in the products they buy. If they contain substances of very high concern (SVHC) then we have a right to know.

“This project will really help protect the public because it gives people the power to move away from controlled substances and gives producers an incentive to substitute them with safer ones.”

Under the European chemicals regulation, called REACH, manufacturers must tell the public if a product contains any substances of very high concern (SVHCs) above a concentration of 0.1%.

This rule, called Article 33, also states that they must provide the information free of charge within 45 days.

While this rule sets an important requirement for companies to be open about these chemicals because they can take so long to give the information it does not tend to influence purchasing decisions. This app could change that by putting that information at your fingertips.