Chemical industry in China: The current status, safety problems, and pathways for future sustainable development

Chao Chen, Genserik Reniers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)
122 Downloads (Pure)


Safety risks have become an obstacle to the sustainability of the chemical industry in China since many chemical companies were forced to close down by China's government in the past three years. This study investigates chemical safety in China in order to identify the causes of the major accidents and accompanying casualties, formulating the safety management needs to develop a sustainable chemical industry in China. First, we analyze the evolution and current status of China's chemical industry to identify possible safety issues rooted in the industry. Second, a thorough accident investigation is conducted based on official statistics and collected chemical accidents in China in the period 2004–2019. Furtherly, the main laws, regulations, guidelines, standards and measures related to chemical safety are analyzed and compared with those in Europe. According to analyses related to the chemical industry, chemical accidents and safety legislation and measures in China and Europe, the current problems with respect to chemical safety in China are discussed systematically. Based on research findings, we propose recommendations for the improvement of chemical safety so as to promote the sustainable development of the chemical industry in China. This study also provides basic data and information for future studies on the safety and sustainability of the chemical industry and major accident prevention in other countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104741
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Chemical accidents
  • Chemical safety
  • China's chemical industry
  • Safety legislation
  • Sustainable development


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