On behalf of coalition, two children present European Commissioner Wallstrom with Declaration for a Toxics Free Future
Protected by Toxics Ted, a large teddy bear who defends children
against toxic chemicals, Clara Leetz, 6, and Leila, 7, handed the
Declaration to Commissioner Wallstrom, underlining the concerns
about the risks to children and babies, who are the most vulnerable
to the effects of hazardous chemicals.
Representatives from the European Consumers' Organisation, the
European Public Health Association, Women in Europe for a Common
Future, World Wildlife Fund, European Environmental Bureau, Friends
of the Earth and Greenpeace joined together at the event to present
the Commission with the list of demands for greater chemicals
The range of organisations - environmental, consumer, health and
women's groups - demonstrates the wide-ranging impact of the EU's
future chemical legislation and its relevance to people's daily
lives. The Declaration was also supported by organisations
including the Netherlands' Council of Women, the German Childbirth
Association, and the British Allergy Foundation.
People and wildlife are already contaminated with man-made
chemicals. 300 man-made chemicals have been found in the bodies of
people that have had no special exposure to chemicals. The
chemicals crisis is at such proportions that the unborn baby faces
exposure from the moment of its conception. House dust and
rainwater contains many hazardous chemicals that are found in
consumer products and that we use every day, including body
products, detergents, electronic goods, toys and textiles. So great
is the number of chemicals all around us that we are constantly
exposed to multiple doses - the combined effect of which could be
affecting our health.
A separate declaration in favour of the European Commission's
new legislation on chemicals, signed by more than 10,000 US
citizens, has also been submitted by over 60 US organisations
(including the Communications Workers of America and The Breast
Cancer Fund). This is because the European Commission's new
legislation on chemicals offers a real opportunity to begin
controlling the spread of chemicals. Europe is the world's largest
chemical producer, so what happens here could lead to better
chemical legislation around the entire world.
Unbelievably, only a handful of chemicals have been assessed for
the risks they pose and even then, little effective action has
resulted. And many chemicals are still widely used even when they
are known to be hazardous.
"Given our understanding of the way chemicals interact with the
environment, you could say we are running a gigantic experiment
with humans and all other living things as the subject" said one of
the authors of a recent report by eminent UK scientists (1).
The Declaration asks the European Commission to ensure that its
new legislation on chemicals includes:
- an obligation to phase out and substitute chemicals that
accumulate in wildlife, humans or the environment, and those that
- a full right to know, for both consumers and businesses,
including what chemicals are present in products;
- a requirement that products imported into the EU have to
conform to the same safety standards as those made in the EU.
We were pleased that Wallstrom viewed our demands as legitimate
and welcomes our input in the Commission's current internet
consultation process. Now the European Commission needs to act to
ensure that its new legislation on chemicals will protect human
health and the environment.
(1) Chemicals in
products. Safeguarding human health and the Environment. A
report by the UK Royal Commission on Environment and Pollution,