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16.09.2008

Updated foreword for the Slowenian Brochure of "Women in a Toxic World" 

For a toxic free world

I am a politician, a consumer, a woman and a mother of two kids. From each point of view I fully welcome the information for women on chemicals in every day life presented in this brochure.

Hazardous chemicals are part of our life. Even when we try to live consciously and avoid them, we are daily exposed to them. Most of these substances can be found in everyday products, such as toys, cosmetics, PCs, clothes or furniture. These products are "terra incognita": of the 100.000 chemicals known in Europe, 97% of them have not undergone any risk assessment. The current approach to chemicals use is a huge experiment with humans, animals and the environment. Women and children are especially at risk, because of their different and often more vulnerable biological system. Blood tests by the WWF revealed the dangerous exposure to chemicals. I was very shocked about my own test result: residues of 37 out of 101 tested chemicals were found. We run the risk of becoming a hazardous waste deposit!

Even though the European Union has just passed a new chemicals legislation REACH, the fight for adequate protection from dangerous substances for women, their families and the environment will not stop. Unfortunately, REACH is a missed opportunity to achieve the highest protection from dangerous chemicals possible. REACH is a watered-down compromise with the handwriting of the chemicals industry. The heart of REACH, the compulsory substitution was ripped out. And only on individual request will consumers receive information in which daily products there are very problematic chemicals which cause cancer, changes in the mutagenic system or damage to reproduction. But these substances should not be in products in the first place. The EU chemicals agency is currently putting together the list of these dangerous substances, and a first look shows that this list is completely inadequate. This list is not the only problem with the details of the new chemicals legislation.
The continuous action of all us concerned to make our world toxic free is needed, and REACH is not the only opportunity to become active.

The EU is currently revising its policy for the authorisation of pesticides. As the rapporteur for the Environment Committee on this dossier I am very concerned about the detrimental effects dangerous pesticides have on women and their children. There are numerous studies which show how pesticides increase the risk of cancer, especially breast cancer, and can damage children or the unborn child. For the sake of our children, of our future, we should all come together to eliminate the most dangerous pesticides and to promote clear alternatives to dangerous chemicals. The same goes for the EU cosmetics provisions and the EU toys directive, which are also being revised.
I hope that with these crucial pieces of legislation the European Union takes its chance and demonstrates global leadership for the safety of their citizens and the environment. The time is now to send a signal to the world that safe chemicals and a toxic free world are possible.