08 Dec 2000
The European chemical industry is challenged today (Friday) to stop producing chemicals that accumulate in our bodies, because of the potential impacts on health. The call will be made at an industry 'Multi-Stakeholder Debate' in Brussels by Friends of the Earth, which will also demand that industry stops blocking moves for tougher controls on the use of chemicals . The European Commission is shortly expected to come up with new proposals to reform the discredited and unsafe regulatory system governing chemical use.
Recent research has shown that hundreds of man-made chemicals  contaminate our bodies. Many of these chemicals have not been properly tested and their impacts on our health are unknown. Despite this many are still manufactured and used in consumer products. A FOE survey  discovered that one group of these chemicals, artificial musk fragrances in perfumed products , are sold by High Street chemist's Boots. This contrasts with some companies, such as the Body Shop, who are phasing out artificial musks.
Friends of the Earth wants the EU to bring in tough new laws to ensure that the chemical industry and product manufacturers :
Dr Michael Warhurst, Safer Chemicals Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:
The chemical industry is allowing our bodies to be contaminated with a cocktail of chemicals which haven't been properly tested. No-one knows what impact this might have on us. It's about time they stopped messing about with our health.Chemicals that accumulate in the body must be banned.
Friends of the Earth's proposals, also called the 'Copenhagen Charter', would contribute towards a reduction in safety testing on animals; we support the RSPCA's position on testing [See note 6 for details].
More information on Friends of the Earth's Safer Chemicals Campaign is available at:
 Friends of the Earth, who will be represented in Brussels on Friday by Dr Michael Warhurst, Safer Chemicals Campaigner, has submitted two questions to CEFIC, the European Chemical Industries Association:
Many industrial chemicals contaminate breast milk, umbilical cords and other body tissues, ensuring that our children are exposed to them from the moment of conception through to the end of their lives. Does CEFIC consider that such contamination is a positive impact of the chemical industry? [ Important note: Any article mentioning chemicals in breast milk should make it clear that all the experts agree that breast milk is the best for babies, as it helps healthy growth and a strong immune system].
Lists of chemicals which are more hazardous, such as Sweden's 'Observation List', provide an effective method of giving chemical consuming industries the information they need in order to produce safer products. Why, therefore, is CEFIC opposed to such lists?
 Toxic Trespass, WWF, 1999. Available free on-line:
 Toxic Alert: A survey of 'High Street' companies and their approach to suspect chemicals, The first report from Friends of Earth's Safer Chemicals Campaign, available from FoE (it can be emailed, faxed or posted).
 Artificial musks are artificial fragrances added to perfumes, laundry detergents etc.. There are two main groups, the nitro musks and the polycyclic musks, both of which are persistent and bioaccumulative and are widespread contaminants of the environment and the human body, for example being found in breast milk.The human body metabolizes musk xylene to some extent, and one of the chemicals produced has recently been found to be a female hormone mimic; two of the polycyclic musks have also been found to imitate the female hormone. Refs: Kallenborn, R. and G.G. Rimkus, 'Synthetic musks in environmental samples: indicator compounds with relevant properties for environmental monitoring', Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 1999, 1:p. 70N-74N; Riedel, J. and W. Dekant, 'Biotransformation and toxicokinetics of musk xylene in humans', Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 1999, 157: p. 145-155; Seinen, W., J.G. Lemmen, R.H.H. Pieters, E.M.J. Verbruggen, and B. van der Burg, 'AHTN and HHCB show weak estrogenic activity - but no uterotrophic activity', Toxicological Letters, 1999, 111:p. 161-168.
 Friends of the Earth's proposals for a new chemicals policy ('The Copenhagen Charter'), which are supported by environment and consumer groups across Europe are:
 The precautionary regulatory approach in the 'Copenhagen charter' will reduce safety testing on animals if implemented as described in the following article by the RSPCA's European Body, the Eurogroup for Animal Welfare; Friends of the Earth supports this approach:
Friends of the Earth
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