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Americans Declare Independence From Hazardous Chemicals

Over 10,000 Citizens and 60 Groups Speak Out for Chemical Policy Reform

Washington, DC - On the eve of the Fourth of July holiday, over 10,000 Americans from all 50 states have signed the "U.S. Declaration of Independence from Hazardous Chemicals," according to World Wildlife Fund--one of the 61 environmental, health, and trade groups that have endorsed the declaration. Spurred by policy reforms underway in Europe, citizens from around the country have demonstrated their support for improved protection from chemical hazards.

"From Anchorage to Atlanta, Albany to Albuquerque, Americans are proclaiming their right to be free from hazardous chemicals that threaten wildlife and people around the world," said Clif Curtis, Director of WWF's Toxics Program. "As we celebrate our country's independence, we are reminded of our duty as U.S. citizens to speak out when governmental policies fail to protect us."

The European Union has requested public comments on the proposed legislation known as REACH, which could transform how chemicals are regulated. In short, for some 30,000 chemicals used in Europe, companies must provide data on potential health or environmental hazards, eventually creating a valuable resource for public and private decision making.

REACH would also allow Europe to restrict the use of the most dangerous chemicals. By putting the burden of proof on companies and harmonizing the rules across the EU, REACH will create a huge incentive for developing and using safer alternatives.

The "U.S. Declaration of Independence from Hazardous Chemicals" supports the proposed EU reforms and urges the EU Commission to strengthen key elements of the legislation. On behalf of all signatories, WWF has submitted the signed declaration to the European Commission and to President Bush. The U.S. government has been critical of REACH, claiming it could impact U.S. business, but has ignored the potential benefits for innovative industries.

"REACH could revolutionize the management of chemicals and is already inspiring action in states and cities across the United States," said Daryl Ditz, Senior Program Officer for WWF's Toxics Program. "While the Bush Administration and chemical industry lobbyists are working behind closed doors to derail this promising European initiative, it is encouraging to know that Americans are strongly in favor of healthier families, safer jobs, and cleaner communities."