WWF Chemical Testing Reveals Contamination of European Lawmakers

Washington, DC -- Lawmakers from across Europe are contaminated with a cocktail of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals according to results of a WWF-organized blood testing program released today.

WWF partnered with the UK-based Co-operative Bank to test the blood of 39 members of the European Parliament and discovered the presence of pesticides outlawed decades ago as well as chemicals in widespread use today. WWF collected the samples in December 2003 and had them analyzed for organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, phthalates, and perfluorinated compounds.

Many of these chemicals -- which can alter sexual, neurological, and behavioral development, impair reproduction, and undermine immune systems -- are also contaminating wildlife throughout the world according to a recent WWF report, Causes for Concern: Chemicals and Wildlife.

"WWF's survey, along with other bio-monitoring programs conducted here in the United States, demonstrate our exposure to these hazardous chemicals and underscore the need for improved regulations," said Clifton Curtis, director of WWF's Global Toxics Program.

"The European Union is leading the global community by fundamentally reforming their chemical laws. Hopefully the United States and other countries will follow suit and improve outdated and ineffective protections," said Curtis.

The European initiative, called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals), would shift the burden of proving the health and environmental safety onto companies that manufacture, use, and import most major industrial chemicals.

The REACH proposal is currently being debated in the European Parliament and Council. The legislation is expected to be finalized in early 2006 and to be phased in over the following decade.

"The results of these tests show that everyone tested is contaminated with a variety of industrial chemicals no matter where they live," said Sheila Macdonald, Chief Operating Officer, The Co-operative Bank. "And, as yet, we don't know what effect they're having on our own bodies, our children, or wildlife."

Notes to Editors:
Results of the survey available on WWF International's Web site.