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Press statement: Bedroom dust used to urge EU to act more urgently on REACH

PRESS STATEMENT

Bedroom dust used to urge EU to act more urgently on REACH

Brussels, 14 September 2011 - An analysis of dust samples is being used to urge faster action on EDCs in REACH. The dust has been vacuumed up from underneath beds around the world in a project carried out by ChemSec and other NGOs.

The aim is to prompt the European Commission and every EU member state to speed up the process and nominate EDCs to the REACH Candidate List. They also want companies to take the initiative to phase out EDCs in their products before these chemicals are decided upon in REACH.

REPORT Home sweet home - dusty surprises under the bedshows that a hazardous mix of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) lie hidden under beds all around the world, in levels higher than earlier found. It is available here www.chemsec.org/endocrine-disrupters/dust-report

The official press release is also available at www.chemsec.org

HEAL Toxics Policy Advisor, Lisette van Vliet put her vacuum cleaner to work under a bed in Belgium where a couple and their new baby live. She sent the sample to the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation for analysis. Responding to the findings of the analysis, she said:

"Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been increasingly linked to a range of health problems including impaired fertility, cancer and attention deficit disorders.

"Ten years ago, the European Union started its strategy to deal with EDCs - yet these hazardous chemicals are still being found in dust samples under the beds of pregnant women and new mothers. Will I have to tell these parents that at our current speed, it could take until their child grows up and is reaching middle age to deal properly with these harmful chemicals?"

The sample collected in Belgium had high levels of nonylphenol compared to the other samples collected. Nonylphenol is a substance which is considered to be an endocrine disruptor because of its ability to mimic estrogen and in turn disrupt the natural balance of hormones in affected organisms. Nonylphenol has already been restricted in the EU but it is clearly still contaminating indoor environments. "This illustrates that REACH is not doing enough to ensure that chemicals which have already been restricted in the EU are kept out of our homes," Ms van Vliet added.

Contact:

Lisette van Vliet, Toxics Policy Advisor, Health and Environment Alliance, 28 blvd. Charlemagne, 1000- Brussels, Belgium. E-mail: lisette@env-health.org. Mobile: +32 484 614 528.

Diana Smith, Media, Health and Environment Alliance, E-mail: diana@env-health.org. Mobile: +33 6 33 04 2943.

HEAL is the leading Europeannot-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union. We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life.

HEAL’s more than 65 member organisations, representing health professionals, patients, citizens, women, youth and environmental experts, help to bring independent expertise and evidence from the health community to different decision-making processes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups.

Press release 14 September 2011

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> International Chemical Secretariat Mix of hazardous chemicals under your bed – EU needs to act

ChemSec, together with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) and other NGOs, have analysed dust in bedrooms across the EU, Africa and Asia. The resulting report, Home sweet home - dusty surprises under the bed, was launched today and shows that a hazardous mix of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) lie hidden under beds all around the world, in levels higher than earlier found. EDCs have been increasingly linked to a range of health problems including impaired fertility, cancer and attention deficit disorders.

Europeans spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoor, where the exposure to chemicals can be a thousand times higher than that found outdoors. EDCs can be released from many products commonly found in our homes, including furniture, electronics, cosmetics and toys. Most at risk of exposure to the chemicals found in household dust are those closest to the floor – young children.

The dust analysed was collected by vacuum cleaners in bedrooms in six EU member states, four countries in Africa and two in Southeast Asia. Some of the investigated chemicals, such as nonylphenol and some phthalates, were found in their highest levels in European homes.

– This report shows that highly problematic chemicals, such as chemicals on the SIN List, are commonly found under people’s beds. In order for people to be able to sleep well at night the EU and all European countries must act strongly. Currently people are not properly protected by EU laws from this cocktail of endocrine disrupters, says ChemSec Director Anne-Sofie Andersson.

The study presented today looks at the chemicals present in dust, and does not take into account other sources of chemical exposure in indoor environments. Even only considering dust, the findings show that the total level of phthalates where in some countries found to be higher than what public authorities today consider to be safe, if the cocktail effect is considered.

The report Home sweet home - dusty surprises under the bed also highlights that in order to fully understand the effects that EDCs have on our health and reproduction, new risk assessment methods for EDCs are crucial, methods which take into account the ability of EDCs to have significant effects even at very low doses.

– We strongly encourage the European Commission and every EU member state to speed up the process and nominate EDCs to the REACH Candidate List. We also encourage companies to phase out EDCs from their products, says ChemSec project coordinator Frida Hök.

For more information, please contact

Frida Hök, EDC project coordinator, ChemSec, frida.hok@chemsec.org, + 46 709 72 12 57

Anne-Sofie Andersson, Director, ChemSec, annesofie.andersson@chemsec.org, +46 31 711 01 57

The report is available online at www.chemsec.org/endocrine-disrupters/dust-report

ChemSec, the International Chemical Secretariat, is a non-profit organisation working for a toxic free world by highlighting the health and environmental risks of hazardous substances, making accurate, science-based information readily available, engaging business and speeding up legislative processes. ChemSec was founded in 2002 by environmental organisations, and stands behind the SIN List. www.chemsec.org.

The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) is an environmental organization with the power to bring about change. With almost 200 000 members, SSNC spreads knowledge, maps environmental threats, creates solutions, and influences politicians and public authorities, at both national and international levels. Moreover, SSNC stands behind one of the world’s most demanding eco-labels, “Good Environmental Choice”. www.naturskyddsforeningen.se

The dust in European countries has been collected by the following NGOs: European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) in Belgium, Clean Air Action Group in Hungary, AMICA in Italy, BUND in Germany, Society for Sustainable living in the Czech Republic and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) in Sweden.

Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, the Philippines, and Malaysia.

The SIN List contains 378 chemicals that ChemSec has identified as fulfilling the criteria for Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) provided by REACH. The 2.0 version of the SIN List, presented in May, added 22 endocrine disrupting chemicals identified as SVHCs in accordance with REACH criteria solely due to their endocrine disrupting properties.

The cocktail effect means that all substances in a mixture contribute to the mixture properties such as toxicity.

BBP, DBP, DEHP and DINP.

Last updated on 21 November 2011

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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