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Toxic shock: European Parliament to expand harmful products in the home?

21.06.2010, PAN Europe, PAN Germany and WECF

Hamburg, 21 June, 2010. On 22 June the European Parliament's Environment Committee will vote on new EU provisions on the authorisation and marketing of hazardous products like wood preservatives and insecticide sprays. But leading environmental and health campaign groups, Pesticide Action Network Germany, PAN Europe, and Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), fear that MEPs may lack the courage to ban all highly hazardous products, a move campaigners see as essential to protect consumers and the environment.

Research by PAN Germany demonstrates that fewer than 5% of all notified biocides in the EU would be covered by the proposed exclusion criteria. This would mean that numerous harmful ingredients would remain freely on sale in household products in Europe's shops.

"It's obvious that there's no intention of banning active substances despite their potential harm to our immune and nervous systems," says Carina Weber, PAN Germany's director. "Industry-friendly players in the European Parliament are prepared to allow biocide producers to expand the use of hazardous substances in household products. But what we urgently need is compulsory action plans to phase out these dangerous ingredients and offer manufacturers effective incentives to use safer alternatives."

"We must ensure there are no unnecessary exemptions under the new biocide regulation. Active substances, including carcinogenic, mutagenic, reproductive-toxic and endocrine-disruptive biocides, must definitively to be phased out", says Gergely Simon, a PAN Europe board member. "Scientific evidence indicates that the misapplication of some active substances in biocidal products may also contribute to an increased occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, both in our bodies and the environment", says Elisabeth Ruffimengo, Advocacy Officer at Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF).

Large, but to date unknown, quantities of biocides (with an estimated EU market value of €10-11bn in 2006) are used in a wide range of household products, cosmetics and clothing. Biocides are present in almost 50,000 products sold in EU countries. Outside the agricultural sector, they are used to combat harmful and unwanted organisms. Many biocides which kill mammals, fish, insects or bacteria, carry the risk of poisoning or long-lasting health effects, and harming the environment. One example is the fungicide Carbendazim which is reproductive toxic, mutagenic and featured on an EU priority list for pesticides with evidence for endocrine disruptive properties.

(385 words)

Background notes: PAN Germany's briefing 'PAN-list of potential cut-off biocides' is available in pdf form: http://www.pan-germany.org/download/biocides/PAN-cut-off-List_engl_100621.pdf

SCENIHR report Assessment of the Antibiotic Resistance Effects of Biocides, 2009, is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/docs/scenihr_o_021.pdf

For further information contact:

Christian Schweer, Project Coordinator, Pesticide Action Network Germany:
tel:+ 49 40-3991910 27; mobile: +49 (0)15 7749 34476; e-mail: christian.schweer(at)pan-germany.org

Gergely Simon, Board Member, Pesticide Action Network Europe:
tel: + 36 203 344 336; e-mail: gergely(at)pan-europe.info

Elisabeth Ruffinengo, Advocacy Officer, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF:
tel: +33 450 499 738; e-mail: elisabeth.ruffinengo(at)wecf.eu

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