WI teams up with WWF to lobby on REACH

As crunch time approaches for controversial chemical legislation in Brussels environmental campaigners have enlisted an influential new ally - the Women's Institute.

While the WI might be better known for jam, cakes and naked calendars than for its political clout its members have waded into the debate over the proposed REACH legislation, siding with those who want to see more done to protect the public and environment.

Pat Collinson, 70, from Sudbury was among the WI delegates who joined forces with the WWF this week in heading to Brussels to lobby MEPs.

WWF is calling for hazardous man-made chemicals to be properly regulated, replaced where safer alternatives exist, or banned where necessary under the REACH regulations which get their first reading in the European Parliament on 16 November.

Pat met with regional MEPs Jeffrey Titford, Robert Sturdy and Tom Wise and told them, from her own personal experience, why a change in the law is essential.

Before leaving Pat said: “I hope that when I go to Brussels the MEPs will reassure me that they are going to do as much as they can to tackle the potentially harmful effects of hazardous chemicals by voting for the REACH legislation.

“I’m going to take the results of the blood tests that were carried out on me and my family to show the politicians the hard evidence of what man-made chemicals we’ve actually got in our bodies.

“Maybe then we can start to do something to protect those who are not yet born.”

Pat was tested for man made chemicals along with her, daughter Karen Poll, a 41-year-old school secretary, farmer husband John, 42, and daughter Emma, 15.

The whole family gave blood last year as part of WWF’s biomonitoring survey.

The results revealed that the adults in the family have some of the highest numbers of chemicals in their blood of the whole survey because, in comparison to the other families in the survey, they have higher numbers of PCBs in their blood.

The chemicals that WWF and WI are particularly concerned about include gender-bending phthalates, carcinogenic perfluorinated chemicals used to make non-stick coatings and brominated flame retardants which have been linked to thyroid hormone function and abnormal brain development.

Colin Butfield, director of WWF’s chemicals and health campaign said: “These chemicals should not be in products, let alone in people and wildlife.

“The EU has a once in a generation opportunity to control hazardous chemicals with new REACH legislation – it is vital for the health of future generations that this legislation is effective.”

By Sam Bond

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