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Our Toxic Free Future

Working towards a Toxic Free Future - getting ready for action


Countries: The Netherlands, EU
Donors: Ministry of Housing Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM), The Netherlands
Partners: Tiye, ZijActief
Issues: Chemicals & Health
Duration: 03/2003 - 06/2003


The Toxic Free Future conference in Soesterberg, The Netherlands, in June 2003 where 100 participants from 40 women's, environmental, health, consumer and other civil society groups, plus scientists, doctors, academics and politicians, from 20 countries throughout Europe, took part in. The committement: World-wide women's solidarity for a toxic-free future.

Every person in the world has a body burden of more than 300 man-made chemicals. The body burden is so high it can damage the developing foetus in the womb. Recent studies for example by the medical universities of Amsterdam, Groningen and Leiden show that each year 10,000 - 20,000 children are born in the Netherlands (5-10 % of total number of births p/a) with such high levels of toxic chemicals (from exposure during prenatal development), that they exceed WHO acceptable standards of safety, and are at great risk of suffering adverse mental and/or physical health effects.

This situation is immoral and unsustainable. We do not want our families and communities to be the testing grounds for the chemical industry.

WECF goals

The proposed European chemicals directive, REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization of CHemicals), was to set the legislation in 25 countries for the coming 15 years. WECF and it's members wanted a strong REACH, which would finally protect us from toxic chemicals.

WECF and its network demanded from the European governments, that they adopt forward-looking policies that will ensure that food, drinking water, cosmetics, air and soil are toxic-free and safe. It was a clear message to governments to stop the contamination of human bodies with toxic chemicals.

WECF implementation

Implementation took on a variety of forms; letters to heads of state, MEPs and Commission leaders, information to the public in the form of press releases, workshops, websites and articles, and relying on the multiplier effect.

The WECF network engaged itself in the work. In Germany, WECF engaged with existing networks to inform women's organisations about chemicals and the REACH legislation.

Chemicals workshops were done in Poland and the Netherlands. WECF set up a REACH information website to cover and lobby the entire process.

The toxic tool kit was a further result of the conference. Here, interested persons could find comprehensive information on chemicals in everyday life and see how best to create a toxic free future for themselves.

The three year project that resulted from the Soesterberg conference in June 2003 ended in 2007 and the final report can be found here. More than 70 workshops were completed and 2,600 women reached.

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