|BRUSSELS - Humans and wildlife are being contaminated by a host of commonly-used chemicals in food packaging and furniture, the WWF says, calling for a speedy adoption of new European Union safety rules.|
The EU is currently discussing draft legislation to carry out checks on 30,000 industrial chemicals that have been on the market for over 25 years but exempt from monitoring.
The environmental group launched a report on Thursday on chemicals used to make non-stick frying pans and flame-resistant furniture which it said could cause cancer and mutations in humans and wildlife.
The chemical industry has known of the side effects but has been under no obligation to make the information public, a situation that would change under the new rules, WWF said.
\"Future dangers will only be averted if the effects of chemicals are exposed and then the dangerous ones are never used,\" WWF toxics programme director Clifton Curtis said in a statement.
Chemicals used for jacket waterproofing, food packaging and non-stick coatings have been found in dolphins, whales, cormorants, seals, sea eagles and polar bears from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, WWF said.
The EU chemical industry lobby Cefic dismissed the WWF report. \"There\'s nothing new in WWF\'s claims,\" said communications manager Annemaria Ojanpera, adding that dangerous chemicals were already banned in the EU.
The chemical industry has opposed the draft EU legislation as too costly, inefficient and bureaucratic.
But WWF said if industry could prove there was no safer alternative to a specific chemical, it could stay on the market provided there was strict monitoring.
WWF also said the EU proposal would encourage the chemical industry to invest in new products as all chemicals would be treated equally with no exceptions for substances developed before 1981, as is currently the case.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE