Council on

Council on Depollution is coming in 2023, but here is a sneak peak of who we are and what we plan to do.

Who we are and what we do

The problem and our motivation

We live in a day and age where chemicals are inextricably integrated into our daily lives, very different from how our grandparents, only two generations ago, lived.

While many of the chemicals and materials are perfectly safe, others are not. The list of harmful chemicals that are allowed into our homes - our safe haven - is alarmingly long, including formaldehyde in shampoo, plastic microbeads in toothpaste, phthalates in food packaging, heavy metals in our children’s toys, an assortment of endocrine disruptors and carcinogens in non-stick pans and stain repellents in furniture, ... and many more. The truth is that we are constantly exposed to a cocktail of hazardous chemicals.

In fact, we are exposed to industrial chemicals before birth. The so-called “Body Burden” found in newborns is disconcerting. Of the 287 chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood, 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal developments in animal tests.

Men in the Western world produce half the amount of sperm their fathers did 40 years ago - scientists link the decline in part to exposure to toxic chemicals . The situation is not much better in other parts of the world, as studies from China and Africa report. In women and girls, studies show that exposure to toxic chemicals leads to girls entering puberty earlier and increasing the risk of getting breast cancer later in life. Other studies link exposure to toxic chemicals to a loss of four or five IQ points in children.

As for the environment, hazardous chemicals and other, often invisible, pollutants have been released in large quantities across the Earth, accumulating in nature and wildlife and threatening to disrupt the Earth’s ecosystems. A recent expedition to the Antarctic found microplastic waste in seawater and persistent hazardous chemicals in freshly fallen snow in these most remote and pristine of habitats on the planet.

The economic costs and losses from chemical exposure and pollution on a global scale are enormous. In Europe alone, the disease-related costs of endocrine disruptors are estimated to be EUR 163 billion every year - and this estimate is based on a study of fewer than 5 percent of all known hormone disrupting chemicals! Another way of understanding economic losses is through loss in earning potential of an individual: in an American study, it is estimated that each decrease in IQ points from chemical exposure translates to a 2% or USD20,000 loss in earning potential over lifetime. With a loss of four or five IQ points, that’s likely USD100,000 per person. This amount can be very significant for the person in question, even more so for society as a whole.

Harmful chemicals in consumer products also complicate recycling opportunities. There is a growing list of examples where good intentions to recycle materials have led to grave results - like the high levels of dioxins found in children’s toys made from recycled plastic. In other words, the goal of a Circular Economy cannot be reached when hazardous chemicals are in the mix.

We at CODE are concerned and we are not alone. 85 percent of Europeans are worried about how chemicals affect their health. With CODE, we want to contribute to a toxin-free environment for all of us to live long, happy and healthy lives, by working with consumers, businesses and governments.

About CODE

The good news is that many of the hazardous substances widely used have safer alternatives. In many cases, they are right there, waiting for us to remember the abundance of nature.

In other cases, where they had not existed in the past, human ingenuity has provided them, usually prompted by the regulatory or consumers’ pressure. It is up to us to take matters into our own hands and reduce exposure to hazardous substances. Thankfully, the positive effects on health are immediate. A non-toxic future is not a pipedream - it is within our reach.

Council on Depollution creates and increases awareness of toxic chemicals in everyday products found in our homes and workplaces, and advises on healthy living and workplace practices.

Council on Depollution is a resource for consumers and businesses for practical information on chemicals of concern, lifestyle modifications, assessment and interpretation of ingredient lists, and product design.

Council on Depollution works with industry actors on safer alternatives and with businesses on mindset change to get you to Patagonia.

Our story

We are Ljiljana and Eline. Ljiljana was Eline’s MSc thesis supervisor back in the day. We remained thought-partners and are now turning a new leaf with CODE.

Eline came to fully appreciate the enormous and growing impact of chemicals on human health and the environment through her industry experience. Chemical exposure management became a personal endeavour when she became a mother and learned of the toxic ingredients in baby care products. Concerned with the extent of plastic and microplastic pollution, she had her placenta analyzed for microplastics. The question at this point is not if her baby was exposed to microplastics in the womb, but which plastics, which associated endocrine disruptors and what possible health effects. She believes that the wave of change we’re seeing around the globe to divest from plastic will spark a fiery demand for safe ingredients in consumer products.

As a keen mountain hiker, Ljiljana has been in awe of the intricate beauty and unfathomable complexity of the natural world since early youth. Her academic path has led her to environmental risk analysis and urban environmental engineering. Always keen on a good ‘reality check’, her experience spans a multitude of countries, on five continents. She has devoted her life to learning and knowledge sharing, based on her unwavering trust in human intelligence and its potential.


Toxin-Free Start to Life Guide

The bad news: fetal development is sensitive to exposure to harmful chemicals, like plasticizers, heavy metals, flame retardants, and pesticides, which can lead to reduced fetal growth, lower birth rates, and many other diseases that show up later in life. The good news: by being deliberate and conscientious about what you use and buy, you can successfully reduce exposure to harmful chemicals surprisingly effectively.

Our Toxin-Free Start to Life guide advises on how to go about creating a toxin-free life for yourself and loved ones - from preconception through pregnancy and your child’s first 1000 days. As starting and growing a family is the period of our lives when most of us are open and willing to make changes to our lifestyle, we hope that the new choices introduced across this period become the new norm and form the basis of lifelong good health for you and your loved ones. Stay tuned - by signing up to updates - the Guide will be published later this year. Help us to better understand the community we are trying to reach with this guide, by taking this survey! This survey consists of 24 questions and should take less than 10 minutes. Thank you for your time, effort and insight.