In 1969 I started studying chemistry at the Utrecht University. I specialized in analytical chemistry/environmental sciences, toxicology and consititutional law, which was an unusual combination in those days.
From 1975 I worked as a Ph. D. student in environmental toxicology, under Prof. Dr. H. van Genderen on a project named Pollution of the River Rhine. As a chemist among biologists and veterinarians, I chose to cover up my weakness in pathology, by focusing on the quantitative aspects of toxicology. But also the multitude of chemicals found in both the river water and the fish, really required a more conceptual than descriptive approach.
I continued my career it the Ministry of Environment, first as an expert, later as section head. It was in the midst of the national and international development of chemicals legislation, which I enjoyed very much. The national development of the chemicals legislation resulted in the adoption of the Chemicals Act in 1985. I also got involved in the international harmonisation of chemicals and became very active in OECD and EU activities, first as a participant in working groups, later chairing many of them. From 1986 – 1989 I chaired the Joint Meeting on Chemicals of the OECD, which was, and probably still is, the place where international chemicals policy is created.
In 1987 I moved to the Public Health Inspectorate, to set up the Netherlands’ monitoring system for Good Laboratory Practice (GLP). The two major activities were a) to set up a credible inspection system for chemical safety laboratories (e.g. industrial companies, contract research laboratories, b) to create a strong position for the Netherlands in the international field. From 1989 – 1991 I was leading the OECD expert group on GLP and up till now, the Netherlands is still a leading country in this field.
In 1991 I became head of the Laboratory of Toxicology at the National Institute of
Public Health and Environment (RIVM). In 1995 I became head of the Advisory Centre
of Toxicology. This Centre was extended gradually with new tasks and more staff,
to comprise ca. 100 risk assessors and its name was changed to Expert Centre on Substances.
The Centre was involved in assessing the safety of chemicals for man and the environment
in emissions, industrial applications, consumer products (food, non-
Major goals which were realized in this period were to professionalize the organization
and to make it more customer oriented. In this function I became increasingly aware
that my own contribution to the success of the organisation depended highly on the
satisfaction of my co-
International work was less prominent than in the period until 1991, but I participated
in Environmental Performance Reviews of the OECD (USA, 1996) and the EU (Bulgaria,
2005) and in pre-
At the end of 2005 I retired from the institute to continue as a private consultant. The common denomination of the projects carried out is knowledge management: supporting national and countries in eastern Europe to build up expertise in risk assessment, analysing strengths and weaknesses of expertise in organizations, etc. I have also been chairing working groups, strategy workshops and served as sparring partner for managers.
In 2014 I ended my professional career.