Daily News Archive
Tests Reveal Pesticide Contamination
(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2003) A cocktail of
highly toxic chemicals has been found in every one of the 155 people
whose blood was tested in a national study commissioned by World Wildlife
Fund, United Kingdom (WWF UK).
The Results of WWF's Biomonitoring Survey reveals that chemicals,
such as DDT, which have been banned for decades and are associated with
cancer, immune system disorders, and other health problems, are still
found in people today. Other dangerous chemicals that are still in use
are also accumulating, including hazardous pesticides known as organophosphates.
Organophosphate chemicals bind irreversibly to acetylcholine esterase
(AchE), an essential enzyme for normal nerve impulse transmission and
can seriously affect the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and
"The UK study provides a wake-up call for action, as have similar
bio-monitoring studies in the US and elsewhere, to reform the inadequate
chemical laws that have resulted in contamination of wildlife and individuals
by a cocktail of highly dangerous chemicals," said Clifton Curtis,
director of WWF's Global Toxics Program. "New laws and regulations,
such as the EU chemicals policy reforms now underway, are needed as
an urgent priority to protect human health and the environment from
the insidious threat of toxic chemicals."
In the United States, there is growing interest in biomonitoring or
body burden testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) released the Second
National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals,
which detected a total of 89 chemicals in the volunteers tested, including
selected organophosphate pesticides, herbicides, pest repellents and
disinfectants. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), in partnership
with Mt. Sinai School of Community Medicine and Commonweal, released
a similar study, Body
Burden: The Pollution In People, in which subjects contained
an average of 91 compounds, most of which did not exist 75 years ago.
This story was covered in the February
4, 2003 edition of Daily News.
The WWF study analyzed blood samples for 77 chemicals including PCBs,
used in industrial electrical equipment, certain types of pesticides,
and brominated flame retardants. Long-banned PCBs and a breakdown product
of the pesticide DDT were found in 99 percent of those tested.
"This report shows us that it doesn't matter who we are or where
we live. We are all contaminated by industrial chemicals which have
not been properly assessed for their safety before they are unleashed
upon us," said Justin Woolford, leader of WWF-UK's Chemicals in
Health Campaign. "The number and concentrations of chemicals found
are deplorable. We are unwittingly playing Russian roulette with our
health because of regulatory inaction."
Those whose health has been adversely affected by pesticides are
encouraged to report their exposure to Beyond Pesticides. By filling
out a Pesticide
Incident Record, victims can fully document an exposure and help
Beyond Pesticides build a strong case for pesticide reform. Contact
Beyond Pesticides for