Daily News Archive

Tests Reveal Chemical Cocktail in EU Ministers' Blood
(Beyond Pesticides, October 21, 2004) Blood tests have revealed that 14 environment and health ministers from across the European Union are contaminated with chemical pollutants from sofas, pizza boxes and pesticides, the environmental group World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) said on Tuesday. The group said that blood tests showed contamination by 55 chemicals, some of which were banned years ago but are still in use.

WWF, which is pushing for tougher EU laws on the testing of chemicals, used the survey of high-profile public figures to illustrate how the use of industrial chemicals in common daily items could pose health threats. "The ministers are all contaminated with industrial chemicals whose effects are largely unknown," said WWF official Karl Wagner in a statement. The chemicals were "persistent, bio-accumulative and capable of disrupting the hormone systems of wildlife and people," WWF said.

The group said the chemicals found included those used in pesticides, fragrances, non-stick pans, grease-proof pizza boxes and fire-resistant sofas. The officials, who were tested in June, had an average of 37 chemicals in their blood, WWF said, with one showing as many as 43.

WWF conducted the tests as part of its support for REACH - or Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals - a draft EU law that would require the testing and licensing of thousands of commonly used chemicals across Europe. "Although 86 percent of the 2,500 chemicals used in large quantities do not have enough safety information publicly available to do a basic safety assessment, research increasingly links chemicals to cancers, allergies, reproductive problems and defects in children's development," the group said. The REACH proposal has been criticized by the EU chemical industry for placing an unreasonable burden on the sector and creating red tape.

Chemical contamination is not a phenomenon unique to Europeans; a study in 2003 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 89 chemicals, including PCBs, dioxins, phthalates, selected organophosphate pesticides, herbicides, pest repellents and disinfectants had made their way into the bloodstreams and urine of volunteers tested. (See Daily News 2/4/03).

Source: Reuters

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