Daily News Archive
From November 16, 2005                                                                                                           

New Canadian Report Reveals Toxic Pollution in Humans
(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2005)
A cocktail of harmful toxic chemicals including pesticides, PCBs, stain repellants, flame retardants, mercury and lead was detected in 100 percent of those tested in a Canadian study, released last week by Environmental Defence (Canada).

The report, Toxic Nation: A Report on Pollution in Canadians, demonstrates that toxic chemicals contaminate people no matter where they live, how old they are or what they do for a living. Studies in the U.S. and U.K. have shown similar results of toxic loads carried by humans (see list of Daily News stories below).

According to the report, researchers targeted those chemicals that are considered most hazardous to human health, and particularly to children's development, including carcinogens, hormone disruptors, reproductive/developmental toxins and respiratory toxins.

Among the pesticides and their metabolites tested were organophosphate insecticides such as parathion, diazinon, malathion, and chloropyrifos, which have a variety of applications for lawns,
agricultural crops, and mosquito and pest control.

The study tested the blood and urine of eleven subjects dispersed across regions in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. A total of 60 out 88 (or 68 per cent) were discovered in the samples. On average, 44 chemicals were detected in each volunteer, including 41 carcinogens, 27 hormone disruptors, 21 respiratory toxins and 53 reproductive/developmental toxins.

Chief David Masty of the Whapmagoostui First Nation in northern Quebec had 51 chemicals detected in his body with the highest levels of mercury and persistent organic pollutants such as PCBs and organochlorine pesticides. The report attributes the findings to the fact that many chemicals accumulate in the North and in wildlife, despite the distance from most stationary sources of industrial pollution.

The levels of some chemicals detected in the volunteers suggest that effective regulation to ban the most harmful toxic substances can reduce the pollution in people over time. Older volunteers in the Toxic Nation study had higher levels of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), which were banned in Canada in 1977, than the younger volunteers.

The report released by Environmental Defense recommends the Canadian government:

  • virtually eliminate the use of toxic chemicals, starting with some of the most harmful: brominated flame retardants (PBDEs), perfluorinated chemicals and their precursors (PFOS), and phthalates (chemicals that make plastics soft);
  • make industry accountable for its chemicals;
  • regulate chemicals in consumer products through CEPA; and,
  • create a special section in CEPA to focus on pollution reduction in the Great Lakes basin.

For more information including test results of the individual volunteers from across Canada, visit the Toxic Nation web site at www.toxicnation.ca.

Similar biomonitoring studies have taken place in the U.S. and U.K.:

Children Often More Contaminated Than Their Mothers, New WWF Report Shows (10/11/05)
CDC Releases Third Report On Chemical Contamination In Humans (7/21/05)
Hundreds of Pesticides and Other Toxic Chemicals Pollute the Womb (7/15/05)
Tests Reveal Chemical Cocktail in EU Ministers' Blood (10/21/04)
U.S. Population Burdened With High Levels of Pesticides In Their Bodies (5/12/04)
Glyphosate Contamination Detected in Humans (3/16/04)
High Levels of Organophosphate Pesticides Found in Children (2/17/04)
Blood Tests Reveal Pesticide Contamination (12/2/03)