Monday, October 24, 2005
Bloody hell !
WWF's blood sampling campaign to identify harmful chemicals in our bodies should be hailed as a masterpiece of outreach to bring an environmental issue close to laypersons.
It is strange, though, that its impact in the wider public has so far remained fairly limited.
WWF's Generation X European Family Biomonitoring Survey contains disturbing findings, for example:
"Blood samples from members of thirteen families from twelve EU countries - Belgium (2 families), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, Luxembourg - were analysed for a range of persistent, bioaccumulative and/or endocrine disrupting chemicals, many of which are found in everyday consumer products.
107 different man-made chemicals were analysed in the families’ blood: 12 organochlorine pesticides (including DDT), 44 polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), 33 brominated flame retardants including 31 polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) and tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBP-A), 8 “non-stick” perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), 7 artificial musks, 2 antimicrobials (triclosan and its breakdown product, methyl triclosan) and the polycarbonate plastic monomer, bisphenol-A.
The results of these survey show that every family member, from grandmothers to children, is contaminated by a cocktail of at least 18 different man-made chemicals, many of which can be found in everyday consumer items. Some of the identified chemicals such as PCBs and DDT, have been banned for decades but persist in the environment and continue to contaminate new generations with every passing year." (emphasis added)
WWF's campaign is targetting the European Union's debate on a new system for the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation of chemicals, known by its achronym REACH, which is due to be adopted in November by the European Council.
Thousands of chemicals whose harmful properties for the environment and human health have not been properly tested, are being released into air and water (hence our food, hence our blood).
The controversy over these substances has been going on for at least two decades.
One question is whether harmful substances should be phased out once they have been tested and shown to cause harm (which often takes ages), or should the precautionary principle apply?