Family give 'toxins' blood
Jul 7 2004
Duncan Higgitt, The Western Mail
THREE generations of a rural Welsh family
had their blood tested last night to discover how many life-threatening
man-made chemicals they have floating around their bodies.
Mother and farmer Enid
Jones, 51, of Melin y Grug, Llanfair Caereinion, near Welshpool, her
mother, Morfydd Thomas, 88, and her daughter Bethan, 11, took part in the
tests that are part of a blood testing survey to find out what toxic
chemicals are present in seven ordinary families across Great Britain.
samples will be tested for the presence of up to 100 chemicals including
lindane, which is known to cause cancer and yet is still in use in some
products used to control head lice.
The survey organisers,
conservation organisation WWF Cymru and the Co-operative Bank, want to
discover how many hazardous chemicals that occur in everyday products make
their way into the population.
The survey will examine
the families' lifestyles to try to establish the possible ways in which
they may be exposed to the toxic chemicals.
It will also explore the
varying levels of chemical contamination across the generations because
some chemicals are passed from mother to child.
Morgan Parry, head of WWF
Cymru, said, "There are many man-made chemicals about which we have little
or no information on their long-term health effects.
"The information we have
on the types, levels and toxicity of the thousands of different chemical
contaminants found in our food, water and air is incomplete.
"We need to understand
much more about the chemicals in our immediate environment. This is
especially important for those who may be particularly vulnerable to the
effects of certain chemicals, including pregnant women, babies and
Mrs Jones agreed to take
part in the study because she was concerned about the lack of safety
information on certain man-made chemicals found in everyday products that
are used in the home, especially the effect they have on children.
Mrs Jones was born and
brought up on the farm that she runs with her husband, Arwel, and she is
keen to find out whether chemicals from sheep dip, such as lindane, which
are no longer used in agriculture, can still be traced in their blood.
Mrs Jones's mother
Morfydd recalls the days when the words man-made chemicals were not even
associated with people's lifestyles. She believes the population half a
century ago adopted healthier lifestyles because they grew and ate their
own food, and used boiling water on clothes rather than washing powders.
The Co-operative Bank
campaigns manager, Kate Daley, said people don't have to work in the
chemicals industry to be contaminated by man-made chemicals.
She said, "We are
particularly concerned about the effects that persistent and
bioaccumulative chemicals, like the ones we're testing for in this survey,
may be having not only on wildlife and ourselves but also on future
WWF is most concerned
about chemicals that do not break down and remain in the environment for a
long time, with levels building up in living things over time, or hormone
disrupting, meaning that they interfere with the normal functioning of our
body's hormone system.
WWF Cymru communications
officer Ruth Bates said, "Persistent and bio-accumulative chemicals build
up in our bodies and those of wildlife and we pass on this legacy to our
children during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
"Because these chemicals
are persistent and bioaccumulative, they are impossible to clean up later.
"History has shown that
such contamination can turn out to be toxic. There is evidence that such
chemicals have adverse impacts on wildlife and there are disturbing trends
that indicate that human health may also be affected in numerous ways.
"Hormone disrupters are
man-made chemicals that can interfere with our hormone systems and can
affect the development, reproduction and behaviour of exposed people and
"Developing babies in the
womb are particularly at risk since their early development is extremely
sensitive to chemicals, especially hormones."
The results of the tests
will be revealed in September.
The EU is negotiating new
legislation to regulate industrial chemicals. The WWF is calling for the
legislation to phase out chemicals that are persistent and
THE Welsh farming family
will be tested for the following man-made chemicals:
Brominated Flame Retardants:
used in everyday items like furniture and electrical appliances;
(PCBs): now banned in the UK after they were found to be toxic and to be
building up in animals and people;
widely used but many now banned after they were found to persistent in the
environment and cause long-term toxic effects in wildlife;
Lindane: no longer used as
an insecticide but still found in lotions, cream and shampoos used to
control head lice;
Phthalates: found in many
plastics and consumer products. Detected in fish, other wildlife,
household dust and fatty foods, meat and dairy products;
used in a range of products from non-stick pans to floor waxes. Very hard
to get rid of;
Artificial musks: used to
fragrance a wide variety of toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products.
They have been measured in rainwater, river water, lakes and sediment;
Triclosan: man-made chemical
used in everyday products such as kitchenware and soaps.
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