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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.

Their blood 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 infants."

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 generations."

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 animals.

"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 bioaccumulative.

The Tests

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;

Poly-Chlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs): now banned in the UK after they were found to be toxic and to be building up in animals and people;

Organo-Chlorine Pesticides: 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;

Perfluorinated Chemicals: 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.

Copyright and Trade Mark Notice
© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Plc 2004
icWalesTM is a trade mark of Trinity Mirror Plc.


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