Is your home poisoning you?

By ROBIN YAPP, Daily Mail

Last updated at 13:08 22 April 2004

A huge cocktail of toxic chemicals can be found

in every adult's blood, research revealed yesterday.

All the volunteers tested had been contaminated by potentially harmful substances found in everyday items such as sofas, mattresses and televisions.

Scientists say the chemicals - found in everything from TVs to sofas, cosmetics to computer screens - are so widespread in the environment that no one is likely to escape contamination.

Professor Malcolm Hooper, of the University of Sunderland, said the findings are a warning of the problems future generations will face unless tighter controls are imposed.

"My concerns are to do with the future and the growth and development of children and of our babies, male fertility, and the health of the elderly," he said, unveiling the results of the study from wildlife charity WWF Europe in Strasbourg.

"There is evidence in the survey which sends warning bells about these things."

Common chemicals

The most common chemicals detected included the pesticide DDT, which has been banned since the 1970s after links to cancer, and PCBs, once widely used in plastics but now also banned over concerns that they could cause infertility.

More than a third of participants were also found to be contaminated by deca-BDE, a flame retardant used in computers and cars, which may damage the brain and nervous system.

WWF said its findings showed it was a 'lottery' as to whether we become contaminated and called for urgent action to safeguard future generations.

In the study, 47 volunteers from 17 European countries - including 39 MEPs, nine of them British - provided blood samples which were tested for the presence of 101 man-made chemicals.

Researchers found 76 of the chemicals, with an average of 41 in the blood of each person. Thirteen of the substances were found in every volunteer.

Blood contamination

Karl Wagner, a WWF director, said he was 'shocked' to discover his blood contained levels of deca-BDE ten times higher than in workers exposed to it.

He said: 'I have never worked with this chemical. Millions like me could be contaminated by this chemical and countless others.'

Campaigners say many of the chemicals have never been properly tested for effects on human health, although animal studies have indicated that many may pose serious health dangers.

Testing standards

The European Commission has acknowledged that current testing standards - more than 20 years old - need updating. But WWF fears that lobbying by manufacturers will ensure the changes do not go nearly far enough.

Justin Wolford, WWF chemicals and health campaign leader, said: "The industry has taken very little action to make chemicals used in everyday products safe, despite clear evidence of widespread chemical contamination of people and wildlife.

"It appears to be a lottery as to whether, where, when, how and to what extent we are exposed to chemicals that accumulate in our bodies and potentially interfere with our hormone systems. Everyone should have the right to a clean, healthy and uncontaminated body."

Kate Daley, of The Co-operative Bank which jointly commissioned the study with WWF, said: "It's a frightening fact that everyone tested is contaminated with a variety of industrial chemicals, including pesticides outlawed many years ago and chemicals still in use today, no matter where they live."

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