Breast milk contaminated with 300 toxins

HUMAN breast milk is contaminated with over 300 toxic chemicals, Friends of the Earth reported yesterday in an appeal for stronger EU legislation governing chemicals.

The organisation came under fire for revealing the extent of the pollution on the basis that it would frighten off women from breast feeding their babies.

However, Friends of the Earth defended their approach saying that the benefits of breast feeding still outweigh the chemical intake.

They and other health and environment groups were warning that the EU’s proposed new law on chemicals is in danger of becoming a toothless tiger.

Around 97% of chemicals on the market which make up nearly all the substances used in cosmetics, furniture and electronics have never been tested for their effect on people.

Many of these according to the report can be found in humans today, especially the long-lived and fat-loving substances that are absorbed and live on in the body.

These pass onto babies in the womb and are linked to allergies, cancers and the growing levels of sterility especially in men.

Studies in Germany found traces of man-made chemicals, some of which have been banned for the past 30 years end up in breast milk, Patricia Cameron, the author of the report said.

The good news is that testing shows breastfeeding counteracts the adverse effects of exposure in the womb to chemicals such as PCBs and dioxins according to Maryse Lehners of the International Babyfood Action Network.

Studies show that dangerous chemicals that have been banned or replaced are decreasing in breast milk said Ms Cameron.

“This is why we need proper legislation now to test chemicals to evaluate the risks they pose to humans and to the environment, and that industry must replace the dangerous ones with safe alternatives”, she said.

However the member states have eliminated the need to substitute hazardous chemicals with safer alternatives wherever they exist.

MEP Avril Doyle said there was a real danger that, because of disputes between MEPs, the proposals from the member states would win through.

Ireland is one of the countries firmly opposed to the insistence that hazardous chemicals be replaced with safer alternatives. It fears that industry, such as high tech that uses toxic substances would be placed at a disadvantage and relocate outside Europe.

REACH is due to come before the Parliament later this year for a second reading.

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