, 2000

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JUNE 25, 1998
4:30 PM
CONTACT:  Greenpeace USA
Deborah Rephan 202-319-2492
Greenpeace Report Shows Toxic Pollution Knows No Boundaries
MONTREAL - June 25 - A Greenpeace study released today shows humans are polluted by unseen poisons all over the world -- from the tropics to the polar regions.

These poisons are called persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, and have been recognized as a problem requiring global action. Scientists have discovered alarming levels of POPs contamination in the last ten years in Arctic wildlife and in humans who live far from where the poisons are produced, used, and first enter the environment.

Greenpeace released this report at the start of an international government level gathering in Montreal (June 29 - July 3), where representatives will begin talks on a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from POPs. Action will focus initially on twelve pollutants of special concern including the notorious dioxins, furans, PCBs and DDT. The initial twelve are all chlorine-containing chemicals that are long lasting in the environment and travel long distances on air currents.

The report, "Unseen Poisons," is authored by scientists Dr. Michelle Allsopp, Ruth Stringer and Dr. Paul Johnston of the Greenpeace Research Laboratories, University of Exeter, England. It focuses on the concentrations of POPs in various human tissues such as breast milk and blood.

"Many people once thought POPs were mainly a problem for people and wildlife who live in the colder regions of the world," said Dr. Matthew Bramley, Greenpeace toxics specialist based in Montreal. "Now we know that humans the world over are significantly contaminated as well."

For example, the amount of DDT, the chemical used to control malaria-carrying mosquitoes, found in mother's milk in some African, Asian, and Latin American countries is so high that infants are receiving a daily dose of DDT that exceeds the World Health Organization's standard for adults. In India and Zimbabwe, it is exceeded by a factor of over six times.

POPs have been associated with numerous forms of human health injury. These include cancers and tumors; reproductive and nervous systems disorders; immune system abnormalities and various diseases. POPs are known to cross the placenta from mother to fetus and can pass to the nursing infant through breast milk. Many scientists believe there are no safe levels, and that POPs and must be completely eliminated.

Greenpeace is the leading independent organization which uses peaceful and creative activism to protect the global environment.


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