|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 25, 1998
|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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