Children Often More Contaminated Than Their Mothers, New WWF Report Shows

(Beyond Pesticides, October 11, 2005)

European children are absorbing dangerous chemicals into their blood from computers, textiles, cosmetics and electrical appliances, according to a new study released last week by WWF. Generation X, WWF’s first European Union‚ wide family testing survey, found a total of 73 man-made hazardous compounds in the blood of grandmothers, mothers and children from 13 families in 12 countries.

The highest number of chemicals, an average of 63 and including some which are now banned like DDT, was recorded among the oldest generation tested, while the middle generation — the mothers — registered only 49. But tests on the children in the 13 families showed an average of 59 dangerous chemicals — many of them new products in widespread use like flame retardants, the WWF said.

“It shows that we are all unwittingly the subjects of an uncontrolled global experiment, and its is particularly shocking to discover that toxic chemicals in daily use are contaminating the blood of our children,” said WWF specialist Karl Wagner. “How much more evidence is needed before industry and European politicians accept that these hazardous chemicals cannot be adequately controlled?” he asked.

In the tests, blood samples from the 13 families were analyzed for 107 different man-made persistent, accumulative or hormone-disrupting chemicals from five main groups.

Of 31 different flame retardants of another type analyzed in the survey, 17 were found among the children tested compared to 10 among the grandmothers and eight among the mothers.

The antibacterial agent triclosan was found in 16 family members (out of 39 total) spanning all 3 generations. Triclosan is found in hundreds of common everyday products, including nearly half of all commercial soaps. In addition to soaps, triclosan is found in deodorants, toothpastes, cosmetics, fabrics and plastics. Triclosan has also been found in the umbilical cord blood of infants and in breast milk of mothers.

The tests matched conclusions of similar sampling last year from 14 EU environment and health ministers which showed contamination by 55 chemicals, some banned years ago and others in daily use.

The latest survey, WWF said, raises the question of whether future generations will be more exposed to potentially cancer- producing and endocrine-disrupting chemicals that accumulate in human bodies to increasing levels over a life-span.

The latest tests were carried out in Belgium, where two families were involved, and on one family each from Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Sweden and Luxembourg.