Dioxins in babies at 85 times safety limit
Newborn babies have been taking in 85 times the recommended limit of dioxins in their mothers' milk, the Government admits. Dioxins are among the most dangerous of chemicals, and the Government says it has no idea when it will be able to bring them down to safe levels.
The unpublicised figure – described last night by the Environment minister, Michael Meacher, as "staggering" – is buried in a consultation document issued by his department last month. The report was put out with a press release that praised "the considerable amount" the Government had achieved "in reducing exposure to these toxic compounds". It made no mention of the alarming amounts in breast milk.
Mr Meacher said he would "call in my officials and ask for an explanation". He said the issue should be one "of major public concern" and that he would be considering "what action can be taken".
Dioxins, described in the report as "ubiquitous" pollutants, are suspected of causing cancer, damaging the immune system, and having "gender-bender" effects.
Dioxins are produced by burning a wide range of things from fossil fuels in power stations to bonfires in gardens. They are extremely persistent, accumulate in fat, and build up in the food chain – for example, in cows eating grass contaminated by air pollution, then passed on to people eating their produce. Offal, meat, milk, butter, cheese, fish, poultry, sugar and bread contain the highest concentrations, and Britons get 90 per cent of their exposure in their diet.
The chemicals steadily build up in peoples' bodies – and mothers pass them on to their babies in breast milk. The report says the latest measurements – taken by the old Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1993 and 1994 – showed that every day babies aged two months were taking in 170 picograms of dioxins for every kilogram of their body weight. This is 85 times the limit set down in Britain, 170 times the lowest safety level set by the World Health Organisation, and 170,000 times the amount proposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to guard against the possibility of getting cancer later in life.
The report added that babies aged 10 months were still taking in 39 picograms per kilogram of body weight a day. And though dioxin levelshave fallen over the last decade, it lingers so long in women's bodies that the report says the Government "is unable to predict with any confidence" when "exposure of breastfed babies" will fall beneath the danger level.
But the Government and environmentalists continue to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies.
The consultation document envisages developing a "dioxin action plan" to cut pollution, but another report indicates it could cost about £10bn.
Yesterday Mike Childs, senior campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: "Action is needed as a matter of urgency. The Government has to decide whether it is going to put the interests of its friends in industry or the health of babies first. It is a clear-cut choice."
Government takes action against the giant goldfish clogging up Canada's lakes and rivers
'Mini ice age' coming in next fifteen years, new model of the sun's cycle shows
African wildcat caught on camera riding on the back of rhino in rare footage
Pope Francis calls for a new system of global government to tackle climate change
Have you heard 'the hum'? Mystery of Earth's low droning noise could now be solved
- 2 Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An experienced TLO is required to manage, deli...
£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...
£6 - £15 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a well e...