More than 350 pollutants found in breast milk
Sunday 11 July 1999
Most seriously, an authoritative scientific report to be published tomorrow will show that two-month-old British infants are taking in 42 times the safe level of dioxin in breast milk.
The Government is to start a major survey to gather further evidence on the extent of the contamination. The survey will analyse the milk for a vast range of pollutants, including dioxins, pesticides, "gender bender" chemicals that disrupt hormones and have been found to cause bizarre sex changes in animals, and toxic metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic.
The report was commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature, UK, from Gwynne Lyons, a new member of the Health and Safety Executive's advisory committee on toxic substances. It discloses "widespread contamination of mother's milk".
The report not only shows that highly poisonous dioxins have been found in breast milk, but pesticides like DDT and lindane have also been found, as have PCBs, notoriously toxic chemicals used in a whole range of applications from electrical transformers to paint. Chemicals from dry-cleaning and nappy-bucket disinfectants had also been found.
In all, the report says, more than 350 chemicals have been found in breast milk in different studies around the world. "Some of the contaminants identified are known to have the ability to cause cancer and some are able to impair the immune system," it says. "Others are known to interfere with the normal functioning of the bodies' hormones." Mothers pass on chemicals that they have stored in their fat all their lives to their babies in their milk.
The report calls for "urgent action to reduce exposures". The Ministry of Agriculture is finalising the contract for a pilot study with Leeds University, which will take milk from more than 1,000 mothers in Yorkshire over the next 15 months, and analyse it and store it in an "archive". The plan is to expand this study nationwide.
Both the report and survey break a long-standing taboo because both environmentalists and Government have long been wary of calling attention to the pollution of breast milk, fearing that mothers might stop suckling their babies. They stress that breast milk is still best because it immunises children against infection, strengthens bonds with their mother and provides a better food than artificial formulas.
"Mothers should not give up breast feeding," Ms Lyons said yesterday. "Regulators should act to phase out substances that will pass on this toxic inheritance to the next generation."
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
16 Waitrose customers who could not cope with the end of free coffee
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Phase Co-ordinator for Foundation and Key S...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...