Letter: Babies at risk from dioxins

Share
Related Topics
Sir: It has been known for many years that PCBs and dioxins are widespread in our diet and are concentrated in human milk as well as in cows' milk (Briefing, 15 May) and that they take a long time to decay, probably over 10 years.

They are entirely man-made and the biggest source in past years has been the incineration of municipal waste. In a report published last year the Inspectorate of Pollution (now part of the Environment Agency) stated that for breast-fed babies the estimated average intake of dioxins is approximately 9-28 picogrammes (pg) per kilogram body weight, per day, compared to the adult intake of 1-5pg.

These estimates were based on measurements by the Ministry of Agriculture and were used to demonstrate that the encouragement of incineration as a method of dealing with the UK's waste disposal problem would not cause any health hazards from dioxin emissions from the incinerator, as modern equipment could trap the dioxins and guarantee that less than 1,000pg of dioxins per cubic metre of air were discharged to air: this would mean that those living near the incinerator would only absorb a maximum of 0.1-0.5pg per Kgm body weight a day, a small amount compared with what they were absorbing from their diet.

The report however admits that even on their estimated figures breast- fed babies would be receiving more than the recommended daily dose.

Now we learn that actual measurements are far greater and show that breast- fed babies at two months old are absorbing as much as 110pg per Kgm in body weight plus another 60 pg of PCBs, of similar toxicity, which were not measured before. But, we are told, all will be well because once the baby goes on to mixed food and takes less milk the dioxins they have absorbed will gradually decay.

These compounds are accepted carcinogens; the Americans and many British scientists believe they are capable of affecting the hormones and the immune system. It is urgent that steps be taken to reduce the amounts in our diet as soon as possible. and the previous government's policy of encouraging incineration of municipal waste should be reversed. There are other ways of dealing with waste.

Dr PATRICIA ELLIOTT

Saffron Walden, Essex

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (infrastructure, upgrades, rollouts)

£38000 - £45000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“You're running away!” Nick said to me the other night as I tried to leave the hospital  

In Sickness and in Health: ‘There’s nothing I want more than to have you at home, but you’re not well’

Rebecca Armstrong
 

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments