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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine