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RISK IN THE BLOOD

03-03-2008

blood cells

We consume a cocktail of chemicals every day in our food and drink and through our air supply. Barbara Panvel argues that it’s time to stop allowing big business to jeopardise our health.

Have addictive anti-depressants no clinical benefit for most patients?

Is antibiotic resistance due to medical and agricultural overuse a factor in MRSA and C-difficile infections?

Should we welcome the move towards mass medication: fluoride in water or folic acid in bread?

Mass marketing is very profitable. A growing number of new vaccines are being created for animals and humans. New to me is the pneumonia jab. A practice nurse recommended it: “It will protect you if you have to go into hospital. Once you get there you’re a sitting duck for a whole list of infections”.

Cheering!

Chemicals in food, water, household cleaning products and furnishings, cosmetics, agriculture and medicine are taking a toll on health.

Jill Evans, a Welsh MEP, discovered that her blood was contaminated with 33 chemicals, more than anyone else who took the test in Wales. She is supporting a campaign to have these persistent chemicals phased out or replaced with a safer alternative.

The REACH Regulation, based on the precautionary principle, is said to be a major reform of EU chemicals policy.

It came into force in 2007 and will register, evaluate and restrict chemicals.

Substances thought to cause cancer, infertility in men and women, genetic mutations or birth defects and to those which are persistent and accumulate in our bodies and the environment will be evaluated.

However it seems unduly relaxed about the serious problems caused - it will take 11 years to deal with about 30.000 chemical substances in use today.

The fact that REACH will also enable more rapid total or partial bans where unacceptable risks are detected sounds more promising: but why only have a partial ban on a chemical which has been proved to be dangerous?

Who would find any avoidable risk of damage to health or death acceptable?

There have been many attempts to weaken the regulation. It was alleged, in a leaked document sent to the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, that Tony Blair’s government argued for the continued use of hazardous substances, many of which have been associated with health problems ranging from infertility to cancer and birth defects - even when safer alternatives are available.

Writing in the on-line version of The Lancet, medical researchers say that the regulations being introduced by the European Union don’t go far enough. They have urgently called for a "precautionary approach" to testing and for tighter worldwide controls on chemicals.

The industry, however, maintains a powerful lobby at Westminster and even in cases where chemicals have been tested the results are often not known because of ‘commercial confidentiality’.

If only politicians would prioritise the welfare of those they are elected to serve. Or is this too much to ask?

Would their attitude change if they and their families had blood tests – like the Welsh MEP - and were given information on the risks to which they are being exposed?

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