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 MP test shows chemical threat

Monday 15 November 2004

pollutionA blood test coordinated by conservation group WWF as part of an investigation into chemical contamination has revealed dozens of industrial materials – some banned – in the blood of Rural Affairs Minister Alun Michael.

Despite the seemingly high level of contamination in Mr Michael’s test, he had the lowest number of chemicals of the fourteen other European environment and health ministers involved in the investigation.

The thirty-three chemicals found in Mr Michael’s blood include ones that were banned decades ago. The results uncovered the following chemicals: brominated flame retardants, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), breakdown products of DDT and twenty five different PCBs. The latter two chemicals were banned in the UK in the 1970s. All of these chemicals are persistent, in that they pollute the environment for a long time, and have been found to build up in people and wildlife.

"Alun Michael is contaminated with industrial chemicals whose effects are largely unknown," commented WWF’s Elizabeth Salter-Green. "It is hard to believe that legislators have been willing to allow this uncontrolled experiment to continue for so many years. The lack of concern shown by Department of Health experts is extremely worrying,” she added.

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