Britain's daily diet of stealth poisons revealed

Food and water presumed to be clean have been revealed to contain many toxic substances, sometimes above legal limits, according to a shock study by UK experts.

In the study conducted by the Pesticide Action Network (PAN), People's pesticide exposures: poisons we are exposed to every day without knowing it took a year of official government reports on pesticides in our food, water and the environment, and set them out alongside results from its own surveys.

The results showed that, in some drinking water tests, every single pesticide of the dozens tested for were detected. Although they were mostly below the legal limit, problem pesticides occurred frequently.

These included traces of Endrin and Aldrin in the drinking water supplies, as well as DDT in some fish and minced meat samples, and nearly half of the lamb samples taken.

Now banned internationally under the Stockholm Convention (see related story), these persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are particularly harmful because they are highly toxic, take a long time to break down in the environment, and accumulate in human and animal tissues.

However, a spokesperson from PAN assured edie that, although present, the traces of these substances were below residue standards.

PAN's report also revealed that certain local authorities responsible for private drinking water supplies had not actually tested for any pesticides since 1991, when the regulations were initially introduced.

"Drinking water is not as pesticide-free as we would like to think," author of PAN's report Alison Craig said. "Who wants a lifetime of small doses of multiple poisons in their food and water? Some scientists suspect these toxins as a cause of chronic disease. We shouldn't have these exposures."

She added that food contamination was a growing problem and known risk - particularly for the elderly and the very young, with safety thresholds for toddlers often being breached drastically.

The PAN results showed that, of the chemical cocktail found in food, 65% were recognised health hazards. Of those, over one third were suspected to cause cancer, 12% were hormone-disrupting (see related story), and nearly half were known to be acutely toxic.

By Jane Kettle




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