“New Studies Reveal Toxic Contamination of Free-Range Eggs in 17 Countries”
April 25, 2005
International Meeting 2-6 May to Address Global Problem
(Washington, D.C. --) Free-range chicken eggs in chemical “hot spots” around the world contain traces of highly toxic chemicals at alarming levels – many at levels that far exceed European Union (EU) proposed or existing limits, according to two new studies by the International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN).
The studies were conducted in preparation for the upcoming Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), scheduled for 2-6 May in Uruguay. The Convention is the first global, legally binding instrument whose aim is to protect human health and the environment by controlling production, use and disposal of toxic chemicals. Ninety-seven countries have ratified the convention and will participate in the May meeting.
The first study looked for dioxin, furan, PCB, and HCB contamination in free-range chicken eggs in 17 countries on five continents. The chemicals included in this study are earmarked for minimization and elimination by the Stockholm Convention and are known as unintentional persistent organic pollutants (U-POPs), because they are created as unintentional byproducts of certain combustion and industrial processes. They were chosen for study to illustrate the need for international guidelines to help countries design facilities that avoid or minimize formation and environmental release of POPs; guidelines on substitute materials as a means of reducing and eliminating POPs; the importance of completely destroying POPs in waste before allowing them to be released to the environment; and the need for more publicly available information on U-POPs in our food, our bodies and the environment.
The second study looked for the presence of the pesticide hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH, lindane), and brominated flame retardants, such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD). These are chemicals that have the same characteristics as the 12 chemicals already slated for elimination or minimization and which IPEN believes should be added as targets for global elimination.
Both studies found dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in eggs that were collected near waste incinerators, cement kilns, the metallurgical industry, waste dumps and chemical production facilities. The lowest levels of contamination had more than two times the background level of dioxins. Seventy percent of the samples exceeded the EU limit for dioxins in eggs; sixty percent exceeded proposed EU limits for PCBs in eggs. Three egg samples reported in this study contain some of the highest dioxin levels ever measured in chicken eggs. Lindane, beta-HCH and the PBDE flame retardants were found in all samples. Another flame retardant, HBCD, appeared in 80 percent of the samples. This study represents the first data about these substances in most of the countries examined.
Full results of the studies can be found at: http://www.oztoxics.org/ipepweb/egg/Hotspot%20Reports.html .
The 17 countries included in this study were chosen to emphasize the overwhelming lack of information about POPs pollution in many countries. The countries are: Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Egypt, India, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Tanzania, Turkey, Uruguay and the United States.
IPEN views the Stockholm Convention text as a promise to take the actions needed to protect the global public’s health and the global environment from the injuries that are caused by POPs, a promise that was agreed upon by representatives of the global community: governments, interested stakeholders, and representatives of the public health community worldwide.
IPEN is calling upon all countries involved in the Convention to Keep the Promise by honoring the integrity of the Convention text at the first Conference of the Parties in Uruguay.
The International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN) is a global public interest NGO network with more than 350 Participating Organizations in 65 countries and in all regions. IPEN was formed in 1998 during the first POPs Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee meeting (INC1). Throughout the POPs negotiations, IPEN worked as a global advocacy network, acting on behalf of public health and environmental interests. IPEN-Participating organizations in many countries and in all regions collaborated to advance the common goal of creating a strong and effective global POPs treaty. IPEN now works with NGOs at regional, national, district and community levels in support of POPs elimination efforts as a step toward a future world where toxic chemicals no longer cause harm to human health or to the environment.
Laura Williamson LWM Communications
Environmental Media Services