NDP Leader Jack Layton Gives Blood for Toxic Chemical Tests

Environmental Defence testing blood of federal politicians for harmful chemicals

Environmental Defence
Jennifer Foulds, July 20, 2006

TORONTO, July 20 /CNW/ - NDP Leader Jack Layton gave a blood sample today as part of ongoing work by Environmental Defence to measure the contamination of Canadians by harmful chemicals.

Layton is the first federal politician to give blood to be tested for toxic chemicals. Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, Health Minister Tony Clement and Liberal Environment Critic John Godfrey have also volunteered to have their blood tested. Environmental Defence has requested blood samples from Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe.

Layton's blood samples will offer a snapshot of his exposure to a broad range of chemicals, some of which persist in the environment and build up in our bodies. Many of the chemicals are found in everyday products, such as furniture, TVs, food packaging, cleaning products and clothing. The chemicals have a range of potential health effects and are associated with cancer, developmental and reproductive damage, respiratory illnesses, hormone disruption and damage to the nervous system.

"It's astonishing how many MPs still refuse to make the connection between the products we use today and enduring health effects," said Layton. "The NDP has taken the lead on protecting communities by proposing Parliament outlaw cancer-causing pesticides. This blood-test challenge goes a long way to raise awareness for all Canadians especially law-makers and those responsible for producing products that lead to health problems."

In total, Layton's blood will be tested for 102 compounds that fall under seven broad categories: PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls); stain repellants and non-stick chemicals (known as PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals); organochlorine pesticides (such as DDT); organophosphate insecticide metabolites (such as the breakdown products of malathion); heavy metals (such as mercury and lead); air pollutants called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons); and, flame retardants (PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers).

As part of its national Toxic Nation campaign, Environmental Defence has measured the levels of toxic chemicals in the bodies of two groups of people - adults from across Canada, and family members ranging in age from 10 to 66. Results from those two rounds of tests found Canadians are contaminated no matter where they work, play or go to school, how old they are or where they live.

"Kids, parents, grandparents across the country are all polluted with a range of harmful chemicals," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. "We expect that our tests of MPs will turn up similar levels of contamination as all other Canadians. But, it remains to be seen which MP will be the most toxic."

Layton's blood samples will be sent to two independent laboratories for analysis, and results of all of the politicians' blood tests will be available in the fall. Full test results from previous blood samples are available on the Toxic Nation web site at www.toxicnation.ca.

About Environmental Defence: Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, safe food and thriving ecosystems. Nationwide. www.environmentaldefence.ca

For further information: Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232, (647) 280-9521 (cell); Gaby Senay, NDP Press Secretary, (613) 295-9228