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The poisons in our bodies.

Byline: By Amy Hunt

People on Tyneside are surrounded by toxic chemicals, a probe by wildlife charity WWF has found. Amy Hunt spoke to a Gateshead woman who, after a blood test, discovered she had 27 poisons in her body

Hazardous chemicals are everywhere. In our food, our furniture and our beauty products.

That is the horrifying scenario put forward by conservation group WWF.

Over the last five years the charity has taken blood from 200 people of all ages from around the UK, finding hazardous chemicals, from pesticides banned decades ago, to flame retardants used in electrical goods, in every single sample.

Now bosses at WWF have created an online test for people to find out what chemicals they have picked up from their everyday life, and to give advice on how to avoid them.

The test takes the form of a questionnaire, looking at what man-made chemicals people across the region are being exposed to through their lifestyles, diet, and use of particular products.

Seemingly harmless things in every home, like sofas, carpets, air fresheners and TVs, actually contain toxins which build up in people's bodies over time.

These can eventually damage organs, lead to infertility, cause allergies or create behavioural disorders.

Allwyn Nichols had a blood test two years ago and was panic-stricken to discover she was living with 27 different toxic chemicals in her body, the greatest one being DDT, which was widely used for pest control during Allwyn's younger days.

Allwyn, of Marley Hill, Gateshead, said: "I was absolutely horrified to be honest. I didn't know I would have so many chemicals in my blood.

"People should be careful what they are doing and should be aware of what's being done to us that we don't know about."

Grandmother Allwyn, who lives with husband Harry, 68, now campaigns with the WWF for tighter controls on chemicals and has travelled to Brussels to lobby European MPs.

Allwyn, 67, said: "I thought I can't do a lot for myself now, but I can change things for my grandchildren."

She is now much more careful about buying organic food, and boycotts cosmetics which are high in chemicals.

She said: "I'm intolerant of a lot of things, which I put down to these chemicals. Organic products are more expensive, but at what price your health? I think the online test is a good thing if people get to know about it. If you don't know about it you can't do anything about it."

Through their research, the WWF found pesticides like DDT, banned since the 1970s, present in the bodies of people not even alive the last time the chemical was legally used in the UK.

In homes, man-made carpets and linoleum floor covers contain Volatile Organic Chemicals which cause air pollution and are linked to asthma and breathing problems.

Many toothpastes and toothbrushes, as well as some detergents, deodorants and other cosmetics, contain triclosan. It is used for it antibacterial properties, but is said to cause organ failure and infertility. Phthalates are found in a range of toiletries, and are thought to cause genital deformities in boys.

People can reduce their exposure to these toxins by using natural, rather than manmade, furnishings, and checking the ingredients in cleaning products and cosmetics. The EU admits 99% chemicals on the market are not properly regulated.

The online survey is at www.wwf.org.uk/chemicals/indecentexposure. After doing the test, people can lobby MPs via email to push the EU to impose tighter controls on chemicals.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 9, 2006
Words:586
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