Blood tests of four Canadian politicians demonstrate ubiquity of pollutants says environmental group

Blood tests of four Canadian politicians demonstrate ubiquity of pollutants says environmental group

Four federal politicians who allowed their blood to be tested as part of an environmentalist organization’s campaign to uncover toxicity levels in the natural environment have displayed surprise after tests revealed a high number of pollutants.

The politicians, former Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, NDP Leader Jack Layton, Health Minister Tony Clement, and Liberal Environment Critic John Godfrey were tested for 103 different pollutants by Environmental Defence.

Results in the “Toxic Nation on Parliament Hill: A Report on Pollution in Four Canadian Politicians” (available here: www.toxicnation.ca), released January 3rd, showed that all four tested positive for nearly half of the pollutants being examined, which included PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), stain repellants and non-stick chemicals, organochlorine pesticides, organophosphate insecticide metabolites, heavy metals, air pollutants, and flame retardants.

The four scored higher than families who were examined in an earlier test conducted in June 2006.

Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director of Environmental Defence, told the Globe and Mail that the four were “surprised as heck by the results.”

Among the quartet, Godfrey had the highest level of pollutants, with 55. Tony Clement and Jack Layton each had 54, while Ambrose, who as of January 4th was replaced as Environment Minister by John Baird, MP for Ottawa West-Nepean, had the lowest number of the four, with 49.

All of the four showed higher mercury levels than that of other Canadians tested, while Layton scored highest in flame retardant levels. Ambrose showed the highest level of arsenic, Godfrey the highest level of organophosphate insecticide metabolites, while Clement had the highest total concentration of PCBs, non-stick chemicals, and organochloride pesticides.

“Our tests show that pollution affects everyone,” said Smith, in an Environmental Defence press release.

“From Parliament Hill to kids in Vancouver and Saint John, harmful pollutants are contaminating the bodies of Canadians no matter where they live, how old they are or where they work, play or go to school.”

Smith suggested to the Globe and Mail that it’s possible that the harried lifestyle led by many politicians could contribute to increased levels of pollutants in their bodies.

“Maybe its attributable to the unique lifestyles these guys lead,” he said. “Politicians have a very strange, very stressful lifestyle that results in them grabbing a bite to eat when they can and eating a lot of junk food.”

Although the pollutants found have been linked with cancer, respiratory problems and other serious illnesses, according to the Globe and Mail, the levels were not high enough to be regarded as dangerous.

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Craig Anderson

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