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Test finds MPs' bodies full of toxins

For those who believe Parliament Hill is a toxic environment, here's some food for thought: a wide range of harmful pollutants have been found in the bodies of four federal MPs who volunteered to have their blood and urine tested for toxins.

By The Vancouver Sun January 4, 2007 Be the first to post a comment

OTTAWA — For those who believe Parliament Hill is a toxic environment, here's some food for thought: a wide range of harmful pollutants have been found in the bodies of four federal MPs who volunteered to have their blood and urine tested for toxins.

Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, Health Minister Tony Clement, NDP leader Jack Layton and Liberal environment critic John Godfrey were tested for 103 pollutants for a study by Environmental Defence, a group that campaigns against the use of toxic chemicals.

All four politicians had pollutant levels higher than child and adult volunteers who participated in a similar study released in June. In fact, the politicians had higher total concentrations in every comparable chemical group, from stain repellents and non-stick chemicals to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls),

PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), metals and pesticides.

Godfrey registered the highest number of total pollutants, at 55, followed by Clement and Layton, at 54, and Ambrose, at 49.

Clement had the most elevated concentration of PCBs, non-stick chemicals and organochlorine pesticides.

Layton posted the highest concentration of flame retardants and PAHs, while Godfrey had the highest level of organophosphate insecticide metabolites and Ambrose the highest level of arsenic.

Clement, who joked he must have been involved in "too much frying-pan action," said the results show the degree to which Canadians are exposed to chemicals. Nearly every Canadian is exposed to some form of chemicals in their day or week, so our job as a government is to make sure that whatever accumulates in our body is at a safe level."

Godfrey was surprised by the level of toxins in his system, given that he tries to lead a healthy lifestyle.

"I run every morning. I swim when I can. I eat carefully, I try to eat organic food if it's possible," he said. "Even those people who try to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid bad things can't help but acquiring toxins in their blood through eating and drinking and simply being exposed to materials that they're not even aware contain these things."

Labs in Quebec and B.C. tested the blood samples for pollutants in seven broad groups: PCBs; stain repellents and non-stick chemicals (known as PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals); organochlorine pesticides (such as DDT); organophosphate insecticide metabolites; heavy metals (such as mercury and lead); air pollutants called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons); and flame retardants (PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers).

Many of the pollutants discovered in the politicians' bodies are associated with cancer, developmental problems, respiratory illnesses, damage to the nervous system and hormone disruption, noted Environment Defence.

A total of 61 pollutants were detected in the four MPs, including 18 PBDEs, 13 PCBs, 10 organochlorine pesticides, seven PAHs, five PFCs, five metals and three organophosphate insecticide metabolites.

Last month, the Conservative government announced an ambitious toxin-reduction plan that could lead to a number of dangerous chemicals being banned or restricted.

Under the plan, Statistics Canada will test roughly 5,000 people across Canada for toxins to estimate the level of chemical exposure in the overall population. The study will be completed in 2009.

 Political Leaders Take Toxic Chemical Blood Tests

April 27, 2007

Toronto, Ontario – Three Ontario political leaders have donated blood to test for toxic chemicals in their bodies as part of ongoing work by Environmental Defence to measure the contamination of Canadians. Premier Dalton McGuinty, Official Opposition Leader John Tory and NDP Leader Howard Hampton all gave samples of their blood to test for a variety of toxic chemicals.

“Our Toxic Nation studies show that harmful chemicals are polluting kids, parents and grandparents right across Canada,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. “We’re pleased that all three political leaders in Ontario agreed to give blood, and help raise broader awareness of this critical environmental and health issue.”
The leaders’ blood samples will offer a snapshot of their 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.
“I want to commend Environmental Defence for continuing to remind us that the environment is a health issue. Keeping toxic substances out of our environment – and out of our bodies – is important to all Ontarians,” said Premier Dalton McGuinty. “That’s why our government got tough on polluters with our You Spill, You Pay legislation, introduced the Clean Water Act and why we are taking action to replace Ontario’s coal-fired generating stations. That’s also why we need to continue working, together, to clean up our province.”
The blood samples will be tested for 109 individual compounds that fall under several broad groups: PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls); phthalates; Bisphenol A; 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); air pollutants called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons); and, flame retardants (PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers). The leaders’ blood samples will be sent to independent laboratories for analysis, and results will be available in early summer.
“The presence of far too many toxic substances in the air – and in our bodies – in far too large quantities is one of Ontario’s, and Canada’s greatest environmental challenges. That’s why our Party has a plan to work together with all levels of government and with Ontario businesses to reduce toxins and ensure Ontarians know what chemicals are being used and where,” said Progressive Conservative Party Leader John Tory. “We commend the work being done by Environmental Defence to raise awareness about this important issue.”
“The presence of toxic chemicals in our homes and our communities is a real and enduring threat to human health,” said NDP Leader Howard Hampton. “That's why the NDP is pushing for a Community Right to Know Act that makes sure people know the risks. And it's why I'm taking part in this program – to raise awareness about the risks and the need for action to fight them.”
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. Environmental Defence also tested four federal politicians, and found a total of 61 (out of 103) chemicals in their blood. Full test results from previous blood samples are available on the Toxic Nation web site at



Tests Show All 3 Major Party Leaders Have Toxic Chemicals In Their Blood

Friday September 7, 2007 Staff

Fill in the blank: Ontario politicians are full of …

We know what you're thinking. But that may not be the right word to use. Because according to blood test results from the three major Ontario party leaders released on Friday, what Dalton McGuinty, John Tory and Howard Hampton are really full of is toxic chemicals.

And according to the group Environmental Defence, that should raise some major alarm bells for them and for you. All this started in June of last year, when the organization released a study indicating traces of toxic substances had begun to show up in an increasing number of children in select cities across the country – including Toronto.

That prompted a challenge to all three party leaders to take similar tests to see what their unknowing exposure might be. They were measured six months ago for 70 different chemicals with scary names like polychlorinated biphenyls, organochlorine pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. You don't have to know what they are to know they're not good for you. And the results bear that out.

According to the group, there were 44 serious substances found in John Tory, 42 overall in Howard Hampton, and 41 in Dalton McGuinty.

The health effects of the chemicals can lead to heart and breathing problems, hormone disruptions, troubles with reproductive systems – and cancer. The researchers aren't saying any of the leaders will come down with those ailments – just that their exposure shows they could. "It doesn't matter how powerful you are, you can't escape this kind of pollution," explains the group's Dr. Rick Smith. "All our bodies contain this and it's getting worse by the day."

His point: if it can happen to them, it can happen to you. "People can be polluted with these, and other toxic chemicals no matter where they live and where they work," the report states. "It does not even matter how old you are; both adults and children tested were found to have a long list of chemicals in their body."

For Tory, the outcome is worrisome. "That's obviously disconcerting to me as an individual and it makes me even gladder I did it, not only as an example to the public, but I could learn about my own body and the environment in which I live."

For once, his main opponent agrees with him. "On the one hand, it's a little bit scary, but on the other hand it should strengthen our resolve to do something about it," suggests McGuinty.

Hampton believes he knows why he emerged in second place. "I benefit in that I spend a lot of time outside of Toronto and that's probably better for me. But I think the real issue is our kids who are growing up inside this environment."

Where are all those contaminants coming from? The Defence-men blame things like plastic water bottles and linings in canned foods or canned drinks. And they're hoping the results will get whoever wins the Premier's seat October 10th thinking about passing their suggested Ontario Pollution and Cancer Prevention Act, which would force companies that use the chemicals in their products to find safer alternatives.