Calls for tightening the international legislation were heard on a conference on toxic substances

31.8.2018 - KRAKÓW
PHOTO: Tom Harner / Twitter

Eggs, toys, and combs may contain dioxins and/or brominated flame retardants (BFRs), endangering human health. On an international conference in Poland, this was stated by authors of studies investigating harmfulness of consumer products available also in the Czech Republic or environmental compartments in Thailand. Experts from the whole world discussed the presence of these harmful substances in the environment, and their hazardous impacts on organisms, on an international conference Dioxin 2018 in Krakow in Poland.

Some plastic hair accessories and even toys for children on the European market contain substances similar to dioxins, for example hazardous flame retardants. This is the comment of the results of the Czech analyses, made by Jindřich Petrlík, an expert on toxics from the Arnika Association, at the conference.

„We found polybrominated diphenyl ethers and hexabromocyclododecane in toys for children and hair accessories for women made of black recycled plastic. These substances endanger nervous system development and immune, and are endocrine disrupting chemicals, in particular when children are exposed to them,“ said Petrlík concerning the substances present in the analyzed articles.

Testing carried out in laboratories of the Prague Chemical University found concentrations exceeding even the limit for BFRs content in waste. According to the experts, these substances should not be present in the analyzed products. With the highest likeliness, they got into the plastics from electronic waste, originating, inter alia, in Europe. The waste is recycled in Asia, and, subsequently, plastics made from it return to the western markets. „Recycling of these toxic substances is enabled by inappropriately set limits for their contents in waste, laid down, in addition to the legislation, also by global conventions. This is an interesting topic for an international scientific forum,“ summarized Petrlík one of his presentations.

All the mentioned substances rank among the so-called persistent organic pollutants. Twenty-six of such compounds and their groups got to the Stockholm Convention list already. They were either banned or restricted in their use and releases according to the Stockholm Convention’s requirements.

Dioxins show a number of negative impacts on human health, and some of them are even carcinogenic. In wind and water currents, they may get even thousands of kilometres from the pollution sources. Moreover, they are very hardly degradable by organisms and accumulate in animal lipid tissues. Because of that, chicken eggs are often used for their monitoring in the environment.

"Reading eggs"
In Krakow, there were presented results of analyses of eggs from sites influenced by industry in China, Kazakhstan, and Thailand. „For example, pollution in the Thai province Samut Sakhon is really critical, especially concerning dioxins,“ said Akarapon Teebthaisong from the Thai organization EARTH. Concerning the study he presented to the scientific forum in Krakow, he had the following comments: „The commissioned analyses found high concentrations of these substances in eggs consumed by local inhabitants. The pollution source in this area is a high number of small metal smelting and recycling plants, where even electronic waste is often burned.“

Thai experts, in cooperation with Arnika, warned about the situation in the last year already, however, no substantial change has taken place yet. Now, the team hopes that the presentation of the investigation results on the international forum will help in solving the situation. „Even small children often live in the neighborhood of the polluting plants,“ added Petrlík.

Dozens of presentations were given in the Dioxin 2018 conference, focusing on various problems connected with persistent organic pollutants, and also on the European Union plans for solving them. One of the sediment analyses showed that whereas the occurrence of some of them (for example, DDT) in nature is decreasing, however, concentrations of perfluorinated substances is still growing, on the contrary.



This article was prepared and published as a part of the project “Increasing Transparency in Industrial Pollution Management through Citizen Science” funded by the European Union (EU) and co-funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic within the Framework of the Transition Promotion Programme – a financial assistance programme supporting democracy and human rights using the Czech Republic’s experience with social transition and democratization.

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