New International Report reveals Link between Bosnian Heavy Industry and the Contamination of Foodstuffs

Collecting samples of the chicken eggs in Bosnia

Residents of industrial towns in central Bosnia should be very cautious when consuming home-produced foodstuffs. Chicken eggs there are seriously contaminated by heavy industry and dangerous for human health, especially for children. The ArcelorMittal Zenica Steelworks (2) and the Tuzla thermal power plant are probably the major sources of heavy metals (4) and other dangerous, persistent organic pollutants.

“Our research has revealed alarmingly high concentrations of persistent organic pollutants in free range chicken eggs in the vicinity of the industrial facilities in Zenica and Tuzla. These chemicals accumulate in the human body where they bind themselves to fats. Thus, contamination threatens children above all. The major source of persistent organic pollutants in Zenica is most likely to be the ArcelorMittal steelworks. The thermal power plant in Tuzla could also be contributing to dioxin contamination of the area,” says Dr. Jindrich Petrlik, an expert on persistent organic pollutants and co-author of the new report from the Czech non-governmental organization Arnika.

This long-term contamination is a threat to the health of local communities who regularly consume their own home-produced eggs. Citizens should be well informed about both the potential risks as well as ways to mitigate the effects of pollution. Solutions, as well as the responsibility for the origins of this unfortunate ecological situation, lie in the hands of the state authorities.

“ArcelorMittal Zenica has been operating for more than one year without fully valid environmental permits. The citizens now know how serious of an impact pollution can have on our foodstuffs as well as our health. Our authorities remain responsible for the gradual poisoning of the residents,” stated Samir Lemes, the director of Eko Forum Zenica.

“New research has confirmed a direct link between the massive burning of coal, the absence of effective emission filters, and the contamination of the environment. Under the current circumstances, energy export is perhaps not the best strategy for Bosnia and Herzegovina,” commented Denis Zisko, the energy campaign coordinator for the Centre for Environment and Energy in Tuzla.

The monitoring of the quality of free-range chicken eggs was conducted by the Czech non-governmental organization Arnika and its BiH partners in Zenica and Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. For the research, locations in the vicinity of the steelworks and thermal power plants were chosen to prove whether these industries have any effect on the environment and on human health. The study concludes that the contamination of a major part of the samples exceeds the EU hygienic limits, which are considered to be at safe levels. Currently, the factories operating in the sampled areas are the major source of pollution.

Arnika has been using free-range chicken eggs as an indicator of the quality of the environment since 2005, when this Czech Republic-based NGO published “The Egg Report” covering 17 countries all around the world. This new report on three Western Balkan states provides us with new data and enables us to make further comparisons.


Editorial Notes:


1) Report on Persistent Organic Pollutants in Free Range Chicken Eggs from Western Balkan countries

2) More on air pollution from ArcelorMittal in Zenica

3) More on thermal power plants and dirty energy

4) Burning coal releases mercury into the air or, after incineration, fly ash. It rains down into the rivers. Mercury is accumulated in the human liver and kidneys.. It is known for its adverse effect on the reproductive functions and the human embryo. It is classified as a possible carcinogen for human beings.

5) Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/F) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are unintentionally formed and released via thermal processes (coal burning) involving organic matter and chlorine as a result of incomplete combustion. They are toxic in very low concentrations, persistent in decomposition, bioaccumulative in the food chain, and able to travel long distances. They are linked with many adverse health effects, including carcinogenesis.

International activities