‘Toxic eggs’ in Switzerland testify to global contamination with poisonous substances

1.5.2019 - GENEVA
The alarming results of chicken egg analyzes call for swift changes of legislation (Accra, Ghana)
PHOTO: Martin Holzknecht / Arnika

At the meeting of the Stockholm Convention, Arnika is presenting the results of recent analyses of chicken eggs from 29 countries concerning the presence of dioxins and dioxin-like substances. Free-range chicken eggs are an indicator of environmental pollution by persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and other toxic chemicals. Together with the world’s ecologists, we call for stricter limits on the content of such substances in waste, from where they get released into the environment and, in many places, contaminate the diet of local people.

The latest research of Czech experts focused on samples from Ghana and Cameroon. At the Agbogbloshie scrapyard and waste disposal site in Ghana's capital Accra, they found enormous contamination with highly dangerous toxic substances. Much of the local e-waste comes from Europe or the United States. The study has already been noticed and reported on by global media, such as The Guardian and NBC - Euronews. Last year, a film on Agbogbloshie named ‘Welcome to Sodom’ was released.

Previously, Czech researchers have discovered dangerous pollution in Thailand, Kazakhstan, China, Indonesia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, followed last year by sampling in Armenia and Ukraine. Amongst the samples, there are also several eggs from the Czech Republic.

"We present the results of our ‘egg reports’ in relation to the issue of limits on toxic substances in waste, which we are working on in cooperation with experts from IPEN, an international network of NGOs, here at the Geneva conference. We think that this paper will shed new light on the contamination of the environment with dioxins and other POPs-containing waste,” Jindřich Petrlík, head of Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme comments from Geneva.

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In total, Arnika and IPEN published a comparison of the results from 47 locations in 29 countries around the world analysed between 2004 and 2018. By comparing a large number of samples, they want to highlight serious faults in international legislation, which currently allows too high a content of toxic substances. Those then enter very easily into living organisms, where they accumulate in fat tissues, and through food into human bodies.

In addition to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the delegates in Geneva are also discussing the Basel Convention. It regulates the cross-border movement of hazardous waste, which often ends up in developing countries that do not have sufficient technology to dispose of it.

“The conference started on Sunday with preparatory meetings of individual regions. Arnika is the lead coordinator for the cooperation of NGOs in the IPEN network for Central and Eastern Europe. In addition, we coordinate the work of this global network focused on waste or dioxins,” said Petrlík, who is participating in this week’s meetings. For the participants, Arnika has published an up-to-date summarizing leaflet together with previous studies from individual countries. “The material will be prepared for the delegates at the IPEN panel table,” adds Petrlík.

List of all 29 countries included in the Arnika and IPEN study:
Europe: Belgium, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, United Kingdom, Ukraine

Asia: Armenia, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam
Africa: Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania
America: Brazil, Canada, Peru, Uruguay

Highest level of world’s most toxic chemicals found in African free-range eggs: European e-waste dumping a contributor | 24.04.2019
Industrial cities of Ukraine are polluted by heavy metals and dioxins, a new study of the Czech experts discovers | 11.12.2018
Toxic heavy metals were found near people’s houses in Northern Armenia. The local industry is to blame, Czech scientists say | 10.12.2018
Two New Studies Revealed POPs Pollution across Thailand | 23.11.2017
Polluted environment in Kazakhstan seriously contaminates foodstuff and threatens human health | 20.4.2017

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