Despite substantially reduced emissions of most well known persistent organic pollutants, e.g. PCBs and dioxins, the danger is far from over. The toxic substances are still present in the environment and in our bodies. Moreover, a number of similar pollutants have recently been discovered in the environment, according to the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
The Agency is publishing the results of the latest Swedish research on toxic pollutants in a new report, Monitor 16. The findings include animal experiments which show that the brain in young specimens can be damaged by even extremely small doses of environmental pollutants.
"There is every reason to continue keeping a vigilant eye on what these chemicals are doing to the environment and to ourselves. We know, for example, that they can disrupt hormonal systems and we suspect that they can contribute to birth defects and health damage in infancy. Furthermore, many factors are still unknown regarding the effects of organic pollutants. The picture is much more complex than hitherto believed, and new substances are being discovered all the time", says project leader Niklas Johansson at the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
Brominated flame retardants are one of the more controversial groups of substances. The total use of these chemicals is still increasing. They are used, for example, in electronic equipment.
"It is important that the problems of toxic organic pollutants are prevented
at source, i.e. making sure that substances with properties which entail
a risk are not produced in the first place. But we still need to understand
better how such substances affect the central nervous system, hormonal systems,
the immune system and tumour formation", recommends the project group heading
the research progra
Contact: Niklas Johansson
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency