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 www.toxicnation.ca.
About Environmental Defence: Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, safe food and thriving ecosystems. Nationwide. www.environmentaldefence.ca
For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)
Media Office, Office of the Premier, (416) 314-8975
Brendan Howe, Progressive Conservative Party, (416) 325-0412
Jeff Ferrier, NDP, (416) 325-2345