Canadians living normal lives exposed to chemical killers

Canadians living normal lives exposed to chemical killers by Glenda Luymes, CanWest News Service, October 7, 2007, Vancouver Province
The UBC Trudeau scholar has laboured more than a year to determine just how many Canadians die each year from pollution. The disturbing results, published in an online journal last week, show that as many as 25,000 deaths, 24,000 new cases of cancer and the birth of 2,500 low-birth-weight babies can be linked to environmental hazards each year. By living a “normal” life, many Canadians are being exposed to hundreds of quiet, chemical killers.

Using Canadian public health data, Boyd and University of Alberta co-author Stephen Genuis focused on the environmental burden of disease — death and illness caused by exposure to environmental hazards — in four categories: respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer and congenital afflictions. Boyd and Genuis combined and tabulated the results of previous scientific studies estimating the number of people who contract diseases linked to pollution, and established their total numbers based on a method designed by the World Health Organization. Although a first for Canada, many European countries have done similar studies, subsequently taking action to tighten controls on the chemical industry.

In Sweden, government legislation enforces the “substitution principle,” meaning if a safer chemical is available for use in a product, there is a legal obligation to use it. Boyd said Canada is “lagging behind” by putting the needs of industry before the health of Canadians. Boyd has identified more than 50 different chemical ingredients present in pesticides alone that are banned in other counties, including 2,4-D, which is used in lawn and garden products, and Atrazine, a pesticide used on corn. Canada also allows many dangerous plastic softeners and fragrances called Phthalates that are banned in Europe.  [Emphasis added]

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