NEW DELHI

Watch your food, you may be eating DDT too

NEW DELHI, AUG. 14. Though use of DDT as a pesticide has been banned in the country, it has been found that Indian dietary intake of DDT is the highest in the world.

Bringing to notice that there was widespread contamination by Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the environment, the latest study by Toxics Link on "POPs in South Asia -- Status and Environmental Health Impacts'', reveals that these are finding their way into our food. The report notes that POPs like Aldrin, Dieldrin, DDT and Heptachlor continue to show up in foodstuffs including oils, spices and meat products despite being banned or regulated.

Surprisingly, many other POPs, like Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), also show up in regions where they are neither manufactured nor used, possibly through indiscriminate disposal of old transformers and capacitors imported before the ban. Among the new PCB sources is the massive ship breaking activity at Alang in Gujarat.

The report makes note of other studies which show high levels of DDT and Endrin in vegetables. Studies in Bangladesh show high levels of DDT in dried fish and reveal the dangerous practise of using DDT as a pesticide for preserving dried fish.

"Breast milk, fat samples and human blood samples show high level of contamination due to DDT, HCB, Aldrin, Dieldrin, Doxin, Furans and PCBs. The gravity of the impact of POPs on women and children is still not acknowledged,'' said senior programme officer of Toxics Link, Papiya Sarkar.

Labelling the Government's attitude in containing the menace of POPs as "sluggish'', the director of Toxics Link, Ravi Aggarwal, said: "The Indian Government is yet to ratify the Stockholm Convention on POPs though it signed the treaty in 2002. Ratifying the treaty immediately will show the Government's serious concern for public health and environment.''

At present, the Indian Government is working towards a National Implementation Plan on POPs and various environment groups have asked for disclosure of information and public participation in all stages.

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