Chemicals Pollute Ontario's Political Leaders



    Premier Dalton McGuinty, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory and
    NDP Leader Howard Hampton tested for toxic chemicals

    TORONTO, Sept. 7 /CNW/ - Test results reveal that three Ontario political
leaders are contaminated with pollutants found in the environment and in
everyday products, according to a report released today by Environmental
Defence. For the first time in Canada, Environmental Defence tested for
bisphenol A (found in hard plastic bottles and tin can linings), a hormone
disruptor that is under review by the federal government.
    Premier Dalton McGuinty, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory and
NDP Leader Howard Hampton volunteered to be tested as part of Environmental
Defence's national Toxic Nation campaign. The total number of pollutants found
in each leader was very similar, with 44 pollutants in John Tory, 42 in Howard
Hampton, and 41 in Dalton McGuinty.
    "Harmful pollutants surround us every day in the air we breathe, food we
eat and products we use. And, as our study shows, the pollutants contaminate
us, too," said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. "Not
even the Premier is immune."
    Expert laboratories in Quebec, British Columbia and Missouri were used to
test the political leaders for 70 pollutants that fall into seven broad
categories: phthalates; bisphenol A (BPA); PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls);
stain repellents 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); and,
air pollutants called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Many of the
pollutants discovered in the politicians' bodies are associated with cancer,
developmental problems, respiratory illnesses, damage to the nervous system
and hormone disruption.
    A total of 46 pollutants, of the 70 tested for, were detected in the
three volunteers, including bisphenol A, 8 phthalates, 13 PCBs, 10
organochlorine pesticides, 6 PAHs, 4 PFCs, and 4 organophosphate insecticide
metabolites.
    "Finding out what toxics are in your body is a humbling experience. It
brings home that the environment is a health issue. Keeping toxic substances
out of our environment - and out of our bodies - is important to Ontarians.
That's why Ontario Liberals have been working hard for the past four years to
protect our environment - and why our platform includes a ban on the cosmetic
use of pesticides, a tough new toxic reduction law and a carcinogen reduction
strategy. Our plan puts Ontario at the forefront in North America on tackling
this issue," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.
    "This is a very stark lesson to everyone that no matter who you are,
where you live or what you do toxins are in all of us. That is why the
Progressive Conservative Plan for Ontario's Future contains a made-in-Ontario
strategy for businesses to phase out or replace high-risk chemicals. Our goal
is to reduce pollutants and toxins in order to safeguard our air, water and
land," said Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory.
    "I want to commend Environmental Defence for educating us about the
dangerous pollutants in our environment. I'm alarmed at how many pollutants
are in my body, and it makes me concerned about the health of everyone else in
Ontario. It is out of concern for the impact of toxic pollutants on working
families that the NDP introduced Canada's first Community Right-to-Know Bill.
Ontario's NDP will keep fighting for tough Community Right-to-Know laws so
working families know what harmful toxins are in the air they breathe, the
water they drink, their workplaces and backyards," said Howard Hampton, Leader
of Ontario's NDP.
    Of the three Ontario politicians, Dalton McGuinty had the highest
concentration of organophosphate insecticide metabolites. Howard Hampton had
the highest concentration of PAHs and phthalates. John Tory had the highest
total concentrations for PCBs, PFCs and organochlorine pesticides. Dalton
McGuinty and Howard Hampton had the highest concentration of bisphenol A.
    All three of the Ontario political leaders were more polluted than the
families who took part in Environmental Defence's Polluted Children, Toxic
Nation study. Based on an analysis of comparable chemical groups, the Ontario
politicians all had higher total concentrations than the median for the family
volunteers.
    Compared to the four federal politicians tested earlier this year by
Environmental Defence, the results are mixed. For three of the comparable
compounds (PFCs, PCBs, and organochlorine pesticides), the range of total
concentrations found in the Ontario politicians was lower than those found in
the four federal politicians. For PAHs, the range of total concentrations was
higher in the Ontario politicians than their federal counterparts.
    In the lead up to Ontario's election, Environmental Defence is calling on
all political parties to commit to reducing pollution in the environment and
everyday products through a Pollution and Cancer Prevention Act. The Act
should:

    
    -   include any substance listed in the federal National Pollutant
        Release Inventory, and require companies currently releasing those
        chemicals to find safer solutions;
    -   ensure that products containing carcinogens, mutagens (materials that
        disrupt genetic codes) and reproductive toxins would be labeled; and,
    -   stipulate that funding be provided to support companies, workers, and
        citizens to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, the use and production
        of toxins.
    

    Toxic Nation at Queen's Park: A Report on Pollution in Three Ontario
Politicians is available for free on the Toxic Nation web site:
www.toxicnation.ca. Environmental Defence's previous studies examining the
toxic contamination of Canadian adults, families and federal politicians are
also available on the Toxic Nation web site.

    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 further information:

For further information: or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232, (647)
280-9521 (cell); Chris Morley, Media Office, Office of the Premier, (416)
314-8975; Mike Van Soelen, Progressive Conservative Party, (416) 861-0020 ext.
760; Kaj Hasselriis, NDP, (416) 591-5455 ext. 271


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