Toxic chemicals are invading our bodies

Hazardous chemicals are found in the tissue of nearly every person on Earth and exposure to them has been linked to several cancers and to a range of reproductive problems, including birth defects.
The increasing incidence of some of these conditions, and our continued exposure to a cocktail of these chemicals, is alarming.

Results from WWF's first European-wide family blood testing survey found a total of 73 man-made hazardous chemicals in the blood of 13 families (grandmothers, mothers and children) from 12 European countries. Every family member tested was contaminated with a cocktail of at least 18 different man-made chemicals, many found in everyday consumer goods.

Likewise, a WWF-UK study of human contamination found evidence of DDT and PCBs, two dangerous chemicals banned decades ago, in 99% of the 155 people they tested. Women who had breast-fed their babies had lower levels of certain pcbs than men, indicating that they had 'off-loaded' these chemicals on to their babies. (Note: experts agree that breast milk is still best for young babies).

Human Health effects that have been associated with exposure to man-made chemicals include;

  • testicular cancer
  • undescended testicles
  • low sperm counts
  • non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • multiple myeloma
  • work related asthma
  • workplace cancers
  • breast cancer increased 50% since 1971
  • non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • birth defects, spontaneous abortion
  • work related asthma
  • workplace cancers
  • dramatic rise in childhood cancers
  • learning disabilities (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • weakening the immune system so more susceptible to common diseases
  • premature puberty
While some of these effects are caused by DDT and PCBs that are now banned, many new chemicals with similar properties are on the market whose long-term effects are not yet known.

In order to ensure that we are safe, we need chemicals to be properly regulated and more safety information.

Reduce your risks

Find out what you can do to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. And protect wildlife from the toxic threat.

Did you know?

  • Results from the widest ranging European survey of human toxic contamination showed that 76 persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic industrial chemicals were present in the blood of those tested.
  • Tests carried out by WWF-UK showed that all of the 155 people tested had a cocktail of potentially harmful chemicals in their body
  • Brominated flame retardants - used to prevent fire in furniture and other goods - have found their way into sperm whales and seals