Eggs as indicators of industrial pollution

Anand Haridas
The Hindu

21 April, 2005

Eggs form part of a balanced diet, but a study has now proved that the same could be indicators of environmental pollution.

KOCHI: Samples of chicken eggs collected from the industrial areas of Eloor and Kuzhikandam Creek in Kochi have proved to be warnings on the alarming rate of pollution there.

The study has shown that eggs collected from the neighbouring households of a hazardous waste incinerator and Hindustan Insecticides Limited, the only centre in India to have technical grade production of DDT, contain dioxins and DDT at four and three times the European Union (E.U.) norms. The level of Hexachlorobenzene (HCB), used as a fungicide, in the sample has been found to be seven times higher than the E.U. norms.

The study has been done as part of a global campaign by public interest groups to pressurise respective governments to implement the Stockholm Convention to eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs).

Chicken eggs from 20 countries in five continents have been tested for dioxins, furans, Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and HCB. Samples from Lucknow, besides Eloor, had been sent from India to the laboratory in Czech Republic.

Four organisations, Dioxins, PCBs and Waste Working Group of International POPs Elimination Network Secretariat; Periyar Malineekarana Virudha Samiti (PMVS); Thanal and Arnika Association (Czech Republic) have studied the samples collected from here.

The Stockholm Convention, signed by various nations including India in May 2001, categorises some of the most toxic and bioaccumulation chemicals know to science as POPs and urges for their elimination in a phased manner.

With the First Conference of Parties of the Stockholm Convention coming up in Uruguay in May, the public interest groups are urging the Union Government to initiate remedial action at Eloor.

“As a first step, the Government should ratify the Stockholm Convention. Then, a comprehensive study on the realities of the industrial region in Eloor should be taken up, including it in the National Implementation Plan. The Plan, on which the Government has been working on for last three years, should also include steps for providing compensatory nutrition supply for the workers in the industrial units and local residents,” says C. Jayakumar of Thanal, a non-governmental organisation based in Thiruvananthapuram.

Local environmental activists have been pointing out the alarming rate of pollution in the region for quite some time now.

“It has been noted that incidence of cancer, mental retardation and infertility is high in Eloor as compared to Vazhakulam panchayat where
the density of industrial units is much less,” says Zakkir Hussain, general convener of PMVS.

The study is the first in a series the organisations are planning to do at Eloor. Eggs will be followed by vegetables and meat.

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Eggs as indicators of industrial pollution
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