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VOLUNTEERS IN LITHUANIA GAVE BLOOD FOR HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES TESTING – Think before you buy

Ten volunteers taking part in a unique campaign in Lithuania will be the first to find out if hazardous substances in everyday products enter their bodies and form potentially dangerous “chemical cocktail”.  Blood testing was initiated by the Baltic Environmental Forum (BEF) Lithuania, as part of the EU LIFE project “BaltInfoHaz”. Campaign organizers are also collecting dust samples from volunteers’ homes and up to 100 consumer products to be tested for consumer awareness raising purposes.

“It is often believed that hazardous chemicals are allowed only in construction materials or household chemicals, but they are used in cosmetics and even children’s toys”, – Juste Buzelyte, action coordinator from BEF Lithuania notes. “Although this campaign is purely for awareness raising, it is unique because usually blood testing for hazardous substances is done only for scientific purposes and no laboratory in Lithuania is able to conduct such tests. Our samples will be shipped to Holland”.

Celebrity volunteers received a lot of media attention. Photo by T.Vinickas (DELFI.lt)

More than 200 applicants responded to a public call for action volunteers, most of them driven by health concerns. Among ten selected volunteers – a well-known family of celebrity musicians, public radio journalist and vice-minister of Environment.

“We refuse to ignore this problem because of it’s complexity. One could begin by memorizing that phthalates – possible danger. If people are not bothering to do it for themselves, they should at least try for the sake of their children”, – Jurgis Didziulis, a well-known Lithuanian singer and leader of a band who took part in Eurovision song contest a few years ago, said.

Other participants who agreed to donate blood and dust samples and commit to certain everyday behaviour changes were a young family from Vilnius, agriculture specialist from Utena region, young biology teacher from Jonava and a student from Kaunas.

“This is an experience which can be enlightening but also disturbing. Therefore we, as blood testing organizers wanted to show that we are not asking volunteers to take a kind of challenge we are not ready to take ourselves”, – said Zymantas Morkvenas, head of BEF Lithuania office, who was also among the volunteers.

Their blood and dust samples will be tested for three widely used hazardous chemicals – phthalates, polybrominated dyphenyl ethers, and perflourinated compounds which are known to be persistent, accumulating in human body and linked to various diseases. Campaign organizers also point out that since health impacts of the so-called “chemical cocktail” entering our bodies are not known, consumers should apply precautionary principle and choose products without hazardous substances.

“Chemical substances which will be tested in blood and dust are included in the List of Substances of Very High Concern of the EU REACH regulation. Producers and retailers are obliged to provide consumers with an answer if their products contain such substances in 45 days, free of charge”, – Tomas Smilgius from Chemical substances department fo the Environment Protection Agency in Lithuania explains. Sample request form is available for download from here.

Blood samples will be tested in a similar action conducted by BEF Estonia and BEF Latvia will test indoor air of selected volunteer families in Latvia.

Test results will be available in June 2013.

Images of blood sampling in Vilnius on March 23rd in picture gallery here.

More information:

Juste Buzelyte, Action coordinator
Phone +370 5213 8155, E-mail: juste.buzelyte@bef.lt