by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Agricultural chemical products play a vital role in providing large quantities of vegetables and fruits to meet increasing population demands. However, a study by cancer experts has shown that these chemicals are no longer safe for use.
The study showed chemicals such as lindane (restricted for use in the US in the 1970s and banned in 2002), DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and 2, 4-D have links with a cancer caller non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Experts from 13 different countries gathered at the World Health Organisation (WHO) linked International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to assess the carcinogenicity of these chemical products. The findings have shown that the chemicals are carcinogenic to humans.
Head of the IARC, Dr Kurt Straif, says “the evidence on lindane and cancer was largely based on studies among agricultural workers that showed a consistent, approximately 50% increase in risk, with higher risks in heavily exposed agricultural workers.”
They concluded that the substance lindane is carcinogenic and exposure to it could increase the risk of the rare immune cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 60%.
With these findings, and despite its threatening long term effects, developing countries are still using the chemicals for agriculture, forestry and hair threating products.
According to the US Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Lindane was still registered for use in Papua New Guinea in July 2006.
According to Dr Kurt Straif, current general population exposure is mainly through diet, or when treated for scabies or lice. He added that there are currently no epidemiological studies to quantify the lymphoma risk from these exposures.
These findings can now help other countries to limit the use of these chemicals as they are proven unsafe for use.