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Реализация Стокгольмской конвенции о стойких органических загрязнителях в Республике Беларусь
Prevention and reduction of adverse effects of persistent organic pollutants on health
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Prevention and reduction of adverse effects of persistent organic pollutants on health

Prevention and reduction of adverse effects of persistent organic pollutants on health

Measures that can be taken to prevent and reduce the adverse effects of POPs on health can be divided into measures taken at the national level and measures taken by every individual who is well aware of the potential sources and chemical properties of persistent organic pollutants.

The national measures to minimize and prevent exposure to POPs include control over contamination of foodstuffs, alimentary raw materials, drinking water, ground water and soil as well as ensuring health safety of people working in harmful labor conditions. In Belarus, these functions are performed by the state sanitary inspectorate, environmental agencies and agencies responsible for inspecting alimentary raw materials and foodstuffs. Annually they analyze more than 5,000 samples of foodstuffs, alimentary raw materials and drinking water cultivated and produced in the country as well as those imported from abroad. The samples are tested for such pesticides residue as DDT and its metabolintes aldrin, heptachlor, hexachloro cyclohexane. In case the concentration of the chemicals in tested food and raw materials is higher than acceptable these products are recalled and destroyed. When high concentration of POPs is found in water authorities take all the necessary measures to protect population (supply water from other sources, clean water supply sources, etc). It is noteworthy that so far no such incidents have been recorded in Belarus.

Since 2006 the state sanitary inspectorate has been monitoring the level of polychlorinated biphenyls in fish and fish products. Measures are taken to introduce tests for dioxin and furans. These tests allow stating that food products available in stores and potable water from centralized and decentralized water supply sources inspected by the state do not contain dangerous amount of POPs.

In order to protect the health of people working in harmful labor conditions (for example, agricultural workers directly exposed to pesticides) regular medical examinations are carried out for early detection of occupational diseases.

To protect yourself and your family from the potential exposure to persistent organic pollutants it is necessary to be well-informed about their sources and simply be cautious.

POPs are lipid soluble and therefore are better accumulated in tissues containing fat, including in some food products. Limited consumption of high-fat food (lard, fatty meat and fish) will not only reduce the risk of exposure to POPs and other lipid soluble pollutants, but also reduce the risk of developing obesity, cardio and vascular diseases, diabetes.

Cutting consumption of high-fat food ishighly recommended to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers as POPs can get into breast milk and negatively impact the health of the baby during breastfeeding.

It is not advisable to eat fish from rivers or lakes located in close vicinity to landfills, pesticide storages or dumps, manufacturers that can be potential sources of POPs, as well as to drink water from outdoor water sources. Prolonged consumption of such fish and water, even with low concentration of POPs, can increase the risk of various diseases.

Belarus banned chlorine-containing pesticides identified as persistent organic pollutants more than 20 years ago. However, these pesticides can still be found in warehouses and in private households. People who may be unaware of their danger or profit-motivated individuals can sell these pesticides for pest control purposes. In Belarus all the permitted pesticides must have certificates confirming their safety and containing instructions on their safe application (agricultural crops they can be used for, duration of application, etc). Therefore, to better protect your health when buying pesticides and fertilizers from individuals ask them to show you the certificate or better buy them in specialized stores.

It is not safe to use other chemicals that are not properly labeled and kept in unsealed containers.

It is inadmissible to store food products and drinking water in containers earlier used for unknown chemical substances. As a rule, such containers are brightly colored (red, yellow, orange) or have stripes of the same colors. There have been registered cases of mass contamination with POPs caused by the consumption of milk stored in containers that had been used to store polychlorinated biphenyls.

It is known that dioxins/furans are released during burning, including burning of polymers. Therefore it is not advisable to burn polymers (plastic bottles, film, etc) and use the ashes left after burning polymers or chemically treated wood as fertilizers.

Observation of these simple rules will help minimize the risk of exposure to persistent organic pollutants.