HL Deb 27 February 1989 vol 504 cc931-2WA
Lord Kennet

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What pesticides are found in (a) the fat of newborn babies and (b) maternal milk and at what levels, and how this compares with other countries.

Lord Henley

Only the persistent organochlorine pesticides have been looked for in human fat during a number of surveys done between 1963 and 1977 as well as a more recent one between 1982 and 1983. These surveys dealt with persons aged five years and over, but the 1982/83 survey looked at four samples of fat from infants aged from five days to three months. The results, which were published in the Report of the Working Party on Pesticide Residues (1982–85), confirmed that residues of organochlorine compounds might occur in newly born infants but the results were too few to allow further interpretation. We are not aware of measurements in other countries. A fresh survey of human fat is being planned and it is intended to look at samples from infants where available.

Surveys of the persistent organochlorine pesticides in human milk were carried out in 1979/1980 and in 1983/84 the results being published in MAFF Food Surveillance Papers No. 9 of 1982 and No. 16 of 1986. A further survey has been planned. The levels found are much lower than in most countries of the world and do not exceed (and are mostly less than) the published levels from countries of the EC.

Copies of the report and the food surveillance papers will be placed in the Library.