Chemicals Found in Food In 3 Provinces, Study Finds

High levels of toxic chemicals, known as organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), were found in vegetables, fish and meats sold at markets in three provinces, said a study by the In­ternational Institute for Glo­bal Health at the UN Univer­sity in Tokyo.

The study, published in Septem­ber, took samples from markets in Kandal, Kompong Cham and Kratie provinces to identify OCP amounts in food items and assessed the health risks posed. Foodstuffs in Kandal contained the highest level of OCPs.

“[T]here is a higher cancer risk for residents at Kandal due to OCPs in­take through lifetime consumption of vegetable and fish,” the study said.

The largest amount of OCP found was dichlorodiphenyltrichloro­e-thane, a controversial chemical known as DDT that is banned worldwide for agricultural use. DDT registered in 63 percent of all the food sampled.

“The main adverse health effects [of OCPs] for humans are difficulty in breathing, headaches, neurological or psychological effects, irritation of skin and mucous membranes, skin disorders, effects on the immune system, cancer, and reproductive ef­fects,” the study states, adding that the levels of OCPs in vegetables from the three provinces were higher than those found in Vietnam.

Preab Visarto, acting director of the Agriculture Ministry’s department of plantations, said there is currently no law banning the use of harm­ful pesticides, so the government is not able to prohibit private companies from selling such products or farmers from using them.

A draft law concerning the use of pesticides and fertilizers was ap­proved by the Council of Minis­ters in August and is awaiting ap­proval in the National Assembly, Visarto said.

“After people eat food [that have harmful pesticides], they can get ser­ious diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease, and it can also have reproductive effects…babies… born with birth defects,” he said.

Keam Makarady, director of the en­vironment and health program at the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said there is no information for farmers using pesticides. “The pes­ticides companies never state the negative effects of pesticides…what it can do to people’s health or the environment.”

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