MA Senators Fail to Support Chemical Exposure Research

The Massachusetts Senate budget that was released on Thursday did not include a $500,000 request to fund water quality and public health research by Silent Spring Institute.  The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) requested this funding on behalf of its sister organization, Silent Spring Institute to study exposure to toxic chemicals in drinking water and homes in Central Massachusetts and on Cape Cod. 

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives failed to approve funding for Silent Spring Institute in the FY 2015 House budget. This is the second year in a row that budget requests for important water quality research in both the House and Senate have been excluded.

Executive Director of the MBCC and Co-Founder of Silent Spring Institute Cheryl Osimo says, “While we are extremely disheartened by the recent budget outcome and the legislative history of ignoring critical research, we greatly appreciate the legislative support of the State Representatives and Senators who worked tirelessly alongside us to prioritize not only water quality, but also the health of the citizens of Massachusetts and future generations. We will continue to reach out to our supporters on behalf of Silent Spring Institute. If we want to prevent breast cancer for future generations, we must take action now to reduce exposure to environmental contaminants linked to the disease.”

Silent Spring Institute was founded by the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition in 1994 to study high breast cancer incidence in the state. The incident rate is still far too high for legislators to ignore. MBCC has worked tirelessly to defend public health and was instrumental in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts being the first state to declare breast cancer an epidemic.

MBCC is proud of its legacy of breast cancer prevention education and outreach and its unique mission that sets it apart from other leading breast cancer organizations. Recently celebrating its 20th anniversary, Silent Spring Institute is equally accomplished as a leader in breast cancer prevention research. Silent Spring Institute is the only organization dedicated to research about breast cancer prevention and has been cited in federal reports by the President’s Cancer Panel, Institute of Medicine, and the Federal Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee.

With a long history of investigation into contaminants of emerging concern in the waters on Cape Cod, Silent Spring Institute has provided some of the first data on endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) in Cape groundwater and drinking water. Silent Spring Institute’s studies of drinking water quality on Cape Cod represent some of the only research to explore contamination of drinking water sources by hormone disruptors and other wastewater chemicals coming from septic systems. Currently, not enough is known scientifically about the levels of contaminants released into groundwater from conventional and alternative wastewater treatment systems.

“We have lost an opportunity,” says Dr. Julia Brody, Silent Spring Institute Executive Director, “to work towards providing new information about chemicals of concern in drinking water and in our homes and to reduce exposures to potentially harmful chemicals.”

Silent Spring Institute researchers have published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles spanning toxicology, exposure assessment, and environmental chemistry.  This past Monday, a new Silent Spring Institute study was published in a preeminent public health journal, Environmental Health Perspectives that identified 100 chemicals linked to breast cancer that women are frequently exposed to and evaluated tools that can be used in human health studies to evaluate exposures to these chemicals.

“It makes sense to conduct research with the goal of protecting public health from carcinogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals. All citizens in Massachusetts deserve to know that their drinking water is safe and clean. Silent Spring Institute is the only research organization whose mission it is to investigate the link between the environment and women’s health, and they are one of the only organizations studying these chemicals in the country,” Cheryl Osimo says.

Previous work by Silent Spring Institute shows that EDCs, pharmaceuticals, and consumer product chemicals are present in drinking water, groundwater, and ponds on Cape Cod. Of particular concern are potential links between EDCs and biological effects such as breast cancer and other hormonally influenced disorders.

“Cape Cod communities are making important decisions about the future of wastewater management and drinking water protection,” says Laurel Schaider, PhD, who leads Silent Spring Institute’s water research program. “While there is growing recognition that nutrient pollution needs to be addressed in order to protect coastal waters and ponds, Silent Spring Institute wants to make sure that we protect drinking water, too.”

With the mission to prevent environmental causes of breast cancer, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition will continue to advocate for its sister organization. Margo Simon Golden, President of the Board of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, says, “It has been a pleasure to work with the state delegation but we are extremely saddened to see that not all state legislators are prioritizing research on the safety of water quality in the state.  We will continue to work with and try to educate our state legislators in the hopes that the majority will soon come to realize that we must work towards the prevention of breast cancer.”

The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition urges all state citizens to email or call their state legislators to express their concern that Silent Spring Institute’s research is not being made a priority.  Additionally, please reach out in gratitude to the legislators who sponsored and co-sponsored both the House and Senate funding amendments. 

For the House Budget outcome, please reach out to Representative Frost and Representative Mannal who sponsored the funding amendments in the House. Representative Frost can be reached at 617-722-2489 or Paul.Frost@mahouse.gov. Representative Mannal can be reached at 617-722-2582 or Brian.Mannal@mahouse.gov.

For the Senate Budget outcome, please reach out to Senator Wolf who sponsored the funding amendment in the Senate. Senator Wolf can be reached at 617-722-1570 or Daniel.Wolf@masenate.gov.

To find your legislators contact information, visit www.malegislature.gov/People/Search.

For further information about the state legislators who co-sponsored the funding amendments, please review our blog posts on the House budget outcome and the Senate budget debate.

For more information about the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and Silent Spring Institute, please visit www.mbcc.org and www.silentspring.org. All questions or further information can be directed to Cheryl Osimo, Executive Director of the MBCC and Co-Founder of Silent Spring Institute at 508-246-3047 or cosimo@mbcc.org.

 

 

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