The Boston Globe article “Worried too much about chemicals? You could have chemophobia,” asks “Which causes more harm? A) pesticides and other synthetic chemicals sprayed on fruits and vegetables, or B) salmonella and other microbes living on such produce.”
We respond, why do we need to compare two undesirable health conditions? The article is based on the research of Gordon Gribble, Professor of Organic Chemistry at Dartmouth College, who states, “misperceptions about the dangers caused by the use of man-made chemicals in our environment has caused… a colossal mess.” But we know there is no “misperception” and there is no “mess”. Instead, there is awareness and there is a movement to reverse an epidemic of morbidity and mortality of breast cancer and other diseases based on these simple, yet disturbing facts:
As advocates of environmental justice for all, the nation’s primary law regarding chemical regulation is a priority for the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC). This law, the Toxic Substances Control Act has not changed since 1976 and was flawed from the start. It is no surprise that momentum is building from innumerable citizens, scientists, health professionals, academic leaders, and others across the country enthusiastically calling for a reform of this outdated policy. This is not simply a movement of “chemophobes.”
The reality is that citizens should be concerned about both synthetic chemicals and microbes living on our produce because both cause harm to human health. Articles like this touting “either/or” logic distract from a conversation about solutions to these urgent public health problems.
We urge all MBCC supporters to post a comment or submit a Letter to the Editor to firstname.lastname@example.org (include name, address, and telephone number with your 200 word submission). You can also write directly to the author, Deborah Kotz, or contact her on Twitter @debkotz2.
The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) recently released the report, Opportunities for Cancer Prevention: Trends in the Use and Release of Carcinogens in Massachusetts as a part of a comprehensive cancer prevention strategy. Emphasis of toxics use reduction is on changing manufacturing strategies and processes to reduce the use of carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) and facilitate the switch to safer alternatives. After 20 years of collecting data from industries which report toxics use as part of the MA Toxics Use Reduction Act program, this report was compiled to assess trends in the use and release of carcinogens. The report shows that, “reported use and releases of carcinogens among Massachusetts companies have decreased dramatically over time. Reported use declined 32% from 1990 to 2010, and reported releases declined 93% from 1991 to 2010.”
The Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersy along with Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, is the most recently attempt to update our chemical management policy, the Toxic Substances Control Act. It is a bipartisan counterpart, or replacement, to the Safe Chemicals Act but does not include the same level of protection and could be a step in the wrong direction!
CSIA lacks key measures to ensure that the new chemical management policy is effective at protecting the public from exposure to chemicals of concern:
This seemingly tripartite effort of Republicans, Democrats, and the American Chemistry Council fails to correct many existing flaws of TSCA. MBCC cannot support this version of the bill unless the common sense amendments and protections listed above are added.
Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition requested $375,000 in state funding for sister organization Silent Spring Institute so that they can expand their research on emerging contaminants in water on Cape Cod and in Southeastern Massachusetts. The Senate budget was recently released without funding for Silent Spring Institute. This research is needed to inform decisions being made now about wastewater management to address human health as well as ecosystem health. Now, citizens across the state must come together and ensure Silent Spring Institute funding as a public health priority by urging Senators to pass an amendment to the budget.
WHAT TO DO:
Contact your state Senators and urge them to co-sponsor Senator Dan Wolf’s move to amend the budget in line 7100-0200 by adding funding for Silent Spring Institute. Ask your Senators to contact Dan Wolf’s office at 617-722-1570 to become a co-sponsor (see sidebar for correct wording).
THE DEADLINE TO SIGN ON AS A CO-SPONSOR IS TUESDAY MAY 21st (tomorrow)!
Remember that you can make a change for the better. Take a minute to take action toward your health and the health of future generations. Thank you for your help.
Below are some key points you can include in your email message or phone call if you choose, although of course you are always welcome to tailor your own message.
KEY POINTS WHEN SPEAKING WITH YOUR SENATOR:
* As a Mass. state citizen, I am reaching out to you to co-sponsor Senator Dan Wolf’s move to amend the budget, in line 7100-0200, by adding the following: “and provided further, not less than $375,000 be allocated to Silent Spring Institute to protect healthy drinking water and any and all findings shall be reported to the Cape Cod Commission to inform the Barnstable County Regional Wastewater Management Plan and the county shall incorporate these findings in their Regional Wastewater Management Plan.”
* Please contact Dan Wolf’s office to become a co-sponsor at 617-722-1570.
* I believe that more research is needed to investigate emerging contaminants in our water that have been linked to breast cancer and other diseases. Silent Spring Institute has a history of research of this kind, and is prepared to continue if state funding is granted.
* Because my health and the health of my family is important to me, I do not want to drink water that maybe contaminated with EDCs. Please co-sponsor the amendment for Silent Spring Institute!
Angelina Jolie recently disclosed that she had a double mastectomy in the hope of preventing breast cancer. The genetic mutation BRCA1 left her with an exceedingly high risk for developing the disease. But her condition is rare. Only about 5%-10% of breast cancer cases can be attributed to inherited genetic mutations (including BRCA1, BRCA2 and others) for women in the U.S.
Learn how you can reduce your exposure to chemicals linked to breast cancer with our newest fact sheet: http://bit.ly/10ps5l3.
Media Coverage: My Medical Choice, by Angelina Jolie, New York Times
Recently, The Cape Cod Times published an article titled “Time to Rethink Pink.” It discusses the overflow of pink ribbons from October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (or as we call it, Breast Cancer Industry Month) into May for Mother’s Day. However, this article sheds some positive light on the issue indicating that prevention-oriented and environmentally-conscious breast cancer organizations like the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition and our sister organization, Silent Spring Institute, are gaining attention.
By promoting the Pink Ribbons Inc. Screening coming up on May 13th, sponsored by the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, GreenCAPE, and Silent Spring Institute, the Cape Cod Times contributes to this good publicity and helps get the word out about our mission to prevent environmental causes of breast cancer.
Read the article: Time to Rethink Pink, The Cape Cod Times
A study conducted by the British environmental group, ClientEarth, tested various consumer products for five endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), or hormone-altering chemicals that have been linked with cancer, reproductive problems, and other negative health consequences. Our sister organization, Silent Spring Institute, did a similar product-testing study in 2012 looking for many of the same chemicals (and finding them) in consumer products from personal care products to shower curtains to cat litter.
Both studies tested for the following EDCs:
Bisphenol A (BPA) – found in plastics and recently banned from baby bottles and sippy cups in the state of Massachusetts.
Phthalates – used in plastics and as a fragrance compound in personal care products
Flame retardants – found in the foam of upholstered furniture, electronics and infant pajamas
Triclosan – an antibacterial used in personal care products like toothpaste, soap, and cleaning products.
Octyl Methoxycinnamate (OMC) – used in sunscreens and lip balms
Media coverage of the EU study:
Media coverage of Silent Spring Institute study:
Yesterday Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) reintroduced the federal Safe Chemicals Act of 2013. If passed, this bill would reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 to repair some of its flaws. It would require that chemical manufacturers prove their chemicals are safe before they go on the market. Additionally, it would provide a system for testing the health impacts of chemicals already in use and enable the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify and place restrictions on the worst chemicals.
Research from our sister organization, Silent Spring Institute,has identified 216 chemicals that cause mammary tumors in animal studies. Over 100 of these chemicals are so common in our environments that we are exposed to them on a daily basis. Given these findings, it is clear that our outdated chemical regulations cannot sufficiently protect the public health from these contaminants.
The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition supported the Safe Chemicals Act throughout the last legislative session because of the potential to positively impact the health of American citizens. In 2011, we traveled to Capitol Hill to discuss our support of the bill with Senators and their staff. Just one year later in July 2012, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works voted on it favorably, making this the first time in over three decades a senate panel voted to reform TSCA. The bill was sent to the full senate for a vote but unfortunately it died in December with the end of the legislative session.
The new Safe Chemicals Act reopens the opportunity to require testing of chemicals that contribute to staggering breast cancer rates. For the first time, chemical industries would be required to develop and provide information on the health and safety of chemicals in order for them to remain in use.
Please contact your legislators to support the Safe Chemicals Act throughout the legislative process. Click here to find your legislators’ contact information.