Immediate action is needed to protect our health on the most dangerous chemicals
Ask Congress to reform the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976
The CEO of Exxon talks about chemicals used in fracking & the precautionary principal:
“What’s happened is the tables have been turned around now to where we have to prove it’s not going to happen,” he says. “Well, that is a very dangerous exchange to get into because where it leads you from a regulatory and policy standpoint is to govern by the precautionary principle. And the precautionary principle will absolutely undermine the economy.” He adds, “If you want to live by the precautionary principle, then crawl up in a ball and live in a cave.”
The precautionary principle
When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. – Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, 1998
Precautionary is an action taken in advance to protect people and a principle is a rule. The “precautionary principle” protects everybody against danger or injury. It’s better to be safe than sorry! – Alexandria Gracian, 12 Los Angeles.
At the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the precautionary principle is part of our core values. It guides us to protect health by preventing exposures to harmful chemicals.If toxics are present and suspected to cause health problems, we believe ways to limit and avoid unnecessary exposure to those chemicals should be taken. The precautionary principle means that it is “better to be safe than sorry.” With this, we urge you to sign this petition.
Sign on to this petition and send your message to congress loud & clear:
US Senator Murkowski has not sponsored this legislation yet. Please take a moment to visit US Senator Lisa Murkowski’s web site to submit your comments directly to her.
Please call her:
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What is wrong with the current law?
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976, grandfathered in 63,000 chemicals without requiring any testing of their impacts on human health.
Since 1976 the EPA has been able to require testing on just 200 of more than 80,000 new chemicals produced and used in the U.S., and just five chemicals have been regulated under this law.
Why should Alaskans be concerned?
Some startling facts with links to their scientific sources. Although we do not know the correlation between each of these facts, the reality is, Alaskans are facing environmental exposure to chemicals. The way that the law stands now, it is up to us to prove that chemicals cause us harm. It is time to turn the tables and require companies to prove the safety of a chemical before it’s manufacture.
There is an increasing incidence of chemicals being found in the Arctic and in Alaska; (1, 2)
Over 336 million pounds of chemicals considered to be persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic were reported released into Alaska’s air, land and water in 2010, an increase of 63% in one year. Alaska ranked the highest in the United States in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory under the Community Right To Know act for toxic chemicals released into our air, land, and waters.
Environmental Protection Agency. 2010 Toxics Release Inventory Region 10 Alaska State Report December 2011. Available: http://www.epa.gov/region10/pdf/tri/2010-report-alaska.pdf
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that Alaskan babies between the ages of 28 days and one year (postneonatal) have a 48% higher death rate than all other babies in the United States. The Alaska Native mortality rate for babies which according to the CDC is 70% higher than the United States average.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Postneonatal Mortality Among Alaska Native Infants — Alaska, 1989–2009. MMWR 2012;61:pp. 1-5. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/wk/mm6101.pdf
Arctic Indigenous Peoples have some of the highest levels of persistent bioaccumulative chemicals in the world in their bodies, even though many of these chemicals are not produced in Alaska.
Global transport of chemicals are showing up in the Arctic, and in the traditional foods of Alaskan Natives.
Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Arctic – A Report for the Delegates of the 4th Conference of the Parties, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, 2009. Available: https://www.akaction.org/Publications/Stockholm_Convention_PDFs/POPs_in_the_Arctic_ACAT_May_2009.pdf
“The contamination of these food sources raises problems that transcend the usual confines of public health and that cannot be resolved by health advisories or food substitutions.”
Suk WA, Avakian MD, Carpenter D, Groopman JD, Scammell M, et al. 2003 Human Exposure Monitoring and Evaluation in the Arctic: The Importance of Understanding Exposures to the Development of Public Health Policy. Environ Health Perspect 112(2): doi:10.1289/ehp.6383 Available: http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi/10.1289/ehp.6383
133 million people in the U.S., almost half of all Americans are now living at least one chronic illness, which now account for 70% of deaths and 75% of U.S. health care costs.
National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 2009. The Power of Prevention Chronic disease . . . the public health challenge of the 21st century. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/pdf/2009-Power-of-Prevention.pdf
Studies continue to demonstrate the link between chemical exposure and serious illness, including cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, neurological diseases and asthma. Estimates of the proportion of the disease burden that can be attributed to chemicals vary widely, ranging from 1% of all disease to 5% of childhood cancer to 10% of diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, and neurodevelopmental deficits, to 30% of childhood asthma.
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families – Health Report, The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act: Executive Summary. Available: http://healthreport.saferchemicals.org/
In the U.S. today, there is increasing concern that environmental contaminants may be harming the reproductive health and fertility of women and men. Reproductive and fertility problems appear to be on the rise.
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families – Health Report, The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act:Reproductive Health and Fertility Problems, Updated November 2010. Available: http://healthreport.saferchemicals.org/reproductive.html
Babies are being born pre-polluted: A study by the Environmental Working Group shows babies can carry a body burden of over 287 industrial chemicals prior to birth.
“Of the 287 chemicals detected in umbilical cord blood, 180 are known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied.”
Environmental Working Group. July 14, 2005. Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns: A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood, Executive Summary. Available: http://www.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden2/execsumm.php
The CDC’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals showed that over ninety percent of participants had Bisphenol A (BPA) among other chemicals as part of their body burden:
“Bisphenol A (BPA), a component of epoxy resins and polycarbonates, may have potential reproductive toxicity. General population exposure to BPA may occur through ingestion of foods in contact with BPA-containing materials. CDC scientists found bisphenol A in more than 90% of the urine samples representative of the U.S. population.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, 2009, Executive Summary of the Fourth Report, CDC. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/pdf/FourthReport_ExecutiveSummary.pdf (p. 3)
The highest known concentrations of PBDEs in human populations in the Arctic were found in Yupik women from the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta of Alaska.
Levels of PBDEs in U.S. women’s breast milk are 10-100 times higher than levels in European women.
Schecter A, Pavuk M, Päpke O, Ryan JJ, Birnbaum L, et al. 2003 Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in U.S. Mothers’ Milk. Environmental Health Perspectives 111(14):1723-1729. doi:10.1289/ehp.6466. Available: http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi/10.1289/ehp.6466
Mazdai A, Dodder NG, Abernathy MP, Hites RA, Bigsby RM, 2003 Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Maternal and Fetal Blood Samples. Environ Health Perspect 111(9):1249-1252. doi:10.1289/ehp.6146 Available: http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi/10.1289/ehp.6146
Concentrations of PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) have increased over the years in marine mammals due to atmospheric transport and bioaccumulation.
Ikonomou MG, Rayne S, Addision RF. 2002. Exponential increases of the brominated flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, in the Canadian Arctic from 1981 to 2000. Environmental Science & Technology 36(9):1886-1892. PMID: 12026967. Available: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12026966
8/25/08 Anchorage Daily News Compass Article: Chemical pollutants likely culprits in rising birth defects. By ROXANNE CHAN and SARAH PETRAS.
An increasing number of peer-reviewed scientific studies demonstrate that toxic chemical exposure is an important risk factor, not only for birth defects such as oral clefts, heart abnormalities and underdeveloped brains but also for other serious illnesses including cancer, asthma and reproductive problems.
We need to establish laws that regulate chemicals that cause neurological damage, cancer, genetic harm, endocrine disorders or harm to the immune system. Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of chemicals, and we should do everything we can to protect them.
If we do not act now, we will face grave consequences in the health of future generations. We need to give a voice to our children and grandchildren and stand up against harmful pollutants that could destroy their chance at a better life. Together we can urge Alaska’s senators to protect our families by supporting the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. We have no time to waste.
09/18/11 Anchorage Daily News Compass Article: Safe Chemicals Act protects kids. By GWEN LEE, the executive director of The Arc of Anchorage, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to serving children and adults who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities
Cardiovascular anomalies were the most common birth defects, comprising 38% of all affected infants… We found the birth prevalence of MCAs (major congenital abnormalities) in Alaska to be twice as high as the 3% reported for the United States as a whole…Our data indicates that Alaska Native infants have twice the risk of MCAs as white infants… Controlling for identifiable risk factors did not explain the racial disparity. Birth defects are caused by complex interactions between genetic and environmental influences; causal pathways for most birth defects are unknown.
High Prevalence of Major Congenital Anomalies in Alaska, 1996-2002. State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services, Epidemiology Bulletin 16, 7/14/2008. Available: http://www.epi.alaska.gov/bulletins/docs/b2008_16.pdf
Northern Exposure – Sarah Palin’s toxic paradise. By Sheila Kaplan and Marilyn Berlin Snell. October 22, 2008
Additional information and resources are available in the ACAT Fact Sheet: Protect Public Health SB 27/HB 63 “Flame Retardants and Toxic Chemicals”
The Safer Chemicals Healthy Families act will require Chemicals to be tested by companies before they are used in products – shifting the burden of proof back to the industry -where it belongs.
The Chemical Industry spent $50 million on lobbying in 2011. In order to fight this amount of spending, we need thousands of people to sign petitions in support of the Safe Chemicals Act and to call their elected officials and tell them to support it too.
Immediate action is needed to protect our health on the most dangerous chemicals
It is time for industry to be held accountable for the safety of their chemicals and products: due to serious limitations of the current law, very little is known about the vast majority of the tens of thousands of chemical produced and used in the US.
It is time for the use of the best science to protect all people and vulnerable groups for our future.
- Flame retardant chemicals show up in High Arctic – Air-monitoring station at Alert finds chemicals used on furniture and kids’ clothing. CBC News Posted: Apr 7, 2012.
- Xiao, H. and Shen, L. and Su, Y. and Barresi, E. and Dejong, M. and Hung, H. and Lei, Y. and Wania, F. and Reiner, E.J. and Sverko, E. and Kang, S., 2012, Atmospheric concentrations of halogenated flame retardants at two remote locations: The Canadian High Arctic and the Tibetan Plateau. Environ Pollut. 2012 Feb ;161 :154-61 22230080
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Postneonatal Mortality Among Alaska Native Infants — Alaska, 1989–2009. MMWR 2012;61:pp. 1-5. Available: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/wk/mm6101.pdf
- Environmental Protection Agency. 2010 Toxics Release Inventory Region 10 Report December 2011. Available: http://www.epa.gov/region10/pdf/tri/2010-report-region10.pdf
- Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). 2009. AMAP Assessment 2009: Human Health in the Arctic, p. 93. Available: www.amap.no [Accessed 31 December 2009].
- Schecter A, Pavuk M, Päpke O, Ryan JJ, Birnbaum L, et al. 2003 Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) in U.S. Mothers’ Milk. Environmental Health Perspectives 111(14):1723-1729. doi:10.1289/ehp.6466
- Mazdai A, Dodder NG, Abernathy MP, Hites RA, Bigsby RM, 2003 Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Maternal and Fetal Blood Samples. Environ Health Perspect 111(9):1249-1252. doi:10.1289/ehp.6146
- Ikonomou MG, Rayne S, Addision RF. 2002. Exponential increases of the brominated flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, in the Canadian Arctic from 1981 to 2000. Environmental Science & Technology 36(9):1886-1892. PMID: 12026967
- Herbstman JB, Sjödin A, Kurzon M, Lederman SA, Jones RS, et al. 2010 Prenatal Exposure to PBDEs and Neurodevelopment. Environ Health Perspect 118(5):712-719. doi:10.1289/ehp.0901340
- Eriksson P, Jakobsson E, Fredriksson A, 2001 Brominated Flame Retardants: A Novel Class of Developmental Neurotoxicants in Our Environment?. Environ Health Perspect 109(9):903-908. doi:10.1289/ehp.01109903
- Kuriyama SN, Talsness CE, Grote K, Chahoud I, 2004 Developmental Exposure to Low-Dose PBDE-99: Effects on Male Fertility and Neurobehavior in Rat Offspring. Environmental Health Perspective 113(2):149-154. doi:10.1289/ehp.7421
- Main KM, Kiviranta H, Virtanen HE, Sundqvist E, Tuomisto JT, et al. 2007 Flame Retardants in Placenta and Breast Milk and Cryptorchidism in Newborn Boys. Environmental Health Perspective 115(10): doi:10.1289/ehp.9924
- Lilienthal H, Hack A, Roth-Härer A, Grande SW, Talsness CE, 2006 Effects of Developmental Exposure to 2,2′,4,4′,5-Pentabromodiphenyl Ether (PBDE-99) on Sex Steroids, Sexual Development, and Sexually Dimorphic Behavior in Rats. Environmental Health Perspectives 114(2):194-201. doi:10.1289/ehp.8391
- HARDELL, L., VAN BAVEL, B., LINDSTRÖM, G., ERIKSSON, M. and CARLBERG, M. (2006), In utero exposure to persistent organic pollutants in relation to testicular cancer risk. International Journal of Andrology, 29:228–234. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2605.2005.00622.x Available: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2605.2005.00622.x/abstract
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 2004. Toxicological Profile for Polybrominated Biphenyls and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Available: http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/index.asp.
- DiGangi J, Blum A, Bergman Å, de Wit CA, Lucas D, et al. 2010 San Antonio Statement on Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants. Environ Health Perspect 118(12):A516-A518. doi:10.1289/ehp.1003089