Petition Congress to Protect Public Health

 

Visit the Chicago Tribune’s Watchdog Investigative Series Playing with Fire to learn more.

3 GOP senators join call for action on toxic flame retardants: “Bipartisan letter to EPA says chemical safety law ‘must be reformed’. “This reinforces why there is broad agreement that (the chemical safety law) must be reformed to protect American families from dangerous chemicals in a cost-effective way,” they wrote. Read more at Chicago Tribune.

Please contact your representatives in Congress via the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families website.


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.


The Solution?

The Safer Chemicals Healthy Families act would have required chemicals to be tested by companies before they are used in products – shifting the burden of proof back to the industry -where it belongs. This act was scrapped in 2013 for the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (S. 1009) which will need a lot of improvement to actually protect the health of anyone. (news release)

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. See ACAT’s news release on this topic.

Immediate action is needed to protect our health from 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.

What is the science behind this action? Visit our Safer Chemical Act Reference Page.

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.


Why should Alaskans be concerned?

Below are some startling issues we face, with links to their scientific sources. Although we do not know the correlation between each of these issues, the reality is, Alaskans are facing environmental exposure to chemicals which are not even manufactured in Alaska. The way that the law stands now, it is up to us to prove that each individual chemical (of over 80,000 chemicals) causes us harm.

It is time to turn the tables and require companies to prove the safety of a chemical before it’s manufacture.


Issue: There is an increasing incidence of chemicals being found in the Arctic and in Alaska.
News: 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. Available: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/04/07/north-arctic-flame-retardants.html?cmp=rss
Science: 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. Available: http://lib.bioinfo.pl/pmid:22230080

Issue: 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.
News: 01/05/12. APRN – Juneau. Alaska: High on Toxic Releases. By Dave Donaldson. Available: http://www.alaskapublic.org/2012/01/05/alaska-high-on-toxic-releases/
Science: 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

Issue: 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.
Science: 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

Issue: 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.
Science: 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].

Issue: Global transport of chemicals are showing up in the traditional foods of Alaskan Natives.

“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.”

International Efforts: 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: ACAT Publication
Science: 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

Issue: 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.
Science: 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

Issue: 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.
Science: Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families – Health Report, The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act: Executive Summary. Available: http://healthreport.saferchemicals.org/

Issue: 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.
Science: 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

Issue: 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.”

Science: 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

Issue: 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.”

Science: 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)

Issue: The highest known concentrations of PBDEs in human populations in the Arctic were found in Yupik women from the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta of Alaska.
Science: 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].

Issue: Levels of PBDEs in U.S. women’s breast milk are 10-100 times higher than levels in European women.
Science: 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.6466Mazdai 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

Issue: Concentrations of PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) have increased over the years in marine mammals due to atmospheric transport and bioaccumulation.
Science: 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

 


Issue: In Alaska, the rate of major birth defects is twice as high as the rest of the United States:

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.

Science: 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
Compass Articles: 8/25/08 Anchorage Daily News Compass Article: Chemical pollutants likely culprits in rising birth defects. By ROXANNE CHAN and SARAH PETRAS. Available: http://www.adn.com/2008/08/25/504361/chemical-pollutants-likely-culprits.html
09/18/11 Anchorage Daily News Compass Article: Safe Chemicals Act protects kids.

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. Available: http://www.adn.com/2011/09/18/2075501/safe-chemicals-act-protects-kids.html


Additional information and resources are available in the ACAT Fact Sheet: Protect Public Health SB 27/HB 63 “Flame Retardants and Toxic Chemicals”