Dear Friends in Prevention,


As the year comes to a close and the holiday season is upon us, all of us at the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition thank you for all of your support throughout the year. Without your support, we could not do our work toward breast cancer prevention.


We know that you understand the critical nature of our mission here at the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition. Please consider a donation in the name of loved ones for part of your holiday gift list this year, or consider joining us for our exciting 2013 events, details to follow in this newsletter.

Happy holidays to you and yours.



Margo Simon Golden

Board of Directors President

Many Toxic Flame Retardants Found
in Household Dust, Some at Levels
Above Health Guidelines
Flame retardants sound like a good idea to prevent our couches and computers and carpets from combusting. Yet these chemicals also accumulate and linger in our homes, sometimes winding up in household dust at levels of health concern. That was one of the central findings of a recent Silent Spring Institute study, the first to test for a wide range of flame retardants in homes.

Consumer products such as furniture, textiles, and electronics often contain chemical flame retardants. These chemicals can come out of the products into house dust and the environment where people are exposed to them. House dust is a major source of exposure, particularly for children. Flame retardants have been detected in human blood, urine, breast milk, indoor and outdoor air, house dust, food, and wildlife around the world.
Institute researchers tested for 49 flame retardant chemicals in household dust, the main route of exposure for people and especially for children. Forty-four chemicals were detected. Most homes had at least one chemical above a federal health guideline. The flame retardants found in house dust include carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and chemicals with unknown safety profiles.
"Our study found that people are exposed to toxic flame retardants every day," said Robin Dodson, PhD, a coauthor of the study and a scientist at Silent Spring Institute. "These hazardous chemicals are in the air we breathe, the dust we touch, and the couches we sit on. Many flame retardants raise health concerns, including cancer, hormone disruption, and harmful effects on brain development. It is troubling to see that a majority of homes have at least one flame retardant at levels beyond what the federal government says is safe. Infants and toddlers who spend much time on the floor are at higher risk for exposure."


The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition recently recognized environmental philanthropist Teresa Heinz at a September forum discussion on breast cancer and the environment at the Harvard Kennedy School.


"We're honored to stand here today to introduce an extraordinary woman and recognize her longstanding dedication to a crucial-and often overlooked-cause," Cheryl Osimo, Director of Events & Communication, said. "Teresa Heinz has worked tirelessly to propel our understanding of the detrimental impact that chemicals in our environment have on our health, especially women's health. An effective advocate, she has served as a leader and critical force for change."


During her acceptance remarks, Heinz told the story of her own awakening to the impact of the environment on human health. "I became an environmentalist simply because that's what it takes," she said. "I made the correlation between what to do, what to eat, and what to expose ourselves to-because if you don't, you die. Simple."

Cheryl Osimo (left) and Teresa Heinz (right) at the Harvard Kennedy School




We are beginning a series of recommendations for steps that YOU can take in your homes to reduce your exposure and to reduce your household's impact on the environment.


Never flush medications

Pharmaceuticals -- especially antibiotics and hormone replacement medications -- are adversely affecting the environment, as water treatment facilities cannot filter out all of the chemical compounds that medications leave behind. For disposal suggestions, visit the No Drugs Down the Drain website.


Do not use deodorizers that contain paradichlorobenzene

This carcinogen is often found in mothballs, as well as toilet bowl deodorizers. Use nontoxic alternatives, such as lemon juice, borax, baking soda, or white vinegar.


Water Concerns Go Beyond Nitrates
 A recent environmental summit organized by the Association to Preserve Cape Cod concluded that nutrient pollution is the most important environmental issue on Cape Cod. The problems caused by nutrients in Cape groundwater are apparent. Nutrients, especially nitrate, are causing excessive growth of algae in coastal waters and ponds, choking out plants and animals, and diminishing fish habitats. Household wastewater, primarily from septic systems, is the largest source of nitrate into Cape groundwater.
However, nutrients are not the only contaminants leaching from household wastewater into the Cape environment. Wastewater contains everything that goes down our drains and toilets. It contains chemicals in personal care products, such as detergents and shampoos, and chemicals added to make household products flame resistant, fresh smelling and germ-free. 

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition 
1419 Hancock St., Suite 202 
Quincy, MA 02169 

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Upcoming Events


South Cove Community Health Center fully stands behind the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition's work toward breast cancer prevention, and we are proud to support their annual Against the Tide events. We understand that when Asian women migrate to the United States, their risk of developing breast cancer increases up to six times, and this is why we have partnered with the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition in their work toward breast cancer prevention.

-Eugene Welch, South Cove Community Health Center Executive Director and 2013 Against the Tide Premiere Sponsor