MASSACHUSETTS BREAST CANCER COALITION
FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Dear Friends in Prevention,
Thank you to everyone who supported this weekend's Against the Tide event in Hopkinton, MA. With each year that goes by, Against the Tide continues to inspire and encourage us all that prevention is possible. And none of this would be possible without each and every one of you. Click here
to view the results from the event. We look forward to the Cape Cod Against the Tide event on August 17th at DCR's Nickerson State Park in Brewster, MA. To register or make a pledge on a participant, visit www.mbcc.org/swim.
We are also excited to announce the debut of our new community education project: the MBCC Research Updates Video Series. This first video (below) features MBCC Board of Directors President Margo Simon Golden introducing the issue of environmental breast cancer advocacy. We invite you to share this video with your friends and family via social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), email, or by simply directing them to our website.
On June 26th the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This news resonates deeply with MBCC, which was proudly founded by a group of lesbian women over two decades ago. We have always supported equal rights for all women and men, and we celebrate knowing that this news means a brighter future for American families and communities.
Congratulations to Silent Spring Institute on recently being awarded $50,000 from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) to estimate inputs of emerging contaminants, including hormones, pharmaceuticals, and consumer product chemicals, to the Cape Cod aquifer and evaluate how these inputs would change under proposed alternative wastewater scenarios. Unfortunately, this money covers a mere 13% of the $375,000 that Silent Spring Institute needs to do their work on emerging contaminants throughout the state. Please encourage legislators to prioritize public health by supporting Silent Spring Institute's water research: sign the petition. It will take only a moment of your time, and every voice counts.
On behalf of the staff and board of directors, I wish you an enjoyable summer. Thank you for standing with MBCC to protect future generations.
Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition
MBCC RESEARCH UPDATES
Educational Video Series
Welcome to the first segment of our new video series, MBCC Research Updates. In this video, MBCC Board of Directors President Margo Simon Golden presents the facts about breast cancer incidence today and why it's so important to focus on environmental links in order to prevent the disease. Click the image below to play the video.
These videos will help you become an advocate for prevention and take steps to reduce your exposure to chemicals of concern. Please share them with family and friends and encourage them to do the same!
EPA WORK PLAN CHEMICALS RISK ASSESSMENTS
Encouraging Change While Awaiting Reform
Substantial reform is needed for U.S. chemicals regulation policy, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). This outdated policy has many flaws. As a result, we currently have complete toxicological screening data for only 7% of the more than 84,000 chemicals registered for use at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). TSCA has only been successfully used to ban or restrict the use of only five chemicals in over 40 years. Approximately 62,000 existing compounds were "grandfathered in" when the law was enacted, and less than 200 of these have been tested for safety.
The EPA began a comprehensive approach
in 2009 t
o improve the current chemicals management program. In 2012 the EPA released a strategy to expand these efforts, including a component titled the TSCA Work Plan Chemicals
which contains a list of 83 chemicals for further assessment.
In other words, the EPA is taking steps to improve chemical management practices, but these improvements are limited within the authority granted to them by TSCA. For example, the EPA does not have authority to require chemical manufacturers to provide safety data for these 83 chemicals or conduct the costly screening assessments. Additionally, there is no legislative safeguard in place to ensure that new chemicals released onto the market undergo these safety assessments.
Each year, the EPA selects some chemicals from the work plan to assess. In 2012, seven chemicals from this list were identified for risk assessment, and drafts of the first five have been made available to the public
. In 2013 another 23 chemicals have been selected with an interesting focus: 20 of these are flame retardant compounds, some of which are found in upholstered furniture, electronics, children's pajamas, and other consumer products. We know from the research conducted at our sister organization Silent Spring Institute
that these chemicals migrate out of upholstered furniture and settle in household dust, often at levels above federal health guidelines. We are encouraged by the EPA's concern for the overuse of these chemical flame retardants and look forward to the results of this assessment.
It's important to remember that these improvements are limited within the confines of our outdated chemical policy. The TSCA Work Plan chemicals list does not supersede the need for legislative reform. We applaud EPA official, Gina McCarthy, who has stressed the need to "reauthorize our antiquated chemical safety laws so they provide a clear, fair set of rules for industry and certainty for consumers that their products are safe." Click here to read the full article.
In the 2013-2014 Federal Legislative Session, two bills have been filed in an attempt to correct some of TSCA's flaws. If we want either of these passed into law, citizens must voice their concern. Read on to find out more about the bills.
REFORMING CHEMICAL MANAGEMENT POLICY
Proposed Bills to Reform TSCA
Researchers have already identified over 200 chemicals
in our environment that are linked to breast cancer, and there are several thousand more chemicals that have not yet undergone adequate safety testing to assess human health impacts. The Safe Chemicals Act and the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) are two bills which would update our chemical management policy to require testing of chemicals in use today. CSIA 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.
The Safe Chemicals Act
introduced in April 2013 by the late Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey is an aggressive bill to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) and repair its flaws. In a surprise move in May 2013, Lautenberg, along with Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, introduced the CSIA, a weaker attempt at reform.
While both bills aim to reform TSCA and would require testing of chemicals deemed to be hazardous to health, CSIA is lacking key measures to ensure that the new chemical management policy is effective at protecting the public from exposure to chemicals of concern:
- It does not specifically include verbiage to address the protection of vulnerable populations such as pregnant women, children, workers, and environmental justice communities.
- A broad and vaguely written state pre-emption clause could have a potentially devastating impact on state-based chemical policies such as the Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Act and California's Proposition 65.
- The bill does not include a hazard-based section giving the EPA ability to act quickly on the worst chemicals such as those that are persistent and bioaccumulative.
- Unlike the Safe Chemicals Act, CSIA does not set deadlines for required action, creating the possibility of stalemates on chemical regulation or restriction.
- Chemicals would be categorized as high or low priority, but the criteria for listing chemicals as "low priority" is vague. This generates concern that the EPA will be overwhelmed with recommendations for chemicals to be listed as "low priority" without sharing enough health and safety information about the impacts of exposure.
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.
Federal legislation to ban Bisphenol-A (BPA)
On June 4th Massachusetts Representative and Senator elect Ed Markey reintroduced legislation to ban Bisphenol-A (BPA) from food and beverage containers. Markey says, "It's time to take the worry out of feeding America's kids by taking the BPA out of infant formula, canned goods, and other food and beverage containers. Parents, consumers, and doctors are all asking to get BPA out of our bodies. It's time to ban this chemical and move to safer alternatives."
BPA is an endocrine disrupting compound, a chemical that alters the natural functioning of hormones in the body. In 2010, MBCC testified before the Boston Public Health Council expressing a warning of the link between BPA and breast cancer. The state passed legislation banning BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. Now it is time to remove BPA from all food and beverage containers on a national scale.
Against the Tide
Click the image above for information about Against the Tide in Brewster, MA on August 17th
Reduce Your Risk
When purchasing cleaning products or personal care items, choose those without "fragrance" on the label to avoid hidden chemical compounds. Beware of labels claiming "unscented," as these could still contain fragrance-masking chemicals. Always choose products labelled as "fragrance-free."
Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting inside your home, since these can trap pollutants and carcinogens. Instead, choose rugs that you can take outside to clean on a regular basis. Rugs made from natural fibers are best.
Be proud of small changes to reduce your exposure.
Start with small steps and increase from there. For more tips to reduce your exposure, click here
May 27, 1907-April 14, 1964
May 27th was Rachel Carson's birthday. Her revolutionary book Silent Spring is the namesake of our sister organization Silent Spring Institute, which MBCC founded in order to investigate elevated breast cancer rates on Cape Cod. We honored Rachel Carson's memory with an email celebrating her life and work as an environmental advocate. To read our email reflection, click here.
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D- NJ) passed away on June 3rd at the age of 89. In his time as a Senator, he championed many important bills including the proposed Safe Chemicals Act and the Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013. He will be remembered as a supporter of the effort to reform outdated U.S. chemicals policy.
The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition is dedicated to preventing environmental causes of breast cancer through community education, research advocacy, and changes to public policy. Thank you for supporting our efforts toward breast cancer prevention. Learn more.
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