Press Release: Experts Say Recent Science Strengthens Case that Chemicals Impact Chronic Diseases in America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                CONTACT:  Anne Hulick

July 23, 2012                                                                                         860-302-4861


Experts Say Recent Science Strengthens Case that Chemicals Impact Chronic Diseases in America

Historic Vote on Chemical Reform Set for Wednesday in Senate

The scientific evidence that unregulated chemicals contribute to chronic diseases in America has grown substantially in recent years says three leading physicians.  The evidence is summarized in a new report released today by Safer Chemicals, Health Families, as the Senate Environment Committee gears up for an historic vote on chemical reform on Wednesday. The report highlights significant peer-reviewed research on the role chemicals play in the rising incidence of certain types of cancer, reproductive harm, infertility, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, learning disabilities, and asthma.

“Evidence that chemical exposures significantly contribute to disease and disability burdens in the United States is undeniable, strong, and continues to grow,” said Ted Schettler, MD, MPH, Science Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network and a leading contributor to the report. “It is long past time to act. By eliminating unnecessary exposures to toxic chemicals and using safer alternatives, we can help to slow and even reverse the growing disease burden on American families.”

“Many hormone-disrupting chemicals are found in greater concentrations in African Americans. Many are linked to diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, prostate cancer, and early onset breast cancer—all of which are conditions that are more common in communities of color,” said Cedric Bright, MD, President of the National Medical Association, the nation’s oldest and largest organization representing African American physicians.

The new report also highlights the substantial costs associated with exposures to toxic chemicals in children. Researchers conservatively estimated that the annual cost of environmentally-attributed diseases in American children was $76.6 billion per year, or 3.5% of U.S. health care costs, in 2008.

“Chemical exposures not only have a major impact on children’s health but also on our economy,” said Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Environmental Medicine and Health Policy at New York University. “Passing the Safe Chemicals Act is necessary to reduce the burden of disease associated with these exposures. Chronic childhood conditions and costs associated with them may continue to rise if this issue is not addressed.”

The report comes as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee plans to hold an oversight hearing on toxic flame retardant chemicals that were the subject of a scathing investigation in the Chicago Tribune in mid-May. The same committee will vote on Senator Lautenberg’s Safe Chemicals Act on Wednesday.

“The negative health effects, specifically in children, of toxic chemical exposure have been well documented throughout the years and this health report is more validation that we need to take action to protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Anne Hulick, Coordinator of the Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut.  “We cannot just stand by and wait for the chemical industry and manufacturers to start producing safer products for our children.  The evidence is glaringly clear – it’s time for members of the Senate Environment Committee to protect their constituents from the dangers of toxic chemical exposure.”

“As a mom to a little girl and a sister to someone with several chronic illnesses, there are few things more important to me than protecting the health of those I love,” said Michelle Noehren of the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. “Many toxic chemicals have proven to be hormone disruptors and to affect women’s reproductive health systems – and yet those same chemicals are still allowed to be used in consumer products. It’s time to pass the Safe Chemicals Act – for my daughter so I don’t have to worry about every single product she comes into contact with and for my younger sister who I have watched struggle with a very severe form of endometriosis for the past 16 years.”

Parents, doctors, nurses, advocates for people with learning and developmental disabilities, environmental health and justice advocates, businesses, and major health professional organizations have called for reform of antiquated federal laws. The Safe Chemicals Act would create a chemical management system that effectively regulates potential hazards and provides stronger protections to human and environmental health.