Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Panel Presentation: New Science

Moderator: John Peterson Myers, PhD. Overview: Tools we used to determine what safe have been flawed, used to protect chemicals over people. New tools being used now, which are linking chemicals to health conditions more than ever. As we identify these chemicals, we need to develop practices and policies around their use. Green Chemistry on the uprise. Dr. Terry Collins, a leader in this area.

Panelists are strong advocates for change in the area of environmental toxins.

Dr. Hunt - enviromental exposures in the womb
Dr. Brody - indoor toxins
Dr. Wright - enviromental health and justice in poor communities

Dr. Hunt: Washington State Univeristy. Interests in reproductive health and limited amount of time women have to produce. Shows a slide of chromosomes of downs syndrome child. Huge increase of child's chance of downs syndrome with age of woman. We have change our reproductive habits. More women are waiting until they older before they get pregnant, but we aren't designed to do that. That is unique to humans. Are we making things worse? There have been dramatic changes in reproductive functions. Pathways of exposure, air, water, food packaging, pesticides, furniture, heavy metals. Today's focus: BPA. Contributor to chromosomal abnormalities, this was confirmed by leaching BPA from cages of lab animals. Changes in mice: Increased cancer risk, obesity, heart disease. These changes start in the womb, they can impact the female fetus' eggs. But this was discounted. This was then tested on monkey females (I know, that's terrible). Same result. There are other chemicals that behave like estrogens in the body. We need to start talking to our legislators about changes in our chemical policies. Change starts with us. Good example - removal of BPA from baby bottles as a result of individual phone calls made by concerned parents.

Dr. Brody: Silent Spring Institute: Rachel Carson, a hero for all of us. Topic: Environmental Chemicals and Breast Cancer. Turn the question of "why did I get breast cancer?" into "why are we seeing a higher incidence of breast cancer". Silent Spring Institute is seeking to answer this question. Challenges statements of lack of evidence about pesticides and toxins impact on breast cancer. New research shows that we can reduce incidences of breast cancer. Inherited genes are NOT the main story, only 27% due to genes. Industrial nations have the highest rates of breast cancer. What are opportunities for prevention? Risk factors: Radiation, alcohol use, lack of physical activity, hormone replacement therapy, overweight after menopause. Biological mechanisms linked: endocrine disruptors, developmental toxicants that affect mammary glands - 216 chemicals used in pollutants, cosmetics linked to breast cancer. for "breast cancer list". PAH's, PCB's. Why don't we know more, humans more difficult to study. Most chemicals have never been studied, so the no proof claims, aren't necessarily valid. Sometimes we just need to experiment with eliminating suspect chemicals and see if rates of disease drop.

Dr. Wright: Dillard University
New Orleans area also known as Mississippi River Chemical Corridor. Home to 136 petrochemical businesses. Will discuss environmental racism. Began her journey in this area 30 years ago. She says that climate change is real, activists knew this to be true a long time ago, because they were living with the results.New Orleans were completely shocked at the severity of Hurricane Katrina. Showing slides of tens of thousands of people trying to leave. Not everyone had the ability to leave. Women, children and elderly most impacted, least able to leave. Climate change impacts: flooding, leakage and spread of contaminants. Says that there was a lot of EPA agency double speak, tells the city that it is safe, but their samples say otherwise -extremely high levels of contaminants found in soil, gives a clean bill of health, but instructs parents on ways to keep children safe while playing outside. This weekend there will be a Jazz and Heritage Festival in N.O. at Church Hill Downs. This will be a safe place as the owners excavated all of the soil so the horses will be safe. Speaks of the incredible amount of bureaucracy in getting stimulus funding from HUD. Universities, labor, environmental organizations, community organizations and homeowners collaborated to do a demonstration project called "Safe Way Back Home" to show the government what needs to be done. 180 volunteers helped with project including getting Hazmat training, removed 6 inches of top soil from 23 homes on the street, replaced with sand, then sod. Politicians showed up afterwards. Neighborhood restored beautifully. The people make it happen baby! Dr. Wright did a great job and has a wonderfully humorous personality.

What chemicals are safe?

1) We need to educate ourselves?
2) Advocate for greater research and disclosure of chemical impacts
3) Going into another era of designing better products
4) We need to understand impact of interaction of mix of chemicals that we are exposed to

What should we do about mixtures of chemicals and interaction of other parts of the environment?
1) Dr. Wright says we are going to get very ugly and very smelly if scientists don't figure something out, because she has almost stopped using everything! S
2) Very complex issue, but environmental scientists are pushing for better science, research and policy

Web Resources
2) Our Stolen Future Site
3) Be wary of information sponsors of sites that you research
4) EPA
5) Black and Into Green (my response)

What's Up with Soy?
1) Phytoestrogen - think of estrogen receptors as a parking lot, holding excess estrogens, especially for post menopausal women and women that have not used soy all of their lives. Studies in process.
2) Matters where you grew up, gestated, what grandmothers ate.

Great panel!!

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