Every October, The Breast Cancer Fund updates State of the Evidence. The report examines the latest on what scientists know about the links between chemicals in the environment and breast cancer. The 2010 edition is chock full of information on how pesticides and other chemicals (in food packaging, cosmetics, health care products, household cleaners and more) are contributing to our breast cancer epidemic.
Plenty of calcium, fruits, vegetables & exercise. No drinking, no smoking, cut down on caffeine. Oh, and avoid DDT breakdown products — they may put your soon-to-be-born baby on the road to obesity.
Researchers in Spain say they were surprised to find this link between DDT and overweight infants. Turns out when women of normal weight have higher levels of DDE (DDT’s breakdown product) in their blood during pregnancy, their babies are twice as likely to grow quickly during the first 6 months of life, and 4 times as likely to be overweight when they reach the 14-month mark.
There’s plenty of talk in Washington DC these days about the importance of keeping kids healthy. From Michelle Obama’s initiatives promoting healthy eating and exercise to EPA leader Lisa Jackson’s emphasis on children’s health, politicians and policymakers are recognizing the importance of creating healthy environments for kids.
The Obama Administration has a chance to “walk the talk” in Geneva next week, when experts from around the world will discuss the fate of a new group of persistent pollutants being considered for global phase out. The link to kids health couldn’t be clearer: these chemicals build up in the environment and in our bodies, posing particular dangers to developing infants and children.
The glacial pace of government decision-making on pesticides is costly. Not just the cost of years of paperwork, collecting and reviewing the endless stream of industry studies. And not just the cost of medical care for those who are damaged by toxins before they are taken off the market.
Sometimes, slow decisions result in pesticide exposures that cause such harm they fundamentally change the course of a child’s life. A cost that’s so high, it really can’t even be measured.
Those cancer-causing chemicals approved for widespread use on our farms and in everyday products? Well, they’re causing cancer. Lots of it.
The numbers are staggering, really. According to a report delivered to the White House last month by the prestigious President’s Cancer Panel, 41 percent of the U.S. population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and one in five Americans can expect to die from the disease.
I truly hope my grandchildren come into the world carrying fewer chemicals than my children did when they were born. My oldest just started high school, so any grandchildren are many years off. But members of Congress are deciding right now what chemicals my daughter will pass along to her children. My vote? As few as possible.
Senators and Representatives are considering a dangerous group of chemicals called “persistent, bioaccumulative toxins,” better known as PBTs. These chemicals can last for years in the environment — and in our bodies. Some travel the globe on swirling currents of wind and water, eventually settling in the polar regions. And many can damage our nervous, reproductive and immune systems at astonishingly low levels.
So it looks like Congress is finally beginning to take a serious look at toxic chemicals and how they affect our health. This week they heard from advocates, health professionals and parents calling for stronger laws to protect children from dangerous chemicals. The Senate subcommittee hearing included participants in the innovative biomonitoring study: Mind, Disrupted.
There’s nothing quite like a fresh, juicy strawberry. Our family lives near the central coast of California where most of the strawberries in the U.S. are grown, so we enjoy fresh-picked strawberries nearly year round.
What many people don’t know is that some of the nastiest pesticides are used in strawberry fields. Most non-organic berries are grown in soil that’s been zapped clean with chemicals that kill everything they touch. Fields are covered with huge tarps while pesticides are pumped in and the soil is stripped of all living things before planting. Workers, neighbors and parents sending their kids to school near strawberry fields dread fumigation season.
Personally, I like my cranberries and pumpkin pie chemical-free.
It’s not that you can taste or smell pesticides on food – the levels are much too low for that. It’s just that I sleep better knowing I’ve done all I can to minimize the number of chemicals I put into my body and feed to my kids.
I’ve been a mom for 15 years and a pesticide reform advocate for almost as long. I’ve organized around international treaties, lobbied government officials, and cheered at a lot of swim meets and baseball games. For me, these two worlds come together most clearly around food – in our backyard garden, in the produce aisle and at the dinner table.