Chemical Pollution Is Causing Preventable Cancer, Says Obama's Cancer Panel

Posted by Mother Nature Network

At MNN, we’ve told you about formaldehyde in baby shampoobisphenol-A in canned food, and neurotoxins in veggie burgers—all environmental pollutants allowed in our daily lives due to lax governmental regulations. Lest you thought we were overreacting or exaggerating: Today, the President’s Cancer Panel is pointing to this type of prevalent chemical pollution as a problem that’s causing “grievous harm” to the health of Americans—and urging Obama to take action.
 
In a report being cheered by many environmental health organizations, the President’s Cancer Panel says the chemicals-and-cancer link has been “grossly underestimated” due to lack of research—and that a lot of cancer cases “could have been prevented through appropriate national action.”
 
Indeed, the 240-page report, dubbed Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now (pdf), is strongly worded, beginning with a letter that concludes thusly:
The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.
Those remarks sound almost exactly like what environmental health organizations such as the Environmental Working Group and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families have been saying for years. Those groups have been pushing to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 for decades. Many are actively behind a new bill called the Safe Chemicals Act (also known as the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act)—though some environmental groups already fear that the act is not strong enough.
 
Hopefully, the new report will scare people into pushing their elected officials to take action. And the panel’s report really is quite scary, with excerpts like this one:
With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are ... understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread. One such ubiquitous chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), is still found in many consumer products and remains unregulated in the United States, despite the growing link between BPA and several diseases, including various cancers.
 
While BPA has received considerable media coverage, the public remains unaware of many common environmental carcinogens such as naturally occurring radon and manufacturing and combustion by-products such as formaldehyde and benzene.
Right now, would-be healthy environmentalists have to conduct their own costly tests and do their own time-consuming research to try to avoid these scary chemicals. Think the government should pass legislation so we don’t have to worry about these pollutants and their potential to give you cancer? Then get involved with strengthening and passing the Safe Chemicals Act.

Siel Ju blogs about health, beauty, and life for the Mother Nature Network.

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Photo (cc) by Flickr user tracyyxx via Mother Nature Network