Cancer Panel: Harm Caused By Unchecked Chemicals
Environmental cancers are “underestimated.”
That is the conclusion of the President’s Cancer Panel, an expert panel that advises President Obama on chemicals in the air, food, and water linked to cancer.
In report released Thursday, the panel calls for a nationwide strategy to reduce chemicals in the environment and workplace.
"With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action," the panel wrote in the report.
In 2009, approximately 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with cancer and 562,000 died from the disease.
With a growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer traditional cancer research dollars have gone to finding drugs to fight the disease. With an emphasis on avoiding cancer in the first place, the panel is targeting the sources which can be found in industrial, occupational and agricultural exposures, as well as military activities, modern lifestyles, medical practices, and natural sources.
With nearly 80,000 chemicals introduced in the U.S. market for everything from cleaning sinks to cleaning jet fighters, plastic production such as bisphenol A (BPA), to benzene and formaldehyde in carpets.
A complete overhaul of existing chemical laws is needed reports the Washington Post.
As the system stands now, the burden of proof of a chemical’s toxicity falls on regulators to prove after the chemical is released into the environment, a burden the government has been unable to tackle. With standards that high, the federal government has been unable to ban asbestos, a carcinogen, already prohibited in dozens of countries.
The report concludes that efforts must be increased to inform the public as well as reduce exposures to children who are “far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults.”
In fact, industrial chemicals have been found in the umbilical-cord blood of fetuses in research done by the Environmental Working Group, showing that babies are born pre-polluted.
Too many regulatory agencies have responsibility over chemicals and funding is inadequate.
Sen Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has introduced the Safe Chemicals ct of 2010 that would shift the burden of proof about the safety of a new chemical back onto industry before it can be used.
Beyond individual chemicals, the panel said that the cumulative effect on humans from different and multiple exposures should be considered for the subtle changes in the human body which may show up as cancer years down the road. #