Category archives: Uncategorized

Greater risk of breast cancer from certain occupations, time to put breast cancer out of work.

A new report from Breast Cancer Fund called Working Women and Breast Cancer: State of the Evidence, uncovers elevated breast cancer risk for working women. The report discovered over 20 occupations which carry a higher risk of breats cancer compared to the risk for the general population. They are:

  • Nurses – Up to 50% higher risk than for the general population
  • Teachers – Up to double the risk
  • Librarians, lawyers, journalists and other professionals – Up to 4 times higher risk
  • First responders (police, firefighters, military personnel) – Up to 2.5 times higher risk
  • Food and beverage production workers – Up to 5 times higher risk
  • Hairdressers and cosmetologists – Up to 5 times higher risk
  • Manufacturing and machinery workers – Up to 3 times higher risk
  • Doctors, physicians and other medical workers excluding nurses – Up to 3.5 times greater risk

Currently occupation is not considered a risk factor by most of the breast cancer charities. Shift work having only recently made it onto their radar. What are the implications for the non-consideration given to occupation by the cancer establishment? The continual focus on lifestyle risk factors will do nothing to stem the flow of breast cancer cases if occupational and environmental infleuncers are not taken into consideration. Have you ever been asked about your occupation when you visit your doctor? There is much we can do by way of prevention in the workplace using current legislation, much can be done by trade unions and activists to draw attention to this. The breast cancer establishment needs to recognise and address occupational breast cancer as a priority. Current cancer strategies need to focus on primary prevention of occupational and environmental risk factors. Not to do so would be to condemn thousands of women to a needless breast cancer diagnosis and death from breast cancer. We need greater emphasis on primary prevention, alongside better treatment and care if we are ever to see the end of the breast cancer epidemic.

NGOs call for withdrawal of Glyphosate

The letter calls for a withdrawal of the use of glyphosate, as a precautionary measure, where potential for worker and public exposure is particularly high. Greenpeace European Unit, Pan Europe, the Health and Environment Alliance , Friends of the Earth Europe and the Alliance for Cancer Prevention  signed up to the letter to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis.

This is due to the fact that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, has recently classified the pesticide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” (Class 2A). This designation significantly alters the risk profile associated with the various uses of glyphosate. In the past glyphosate has also been linked with causing birth defects, reproductive and developmental abonormalities, DNA damage, and adverse effects to the immune system.

Glyphosate is the most commonly used herbicide in Europe and, together with its major metabolite AMPA, has been found in soils, waters, and in items of food. At present, however, there is no systematic surveillance monitoring in place to determine human exposure and any subsequent impacts upon human health. Ultimately, further assessment may indicate that more restrictions are necessary for other uses of glyphosate in agricultural production in order to protect agricultural workers, people in rural areas and consumers. Workers health is seriously put at risk during spraying.

Glyphosate is used to largely to prevent weeds which cause “trip hazards and physical damage to surfacing as well as block sightlines, trap litter and look unsightly”. But the ACP believes the public should be informed as to which they prefer, weeds or a potential cancer risk in their streets and parks.

There is no notification or signage required to alert the public if glyphosate has been sprayed – many local authorities use it because its not percieved as a treat to public health. This means park users specifically small children and dogs may inadvertently come into close contact with sprayed areas. Roundup is also sold in many garden centres around the UK for amateur use.

Seriously time to retire this harmful pesticide from all uses.

Letter can be seen here

Pan UK information on glyphosate.

 

 

 

 

International Workers Memorial Day 2015 #IWMD15

International Workers’ Memorial Day * Journée Internationale de Commémoration (JIC) des travailleurs décédés et blessés  * Jornada Internacional de Conmemoración (JIC) de los Trabajadores Fallecidos y Heridos

28th April 2015 is International Workers Memorial Day with an new website launched to capture all the acitivities and commenorations www.28april.org

Events this year will focus on prevention of the harm caused by toxic substances at work, with many trade union and occupational and environmental health campaign organisations worldwide putting an explicit focus on cancer prevention.

The 28 April campaign slogan is : “TOXIC WORK – STOP DEADLY EXPOSURES TODAY!”

Please share widely and get involved and dont forget to send details of your event to the website www.28april.org

The International Trade Union Confederation have put together a very useful booklet on Toxic Work: Stop Deadly Exposures Today!

You can download it here

Double trouble on relative risk for occupational diseases

A new report from Professor Andrew Watterson and Professor Rory O’Neill on the unjust state compensation schemes which means occupational diseases including breast cancer linked to shiftwork will never overcome an arbitrary double-the-risk qualification hurdle and call for reform of this ailing system.

How did this system get so unfair? Women almost miss out entirely. Breast cancer is the top occupational cancer for women directly linked to shift work yet it isn’t on the state prescribed disease list. Each year, according to HSE, around 2,000 women develop breast cancer as result of working shifts. Not one is compensated.The ACP and the Hazards Campaign drew attention to this ignoring of women’s breast cancer in particular when it staged a demo out a HSE meeting. We also maligned the HSE for making occupational breast cancer a much neglected gender issue.

The report makes the case for occupational cancer and exposes the fact that the UK is backwards on prevention and recognition of real-life, flesh and blood cases.

Read the report here.

Say No to Hormone Disrupting Chemcials

Say no to hormone disrupting chemicals EN bannerA new campaign platform has been launched to help EU citizens input into the public consultation on hormone disrupting chemicals or EDCs. These harmful chemicals can be found in a myriad of different products we come into close contact with each and every day whether at home, work or in the wider environment. They have the ability to build up in our bodies and scientific evidence links exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals to breast or testicular cancer, fertility problems, diabetes and obesity as well as learning and behavioural problems in children. We do not need these chemicals in our lives any more.

Now is the time to SAY “NO” TO HORMONE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS found in our food, cosmetics, homes, work places, schools, hospitals and many more!

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Send a strong message to the European Commission in less than 2 minutes!  Help us push back against the industry lobbying that may otherwise weaken action on hormone disrupting chemicals at the expense of people’s health, the environment and wildlife!

This is the only chance you will have to directly give your opinion and to make yourself heard in Brussels. Use it!

Tell the European Commission now that you want to find and remove all hormone disrupting chemicals from our lives to protect our health! Take Action here via our easy to use online platform to answer the consultation! http://no2hormonedisruptingchemicals.org/en

Information release on EDCs

Press Release from EDC Free Europe

Principles for transparency, excellence and independence in scientific advice to the European Commission

In August 2014 a coalition of NGOs including the Alliance wrote a letter to the President-elect of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, questioning the role of Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the EU Commission. The intention of the letter was to stimulate debate about how scientific policy advice was structured and to highlight the risks in concentrating the power of delivering this advice into the hands of one person via the role of CSA. Vested interests realised long ago this role makes it easier to control. The UK is one of the few remaining EU countries which maintains a CSA post.

The EU CSA post was abolished in November amind allegations from various sources in the UK and beyond of this being ‘anti-science’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The NGO coalition drafted another letter outlining a set of common principles for excellence, independence and transparence. These we believe can improve and inform existing scientific advisory institutions and processes, as well as the new scientific advisory structure the EU.

The principles outline the importance the NGOs place on unbiased, well balanced and current science advice given as a vital tool to aid and inform EU policy. But sometimes science on its own may not be able to fully determine the right course of action. Other societal factors must be considered along with a precautionary approach when there is uncertainty in relation to the health and safety of the EU citizens.

The alliance thinks that current lack of consideration given to, and therefore action taken on new and emerging science covering issues like EDCs, other chemicals, substances and work practices linked to the increasing rates of workplace and environmental cancers has contributed to the rising rates of cancer. We are very concerned that further scientific advice be given through an open and transparent process, and that the most current, unbiased and well rounded sceintifi advice must be taken when determining health and safety. After all our very health depends on it.

More information on the issue available here.



 

The need for independent, objective and transparent scientific advice to the EC should be self evident

letterletter sent on the 19/8/14 to the President-elect of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker signed by 25 NGO’s asked for the post of Chief Scientific Adviser be abolished.

The letter is a follow up to a previous letter expressing concern that the post is: “fundamentally problematic as it concentrates too much influence in one person, and undermines in-depth scientific research and assessments carried out by or for the Commission directorates in the course of policy elaboration”.

Scientific advice given to the president by the current CSA is not publically available making the process un-transparent. The signatories support the principle that scientific advice should be independent and objective, and the process transparent. NGOs are worried that by placing all the onus on one person for the whole of EU policy, this would make the principle difficult to uphold.

“The influence of corporate lobbyists is made even easier by the fact that the CSA of the European Commission has no obligation to publish the advice given to the President,” the NGOs say.

Among EU countries, only the UK maintains the position of CSA as a full-time government office.

Policy should not be swayed by vested interests, and the scientific resources consulted to inform decisions on the health and well-being of EU citizens and workers should be made available along with the advice given, in a spirit of democracy. The need for independent, objective and transparent scientific advice to the EC should be self evident.

Greenpeace has issued a press release on the issue and there is a press piece on the letter from Euractiv here.

 

Monumental ruling on Diesel fumes and Lung cancer

From Risks Newsletter by Rory O’Neill

A decision to award compensation to the widow of a bus maintenance worker who died of diesel exhaust-related lung cancer has been hailed as a ‘monumental’ breakthrough by his union.

Anthony Nigro, a member of Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) Local 100 in New York, USA, died a few months after retiring in 2012. His oncologist told his widow, Dorota, he believed diesel exhaust exposure in his 28 years working for the New York City Transit Authority was the cause of his cancer.

Lawyer Robert Grey, who filed a workers’ compensation claim on behalf of the family, said this is “the first case where a Workers’ Compensation Board, or any other court, has recognised the cause and effect of diesel to occupational disease.”

The company contested the claim, noting the victim’s history of smoking. But an expert providing testimony for the family said his job provided “ample exposure… to diesel exhaust emission.” The expert witness said that while smoking was also “a likely contributor” to the lung cancer, the diesel emissions were “more likely than not a significant contributing factor in causing or aggravating” Mr Nigro’s illness and death.

In a judgment that is not being contested by the firm, Judge Jay Leibowitz ruled in favour of the family and awarded them a weekly benefit of $773, $100,000 in backdated benefits and $6,000 in funeral expenses.

Dr Frank Goldsmith, director of occupational health for the TWU local, said: “This case is really a monumental decision. It’s reminiscent of where we were with asbestos in the 1970s.” He added: “We need to find out more about diesel and cancer trends among transit workers. We need to know how many of our members have been stricken by lung cancer, and target which job titles those cancers came from.”

The family of a Canadian miner who died of diesel exhaust linked lung cancer was awarded compensation last year. In June 2012, an expert panel convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified diesel fume as a top rated ‘Group 1′ carcinogen.

A study published in 2013 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives concluded almost 5 per cent of lung cancer deaths in the United States and the United Kingdom may be due to workplace exposure to diesel exhaust.

To sign up for Risks click here.

Ground-breaking breast cancer research wins international award

andrew watterson (smaller)

 Dr. James Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith (picture from the Windsor Star) and Prof Andrew Watterson.

Researchers from the University of Stirling’s Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group (OEHRG), receive an International Award from the American Public Health Association for their research which found that women working in certain occupational sectors face an elevated breast cancer risk.

The two studies were led by Dr James Brophy and Dr Margaret Keith, of Stirling’s OEHRG and the University of Windsor, Ontario, and co-author and Head of Stirling’s OEHRG, Professor Andrew Watterson.
The initial study published in Environmental Health found a 42 per cent increased breast cancer risk for any women employed in occupations where they were exposed to high levels of chemicals that were identified as either mammary carcinogens or endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The second qualitative study published in New Solutions provided additional evidence to support the findings of the first study.

The award is very well deserved and we are hugely grateful to the team of researchers for bringing some much needed clarity to the issue of occupational breast cancer. This work will be greatly appreciated by women who know the work they do is linked to their breast cancer and help with eliminating those chemicals we know are causing greatest harm to workers, but also to a lesser degree consumers and our environment. Well done all! Much congratulations.

Press release from Stirling University:

News Clip from Windsor Star:

Potential Public Health risks associated with fracking.

Excellent document prepared for Falkirk local authority in reference to an ‘unconventional gas extraction’ application by Dr Morag Parnell, Mb.ChB, and Jamie McKenzie Hamilton, MSc. Document calls for a ban on all exploration and recovery of “unconventional gas”. Can be downloaded here. Potential Public Health risks associated with unconventional gas extraction.