If you expose us, we’ll expose you

The International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow pledged today that if you expose us, we’ll expose you. The pledge relates to the fact that most occupational cancer deaths could be prevented if measures to prevent them were not blocked, “a mixture of toxic marketing and regulatory failure has already condemned another generation to an early grave”.

Instead of action on prevention we are faced with “a toxic cocktail of denial and deceit that means more people than at any time in history will develop tumours caused by their job”.

It seems like manufactured doubt about hazards and risk factors win out: “a process of paralysis by analysis. Wherever stricter controls are proposed, industry representatives or their hired guns appear, challenging the science and predicting an economic catastrophe”.

The International Labour Organisation puts occupational cancer deaths at over 660,000/year. Womens cancer are largely ignored, compensation becomes a myth and corruption flourishes, people before profit becomes business as usual. Surely its time to get serious about occupational cancer in fact all preventable cancer linked to exposures. This pledge is in stark contrast to the statement of intent from our cancer task force – which completly ignores occupational cancer, or any cancer not thought to be ‘lifestyle ‘related.

Read the full ITUC pledge here:

Resources

New guide from the ITUC on Toxic work – stop deadly exposures today sets out why we want to remove toxic exposures from the workplace and how.

A new workplace cancer website, supported by the ITUC and produced by Hazards and the Alliance for Cancer Prevention. http://cancerhazards.org/

It provides all the latest news on occupational cancer, including emerging scientific evidence and union initiatives.

Find out more about activities on the 28th April International Workers Memorial Day #IWMD15

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.

ACP submission to the Cancer Task Force

The ACP responded to NHS Englands announcement of a new independent taskforce to develop a five-year action plan for cancer services that will improve survival rates and save thousands of lives.

Although the focus seems to be primarily on services and treatment which we agree are vital – we need the highest possible standards of care – we were very disappointed not to see environmental and occupational risk factors addressed and actioned in any of the documents referenced for the strategy. Indeed in the report, Five Year Forward View, the emphasis appears to be only on lifestyle interventions.

Although CRUK have narrowed the new cancer strategy to service provision they did acknowledge that the task force is: “A great opportunity for the cancer community to lead development of a cross-system, independent and ambitious new cancer plan……..and addressing the preventable causes of cancer will be key to seeing progress.”

We believe that unless we tackle the primary prevention of cancer i.e. stopping cancer before it starts, we are unlikely to see any improvement in the cancer epidemic. There are many barriers to action on the primary prevention of cancer; cancer is also caused by lack of political will. In our view, the biggest barrier to addressing cancer services is the lack of action on primary prevention which necessitates greater resources into services in the first place.

We sincerley hope this is a great opportunity to include the environmental and occupational risk factors for cancer into new cancer plans…without addressing these confounding risk factors we can only look forward to a cancer forever future.

Our submission can be downloaded here Submission to Cancer Task Force

 

 

Submission to EU Commission on the EDC consultation

Due to the intensive lobbying from the chemicals and pesticide industry the EU Commission missed its December 2013 deadline to set criteria for indentifying Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) – chemicals which are widely used, ubiquitous and harmful. The public consultation was launched in 2014 and closed on the 16/1/2015. Here is the ACP  submission to the EU EDC public consultation

The EDC Free Europe Coalition received 20,440 individual submissions onto its online platform Say No to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals.

In total the EU Coommission received 27,087  responses – more information on the breakdown can be found here.

To follow and support this work please sign up to our campaign http://www.edc-free-europe.org/

 

Stirling breast cancer research shapes prevention policy with leading US health body

A ground-breaking resolution developed by University of Stirling academics on the elevated breast cancer risk faced by women in certain occupations has been adopted by the influential American Public Health Association (APHA), the largest public health organization in the world.

Dr James Brophy and Dr Margaret Keith of the University of Stirling’s Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group (OEHRG) were involved as initiators and co-authors of the resolution, entitled Breast Cancer and Occupation: A Need for Action.

The adoption of the resolution by APHA is a significant step in public health policy, highlighting the importance of primary prevention and renewed commitment to occupational health research in the United Kingdom and North America, where breast cancer rates are among the highest in the world.

Dr Brophy said: “Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women across the globe but the majority of women do not have the known or suspected risk factors, therefore more attention to the exposures and hazards faced by women at work is required.” More here.

 

American Public Health Association Passes Groundbreaking Resolution on Breast Cancer and Occupation

APHA

The American Public Health Association has passed a groundbreaking resolution on breast cancer and occupation calling on the U.S. Surgeon General to declare the association between known classes of chemicals including endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and breast cancer while acknowledging that women working with these chemicals are particularly at risk. The declaration need to emphasis the precautionary principle and highlight the importance of identifying workplace and other environmental hazards that contribute to elevated breast cancer rates. The resolution was authored by Dr. James Brophy, Dr. Margaret Keith, and Dorothy Wigmore from Worksafe, Inc.

Last year, Dr Keith and Dr Brophy from the University of Windsor, Ontario and Prof Andrew Watterson from the University of Stirling (all members of the OEHRG group at Stirling University) won an international award for their work on occupational breast cancer with two studies looking at women’s breast cancer risk in specific workplaces.

The APHA resolution calls on the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes for Health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other relevant federal agencies to:

  • Focus more on the etiologic and mechanistic pathways of suspect chemicals and breast cancer and chemicals identified as, or suspected of being, linked to breast cancer, particularly EDCs and mammary carcinogens.
  • Identify and investigate the causes of breast cancer in groups of workers in suspect sectors and workplaces or those who work with known and suspected chemicals.
  • Initiate special emphasis hazard surveillance programs to identify sectors and workplaces where breast cancer-linked hazards are present.
  • All initiatives need to incorporate green chemistry, toxics use reduction and informed substitution principles in their purchasing practices, to contribute to prevention and reduction of breast cancer in a life cycle approach that recognizes the power of purchasers.

Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer diagnosis among women in industrialised countries, and rates in North America and Western Europe are among the highest in the world. But despite decades of working womens contribution to the workforce; women’s occupational health hazards continue to be mostly invisible, studied inadequately and infrequently.

This historic resolution should pave the way for urgent public health action world wide. We look forward to hearing the reactions  from our own public and occupational health agencies. What do we need to do to have similar action on occupational and environmental breast cancer here? When are we going to see the elimination of endocrine disrupting chemicals from our workplaces?

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention has been calling for a new Cancer Action Plan which specifically addresses environmental and occupational risk factors  for breast and other cancers with targeted actions for those risk factors and specifically allocated funding. The plan needs to encompass social, economic and gender inequalities and would need to be rolled out across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland taking into account all countries specific cancer plans and strategies.

The APHA deserves much credit for backing this resolution and following up on the reports and statements referenced in the resolution which want to see breast cancer stopped before it starts.

A copy of the resolution can be downloaded here.