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.

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Cocktail of pesticides found in french children’s hair

spraying vines
Generations Futures have done a number of studies on pesticide usage in France and the resulting impact on those who work in vineyards or live nearby.  Recent tests on children’s hair samples from those living or attended schools near to vineyards found a cocktail of pesticides some of which have already been banned.
30 children were tested for 53 pesticides suspected of being endocrine disruptors, 21 residues were found in the hair samples. The English version of the press release can be found here. Media piece.
Farmers and workers exposed to pesticides formed a group L’association Phyto-Victimes and produced a film: Death is in the Meadows about the affects of pesticides on farmers, their families and communities. Media piece.
Previous tests on 40 bottles of EU wine found on average each wine contained pesticides concentrations up to 230 times higher than would be legally allowed in drinking water. You can read the report here.
We should be eliminating these hazardous pesticides in our food and drink chains. And maybe its time to persuade french wine growers to go organic and protect the health of vineyard workers, nearby communities and their children and the consumer.

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 Awards 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:

Press Release: Alliance re-echoes call for Cancer Action Plan

For immediate release
15/10/13

We must face the stark realisation that our cancer plans and strategies are grossly outdated. Despite gains in treatment and detection still almost 900 people will be diagnosed with cancer in the UK and about half that number will die from the disease each and every day.

What is needed is a new Cancer Action Plan which specifically addresses environmental and occupational risk factors (1) 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.

Current cancer strategies and plans target lifestyle factors but not ‘life circumstance’ factors. (2)  Not only do strategies and plans ignore the social, economic and gender inequalities but also the interwoven and intrinsically linked environmental and occupational risk factors for cancer. There is little or no consideration given to the fact that lifestyle factors are influenced by economic and social aspects. By not addressing these confounding risk factors, strategies to tackle cancer seek to place the onus at the feet of the individual by focusing on individual instead of institutional action.

There are many barriers to action on the primary prevention of cancer; cancer is also caused by lack of political will (3). Despite high levels calls for inclusion of environmental and occupational risk factors in all cancer plans, the cancer establishment (those involved in determining the dominant thinking from government, industry and the cancer charities and organisations on cancer) continue to maintain the status quo. The onus needs to be shifted away from the feet of individuals to the feet of the cancer establishment to stem the rising incidence of a largely preventable disease. A more balanced approach is needed from the cancer establishment.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) gives a very conservative estimate of up to 24% of all human diseases are at least in part due to environmental factors which includes chemical exposures. (4) Both the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the WHO report that the incidence of chronic disease such as cancer is now greater than that of communicable disease. Twenty six different cancers alone have been linked to occupational and environmental exposures. (5)

The Alliance calls for a Cancer Action Plan which includes:

  • Environmental and occupational risk factors (determinants) addressed as risk factors for cancer in a specific Cancer Action Plan and included in all cancer plans and strategies with definitive targets for action and appropriate allocated funding.
  • Phase out of all IARC classified Group 1 carcinogens and Group 2A potential carcinogens.
  • Targeted toxics reduction across all environments, the lived, worked and the first environment, the womb.
  • Government support for green chemistry and engineering. Hazardous substances should be replaced with safe alternatives utilising the substitution principle.
  • Elimination of all toxic and man-made chemicals which are found in breast milk and cord blood.
  • Inclusion of Just Transition principles in all toxics use reduction initiatives and product lifecycle management analysis.
  • Elimination of the future use of all types of asbestos and ensure proper management of the asbestos currently in place to protect workers from asbestos exposure and to prevent future asbestos-related deaths. (6)
  • Readdress the unsustainable costs of cancer in terms of prevention.
  • Education on environmental and occupational insults for all cancer specialists.
  • Bringing cancer policy into the 21st century, by embracing new and emerging science.
  • Use of relevant language and ensuring that references to the environment and primary prevention are universal and defined in terms of stopping cancer before it starts.
  • Factoring in environmental justice principles and the right to a clean and safe environment into all cancer plans. (7)
  • Equal consideration given to precautionary and preventive approaches to cancer alongside better treatment and care.

Considerable work has been done over the last few decades to try and get recognition for environmental and occupational risk factors but with little movement from the cancer establishment. We can only speculate why this 21st century disease is still being addressed with an 18th century solution, and question who is financially benefiting from breast and other cancers, while continuing to investigate the long-standing inaction on this issue by the cancer establishment.

Background Document: Background document for Cancer Plan

The Alliance is a multi-stakeholder group which includes representatives from: NGOs, Trade Unions, environmental and occupational health organisations, public health advocates and civil society groups, working together on cancer prevention. We aim to; challenge the existing perception of control and treatment of cancer being the only way forward; get equal recognition for primary prevention and ensure that the cancer establishment acknowledges the environmental and occupational risk factors for preventable cancers.

@Cancer_Alliance
Tel: 07960033687


(1) Definition of environmental and occupational risk factors: Environmental and occupational risk factors are potential risk factors for cancer from exposure (including environmental, occupational and pre-birth exposure) to certain chemicals, substances, or particles or through ingestion, inhalation or absorption or to certain behavioural work patterns such as shift work which contribute to a cancer outcome by nature of their carcinogenic, mutagenic, or endocrine disrupting properties and abilities.

2. Prof. Andrew Watterson from Toxic Tour Report (London)  Summer 2013. (Soon to be on the alliance website).

3. Donner, L and Chernomas, R. The Cancer Epidemic as a Social Event. 2004  Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Manitoba.

5. Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer (New Evidence 2005 – 2007) Richard Clapp. Lowell Centre for Sustainable Production.

6. Zero Cancer/Occupational Cancer. International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Global Unions.

7. Business and Human rights. A resource website. Why environmental issues are human rights issues.

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.

Cancer Prevention: The Toxic Tour

 

Blue Plaque no logo copy

 FROM PINK TO PREVENTION:

Cancer Prevention ~ A Toxic Tour ~ London, Saturday 29th June 12-2pm
The Alliance for Cancer Prevention and Tipping Point Film Fund in association with The Organic Pharmacy have come together around a programme of events designed to increase the debate and public awareness on the links between breast cancer, the workplace and the wider environment. These events include film screenings of PINK RIBBONS INC with discussions and a ‘toxic tour’.

The Programme for theWalk
The route will take place in green spaces, shops, outside parliament and the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue in Westminster; it will take approximately 2 hours. Starting point is at Christchurch Gardens, Victoria by the Suffragette Statue for 12 noon. We will go to the South Bank afterwards for drinks. The tour will leave commemorative blue plaques to mark our visit illustrating that cancer prevention does not live in the related tour visit sites. RSVP to: info@tippingpointfilmfund.com for places.

Download the information as a pdf here

From Pink to Prevention ~ what do we mean?
Despite the overwhelming presence of the Pink Ribbon and all its (global) attendant activities, environmental and occupational links to breast cancer struggle to be included in the debate. Why is this? What stands in the way of these critical elements being discussed?

As the disease reaches ‘epidemic’ proportions where more and more women face a diagnosis of breast cancer and far too many women lose their lives to the disease, are we doing the very best we can to ensure the debate addresses ALL possible causes of he disease? The time has come for all the key players – cancer charities, industry, drugs companies, the medical fraternity and government (whom many campaigners and authors describe as ‘the cancer establishment’) to recognise and acknowledge the role of environmental and occupational factors in this complex disease. This means doing something about it. The Alliance for Cancer Prevention wants to see environmental and occupational risk factors for breast and other cancers included and addressed in the National Cancer plans and strategies on cancer throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

About:

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention
Formed in 2009, the Alliance is a multi-stakeholder group which includes representatives from; NGOs, environmental and occupational health organisations, trade unions, public health advocates and civil society groups, working together on cancer prevention. The Alliance aims to challenge the existing perception of control and treatment of cancer being the best way forward and get equal recognition for primary prevention. We work to ensure that the cancer establishment acknowledges the environmental and occupational risk factors for preventable cancers. Alliance members campaign on issues independently and together to work collectively and strategically to identify the interconnection between the environmental, occupational, social factors and the combined exposures.

Tipping Point Film Fund
TPFF supports social action, non-fiction films for cinema with an international reach. We are a not for profit co-operative raising donations from individuals, groups and organisations who believe in using the power of film to make change. Our roots are deep in the social action campaigning world where, to understand the big issues affecting all of us, you need to dive deep into the structures that underpin them. TPFF also partners with other organisations to organise events for the public, with a film and/or campaigning focus. It is supported by The Co-operative.

The Organic Pharmacy
The Organic Pharmacy was founded by Margo Marrone – a pharmacist and homeopath who first became aware of chemical overload on the human body during the 1990’s. She opened her first Organic Pharmacy store in London in 2002 to address this ever growing concern about harmful chemicals in cosmetics and built the business on the principles of honesty, integrity, purity, quality and green environmental thinking. Ten years on it is still a family run business and one that has supported campaigns addressing environmental links to breast cancer.

The ‘Toxic Tour’ Concept
No running, no fundraising- just a ‘what do you know?’ tour giving you the lowdown on why we need to tackle environmental and occupational links to a disease that affects an increasing number of women of all ages. The alternative tourist-health walk taks in parks, shops and outside parliament. It will give you a whole new perspective on how you can influence the key players in the breast cancer debate in the effort to get them to take on board a much ignored aspect – the environment around us, from our first environment the womb, through our work and lived environments. By address the issue of breast cancer prevention we will look at all cancers connected to environmental and occupational exposures.

The notion of the ‘toxic tours’ originated in the USA with tours held annually in San Francisco and the ‘bucket brigades’ which held tours to test the air quality around nearby industries which was harming community health. The tours advocate for civil rights and environmental justice. The first ‘toxic tour’ in the UK was organised by Helen Lynn and the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) and held in London. Subsequent tours were held in Wales with WEN Wales and Scotland in conjunction with WEN Scotland. This is the second tour of this kind in London, linking environmental and occupational links to cancers in general and breast cancer in particular, again in London.

Why a ‘ toxic tour’?
Take an historic tour through the dark and murky back streets of breast cancer politics. Learn about why rates of the disease have risen by 90% over the last 40 years yet little is being done to prevent it. Gain a new perspective on why certain occupations carry with them an increased risk of breast cancer, up to 5 times the average rate. Hear about why breast cancer is a 21st century disease, an epidemic of our time and how it is related to not just our lifestyle – which accounts for less than 30%-50% of the cases – but is connected to a cocktail of toxic chemicals that begins through exposure in the womb and persists forever after – pre and post birth in our living and working environments.

Wonder why this 21st century disease is still being addressed with an 18th century solution, question who is financially benefiting from breast and other cancers and investigate the long-standing inaction on this issue by the cancer establishment. Boldly go where no one has gone before and understand what primary prevention means and how a life-long low level exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals, carcinogens, and other chemicals and substances linked to breast and other cancers need to be more widely known about and acted upon.

Speakers and Contributors

Prof Andrew Watterson (University of Stirling)
Prof. Watterson is the Director of the Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research, at the University of Stirling, Scotland where he also heads up the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group. His interests include occupational cancer prevention, fracking and biomass hazards, regulation of hazards and risks, costs of occupational diseases, PAR and lay epidemiology. He has acted as an adviser to the World Health Organisation and is on the editorial boards of IJOEH and Environmental Health.

Dr Ana Porroche-Escudero
Ana is a dedicated activist and educator on gender and health. She has initiated workshops and campaigns on gender violence ad is fascinated by the powerful combination of activism, art and innovative methods. She is a member of the Breast Cancer Consortium Advisory Board which is an international platform dedicated to changing the conversation on breast cancer through public and scientific discussions. She is currently organising a series of sessions on Breast Cancer Awareness in Brighton and recently showed the film Pink Ribbons Inc there along with other committed activists. She is an associate tutor at the University of Sussex.

Helen Lynn (Alliance for Cancer Prevention)
Helen has campaigned on cancer prevention since 1995 and is a freelance campaigner/ researcher at Wildcard Research. She worked as health Co-ordinator for 12 years at the Women’s Environmental Network and as co-director. Helen has worked at  local, national and international levels on issues connection women’s health and the environment they live and work in. She was  co-founder of the Alliance for Cancer Prevention, which campaigns for the recognition of environmental and occupational risk  factors for cancer.

Hilda Palmer (Hazards Campaign)
Co-ordinator of Greater Manchester Hazards Centre, Chair of Hazards Campaign and facilitator of Families against Corporate Killing (FACK). Hilda organises the annual Hazards Conference which is the UK’s biggest educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. Hilda works and campaigns tirelessly against injustice, and for equality, better health and safety at work, in the environment and community.

Maria Arnold (Client Earth)
Maria works at ClientEarth, leading the Healthy Air Campaign which combines work to engage communities at the local level with policy advocacy at a UK level.  Previously Health Policy Analyst at the Sustainable Development Commission, she has worked to embed sustainable policy and practices within the NHS and Department of Health, with a particular emphasis on the link between health and the environment.
She has also managed environmental and public health projects at Southwark Council.

Nick Mole (PAN UK)
Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) is the only organisation that works on every aspect of global pesticide issues including threats to the environment and human health from their use. Nick is the policy officer with PAN UK. He works on UK and EU issues that includes trying to stop the use of bee toxic pesticides, encouraging London’s parks and green spaces to go pesticide free and advising the public on health issues related to pesticide exposure.

Deborah Burton (Tipping Point North South)
Deborah co-founded Tipping Point Film Fund in 2009 to provide support to theatrical feature documentaries, with integrated
campaign outreach on global issues and has worked on the breast cancer prevention issue for many years.

MORE INFORMATION
There are many ways to get more involved in learning about environmental and occupational links to breast cancer. Everything
from simply informing yourself better, through to thinking twice about the products you buy, to taking action, as a concerned
worker, consumer and citizen.

LEARN MORE
Read about the history, politics, economics, and social aspects of breast cancer and the health care system – Pink Ribbons,
Inc. by Samantha King is a good place to start. Breast Cancer Consortium Resources and Alliance for Cancer Prevention Resources.

Evaluate health news stories with a critical eye. Health News Review provides excellent criteria on what consumers need to
know in stories on treatments, tests, products, and procedures and why. Health News Review.

COSMETICS: Organic Pharmacy
Pay attention to what is in the products you buy—to check out cosmetics ingredients
http://www.theorganicpharmacy.com/Images/Content/ExpertAdvice/FactSheets/Files/462.pdf
http://www.breastcancerfund.org/clear-science/chemicals-linked-to-breast-cancer/cosmetics/
WEN Careful Beauty list: www.wen.org.uk 

CONSUMER AND OCCUPATIONAL: Alliance for Cancer Prevention
Find out about issues linking cancer to exposures in the home, workplace and wider environment
Hazards Website: www.hazards.org
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs):  www.edc-free-europe.org
ChemTrust / EDCs and Breast Cancer: www.chemtrust.org.uk

PINKWASHING
Think Before You Pink™, a project of Breast Cancer Action. Think Before you Pink
TAKE ACTION As well as getting more informed on all these issues you can also find out more about what your elected
representatives are doing and try asking some basic questions!

  • Ask your MP why environmental and occupational risk factors for breast cancer are NOT included in all national cancers plans and strategies right across England, Wales, Scotland Northern Ireland
  • Write to your MEP voicing your concern about the lack of proper regulation in connection with toxic chemicals such as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) linked to breast cancer in consumer products.
  • Visit the recommended websites for vital information on how you can take action and follow up campaign information.
  • Download information as PDF.

Disclaimer: Please note this tour is a purely voluntary initiative, no funding was received to run the tour or none of those involved contributed anything to the event bar their time. All the speakers are contributing freely of their time and the organisers are all volunteers.

**********************************************
A very big ‘thank-you’ to all our contributors taking part in our day’s events

 

International Workers’ Memorial Day

Worldwide, hundreds of thousands die in workplace ‘accidents’, millions die of occupational diseases like cancer. Every year. Union organisation is the remedy, prevention is the only cure. Find an event near you and support the action. Hazards Magazine IWDM page.