International Workers Memorial Day 2016

Today is International Workers Memorial day – a global day of remembrance for all those who have died at work or because of work due to none existing or non-implemented health and safety laws, inappropriate safety procedures or equipment, employers who treat their employees as expendable with little or no respect for their lives or their health or  just through plain ignorance or neglect about the adverse impacts of processes, chemicals, pesticides or machinery.

Maybe we sometimes forget with all the focus on chemicals legislation that workers are at the front lines of usage. Whether it be in the laboratory developing new and untested ingredients, or through constant exposure on the production line, or through using a product repeatedly day in day out. Maybe by inhaling toxic chemicals, pesticides or harmful substances through the skin, nose and mouth while spraying, washing, cleaning, stirring or even being or living in the same space where toxic chemicals are used. Many handle products which leach endocrine disruptors minute by minute as part of their job or expose the developing foetus unwittingly to toxic insults because of the work they do.

We must remember that much of this work is done for below the basic minimum wage, and in countries where resources are plundered and environments and wildlife destroyed to satisfy an often unnecessary need or sometimes for just plain greed. We all need to work together to bring an end to this injustice and to protect the health of workers, citizens, consumers and save our precious wildlife and planet.

Please remember today and every day – one worker dies every 15 seconds due to occupational injury or illness worldwide.

No one deserves to die at work, no one deserves to be exposure unknowingly or unwittingly to anything which may hurt, maim or kill them or their families. We need to remember the dead and continue to fight like hell for the living.

Hash tag: #IWMD16

Website: Produced by Hazards Magazine and the ITUC – http://28april.org/ Resources, up to date information and graphics available here.

Relevant twitter handles: @hazardsmagazine @hazardseditor @ITUC @etuc_ces – only a selection of the wrodlwide action today.

ITUC Statement: http://www.ituc-csi.org/one-worker-dies-every-15-seconds
http://www.ituc-csi.org/28-april-2016-mobilising-for

Cancer Hazards produced by the ITUC, Hazards magazine and the Alliance for Cancer Prevention: http://www.ituc-csi.org/28-april-2016-mobilising-for

 

Organisations call for glyphosate ban ahead of EU vote.

Pesticide Action Network (Pan UK) and 12 UK based organisations have sent a signed letter to MEPs asking them to support an objection to the renewal of EU market approval for the toxic ingredient used in many widley used herbicides, Glyphosate. The vote will be held in Strasburg on the 13th of April.

The organisations object due to the very serious health, environmental and occupational concerns raises by the scientific community about glyphosate.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are widely used in agriculture, forests, public areas and private gardens. The use of this substance is so extensive that it is now detected in food, drinks and in the human body (including babies and young children).

Last year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified glyphosate as a “probable human carcinogen”.

Glyphosate may also disrupt the human hormone system – the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and leading scientists have called for further investigation. Both its cancer causing and hormone disrupting properties would disqualify glyphosate from EU market approval under EU pesticides law. In addition, there are “many environmental, plant health and soil-ecosystem problems associated with heavy and repeated uses of glyphosate-based herbicides” according to the scientists.

The EU should immediately ban all uses of glyphosate that result in worker or public exposure.

To support the call please send a letter or email to your MEP – you can find your local representative here.

Download our letter and background information Glyphosate letter to MEPs

Endorse the call from the Global Food and Farming Union and PAN International for a glyphosate ban here.

 

EDC-Free Europe calls on Environment Ministers to make strong statement on EDCs

68 organisations have sent a letter to the EU Environment Ministers urging them to make a strong statement calling on the European Commission to comply immediately with the ruling of the European Court of Justice (Case T-521/14 Sweden vs. Commission) on scientific criteria to identify Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) at the upcoming meeting of the European Council.

EDCs can contribute to diseases and disorders such as hormonal cancers (prostate, testicular, breast), reproductive health problems, impaired child development, and obesity and diabetes. The EDC Free Europe Coalition is not alone in its call, scientists, health professionals, trade unions and medical doctors have all issued warnings about the potentail and ongoing adverse health impacts if EDCs continue to be unregulated. We are already paying the price for letting these chemicals contaminate our air, food and water for decades.

The Court ruling found that no impact assessment was legally required to produce the scientific criteria, and that any work on the impact assessment did not justify missing the legally binding deadline (Paragraph 74). Hence, any work on or from the impact assessment cannot be used to help decide or influence the final criteria, as the impact assessment is entirely irrelevant to the final completion and adoption of scientific criteria for identification of EDCs.

The group looks forward to the EU taking a position and affirmative action on EDCs with no more delays. Our health depends on it. Read our letter here

Europe’s unions push for better laws on work cancers

ETUC picUnions are to work throughout the Dutch Presidency of the European Union to develop a preventive approach to occupational cancer. During this presidency, which runs from January to June, the Dutch government has expressed a desire to update the EU Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, a longstanding union objective.

A new report from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) says the union objective is to “eliminate occupational cancer.” Promoting a six-point preventive charter, it urges unions to run a political and awareness campaign. This should include approaching embassies and consulates of the Netherlands to present the union campaign objectives, it notes.

See more at: Cancer Hazards

 

New Resource: Cancer Hazards

A new resource on cancer and hazards available in the form of a continually-updated, annotated bibliography of occupational cancer research. The resource is produced by  Hazards, the Alliance for Cancer Prevention and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

 

 

Glyphosate – Need for a robust and credible scientific assessment of carcinogenicity

A letter signed by the Alliance and 46 environmental, health and cancer orgs as well as unions, scientists and doctors has been sent to the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Mr. Vytenis Andriukaitis. It calls on the Commission to ban glyphosate where the public and workes are most exposed, until a full scientific assessment has been completed.

The letter comes before the EU’s food safety authority (EFSA) publishes a key report on the health and environmental risks associated with the world’s most used herbicide glyphosate on the 12th of November. Based on the report, the European Commission will conclude whether glyphosate which the WHO recently classified as a probable cause of cancer  should still be used in the EU.

In addition to EFSA, the EU’s chemicals’ agency (ECHA) has also been tasked to review the health risks of glyphosate. But its report is unlikely to be released before 2017, by which time the EU will have already ruled on the use of the herbicide.

Following an earlier extension for its legal use by three and a half years, the EU’s approval of glyphosate runs out at the end of 2015. The Commission has proposed a further six-month extension to grant EFSA more time for its assessment.

In March 2015, the WHO’s Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen”. A similar classification by the EU would mean it could no longer be used.

EFSA’s assessment and its recommendation to the Commission (to re-authorise or to ban) will be heavily influenced by a draft risk assessment report carried out by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). You can find a leak of the report on cancer risks here. This draft report admits there is evidence of harm, but nonetheless concludes that glyphosate is not a carcinogen. We dispute this conclusion, which puts BfR at odds with IARC, and criticise BfR’s reliance on unpublished studies submitted by glyphosate producers.

In the absence of scientific consensus that glyphosate is not harmful, the Commission has a responsibility to protect the public and workers from exposure to harm. As long as different scientific bodies come to different conclusions about the carcinogenic nature of glyphosate it is the obligation of the European Commission to invoke the precautionary principle. Almost 1.5 million citizens are calling on the EU’s decision makers to apply that principle to glyphosate use.

Monsanto’s Roundup is one of the most commonly known brands that contain glyphosate. You can find glyphosate products in any garden centre in Europe sold top an unsuspecting public.  They are widely used in farming, forestry, parks, public spaces and private gardens.

In the UK the TUC called for urgent action to prevent any workers coming into contact with glyphosate adding that it can also cause irritation and dermatitis and if swallowed may cause corrosion of the throat and can lead to kidney or liver failure. In May this year the GMB Union issued a Safety Matters briefing for workers on glyphosate urging employers to adapt the precautionary principle and substitute the herbicide  immediately while completing a COSHH assessment. The GMB stress this is a severe health risk for workers.

Glyphosate also ends up in our food, in 2014 PAN UK found that 60% of bread tested in the UK contained the most frequently used weedkiller, glyphosate. Worringly it can find its way into our bodies through menstrual and medical products. A recent Argentinian study shockingly discovered 85% of tampons and medical cotton gauze tested contained glyphosate residues.

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention supports all action to get rid of this toxic herbicide, bad for workers, bad for consumers and bad for our environment, why the delay?

Link to Greenpeace website.

To help our towns and cities become pesticide free please sign the petition from Pesticide Action Network UK.

Alliance supports call to remove Pink Ribbon Blidfold and Ask the Big Question

Press Release
Remove the Pink Ribbon Blindfold and Ask the Big Question.

Embargo 10 am 1st October

16 international organisations and national groups have signed on to the statement prepared by From Pink to Prevention campaign, which calls on breast cancer charities everywhere to remove their pink ribbon blindfolds and ask why, despite all the money raised, more and more of us are getting this disease? The groups believe we are not getting the full picture on this breast cancer epidemic that has taken us from a 1 in 12 chance of a woman getting the disease in her lifetime in 1995, to a 1 in 8 chance today.

On October 1st, a social media action aims to urge breast cancer charities along with the people who raise funds for the cause each and every year to remove their pink ribbon blindfolds. This action draws attention to the Big Question: why do most breast cancer charities persist in refusing to acknowledge the role of environmental and occupational toxicants by ignoring decades of evidence up to the present day on the link between our lifelong (womb to grave) exposures to toxics and the escalating incidence of breast cancer?

Speaking for From Pink to Prevention Helen Lynn stated: “Seeking better diagnostics and treatment is not mutually exclusive with acting upon the evidence that shows how our profoundly polluted environment, homes and workplaces impact on our bodies and health. The ‘Precautionary Principle’ must be applied to this issue. All women need and deserve a full understanding of all potential risk factors for the disease that threatens women’s lives and health. Breast cancer charities should be leading on this, not refusing to acknowledge the evidence that connects it”.

Each October international funding in the hundreds of millions is raised for breast cancer ‘awareness’. Yet too many Breast Cancer Charities do not acknowledge the environmental and occupational risk factors for breast cancer, when the evidence is already abundant. Instead, prevention is focused solely on ‘lifestyle’ risk factors such as diet and exercise, while ignoring the potential 60% of breast cancer cases that remain unexplained by the commonly accepted risk factors alone. There is a deafening silence in breast cancer awareness campaigns about the role of chemical, environmental and occupational exposures for breast cancer. Internationally, less than 4% of the global research spending on breast cancer is spent on research into primary prevention of breast cancer and only 2% on exogenous (external) factors like chemical exposure.

Gayle Sulik from Breast Cancer Consortium points out: “The Breast Cancer Consortium highlights that diagnosis and treatment are important, but focusing solely on these aspects of the continuum of care — as most breast cancer awareness initiatives do– will not address the breast cancer epidemic at large.”

The World Health Organisation states that prevention (which is not the same as early detection) offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. However, we do not see this fact reflected in most cancer plans and strategies. We, and the organisations that stand with us, want to see primary prevention (stopping the disease before it starts) equally addressed along with better treatment and care. We demand that those with the power to do so act on what we already know about the links between breast cancer and environmental and occupational exposures.

Gudrun Kemper from Breast Cancer Action Germany says: “As many millions of women are already hyperaware of breast cancer. There is no more need for any pink breast cancer awareness. What is now needed is a fuller more complete picture. Maybe it’s time to change the name of the month to Breast Cancer Prevention Month”.

Signatories

Alliance for Cancer Prevention: Helen Lynn – www.allianceforcancerprevention.org
Brighton Breast Cancer Action: https://brightonbca.wordpress.combrightonbca@gmail.com
Breast Cancer Consortium: Gayle Sulik – www.breastcancerconsortium.net
Breast Cancer Action Germany: Gudrun Kemper – www.bcaction.deinfo@bcaction.de
Breast Cancer Fund: Jeanne Rizzo, RN CEO and President
www.breastcancerfund.org
Challenge Breast Cancer Scotland: Moira Adams – http://www.challengebreastcancerscotland.org/
European Work Hazards Network: Kathy Jenkins – www.ewhn.eu
From Pink to Prevention: Di Ward – diward@frompinktoprevention.org
Hazards Campaign: Hilda Palmer – <hilda@gmhazards.org.uk>
Hazards Magazine: Rory O’Neill – editor@hazards.org
Onco Grrrls: oncogrrrls@gmail.com – http://oncogrrrl.blogspot.co.uk/
Philippine Breast Cancer Network: Danny Meneses – President – pbcn@iname.com – www.pbcn.org
Scottish Hazards Campaign: http://www.scottishhazards.co.uk
The Furious Amazons (Le Amazzoni Furiose): Grazia De Michele – graziademichele@googlemail.com
Tipping Point North South: Deborah Burton – <deborah@tippingpointnorthsouth.org>
Women in Europe for a Common Future: Sascha Gabizon – <sascha.gabizon@wecf.eu>

Notes to Editor:

  1. Overview of some of the scientific evidence on the links between breast cancer and environmental and occupational risk factors.
  2. Some key facts on the escalating incidence of breast cancer.
  3. Research paper: Sutton, P. California Breast Cancer Prevention Initiatives: Setting a research agenda for prevention. Reproductive Toxicology 54 (2015) 11–18.
  4. World Health Organisation – Asturias Declaration.
  5. A continually-updated, annotated bibliography of occupational cancer research produced. http://cancerhazards.org/
  6. Remove the Pink Ribbon Blindfold Petition.
  7. Information for action on removing the pink ribbon blindfold.
  8. Flickr group.

For More Information
Helen Lynn (UK) : +44(0)7960 033687
Deborah Burton (UK) : +44(0)7779 203455
Diana Ward (AU) : +61(0)400640144

info@frompinktoprevention.or

 

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