What I Learned About the Links Between Women's Health and the Environment | Seventh Generation
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What I Learned About the Links Between Women's Health and the Environment

Author: Seventh Generation VT

PPNNE Conference: A Critical LinkI was among the very few male audience members at A Critical Link: The Environment and Women's Health, a conference presented by Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, and had my eyes opened wider to the dangers of toxic chemicals. I have been learning about environmental toxins for the past 20 years, but new research keeps turning up scarier results. I tweeted what I could -- it was a fast-paced day of presentations. Here are my compiled tweets: Nancy Mosher, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood of New England:

  • It is a woman's inherent right to have a healthy pregnancy & baby when she chooses.

Ann Blake, Ph.D., The Chemicals Around Us:

  • We have met the environment and it is us. The environment is not 'out there' -- it is within us.
  • The cost of the chemical status quo is too high.
  • There is no place where chemicals do not exist -- urine, breast milk, cord blood -- a child can't be born chemical-free.
  • Prostate cancer risk is determined in the womb.
  • Early exposures to chemicals have lifelong impact: cancers, autism, ADHD, endometriosis, autoimmune disorders, and more.
  • 80-100,000 chemicals in commerce + 1,000 new chemicals each year. There is no health impact data on them individually or in combination.
  • The health cost resulting from exposure to toxic substances that can be reasonably linked to chemical exposure is in the hundreds of billions.
  • 62,000 chemicals were "grandfathered" into Toxic Substances Control Act, placing the burden of proof on government to prove them unsafe.
  • European Union REACH says "no data on chemical impacts, no marketing of product."
  • Selling products that poison people -- not a good growth strategy.

Elise Miller, M.Ed., Environmental Contributors to Learning and Developmental Disabilities:

  • Most common lice remedy is made with lindane, a poison that was banned for use on crops. Unconscionable.
  • "Girl Disrupted" report summarizes effects of hormone disruptors on women's health.
  • Prenatal exposure to common air pollutants can lower children's IQ at kindergarten age.
  • We have global markets. We can ban in the US, but we still import toxic toys and other items.
  • Pound for pound, children eat, drink, and breathe far more than adults." An 8-ounce glass of juice has 20 times more impact than if an adult drank it.
  • Regulations are so inadequately written, we couldn't even ban asbestos.

Janet Gray, Ph.D., Environmental Risks and Breast Cancer:

  • Movie on breast development, risks for breast cancer, and prevention.
  • BPA interferes with common breast cancer chemo drugs.
  • BPA is ubiquitous, and associated with multiple miscarriages, cardiac disease, diabetes, metabolic disorders, inflammatory response, and more.
  • BPA is found in 95% of US adult urine samples. Not just in cans & baby bottles -- also in food storage, water supply lines, packaging, CDs, CD cases, and more.

Mia Davis, MA, The Not-So-Pretty Beauty Industry:

  • 61% of lipsticks tested in 2007 contained lead. In 2009, FDA found lead in all 20 it tested.
  • "We need safe products and smart laws." Scary times, when common sense strikes us an extraordinary idea.
  • Excellent resource for safe cosmetics.

Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., The Falling Age of Puberty in U.S. Girls and the Implications for Learning:

  • Early puberty = risk factor for breast cancer; age of puberty falling; early puberty = breast cancer risk.
  • Unopposed estrogen (no progesterone) in girls = increased and prolonged estrogen exposure, increasing breast cancer risk later on.
  • Median age for onset of breast development in 1971 was 11.5 yrs. Today it is 10.0 yrs. Onset of menstruation age remains same, at 12.8

Dave Rapaport, Seventh Generation's Senior Director of Corporate Consciousness, helped us all react to this data:

    • As individuals and parents in the actions we can take to protect our children and families
    • As consumers in the choices we make about the things we buy, using the power of the pocketbook to drive change in industry
    • As community members through taking a stand and organizing ourselves against sources of environmental contamination
    • As businesses by ensuring that we prevent problems by refusing to make or use toxic compounds, or by enabling citizens' right to know by fully disclosing chemical ingredients
    • And as citizens by working for the structural change necessary -- we currently have what many believe is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul the chief federal legislation that governs toxic chemicals in products, the Toxic Chemical Control Act.
    • Require manufacturers to fully disclose information on chemicals to down-stream users and consumers
    • Shift the burden of proof that chemicals are safe to manufacturers
    • Assess chemicals to protect the most vulnerable rather than an "average man"
    • Eliminate the worst actors
    • Create funding and incentives for green chemistry innovation to enable the development of safe chemicals that provide society with the benefits we seek from them, without their severe costs

Videos of the conference are available here and here.