Our Stolen Futurea book by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers


  California Assembly Member Wilma Chan introduces environmental health bill on persistent, bioaccumulative toxins.  


email contact for additional information: oscar.daly@asm.ca.gov

From Chan's press release, 28 March 2001:

Legislation requiring the state to adopt a strategy for eliminating the worst environmental health toxins was introduced today by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan (D-Oakland). Assembly Bill 498 targets pollutants known as Persistent, Bioaccumulative Toxins (PBTs) because of their health risks to children and babies due to their toxicity, persistence in ecosystems and accumulation in the food chain.

"We need a statewide strategy to eliminate toxins linked to cancer, developmental disabilities and immune system disorders that disproportionately affect children and babies in low income urban areas. Pollution prevention is the key," said Chan.

PBT exposure can be reduced or eliminated through procurement, design, operation and disposal decisions that reduce or eliminate products that are manufactured with, contain or produce PBTs.

"We want the Secretary for Environmental Protection to examine pollution prevention practices in procurement, property design, construction, maintenance and demolition, materials use, and waste management and develop a statewide plan to eliminate new PBTs," said Chan. Under the bill, the Secretary for Environmental protection will have to present a plan to the Legislature by March 1, 2002.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has established a list of priority PBTs, including dioxins and mercury which have been linked to increased cancer risk, harm to children and the fetuses,
disorders of the immune, developmental, hormonal, and reproductive systems, as well as other human health problems.

In the Bay Area, residents who consume fish from the Bay are at additional risk from PBT exposure as dioxin and mercury contamination in fish reaches health advisory levels throughout the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco Bay fish consumers are predominantly low income and people of color.

Children and babies are especially vulnerable to the health effects of PBTs, as nursing infants take in 50-100 times more dioxins than adults and fetuses may be exposed to mercury through the mother's blood while infants may be exposed through breast milk. US EPA's June 2000 reassessment of dioxins health effects estimates that the general public's exposures are near levels that may cause adverse health effects, and indicates an approximate 10-fold increased cancer risk over previous assessments.

A number of state and national associations and agencies including the California Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the United Nations Environment Program, and the International Joint Commission of the U.S. and Canadian governments have agreed upon the need to reduce or eliminate PBTs in the environment.

Sources of new PBT pollution include incineration and combustion of medical, hazardous, solid and other waste, combustion of diesel and other fuels, production of PVC plastics, chlorinated chemical manufacturing, paper bleaching and production, metal refining and reclamation, oil and waste oil refining, and use and disposal of mercury and its compounds.





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