From: Sandra Finley
Sent: April-13-08 9:58 PM
Subject: Minister of Health: 3 studies link decreased cognitive functioning in children to chemical exposure
I sent the following letter to:
– Federal Minister of Health, Tony Clement
– Provincial (Sask) Minister of Health, Don McMorris
because of an opportunity created by a press release.
It’s a repeat of information distributed in 2006.
There has been precious little progress.
I am beginning to suspect that Minister and Deputy Ministers of Health all were exposed to chemicals either in utero or in very early childhood. Decreased cognitive functioning.
The information in this email is so distressing.
It is hard to understand that there is minimal action.
RE: News Release – April 11, 2008
HEALTH MINISTER DISCUSSES ISSUES OF COMMON INTEREST WITH FEDERAL COUNTERPART
The Minister’s will meet on Monday, April 14 in Ottawa.
For more information, contact:
Phone: 306 787 4083
MY LETTER IN RESPONSE TO THE PRESS RELEASE
TO: SK Minister of Health, Don McMorris
Dear Andrew (in McMorris’s office),
Tony Clement has had ample input regarding the need to address CAUSES of disease, as opposed to the “Find-a-cure” and treatment approach.
No person of right mind would continue the current path which only ensures a clientele for the medi-care system, and rising costs for tax-payors. The situation in Ontario, especially in the corridor from Sarnia following the St Clair and Detroit Rivers down through Windsor/Detroit to Lake Erie will be well-known to Tony and his people.
In Sarnia the hormone-disrupting influence of heavy chemical pollution means that the people living adjacent to the petro-chemical industry have only one male born for every two females. (A normal distribution is close to one-to-one.)
Downstream, Windsor has alarmingly high rates of childhood leukemia. Recent reports name the disease hotspots around the Great Lakes.
Things are not better in Saskatchewan.
In 2006 I corresponded with Tony Clement (Federal Minister of Health) and others in a “collaborative” effort to address disease outcomes. The first in the series of 15 emails appears below.
These are extremely serious issues that need to be addressed.
People are beginning to bypass Government, and to become angry. It is not a good situation.
As you know, with email networks it is easy to get information to people.
It behooves the Government to keep up and to respond with decisions that protect human health. That is the job of the Government.
Should you wish to see the other 15 emails, please request them. They address many of the topics, including the obstacles to forward movement.
In the end, if the Department of Health is doing its job, we would not have relentless upward trend lines for:
– childhood asthma
– infertility, sterility
– addictions and their incredible costs to tax-payors (Saskatchewan’s record indicates that we are the most backward of the provinces.)
– learning disabilities
Will the Federal and Provincial Departments of Health please do something?
Thank-you for your consideration.
Saskatoon SK S7N 0L1
306 373 8078
Health, must connect the dots. Integrated approach.
Includes documented declines in cognitive functioning of children exposed to synthetic chemical pesticides, 3 scientists.
Apr 03, 2006, Letter sent to:
(1) Federal Ministers
– Health, Tony Clement
– Agriculture, Chuck Strahl
– Fisheries and Oceans, Loyola Hearn
– Environment, Rona Ambrose
(2) University of Saskatchewan, Board of Governors; Deans Ernie Barber and Lynne Pearson (later replaced by current Dean Grant Isaac.)
Federal Minister of Agriculture, Chuck Strahl, has cancer. Wendy Mesley (CBC Television personality) has cancer. I am 57 years old. In my lifetime, cancer will have gone from afflicting 1 in 10, to 1 in 5, to 1 in 2 people by the time I die. We know that some cancers are caused by exposure to synthetic chemical pesticides.
At least 3 scientists know that exposure to synthetic chemical pesticides contributes to a decrease in cognitive functioning (lowered IQ).
The link between Parkinson’s disease and pesticides is no longer disputed.
The pesticides are not only in the air, they are in the water supply.
Arthur Molella (Smithsonian Institute) wrote (March 28/06); “… This is indeed a daunting and highly underestimated challenge.”
Wendy Mesley’s documentary on cancer (CBC) aired again last night. In a half-hour, only one aspect of the problem can be addressed.
This is Number One in a series of emails that will connect more of the dots.
Please, will Ministers Clement, Strahl, Hearn and Ambrose, get together to provide leadership in addressing the very serious problems that will be elaborated upon in this series of emails?
Citizens will work with you. No one Department or University or citizen group can do what needs to be done, alone.
Thank-you for your consideration.
Arthur Molella’s (Smithsonian Institute) comment (“… This is indeed a daunting and highly underestimated challenge.”) was in response to my note:
Generally we are too specialized and therefore don’t connect the dots. One person will look at cancer in children (25% increase in 25 years). Another person knows: 40% increase in childhood asthma in 25 years. Parkinson’s and MS rates are very high here in chemical ag country – lots know that.
Lowered IQ in farm children (the University of North Dakota is aware).
Chemical drift and urban use of pesticides will ensure that it’s not only the farm kids being affected. Our water supply is contaminated with invisible pesticides (the person fishing in the North Saskatchewan River sees deformities in the fish he catches and won’t eat – he knows that).
The (Liberal) Government cut the funding to the Canadian Childhood Cancer Surveillance and Control Programme. There is much that people don’t know about.
I have worked in the area with other people for 5 or 6 years now, sharing information and running campaigns. One learns quite a lot.
I will be putting out a series of emails that contain the documentation we have put together. The corrupting influence of the transnational corporations is part of the reason we don’t deal with “cause”. It’s all about “curing”, although that is beginning to change. Still, recently established “Health Research Foundations” funded by the Governments give priority to “research that has the potential for commercialization”. The commercial interest in the medi-care system is the pharmaceutical companies.
Isn’t it nice that we tax-payors are sending them money for research into “find a cure” and treatment?
Removing the cause of the diseases saves the public a lot of money and anguish, but it’s not good “bottom-line” policy for the drug companies who own the chemical companies.
Government and University partnerships with corporations (governance through “public-private-partnerships”) has seriously undermined the regulatory regime.
Pesticides in water supply, food. How sustainable is the society?
– “North Dakota farm children exposed to pesticides performed significantly lower than their peers in IQ tests, …” (March 23, 2006).
I talked with the reporter from North Dakota, Patrick Springer, about the lowered IQ results. Among others, the EPA has called him about the article.
He asked for our information and is interested in connecting people in North Dakota with us. He will be writing follow-up articles to “North Dakota farm children …”
This research makes me sick-at-heart. And angry because, through the work of Dr. Elizabeth Guillette (University of Florida) and others, we have known about this for a long time. Still, the public remains uninformed and years pass while more people are mere fodder for the industrial food production and medicare systems – the chemical, drug and biotech companies. With collaboration from some people in Governments and some in universities.
Thanks to Hart Haidn for article:
– “Searching for Dummies”, (New York Times, Sunday, March 26) which provided an opportunity to bring more people into the loop, this time from the Smithsonian Institute, regarding the research that is getting done (or that is NOT getting done). … but we are well past the need for research.
The evidence is so compelling – any reasonable person insists on action.
Also thanks for the article which introduces us to the work of Dr. Frederica Perara (CBC morning radio last week). Her work is about the damage to DNA done by pesticide exposure.
As I understand, the statement that “the diseases are hereditary” is more accurately stated: “damaged DNA is passed from one generation to the next.”
… We continue to create more “hereditary disease” every time another child’s DNA is damaged, if that child becomes a parent. The CBC interview with Perara (Columbia University) was related to the interview with Wendy Mesley about her TV documentary on experience with cancer.
Related to all this is email:
Environmental Toxicants and Developmental Disabilities
From: Sandra Finley
Date: Jul 8 2005
… the message in the article itself (INSERT: about Susan Koger’s work, University of Willamette in Oregon) is not so lovely; it calls us to action.
Regarding COSTS TO SOCIETY (in the article below) “If the cumulative effects of environmental toxicants reduced the average American’s IQ by just one percent … ” :
We tend to think of the individual person affected by pesticide exposure, and to forget the dark implications for society as a whole.
Dr. Elizabeth Guillette’s work shows the effects of synthetic chemical pesticides on cognitive functioning (intelligence) – the article about Susan Koger’s work reinforces the validity of Dr. Guillette’s research. (UPDATE, MARCH 2006: Which is again, reinforced by Patricia Moulton’s work with North Dakota farm children.)
When Dr. Guillette was in Saskatchewan she explained the societal phenomena by using a simple bell curve. Take a bell curve with “average intelligence” at the height in the centre. On the right-hand end of the curve you have the people with exceptional intelligence who gift the society with clear thought and innovation.
On the left-hand end are those with low intelligence who require the support of the society (“costs to society”).
Now take the curve and shift it one notch of intelligence to the left (lower). You lose the small number at the very top (it shifts down), the bottom goes lower … the article talks about this.
If average people have a decrease in intelligence, it won’t be much noticed among them.
It’s like this: my youngest nephews love to tell a joke. They then stand back, bursting at the seams and say, “Get it?! Get it?!. … Just yesterday (March 31), Jim Maddin (former mayor of Saskatoon) asked “what is TEMPO?”.
He had been in the U.S. and engaged in conversation about “tempo”. It is licensed in the U.S. but not in Canada. Canadians bring it illegally into Canada. Paule Hjertaas, our walking encyclopedia, answered Jim’s question.
Among other things, TEMPO is a neuro toxin. It is sprayed on different insects in places like restaurants. Neuro toxins .. insects .. other species .. human beings. Cellular processes are the same. Eggs … cells multiply … then specialize in function so we get brains, legs, etc..
Neuro toxin, small species die, bigger ones have lowered IQ. Get it?! Get it?! What we are doing to others, we do to ourselves. What we put into the water we put into ourselves. (Someone upstream is putting the same things down the drain.) What we put on our fields we are putting into the air and water. North Dakota farm children with lowered IQ.
We conveniently suffer amnesia: how many of you remember the pictures from Florida newspapers of the deformed children of poor labourers in the orange groves?
Many pesticides are neuro toxins. Others are hormone disruptors. That’s how they work.
UPDATE – HOW IS OUR INFORMATION BEING RECEIVED IN THE FEDERAL DEPT OF HEALTH?
I first wish to thank you for the information you have sent to me to be shared with Minister Clement. I have had an opportunity to speak with him regarding your e-mails and the issues you have raised.
In our discussions the Minister asked me to forward the information and my comments to his Aid in Ottawa as the material more properly should be in the Ministry office as opposed to with me at the constituency level.
I will be doing this early next week and I will advise you of when and where your research has been sent.
Once again my thanks for your thoughtful and thorough research.
Respectfully yours, …
LETTER TO SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE: ARTICLE BY EDWARD TENNER
Lemelson Centre, National Museum of American History Smithsonian http://invention.smithsonian.org/home/
Phone: 202 633 3450 Email: LemCen AT si.edu Claudine Klose Edward Tenner (Princeton University, but associate of Lemelson Ctr)
– Elizabeth Guillette
– Susan Koger
– Patricia Moulton
– Patrick Springer
FROM: Sandra Finley, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada, sabest1 AT sasktel.net
Dear Claudine and Edward,
Edward, Senior Research Associate with the Lemelson, writes about WEB TECHNOLOGY and the decline in adult literacy (cognitive functioning). Copy of his article “Searching for Dummies” is appended.
I am hoping that the Smithsonian Lemelson Centre, will see the need for addressing CHEMICAL TECHNOLOGY and its impact on cognitive functioning.
(1) Edward writes (today’s newspaper), “the National Center for Education Statistics published a report on adult literacy revealing that the number of college graduates able to interpret complex texts proficiently had dropped since 1992 from 40 percent to 31 percent.” Edward relates cause to web technology.
I propose you change “a report on adult literacy” to read “a report on cognitive functioning” and relate it to chemical technology, as has been done by at least 3 scientists: Elizabeth Guillette, Susan Koger and Patricia Moulton.
(2) Journalist Patrick Springer’s writing introduced me to the work of Patricia Moulton at the University of North Dakota, about lowered IQ in farm children exposed to chemicals. (newspaper article appended)
(3) The results of the work being done at the University of North Dakota (Patricia Moulton) reinforce what Elizabeth Guillette found. Elizabeth (University of Florida) graciously agreed to come to Saskatchewan a few years ago to tell us what she knows from her research. Notes are appended.
(As I understand:, the impaired cognitive functioning found in children in the Yaqui Valley (Elizabeth’s work) , occurred in children who live IN THE TOWNS in the Valley where intensive “green revolution” agriculture is carried out – ongoing since the 1950’s – i.e. they live next-door to the farms. The children of families who had moved away from the Valley into the Foothills to pursue traditional non-chem agriculture, did not show the cognitive, developmental and other health problems displayed by the Valley children.)
(4) The work of Susan Koger (University of Willamette, Salem, Oregon) further reinforces the work of Elizabeth Guillette and Patricia Moulton.
(appended article from “Rachels’).
(5) I am in communication with the new Federal Minister of Health in Canada, trying to get the “prevention” agenda actually implemented. We are now at a place where cancer incidence will have gone from 1 in 10, to 1 in 5, to 1 in 2 in my lifetime (I am 57 years old). Parkinson’s disease, MS, asthma, and decreased cognitive functioning – all known to be associated with pesticide exposure – are at high and increasing levels as well.
Problems have to be addressed in context. We do not have, in the U.S. or in Canada, Government regulation that is independent of the chemical companies.
I am sending more information to Patrick (journalist), at his request. cc’d to others.
When I talked with Pat (journalist), he identified an information deficit in North Dakota around chemical (pesticide) exposure. He could have been talking about the situation here in Saskatchewan just across the border from him. (The cause of the information deficit is not necessarily the same.)
The ownership of our main newspapers (Canada) is concentrated. The chemical/biotech companies provide the papers here in Saskatchewan with a lot of ad revenue. We just don’t see critical coverage that is happening in other jurisdictions. The farmers are fed industry propaganda through glossy publications like “The Canola Digest” and others which are industry controlled.
I am grateful to each one of you for your contribution to the public good.
NORTH DAKOTA RESEARCH, FARM CHILDREN WITH PESTICIDE EXPOSURE SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER IN IQ TESTS
March 24, 2006 <http://www.in-forum.com/news/>
By Patrick Springer, The Forum
*North Dakota farm children exposed to pesticides performed significantly lower than their peers in IQ tests, according* to preliminary results of a study released Thursday.
Researchers at the University of North Dakota studied two groups of children in the northern Red River Valley, one group living on or near an active farm or field, another living at least a mile away from those locations.
Children living on or near farms tested an average of five points lower on standard IQ tests, said Patricia Moulton, an experimental psychologist at UND.
“That’s a significant difference,” she said.
The average intelligence score for the farm children was 98, still within the range considered normal, 85 to 115. But it was well below the average IQ score of 103 for the group with lower chronic exposures to pesticides, Moulton said.
Each group was comprised of 64 children, a number determined to be statistically sound, ages 7 to 12.
Children living on farms also had lower scores in verbal comprehension, visual perceptual reasoning, memory and mental processing speed, the study found.
The study, funded by a branch of the National Institutes of Health, will go on to determine whether there is a correlation between the level of exposure to pesticides and performance on memory, intelligence and other mental functions.
“That’s just the raw IQ,” Moulton said of findings presented to the Dakota Conference on Rural and Public Health.”_We’re going to look at a dose-response relationship. We’re going to be able to associate the test scores with (pesticide) concentrations in the blood and urine.”
Two earlier studies also found that children living in areas with active pesticide use had lower scores in mental performance tests, but those studies did not take into account level of exposure.
Moulton and her research partner, Thomas Petros, also an experimental psychologist at UND, hope to expand their study on pesticide and mental performance by testing farm children throughout North Dakota, with testing year-round.
“We had a huge response to the study,” she said. “The farm families were massively interested in the study.”
*The study is an offshoot of a large epidemiological study that UND researchers are conducting on chronic pesticide exposure and degenerative brain diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis.*
“I’m not advocating that we get rid of pesticides, because they’re very important to farming,” Moulton said. Instead, she advocates a “happy medium”
by using non-toxic pesticides whenever possible and taking more steps to decrease exposure.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522
ELIZABETH GUILLETTE, TOXIC LEGACIES
Elizabeth Guillette was introduced to Canadians by David Suzuki on CBC Television, The Nature of Things, a documentary entitled “Toxic Legacies”.
Various communities in Canada have brought Elizabeth from the Univeristy of Florida here to tell us what her research shows.
“Research done by Dr. Elizabeth A Guillette, University of Florida, clearly shows that children exposed to agricultural pesticides, “exhibit more neuromuscular and mental defects. They were less proficient at catching a ball, reflecting poor eye-hand co-ordination. Stamina levels were also lower. Also the exposed children had symptoms of illness three to four times the rate of the unexposed, with a high rate of upper respiratory infections, suggesting suppressed immune systems.”
The single most-compelling argument I have seen regarding the use of pesticides/herbicides is a picture from the work of Dr. Guillette. On the left-side of the page are drawings by 4- and 5-year-old children from the Foothills around the Yaqui Valley in Mexico. On the right-side are drawings done by the same-age children who live in the Valley.
The children were asked to draw a picture of a person, their Mom or Dad maybe. The group from the Foothills drew stick people, or ones with fuller appendages (“sausage” people) the same as you see by average 4- and 5-year-old Canadian kids. The drawings by the group of children from the Yaqui Valley are indecipherable squiggles.
The valley and foothills people are of the same genetic stock and cultural traditions. The difference is that “green revolution” agriculture was introduced into the valley in the 1950’s. Two crops per year of fruits and vegetables are produced for export to the U.S. and Canada. The same agricultural chemicals are used there as are used in Canada.
Some people did not want to adopt chemical agriculture. They moved to the foothills. Fortunately for their children. And fortunately for us: it gave Dr. Guillette a control group against which to compare the Valley children.
I know Dr. Guillette. We brought her to speak to audiences in Saskatoon and Regina. She travelled in the car with me and we talked. This is a very down-to-earth grand-motherly woman. After being asked by the women in the Yaqui Valley if she could help them because something was wrong with their children, Dr. Guillette did very practical, common sense tests like drawing pictures, catching balls, remembering a prize red balloon – on two groups of children whose only difference was the presence of pesticides/herbicides in the environment. Her work is simple, but compelling. She is known and works internationally. She is a person who “serves” or contributes generously to the community in whatever way she is gifted to do – she had no hesitation about coming to Saskatchewan because of her belief in the value of public education as the device through which change will occur.
I used to have a copy of the Washington Post article about “anthropologist Elizabeth Guillette’s study of pesticide exposure on Mexican children”.
Sorry I can’t find it today.
SUSAN KOGER’S RESEARCH
RACHEL’S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH NEWS #821
July 7, 2005
Environmental Toxicants and Developmental Disabilities
By Tim Montague
“Sixth grade was a trying time for Karen Singer’s autistic son, who spent recess wandering the periphery of the playground by himself and sometimes hid in the school bathroom when he needed a safe place to cry. He knew he was doing something wrong as he reached the social crucible of middle school, but he did not know how to fix it. At home he begged his mother to
explain: “Why am I like this? What’s wrong with me?” …Parents, educators, researchers and clinicians all say that the majority of such children become conspicuous in the third grade and are bullied or ostracized by the time they reach middle school.”
Developmental disabilities such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and uncontrollable aggression currently affect an estimated 12 million U.S. children under age
18 — almost one child in five. A group of public health scientists led by Dr. Susan Koger estimates that between 3 and 25% of all developmental disabilities result from exposure to neurotoxic chemicals in the environment. These disabilities ultimately impact all aspects of human development — our ability to learn, socialize and become productive members of society.
Reading and writing difficulties affect nearly 4 million school-age children. Disabilities in children pose lifelong difficulties for the affected individuals. It is harder for them to keep jobs, learn new skills, work and generally get along with others. Many developmental disabilities (like aggression and impulsivity) are precursors to violent and criminal behavior. In 2004, the U.S. prison/jail population increased at the rate of
933 each week and 75% of these new inmates were black or Hispanic — populations disproportionately impacted by heavy metals and other toxicants.
Costs to Society
Even if the developmental effects of environmental toxicants are subtle (which is not always the case), the economic and social impacts can be profound. Consider reduced intelligence: If the cumulative effects of environmental toxicants reduced the average American’s IQ by just one percent (about one IQ point) the annual cost to society would come to $50 billion and the lifetime costs to trillions”. The impacts are felt at both ends of the intelligence spectrum — there is a greater burden on the social system, reduced productivity en masse, and there are fewer shining stars to discover new and better ways of living sustainably.
Mercury emissions from power plants alone impact approximately 500,000 children each year in the U.S. Their resulting lowered IQ translates into an annual economic loss of $1.3 billion (in 2000 dollars; this estimate is $8.7 billion if you consider all sources of environmental mercury). And these statistics say nothing of the other costs to society including medical/therapeutic treatment, special education, incarceration, addiction counseling, etc.
Meanwhile, industry and government argue that its not economically viable to take a precautionary approach. As a result, Americans spend between $81 and
167 billion dollars each year on neurodevelopmental deficits, hypothyroidism and related disorders.
The Bush administration actively puts down European initiatives like REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of
Chemicals) that would force industry to evaluate the safety of chemicals prior to their marketing to the general public. This kind of precautionary stance might cost the U.S. $30 billion in lost sales of chemicals and products. One study concluded that today’s generation of newborns has a
$110 to $318 billion GREATER earning capacity as a result of NOT being exposed to the levels of lead faced by infants a generation ago. 
Toxicants’ Effect on the Developing Child
Growing children are particularly at risk to chemicals in their environment because they face greater exposure and are physiologically more susceptible. They ingest more food/water per pound of body weight than adults. Children spend more time near the ground and thus breathe up to ten times more dust and residues than adults. Children also put contaminated items in their mouths. When the National Academy of Sciences studied pesticides and children’s health in 1993, the Academy concluded, “A fundamental maxim of pediatric medicine is that children are not ‘little adults’…. In the absence of data to the contrary, there should be a presumption of greater toxicity to infants and children.”
Dr. Koger reviews some the literature on lead, mercury and esticides: We now know that environmental exposure to lead causes learning disabilities, reduced IQ, attention deficit, impulsivity, hyperactivity and violent behavior. Initially scientists believed that there was a threshold for lead toxicity but recent studies have confirmed that there is no safe level of lead exposure. If you ingest lead your IQ will be reduced. In the mid-1970s, 40% of American children under age 5 had average (mean) lead levels of 20 ug/dl or more. 10 ug/dl blood lead is the current safety threshold established by EPA.
Among African-American children in the mid-1970s, more than half had blood-lead levels greater than 15 ug/dl.
Methylmercury (an organic form of mercury that accumulates in fish and the animals that eat fish) acts directly on the central nervous system by damaging or destroying nerve cells. It impairs brain development and can lead to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, lowered IQ, loss of memory, reduced attention span and physical coordination. The FDA and EPA currently recommend that nursing mothers and young children avoid fish known to have high mercury levels (including albacore tuna, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel). The major sources of environmental mercury are coal burning power plants, waste incinerators and volcanoes. Human sources account for 70% of the 5,500 metric tons (12.1 million pounds) of mercury released into the environment each year. The EPA estimates that 1.16 million women of childbearing age “eat sufficient amounts of mercury-contaminated fish to pose a risk of harm to their future children.”
Pesticides are toxic by design and meant to kill weeds, insects, rodents and other pest organisms; they do so by impairing the nervous and immune system function. Many pesticides and their byproducts (which include PCBs) are highly toxic, persistent and bioaccumulative in humans. Because our nervous system shares basic physiology with other living things, pesticides also harm the human nervous and immune systems [see Rachel’s #660]. Of the 140 pesticides officially known to be neurotoxicants, only 12 (8.5%) have been tested for potential impacts on children’s development. A study of Mexican children exposed to pesticides found impaired memory, creativity and motor skills compared to an unexposed population. The pesticide exposed children had trouble drawing an ordinary stick figure of a human, something the unexposed children could readily do.
Limits of Science
Koger identifies six reasons why it is inherently difficult to document a cause-effect relationship between toxicants and impaired health:
1. Lack of a control group — because environmental toxicants are so widespread, it is difficult (though not impossible) to find unexposed groups for comparison with exposed individuals;
2. Multiple chemical exposure — the interaction between chemicals may cause different effects than a chemical acting alone;
3. Behavioral and cognitive effects are typically subtle and difficult to measure;
4. The majority of research on toxicants is done on lab animals which limits their application to human health;
5. The effects of exposure may not be seen for months or years;
6. The brain and other systems of the human body are more susceptible to chemicals during specific development phases — exposure at one time may have no effect while the same exposure at a different developmental stage could have significant effects; and
7. Genetic variation and gene-environment interactions greatly complicate the matter.
Conclusions and Regulatory Issues
Humans have long recognized the potential harm of environmental chemicals to child development. Unfortunately, regulatory efforts focus on proving harm before limiting the exposure of countless innocents, with the associated cascade of health, social and economic losses. When the U.S. finally banned lead in paint and gasoline, blood levels of lead improved dramatically. But left to its own devices, industry will do what is best for industry — pursue profits for shareholders at any cost (see Rachel’s #771, #419, #421, and #427). The alternative is to take a proactive approach like that being pursued by Sweden which calls for new products to be largely free from (a) persistent and bioaccumulative substances; (b) polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics and endocrine (hormone system) disruptors; (c) heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury. The U.S. is currently standing on the sidelines of this significant ethical and technological advancement for society.
Dr. Koger calls on her colleagues in the scientific/mental health professions to take a stand against the historical risk-assessment- reliant prove-harm approach that costs society so much human suffering and misery.
The grand human experiment currently being conducted by industry is inconsistent with the ethical standards applied to pharmaceutical testing where erring on the side of precaution is customary.
Koger urges psychologists — as the most qualified front-line professionals dealing with the problems of developmental disabilities — to play a more active role in exploring alternatives like integrated pest management, speaking out in their local community, and applying their technical expertise to the widespread and growing problem of environmental toxicants. As scientist-citizens psychologists can reduce the toxic burden shared by all. A healthy and sustainable future for our children depends on it.
 Jane Gross, “As Autistic Children Grow, So Does Social Gap,” THE NEW YORK TIMES, February 26, 2005, p. A1.
 Susan M. Koger, Ted Schettler, and Bernard Weiss, “Environmental Toxicants and Developmental Disabilities: A Challenge for Psychologists,” AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST (April 2005) Vol. 60, No. 3, pgs. 243-255.
 Incarceration Project http://www.sentencingproject.org/pdfs/1044.pdf
 Bernard Weiss, “Vulnerability of children and the developing brain to neurotoxic hazards,” ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES, (June 2000) Vol. 108 (Supplement 3), pgs. 375-381.
 Leonardo Trasande and others, “Public Health and Economic Consequences of Methyl Mercury Toxicity to the Developing Brain,” ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES (May 2005) Vol. 113, No. 5, pgs. 590-596.
 Elizabeth Becker, “White House Undermined Chemical Tests, Report Says,”
THE NEW YORK TIMES, April 2, 2004 p. C2.
 S.D. Grosse, and others, “Economic gains resulting from the reduction in children’s exposure to lead in the United States,” ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES, (June 2002) Vol. 110, No. 6, pgs. 563-569.
 Philip J. Landrigan and others, PESTICIDES IN THE DIETS OF INFANTS AND CHILDREN (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993), pg. 9.
 James L. Pirkle and others, “The Decline in Blood Lead Levels in the United States,” JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (July 27, 1994) Vol. 272, No. 4, pgs. 284-291.
 Ted Schettler and others, IN HARM’S WAY: TOXIC THREATS TO CHILD DEVELOPMENT (Cambridge, Mass.: Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility [GBPSR], May 2000).
 Elizabeth A. Guillette and others, “An Anthropological Approach to the Evaluation of Preschool Children Exposed to Pesticides in Mexico,” ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PERSPECTIVES (June 1998) Vol.
106, No. 6, pgs. 347- 353.
RACHEL’S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH NEWS
Environmental Research Foundation
P.O. Box 160
New Brunswick, N.J. 08903
Fax (732) 791-4603; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
ARTICLE BY HART HAIDN, INTRODUCING WORK OF DR. PERARA, CBC INTERVIEW MARCH 24
(INSERT references that may be useful to readers of Hart’s article:
http://www.ccceh.org/ Columbia University, Centre for Children’s Environmental Health, Dr. Perara
http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2006/200603/20060324.html Scroll down to “The
Current: Part 2 Frederica Perera” (broadcast Friday, March 24)
For Wendy Mesley, CBC TV programme “Marketplace”, (March 11 and April 2), documentary on cancer (Wendy has cancer) click on:
The documentary asks the question: why isn’t the public being told?)
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
But, how often do you hear or read about disease prevention? Compare it with how often you hear or read about curing a disease. In our health care system the principle for spending is:
An ounce of prevention is matched by a pound of cure.
It just doesn’t make sense. What makes it worse is that governments and disease corporations (Cancer Society, Heart and Stroke foundations) are all on the same track.
Governments conveniently hide behind the phrase “The Best Science We Have”, looking at the science with the most political and economic power behind it.
When I think about an analogy about the current levels of all kinds of diseases, from cancer to Parkinson’S Disease, the development in exposing the dangers of smoking comes to mind.
Due to a concerted effort of civil society and government regulations, smoking has almost become socially unacceptable. But it was a long struggle.
Look at this excerpt from an article in USA Today:
“Government: Cover-up lasted 45 years By Wendy Koch and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
09/23/99- Updated 11:38 PM ET
WASHINGTON – On Dec. 15, 1953, a cloudy and windy day in New York City, top executives of the nation’s tobacco companies met at the Plaza Hotel to confront what they considered a crisis: studies showing a link between cigarettes and cancer.
They acted quickly. Less than three weeks later, they issued a “frank”
statement insisting there was “no proof” that smoking causes lung cancer.
“We believe the products we make are not injurious to health,” they said.
That meeting, according to a groundbreaking Clinton administration lawsuit filed Wednesday against tobacco companies, began a decades-long campaign to deceive the public about the health risks of smoking. The lawsuit, citing newly disclosed industry documents, says the industry knew even 45 years ago that smoking was deadly. …”
The situation was this: scientists working in the public interest had realized for some time the link between smoking and cancer and other lung diseases. Other scientists, working for the tobacco industry (either directly or indirectly) “proved” that this link did not exist. It is
amazing: the complete unwillingness of medical science to stand up against the interests of the tobacco industry for many decades – not until the evidence for mortality from smoking was monumental and overwhelming – illustrates how easily science falls prey to external pressures.
And industry got away with this for decades – also because governments did not take the warnings seriously. The blame that the tobacco industry could rake in billions for another five decades at the expense of an ignorant public must be put firmly on governments who we should be able to trust to protect us from harm.
How naïve this trust is becomes evident again when you look at some of the latest developments in trying to expose the environmental links to numerous diseases. The situation is not much different from the tobacco fiasco. For decades we have been warned about the harmful effects of a polluted environment.
One of the problems is that it is extremely difficult to establish clear cause and effect relations between environmental pollution (this includes food, particularly highly processed foods, household cleaners and so forth).
The testing of the tens of thousands of synthetic substances that are released into the environment is woefully inadequate.
An article in Orion Magazine January/February 2006 editions states:
“A recent study of umbilical cord blood, collected by the Red Cross from ten newborns and analyzed in two different laboratories, revealed the presence of pesticides, stain removers, wood preservatives, heavy metals, and industrial lubricants, as well as the wastes from burning coal, garbage, and gasoline. Of the 287 chemicals detected, 180 were suspected carcinogens, 217 were toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 have been linked to abnormal development and birth defects in lab animals. …”
Anyway, you get the idea: science is not an objective and benevolent arena of human endeavor. Nor are governments capable of protecting us. We all have to do our own share and take on responsibility to protect ourselves, our families and communities.
Here are two more pieces of evidence. I recorded two CBC ‘The Current’
shows. Ask me for the disk if you want to listen to it.
The Current: Part 1
Thursday, March 2, 2006; interview with Wendy Mesley
The Current: Part 2
Friday, March 24, 2006; interview with Frederica Perera
A few weeks ago, the CBC’s Wendy Mesley appeared on The Current to tell us about the questions she began asking herself during her own battle with breast cancer. Questions like … why do people with a healthy lifestyle get cancer? What role does a polluted environment play in causing cancer? And why isn’t more work being done to understand the environmental causes of cancer?
We were flooded with mail from other cancer survivors and their loved ones, all expressing similar frustration and confusion over diagnoses that seemed to come out of no where. Well, award-winning cancer researcher Frederica Perera has been working for decades to shed light on the connections between the environment people live in and how that affects their risk of getting cancer.
Dr. Perera has been billed as a “DNA damage detective”. She teaches environmental health at Columbia University and is the Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health. Dr. Perera joined us from our New York studio.
Frederica P. Perera, Dr.P.H., Professor of Environmental Health Sciences, Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH)
Dr. Perera’s areas of interest include environmental causes of disease, disease prevention, molecular epidemiology, environmental risks to children,
environment- susceptibility interactions in cancer and developmental damage, breast and lung cancer, cancer prevention, chemoprevention, and risk assessment. Asthma prevention is also a part of the research of the CCCEH.
Molecular epidemiology is a relatively new discipline which merges highly sophisticated laboratory techniques with epidemiologic methods in order to use biomarkers in human tissue as indicators of potential risk of cancer and other diseases — hence as a tool in disease prevention. Under the direction of Dr. Perera, the program in Molecular Epidemiology has made substantial progress in validating biomarkers in populations with well-defined exposures and/or with those with a defined risk of cancer. The biomarkers include internal and molecular dosimeters of carcinogens such as DNA adducts, alterations in genes and chromosomes such as mutated oncogenes, and genetic susceptibility factors such as polymorphisms in genes controlling the metabolism of carcinogens. Susceptibility due to nutritional deficiencies is also one of her research interests. Her research has significant implications for risk assessment and disease prevention.
As Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, Dr.
Perera leads a team of scientists, researchers, community activists, and other experts in studying the effects of pre and postnatal exposures to common urban air pollutants on children’s respiratory health and neurocognitive development. The Center works internationally, including studies in the United States, Poland, and China. As part of the Center’s Mothers and Newborns Study, Dr. Perera and her team are currently following a cohort of more than 500 women and their children (from in utero through age 5) in the low-income New York City neighborhoods of Harlem, Washington Heights, and the South Bronx. In addition to establishing widespread exposures to pollutants within the cohort, the study has found an association between prenatal exposures to air pollutants and pesticides, and reduced fetal growth.
Dr. Perera and her colleagues are increasingly focusing their efforts in the areas of prevention of carcinogenic, developmental and asthma risks to the infant and young child, chemoprevention, and environment-susceptibility interactions in breast and lung cancer.
Link to Center for Children’s Environmental Health http://www.ccceh.org
LETTER FROM PAULE HJERTAAS, RE NORTH DAKOTA RESEARCH, TO PROVINCIAL MINISTERS
(Paule addresses an argument that is infuriating to me, but which is accepted by Councils that don’t want to regulate against even the non-essential (cosmetic) use of pesticides. We heard it from the Mayor of Regina. Dr. Guillette’s research is on Mexican children. We don’t have research on Canadian/Saskatchewan children. And on that basis the research is dismissed. (Given the research of Guillette, Koger and now Moulton, on the topic of cognitive functioning, plus what is known about cancer, asthma, parkinson’s, etc. – this is a time for action, not more research and delay.))
Paule wrote to Provincial Ministers of the Crown:
Honourable Mark Wartman, Minister of Agriculture and Food Honourable Clay Serby, Deputy Premier Minister of Regional Economic and Co-operative Development Honourable John Nilson, Q.C.. Minister of Environment Honourable Len Taylor, Minister of Health Honourable Graham Addley, Minister of Healthy Living Services, Honourable Pat Atkinson, Minister of Advanced Education and Employment Honourable Deb Higgins, Minister of Learning
SUBJECT: North Dakota farm children exposed to pesticides performed significantly lower than their peers in IQ tests
Exactly what Elizabeth Guillette’s 1998 Mexican study showed, among other things. The pesticide industry responded that there were likely chemicals in Mexico which we don’t use further North.
This study is a lot closer to home.
What would we find if this type of study was repeated here? Does this not have an influence on learning and health costs for several degenerative diseases?
Please let me know when we can expect at least a similar pilot study in SK.
– The Departments of Health, Agriculture, Fisheries and Oceans, Environment (at minimum); also
– the Universities,
– the media,
– and citizens,
all play a role in the impact of chemical technology on Canadian society.
I have sent this email to many people in these different fields. We must work together and urgently.