Ken Cook from Environmental Working Group presents Ten Americans: Part 2

Uploaded by EnvironmentalWG on 16.11.2009

Let us look at some chemicals that we know more about because we are exposed o them everyday
in advertising and we in many cases use them. Albuteral, this is a chemical that is in the
desk of every school nurse because one dose of it at 2.1 parts per billion will stop an
asthma attack. Paxil, a common antidepressant, one dose in the blood active at 30 parts per
billion. Cialis one dose, which can have profound therapeutic effects, 30 parts per billion
and it is good for 36 hours. And then there is Nuvaring which is a commonly prescribed
birth control drug; it is active at 0.035 parts per billion. Less than 400th of a pancake
in a stack of pancakes 4000 miles high and it is almost one hundred percent effective.
Now some people are more sensitive than others, one of the side effects of Cialis at 30 parts
per billion is that if you have any sudden decrease in hearing or vision, you can not
see or hear at 30 parts per billion, you should stop taking Cialis and seek immediate medical
help. And then there is the most famous side effect of all. And my question about this side effect is
really very simple. If you have experienced the preceding one as well, and you cannot
see or hear, how do you call the doctor? Low doses matter. For 30 parts per billion
we can inspire human reproduction. For 0.035 parts per billion we can prevent it. And for
another 30 parts per billion we can chill out about it either way.
The exposures happen, the industry is allowed to sell these chemicals, use them in the market
place, and we have to wonder, after decades of this exposure, what problems they are causing
might just be. There are increases in diseases, disorders, health problems that we cannot
explain by genetics alone. We are not evolving so quickly that these problems can be explained.
An 84% increase in acute lymphocytic leukemia in children between 1975 and 2002. Hypospadias
has doubled over roughly that same period. This is a birth defect a deformation of the
penis where the urethra does not come out at the end but somewhere else along the shaft
and it requires surgery often within days or months from birth. That now effect 1 out
of 125 baby boys in the United States. Chemicals are implicated. A 57% increase in childhood
brain cancer. Autism, the great mystery, the great tragedy, 1 in 150 children in the autism
spectrum disorder. 1 in 150 children. In some states where we have more robust data its
approaching 1 percent. It is not just the kids. It is adults too. Millions of couples
struggle with getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to full term. A dramatic increase
of 20 percent in those problems in the past decade. The biggest increase has been with
women of childbearing age under 25 years old. Decreased sperm count in men about 1 percent
per year in the United States and northern Europe. Breast Cancer. Does anyone here not
know a person, a family that has been touched by this disease now? 1 in 8 women. And for
all cancers, 1 in 3 women will develop them during their lifetime and half of all men.
So what can you do? All these chemicals. All these exposures. Well one thing we know for
certain you cannot live under a rock, you cannot avoid modern life, you cannot escape
all of these exposures. Would you like to see that again? We cannot avoid these exposures.
We live in the real world. And we are not proposing for one minute that we try to live
anywhere else but we need to fix that real world and we can do it.
Chemicals are showing up on the front page of newspapers for the same reason that they
are showing up in babies. A very weak law that was passed a long time ago and has never
since been modernized. It is the Toxic Substances Control Act and my message to you tonight
is we need to fix this thing. The Toxic Substances Control Act grandfathered in 62,000 industrial
chemicals in 1976 and presumed that they were safe. The law does not require any new health
or safety studies before a new chemical is allowed onto the market. None. Of the chemicals
that come to EPA for approval, 80 percent are approved within just 3 weeks. And in the
history of ToSCA, as it is called, only 5 chemicals, only 5 have been banned or restricted.
This law is so week that when the first bush administration tried to ban asbestos it was
challenged in court and lost. This is a law that protects polluters. It protects companies.
It protects profits. And what we need is a law that protects people and public health.
It is a tall order, but we have made big changes before. We have cleaned up industries, we
have cleaned up air, we have cleaned up water but most relevant to tonight, we have cleaned
up our blood. Lead, when we took the lead out of gasoline look what happened to blood
lead levels in the US population. They plummeted. We still have a problem with lead poisoning
in inner cities in older housing particularly in low-income housing but we have made dramatic
strides by taking lead out of both paint and gasoline. PCB levels in blood, at the time
it was detected in people and wildlife it was suggested that if we got rid of this insulating
chemical we might not have electricity. Well we did ban it. The lights are still on and
PCB levels in blood plummeted. And then there is DDT. A notorious insecticide. The industry
of course, said well if you ban DDT we might not be able to grow food. But we did ban it.
We did continue to grow food and DDT levels plummeted in the American peoples blood. As
an important note when we tested those babies in 2004 we still found PCBs, we still found
DDT, the lesson is pretty clear, if a chemical is dangerous and it lasts a long time in the
environment you want to waste no time moving to take it off of the market.