Letter to Editor: Choosing Legislators Who Will Help Inform County Residents About Harmful Chemicals in Food

19 Aug

Beginning in the early 1900s and continuing to this day, much widespread chemical use has occurred in our country.  Chemicals were used with little or no testing for adverse health effects.

The persistent organic pollutants (POPs) have come to be recognized as a particularly dangerous group of substances.  These chemicals break down very slowly in the environment.  They dissolve in fat and are stored in the body’s fat tissue.  POPs are present in all animal fats.  Thus, all animal fat containing foods are a source of POPs exposure.  Continuing intake leads to ever increasing body burden.  Higher body burden imposes increased disease risk.

In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) published “Persistent Organic Pollutants:  Impact on Child Health”.  This report recommends action to minimize the exposure that children receive to POPs.  People need to know about POPs in food.  Once people have come to know that POPs contaminate all animal fat they can make up their minds about how much animal fat they want to eat.  Many people will choose to eat less animal fat to keep POPs out of their bodies.

It is the responsibility of governmental public health entities, including the New York State Department of Heath and the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department to provide the public with information on the POPs exposure health hazard.  St. Lawrence County Legislator James Bunstone has been chair of the Services Committee for several years.  Legislator Bunstone possesses knowledge about POPs in the food supply.  I have worked for years to educate Legislator Bunstone and the other members of the county legislature concerning these matters. St. Lawrence County government can move forward with educating residents on the subject of POPs exposure minimization by obtaining the guidance of a scientific expert.  I have asked Legislator Bunstone to invite David O. Carpenter, MD to make a presentation on POPs exposure minimization to the Services Committee.  Mr. Bunstone promised to do this, but after many months he has not yet offered the invitation.

I have discussed these matters with Joe Timmerman.  Dr. Timmerman is an opponent of James Bunstone in the 2014 county legislature race.  Candidate Timmerman stated to me that he favors action by county government to provide the public with information about these harmful chemicals in food.  St. Lawrence County needs leaders who value education and are willing to take action to protect public health.  I am hopeful that voters will think about what is related here when deciding who to support among the candidates for county legislature.

7/31/14 Letter to James Bunstone Chair Services Committee St. Lawrence County Legislature Concerning Preventing Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Disease by Educating on POPs Exposure Minimization

7 Aug

7/31/14

James Bunstone, Chair
Services Committee
St. Lawrence County Legislature
Canton, NY USA

Dear Legislator Bunstone,

During the course of the past several decades a very large quantity of scientific knowledge has accumulated on the damages to health caused by persistent organic pollutants (POPs). In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) published, “Persistent Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health”. This report recommends worldwide action to minimize the POPs exposure received by children.

The residents of St. Lawrence County suffer much cancer, diabetes and heart disease. These three major diseases are known to be linked to POPs exposure. Minimizing POPs exposure will reduce the incidence of these diseases in St. Lawrence County.

You and I have discussed the matters addressed above. You promised me that you would invite David O. Carpenter, MD to make a presentation to the Services Committee on the subject of POPs exposure minimization. Many months have passed by since you promised to do this. The longer the public remains in the dark about the POPs exposure health hazard, the more people that will be sickened by intake of these harmful chemicals. A presentation by Dr. Carpenter would move the county forward on the path of providing the public with information on how to avoid exposure to POPs.

I would like to meet with you to discuss the WHO report named above and the importance of POPs exposure minimization education in St. Lawrence County. Please let me know when you are available to do this.

joyous in Nature,

Donald L. Hassig

7/23/14 Letter to Wendy Kuehner NYS Department of Health Concerning Health Problems on Akwesasne Reserve and Conducting a Health Study

28 Jul

7/23/14

Wendy Kuehner
Center for Environmental Health
New York State Department of Health
Troy, New York USA

Dear Ms. Kuehner,

I believe that the people of New York State created the New York State
Department of Health (DOH) for the purpose of protecting public
health. On July 15, 2014, I spoke with employees of the US
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about PCB exposures and health
effects on the Akwesasne Reserve. I was told that the New York State
DOH was responsible for dealing with all matters of health at
Akwesasne.

I would like to speak with you about health problems that exist on the
Akwesasne Reserve: type 2 diabetes, autism, cognitive impairment and
reproductive problems. All of these diseases and disorders are linked
to PCB exposure.

My purpose in speaking with you is to discuss the possibility of a
health study that would determine the rates of these health effects.
Quantifying health problems at Akwesasne will serve to motivate action
to address these problems.

Please let me know when you are available to talk about these things.

joyous in Nature,

Donald L. Hassig

8/4/14 Media Advisory: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Will Educate on POPs Exposure Minimization

28 Jul

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Will Educate on POPs
Exposure Minimization

Monday, August 4, 2014, 2:00 PM

Lisbon Town Hall, Lisbon, NY USA

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDCP) National Center for
Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry have commenced the work of producing educational materials on
the subject of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) exposure
minimization. Eating a low-fat diet is one of the key recommendations
to be set forth.

Publication of the 2010 World Health Organization report, “Persistent
Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health” figured largely in the
CDCP decision to educate on POPs. This report describes extensive
scientific research linking POPs exposure with causation of diseases
and disorders including: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, reproductive
problems, cognitive impairment, immune system dysfunction, and autism.

Cancer Action NY has advocated for government action to educate on the
POPs exposure health hazard since 2009. Numerous town governments in
St. Lawrence County joined into this work by writing to the CDCP
requesting the creation of educational materials. Towns involved in
this effort include: Russell, DeKalb, Lisbon, Morristown, Canton,
Colton, Oswegatchie and Potsdam. “Honor to the towns of St. Lawrence
County and the CDCP. American government works.”-Donald L. Hassig

A letter from the CDCP to the Town of Russell concerning POPs exposure minimization education follows.

7-7-14 Letter from CDCP to Town of Russell Concerning POPs Education

7/16/14 News Release: EPA Promises Action to Address Evaporation of PCBs from “Toxic Mound” on GM Superfund Site in Massena

19 Jul

News Release
7/16/14 For Immediate Release

Donald L. Hassig
Director, Cancer Action NY
315.262.2456
_______________________________________________________________

EPA Promises Action to Address Evaporation of PCBs from “Toxic Mound”
on GM Superfund Site in Massena

On 7/15/14, scientists and technical personnel employed by the US
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) participated in a Cancer Action
NY teleconference for discussion of minimization of PCB exposure
associated with the General Motors Powertrain Superfund Site in the
Town of Massena, New York. EPA empoyees on the call included: Larisa
Romanowski, Anne Kelly, Joel Singerman, Douglas Fisher, Marian Olsen,
PhD and Michael McGowan.

Discussion centered upon PCB evaporation from the Industrial Landfill
referred to by Akwesasne residents as the “Toxic Mound”. Anne Kelly
stated that EPA planned to remove the most heavily contaminated
materials from the Industrial Landfill and the East Disposal Area,
consolidate the remaining materials and then place a permanent cap
over the area. Ms. Kelly explained that the new cap is designed to
prevent all evaporation of PCBs.

Respiratory PCB exposure has significantly contributed to the
causation of diabetes on the Akwesasne Reserve. This has been clearly
elucidated by the research of David O. Carpenter, MD. “Capping areas
of PCB contamination so as to prevent all evaporation is a critical
part of minimizing ongoing exposure to these harmful chemicals. Where
any PCBs remain on the GM Superfund Site there must be effective
capping. Air quality monitoring must be utilized to insure that
capping stops PCBs from escaping containment.”-Donald L. Hassig

7/1/14 Letter to Katie Strack Director Franklin County Public Health Department Concerning Providing Information on Subject of PCB and Total POPs Exposure Minimization

2 Jul

7/1/14

Katie Strack, Director
Franklin County Public Health Department
Malone, NY USA

Dear Director Strack,

Cancer Action NY currently conducts an educational outreach on the
subject of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) exposure minimization.
Since the founding of the organization in January 2000, we have
educated on carcinogen exposure reduction. We began with a focus on
reducing dioxin exposure and later expanded our outreach to address
minimization of all POPs exposures.

POPs are contaminants of all animal fats. They are present in all
animal fat containing foods, including: meats, fish, diary products,
eggs and processed foods in which animal fat is used as an ingredient.

I have gone door to door on the Akwesasne Reserve and in the Village
of Massena. The residents of these communities are unaware of POPs
contamination of the mainstream food supply. Some people are
knowledgeable concerning the presence of PCBs in fresh water fish and
certain wild game. Having only this limited knowledge people continue
to consume animal fat containing foods and receive ongoing exposures
to POPs.

In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) published “Persistent
Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health”. This landmark public
health protection report recommends action to minimize the exposure
that children receive to POPs. Populations residing in the vicinity
of POPs contaminated sites are prioritized for action. The population
residing at Akwesasne is such a population due to the presence of PCB
contaminated sites upwind and upstream of the reserve.

Considering the long history of PCB exposures on the Akwesasne
Reserve, POPs exposure minimization is of critical importance to
resident health. I would like to speak with you for twenty minutes
about the WHO report named above and POPs exposure minimization
education. The people of Akwesasne must be warned about the POPs
exposure health hazard constituted by the presence of POPs in the
animal fat containing foods of the mainstream food supply. I am
hopeful that once you have read this report and entered into a
dialogue on the subject of POPs exposure minimization education you
will be interested in working to create an educational outreach on this
subject within the Franklin County Public Health Department.

Thank you for your attention to this correspondence.

joyous in Nature,

Donald L. Hassig

6/17/14 Letter to Congressman William Owens Concerning Publication of “ATSDR Case Studies in Environmental Medicine Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Toxicity” and POPs Exposure Minimization Education

17 Jun

6/17/14

Hon. William Owens
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC USA

Dear Congressman Owens,

I would like to receive your assistance with motivating Dr. Michael Hatcher of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to participate on a conference call to discuss persistent organic pollutants (POPs) exposure minimization education. Please see below my letter to Dr. Hatcher.

The ATSDR has recently published an education piece titled, “ATSDR Case Studies in Environmental Medicine Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Toxicity”. This document falls far short of using scientific knowledge to protect public health. It contains no warning to the public of damages to health caused by PCB exposures of a magnitude imposed by current and past levels of food supply contamination. Scientific knowledge supports the conclusion that such damages have occurred and continue to occur. Action on PCB exposure minimization is warranted.

The publication of the document named above causes me concern that ATSDR will choose not to warn the public of harm associated with current and past levels of POPs contamination of the mainstream food supply. The discussion that I am requesting with Dr. Hatcher is very much in order.

Thank you for your attention to this correspondence.

joyous in Nature,

Donald L. Hassig
______________________________________________________________________________

6/17/14

Dr. Michael Hatcher
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, GA USA

Dear Dr. Hatcher,

I have read the document titled, “ATSDR Case Studies in Environmental Medicine Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Toxicity”. The document states that consumption of contaminated animal fats is the main PCB exposure route for the general public. However, it does not warn that this food consumption exposure is likely to be causing serious harm to the health of members of the general public. Due to this lack of content, the document falls short of serving to provide
the public with the best available information on minimizing exposure to a harmful group of chemicals.

The scientific literature presents information supporting the conclusion that damage to human health occurs at the level of exposure imposed by past and current levels of food supply contamination. This is clearly the case with PCB exposure and cancer. Additionally, animal studies demonstrate epigenetic effects including cancer and reproductive problems. Researchers believe that similar epigenetic effects are occurring in humans.

The document in question states that harm to reproductive health and cognition have been demonstrated for the offspring of mothers who consumed large quantities of locally caught PCB contaminated fish. The people of Akwesasne and non-Indian residents of the St. Lawrence River valley can benefit from the information in this education piece. It provides them with the knowledge that they may have been harmed by PCBs if their mothers consumed large quantities of locally caught fish. This group of people and the members of the general public need to have information that will help them minimize their ongoing exposure to PCBs and the other persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

I am hopeful that the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will commence an effort to educate the general public on the subject of POPs exposure minimization. Such educational outreach is the responsibility of the National Center for Environmental Health and the ATSDR.

Pursuant to moving forward with educational outreach on the subject of POPs exposure minimization, I request that you speak with me and several of my associates. Please let me know when you would be available to join us on a conference call.

Thank you for your attention to this correspondence.

joyous in Nature,

Donald L. Hassig

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