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Heat Advisory: Protecting Health on a Warming Planet
by Dr. Alan Lockwood

Drawing on peer-reviewed scientific and medical research, Dr. Lockwood meticulously details the symptoms of climate change and their medical side effects.

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Chemical Policy

February 12, 2014

In our rush to create new and labor-saving products, we have created more than 80,000 synthetic chemicals in use today in the United States. No more than 1,000 of these have been evaluated for their human health effects even though we have known for the past decade that the vast majority of them are absorbed into our bodies.

There was a 17 percent increase in the prevalence of developmental disabilities in children from 1997 to 2008. Prenatal exposures to lead have been specifically linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pregnant women exposed to phthalates (found in many plastics and personal-care products) have been associated with functional abnormalities similar to those seen in ADHD.

Although cancer mortality rates have decreased as a result of early detection and improved treatment, data from the National Cancer Institute show that the incidence of most childhood cancers has increased in the U.S. over the past three decades. The environmental agents linked to these cancers include toxic chemicals such as solvents, paints, chemicals associated with the use of vehicles, and metals.

Our country lags far behind Europe in requiring the identification and human health evaluation of synthetic chemicals before they are on the market. In fact, it currently requires a product to attract the public's attention by the obvious sickening of children or adults prior to investigation of these toxics. The U.S. desperately needs a chemical policy that allows us to identify hazardous and harmful chemicals prior to them going on the market and reduces exposures to environmental toxins.

Unfortunately, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, which seeks to update the woefully outdated laws by which we regulate synthetic chemicals, is lacking in critical areas. It fails to protect the most vulnerable in society including children, and it pre-empts states' authority to establish their own more protective rules, among other major flaws.

Congress must reform our chemical regulatory legislation rapidly. It must protect pregnant women, children and vulnerable communities; remove the red tape on the Environmental Protection Agency that prevents it from regulating chemicals properly; allow states to pass their own more stringent laws on toxic chemicals; and move the market toward safer use of chemicals.

Dr. Myrtis Sullivan, president, Cook County Physicians Association

— Dr. Robert Panton, president, Chicago Medical Society

— D. Sarah Lovinger, executive director, Chicago Physicians for Social Responsibility

— Dr. Peter Orris, senior adviser, Health Care Without Harm

— Dr. Simon Piller, vice president, Doctors Council SEIU

Published in the Chicago Tribune, February 12, 2014

Action Alerts

  • Tell the EPA: Don't delay methane protections

    Tell the EPA: don't delay the proposed rule to capture leaking methane gas. Our health and the health of the climate cannot wait!

  • Tell Congress—defend the Clean Air Act against Big Oil!

    President Trump, his new EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, and some in Congress are attempting to block or weaken clean air and climate protections like the Clean Power Plan. Tell your member of Congress to support full implementation of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Power Plan.

More action alerts»

Resources

  • Video: Fracking - Too Dirty, Too Dangerous

    Former executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Catherine Thomasson, MD, presents findings from PSR's report "Too Dirty, Too Dangerous: Why Health Professionals Reject Natural Gas". It is based on summaries of recent medical and scientific studies which clearly convey the health threats that accompany use of methane as a fuel. Read more »

  • Webinar: The Fight for Solar

    Solar energy is one of our best hopes for a clean energy future – yet some utility companies are trying to stifle the spread of rooftop solar. Learn more about the fight for rooftop ("distributed") solar. Read more »

  • Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Fact Sheet

    RGGI has significantly reduced air pollution from fossil fuel power plants, improving the health of people living in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. Read more »

In the Spotlight

  • November 30, 2016
    Eating for Climate and Health
    PSR's new PowerPoint presentation on how climate change impacts food production, and agriculture's contribution to climate change.