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National Medical Association Joins the Campaign

Eight new national health and health professional organizations have joined an increasingly urgent nationwide call for new policies to reduce the use of toxic chemicals linked to serious diseases and disabilities. The organizations joined Safer Chemicals Healthy Families (SCHF), a coalition of nearly 300 health and environmental organizations, businesses and parent groups, advocating for reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act to require testing of chemicals for safety and health effects before they are used in products.

The newest members of the SCHF campaign are: The National Medical Association, the Public Health Nursing Section of the American Public Health Association, Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, The American Fertility Association, The Arc of the United States, Association of State and Territorial Directors of Nursing, Birth Defect Research for Children and Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

“Mounting scientific evidence links toxic chemical exposures to certain cancers, developmental disabilities, birth defects and infertility, among other health concerns,” said Andy Igrejas, Director of SCHF, “Nearly every week, another major health organization joins this effort, calling on Congress to take immediate action on protecting public health.”

Dr. Leonard Weather, president of The National Medical Association, the oldest and largest organization of African American physicians in the country, explained NMA’s reasons for joining SCHF. “Many of our patients suffer disproportionately from illnesses resulting from our outdated national chemical policy. From asthma to hyperactivity, from diabetes to premature death our physicians are seeing increasing amounts of environmentally related diseases,” stated Dr. Weather. “We call on Congress to require health testing of chemicals in order to assure their safety before they are put in products or released into the air, water, or on land.”

Ken Moesian, Executive Director of the American Fertility Association highlights further health concerns. “The American Fertility Association has a strong focus on helping men and women avoid infertility whenever possible. As evidence continues to mount that toxic chemicals erode reproductive health, our mission is clear: we must educate people about the impact of chemical exposure and call upon Congress to act upon this knowledge.”

National scientific bodies have now definitively linked toxic chemical exposures to certain cancers, including cancers in children, breast, bladder, and prostate cancers. “Bladder cancer is the quintessential environmentally related cancer” said Larry Rzepka, Executive Director of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network. “We have known for decades that exposure to chemicals is linked to this disease, yet our federal chemical policies still fail to protect the public.”

Adding to the strong chorus of health concerns is Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc of the United States, the newest neurodevelopmental organization in the coalition. “Growing evidence links toxic chemicals to intellectual and developmental disabilities. How can people protect themselves and their families when companies aren’t required to list harmful ingredients in their products or test chemicals for neurodevelopmental effects before using them? This is a social justice issue that can be easily solved.”

In the last two years, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Nurses Association and the American Public Health Association have all issued policy resolutions calling on Congress to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce toxic chemical exposures linked to serious health outcomes.

In April, Senator Lautenberg introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S.847) which would increase chemical safety, protect vulnerable sub populations such as pregnant women and children and would create incentives for new, safer chemicals. The bill would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, which has proven ineffective in identifying and reducing the use of toxic chemicals.

The new health members of SCHF join more than 50 national and state health group members of the coalition, including the Breast Cancer Fund, the Lung Cancer Alliance, the Endometriosis Association, the Learning Disabilities Association of America, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Autism Society of America, Reproductive Health Technology Project, Association of Reproductive Health Professionals and the American Nurses Association.