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Beginning in the first part of the 20th century, industrialized economies throughout the world have released into the environment a group of chemicals referred to collectively as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These releases have gradually led to global food supply contamination. Evidence of serious harm resultant from POPs exposure has been accumulating in the scientific literature for several decades. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report titled, "Persistent Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health". This WHO public health policy guidance document calls for a worldwide effort to minimize the exposures that children receive to POPs.
Dr. Suk provides background on the genesis of this report. He answers the highly important question, "What must be known about exposure to a chemical substance or a group of chemical substances and disease outcome before the public health system decides that exposure to the substance or group of substances constitutes a health hazard?" It is the existence of a large body of scientific knowledge describing serious damages to health that brings consensus among public health professionals that exposure to a substance or group of substances must be viewed as a health hazard. Such a body of scientific knowledge now exists for POPs.
I ask Dr. Suk what he thinks about prioritizing populations residing in the vicinity of POPs contaminated Superfund Sites for first efforts in POPs exposure minimization educational outreach by governmental public health entities. He states his agreement with this strategy. Dr. Suk goes on to express his belief that the WHO is the right agency for conducting this type of educational outreach.
Cancer Action NY is currently working with the National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry sister agencies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop POPs exposure minimization educational outreach to populations residing in the vicinity of POPs contaminated Superfund sites. We are making steady progress and look forward to beginning to create much increased awareness on the subject of POPs exposure minimization in populations at several Superfund sites, including: upper Hudson River Superfund site, GM Powertrain Superfund site and the Titawabassee River Superfund Site.
The effort to minimize the quantity of harm to human health that results from POPs contamination of the global environment is taking shape and Cancer Action NY is taking a leadership role in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Conversation Network is showing itself to be a wonderful conduit for this work.
Cancer Action News Network
Donald L. Hassig, Producer