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Program Information
Loving the Earth Environmental Revolution
POPs Exposure Minimization
Actuality (Uncut Material)
Larry Thompson and Dana Leigh Thompson, activist members of the Akwesasne Community, Donald L. Hassig, Director, Cancer Action NY
 Cancer Action News Network  Contact Contributor
The people of Akwesasne have received heavy exposures to persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Many decades have passed during which POPs exposure harmed the health of this First Nations community located on the St. Lawrence River between Massena, New York and Montreal, Quebec. An epidemic of cancers, diabetes, heart disease and obesity reigns here and in the communities of Massena and Cornwall, Ontario. Everywhere along the St. Lawrence River where corporations used and disposed of PCBs the epidemic has taken hold. The POPs exposures of Akwesasne have resulted from consumption of fish from the St. Lawrence River, breathing PCBs that evaporated from contaminated soil and sediment associated with the former GM Powertrain site and consuming animal fat foods purchased in supermarkets.

Larry Thompson has lived in Akwesasne all of his life. He has chosen a path of activism focused on bringing about the removal of PCBs from the illegal hazardous waste landfill located on the former GM Powertrain site. Larry chose this path because of the many cancers and heart disease cases among family members and other Akwesasne residents. Through excavating the "toxic mound", Larry drew public attention to the continuing presence of PCBs and other hazardous materials in the landfill. He was given the command to dig into the "toxic mound" by his clan mother who says that the PCBs and other hazardous wastes must be removed from the GM site. Listen to what Larry and his wife, Dana Leigh have to say about protecting the Earth and her children. They are good, strong, hard working people who care about the future.

Cancer Action NY is working to create a POPs exposure minimization educational outreach on the Akwesasne reserve. We have nearly finished a pamphlet on the subject of POPs exposure minimization. We are posting a POPs Health Hazard Advisory in businesses and community buildings on the Akwesasne reserve. The Health Hazard Advisory sets forth a recommendation of reduced animal fat consumption.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published, "Persistent Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health".

In this landmark 2010 report, the WHO recommends that concerted efforts be made by health arena leaders to minimize the exposure that children receive to POPs. Restricting consumption of all animal fats is highlighted as a priority strategy for POPs exposure minimization. Simona Surdu, PhD is the report's major author. David O. Carpenter, MD, Director of the SUNY Albany Institute for Health and the Environment is a contributing author. The WHO recently designated the Institute for Health and the Environment as one of its world-wide centers.

Dr. Carpenter has produced much of the scientific knowledge, which supports the conclusion that contamination of the environment with POPs and resultant POPs exposure impose significant chronic disease risk throughout the world. Dr. Carpenter has investigated POPs exposure and disease outcome among the residents of Akwesasne and other POPs contaminated communities including those along the Hudson River.

"Children are more sensitive than adults to almost all dangerous substances, and that particularly is true for persistent organic pollutants. Prenatal and early life exposure to POPs results in reduced cognitive function, suppressed immune system function and altered development of the reproductive system as well as increased risk of development of other diseases, such as cancer, later in life."-David O. Carpenter, MD

Multiple exposure to POPs and resultant unquantified total damages to health are addressed in the 2010 WHO policy document. Use of precaution is advised in the face of incomplete yet substantial knowledge of serious damages to health resulting from POPs exposure. Concerns involving gestational, lactational, childhood and adolescent exposures are raised. This is the first time that a governmental public health entity has provided leadership on the use of scientific knowledge to minimize the harm that will result from global POPs contamination. Focus on action to minimize exposure makes this a highly important public health protection document.

New York State government can take action to minimize children's POPs exposure by publishing POPs health hazard advisories for supermarket foods just as is already being done for sport fish and game. The New York State Department of Health can make POPs exposure minimization for children a high priority action item in the 2011-2016 New York State Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan.

During the course of the past 100 years the global environment has become heavily polluted with a large number of man-made chemicals, many of which persist in the environment and accumulate to the highest levels at the top of food chains. Persistent organic pollutants
(POPs) are a major part of this global contamination. Human beings are being heavily impacted by POPs: cancers, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, ADHD, reduced cognitive function and altered reproductive function. The WHO "Persistent Organic Pollutants: Impact on Child Health" report is a wonderful step along the path to a new world where scientific knowledge is fully utilized to minimize the harm caused by past chemical use. We are on the threshold of establishing new paradigms for public health protection that will bring an end to careless chemical use by corporations.

The work of the Thompson family, Dr. Carpenter and Cancer Action NY will lead to POPs exposure reductions among the residents of Akwesasne. Reducing exposures will reduce the risk of disease. In the future there will be less cancer, less heart disease, less diabetes and less ADHD at Akwesasne because of these good efforts.
Donald L. Hassig, Producer
Cancer Action News Network
Feel free to rebroadcast.
Please credit as above.

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00:42:09 1 Jan. 24, 2012
St. Lawrence River Valley
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