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Pollution Found in Five Extraordinary Women Leaders

WASHINGTON -  An unprecedented two-year study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), funded by Rachel’s Network <>
 and conducted by four independent research laboratories in the United
States, Canada and The Netherlands has documented up to 48 toxic
chemicals in the blood of five prominent minority women leaders in the
environmental justice movement from Texas, Louisiana, California and
Testing was targeted toward compounds that are heavily used in everyday
consumer products but that have escaped effective regulation under the
antiquated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The results underscore
the widespread and systemic failure of current law to protect the
public from chemicals, many of which persist in the environment for
decades or far longer, that are associated in animal studies with
cancer, reproductive problems and behavioral effects.
“While the discovery of chemical pollutants in the blood and urine of
these women shouldn’t come as a surprise, it does call attention to the
abject failure of the federal toxics law to protect Americans from
potentially toxic chemicals that lurk in everyday consumer products,”
said EWG senior scientist Dr. Anila Jacob, M.D., M.P.H.
The women leaders have spent years deeply engaged in battles to rid
their communities of air and water pollution from local manufacturing
plants, hazardous waste dumps, oil refineries and conventional
agriculture. And, though they live thousands of miles apart, come from
distinctive cultural traditions and confront different environmental
hazards outside their homes, the women’s differences are only skin deep.
Their body burdens of environmental pollutants, a mix of industrial
chemicals, synthetic cosmetics ingredients and chemicals used in
consumer products, are strikingly similar – and roughly equivalent to
the body burdens of other Americans surveyed by governmental and
independent scientists.
Every woman tested positive for up to 60 percent of the 75 chemicals in
the study. Each had a high body burden of at least one controversial
chemical whose lack of regulation and widespread presence in American
life is fueling debate over reform of the nation’s toxic chemical
The laboratory analyses, which offer a snapshot of the toxic body
burdens of women on the front lines of the environmental health and
environmental justice movements, set the stage for larger,
population-scale research projects that could determine how exposure to
chemicals in water, food and consumer products may vary across minority
populations, other industrial compounds present in Americans’ bodies,
and health risks posed by those pollutants, alone or in combination.
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