I just got back from Sacramento, the Capitol of California. I was there to testify in favor of a bill, SB 759, to make sure that ALL of the ingredients in pesticides, including the “inert” ones, are disclosed before they are sprayed.
What a great way to spend earth day!
It’s a great idea, actually (at least I think), for everyone to go to their state capitol and sit in on some sessions. You get to see how government works. Who knows, you might even decide you want to make your own voice heard.
I went there today to make my voice heard on something that’s very important to me – taking the most control we can over our health by asking for the right to know what chemicals are in the pesticides that might be sprayed over our communities.
Here’s what I had to say:
TESTIMONY TO CALIFORNIA SENATE HEALTH COMMITTEE – 4/22/09
Chairwoman Elaine Alquist
ANN HAIDEN D.O.
Good afternoon committee members. My name is Dr. Ann Haiden. I am an internist practicing in the Bay Area with a focus on preventive and environmental medicine. Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today.
I am concerned that we, as citizens and health care providers, be able to know what is in the environmental chemicals we are exposed to. We need and deserve to have this information to be able to prevent harm and to be better able to help people who develop symptoms after exposure.
I would like to highlight 3 main points:
1) First, we know from body burden studies that we all have the chemicals from our everyday environment within us. We need to know what exactly we are being exposed to because these substances, both active and inert, affect our health.
The effects of environmental pesticide exposures can manifest as endocrine disruption, inflammation, neurologic and immune problems, detoxification system problems and epigenetic alteration of our DNA. Fetuses have the highest burden levels, but children, the elderly and those who are already health challenged or with less powerful chemical detoxification systems are also at higher risk.
Evidence increasingly implicates environmental chemical exposures to a wide variety of illnesses and syndromes. For instance: hypospadias, the male genital feminization birth defect, asthma, autism, cancers, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s dementia and many of the ill defined chronic immune and nervous system disorders.
We also know that through epigenetics, a person’s actual genetics can be changed in response to various exposures, including environmental.
2) Secondly, we know that inert ingredients can be every bit as active as the “active” ingredients of a chemical product. The delivery vehicle that the formula is delivered by can have it’s own set of consequences. And the effects of the individual pieces can add up to be more harmful than they would be all by themselves.
3) Finally, if we are to do a better job of helping, we have got to have more information to work with.
Exposures of chemicals and pesticides can have acute and prolonged symptom effects for real people in our communities. Not numbers in a study, but real people. These folks present to physicians in a bind, looking for help. As health care providers, we are working with our hands tied when we do not know what exactly has been applied to a community or the procedure for reporting. We saw this after the LBAM spraying in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, most profoundly in an infant with severe respiratory arrest that has resulted in a permanent respiratory condition, but also many other people with other symptoms
I urge you to vote for SB 759 to give us full disclosure of pesticide ingredients, both inert and active, better reporting systems and better health care training so that we can better help our citizens.
Have a great earth day! By the way, the bill passed the committee!