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Op-Ed, House Small Business Subcommittee on Healthcare & Technology hearing on Wednesday, April 25thOp-Ed by Robert O'Dowd Salem-News.com
Most Americans - don’t have the time or capacity to research how hidden chemicals in their environment might put them in harm’s way for cancer and other illness.
(SOMERDALE, NJ) - In the 1960’s, I wanted to serve God and my country and I enlisted in the Marine Corps. Little did I know that the radiation and chemicals I would be unknowingly exposed to as a Marine would give me bladder cancer and a list of other unwanted medical conditions. Even worse, I discovered that I am not alone. There are many thousands of veterans and active duty personnel with cancers and other diseases linked to chemical exposures.
With 130 military bases on the EPA Superfund list and no government policy to alert veterans of their possible exposure to toxic chemicals, it’s not an exaggeration to say that thousands have not connected the dots of illness to military service.
Now, over 40 years later, unregulated chemicals linked to cancer are legally sold to the military and in the civilian marketplace and still cause exposures even now. Most Marines, and most military families – hell, most Americans - don’t have the time or capacity to research how hidden chemicals in their environment might put them in harm’s way for cancer and other illness. No, most people might not also even know they are using cancer causing chemicals in their products, and if they get cancer, they wonder: How did this happen to me?
The answers are complex. But one common sense answer is very simple. We need to have independent science that tests chemicals for hazards. The U.S. Government does have a top notch agency that is researching chemicals and their carcinogenicity. The National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), headed by Dr. Linda Birnbaum, is leading the latest modern science efforts to help figure out why anyone – be they in the military or civilian life - gets cancer and other disease when exposed to certain chemicals.
The National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is our main defense from harmful chemicals.
Yet this Wednesday, the Republican controlled House of Representatives, in their infinite wisdom, has summoned Dr. Birnbaum to defend her program that tests chemicals for cancer.
An executive from Dow Chemical Corporation is there to tell Dr. Birnbaum and Congress how the NIEHS cancer report is hurting his business.
Give me a break. There is so much wrong with this I haven’t the space or time to detail it all, but here are some highlights:
Dow Chemical made Agent Orange, which we know now is linked to long list of terrible disease in veterans and also their offspring, including AL Amyloidosis, Chronic B-cell Leukemias, Chloracne, Diabetes Mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s Disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Parkinson’s Disease, Acute and Subacute Peripheral Neuropathy, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda and other deadly killers. Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese nationals suffer and die today from exposure to this supposedly ‘safe to use’ herbicide.
Dow’s contamination of communities in Midland, Michigan, Seadrift, Texas, Bhopal, India and other places coincides with rising rates of people suffering from cancer in those places.
And yet, this Dow executive is there to say that Dr. Birnbaum and her team of researchers are threatening American businesses because of their research on chemicals carcinogenicity.
Why isn’t the Dow executive made to explain why his corporation and the chemicals they make that are linked to so much suffering are in the marketplace?
This is an election year, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Dow and their chemical buddies didn’t arrange this witch hunt through campaign contributions and lobbying.
Contact your Representative and tell them to support Dr. Linda Birnbaum and her valuable staff at NIEHS, and to give more support to their research with testing chemicals for cancer causing effects
How will your Representative handle this situation?
Come November, ask yourself, if your candidate is influenced by Dow Chemical and the other chemical corporations, their lobbyists, trade associations, and the SuperPacs they fund to defeat protections for environmental health. Is your Congress person promoting more suffering from cancer by attacking the NIEHS program?
We have to let these corporate controlled members of Congress know we won’t tolerate their attacks on NIEHS. Take a stand and tell your Congress person that you want these chemicals identified, and taken out of our environment, and out of our bodies.
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