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News Release: Great Lakes States, America's New Cancer Alley



Great Lakes States, America's New Cancer Alley
The Sierra Club, 608-257-4994
 brett.hulsey@sfsierra.sierraclub.org


Summary

Cancer kills 1,500 people in the United States every day, for a predicted
total 
of about 565,000 this year. Environmental Health Perspectives reports that
cance
r is the "leading cause of disease related death among children in the
United St
ates, afflicting approximately 8,000 children under the age 15 annually.


We all know what cancer looks like.  Many of our friends and family members
have
 or will die of cancer.  More than one-in-three of us will get cancer and
at lea
st one-in-five of us will likely die of some form of cancer.

Scientists and doctors tell us they are working hard to find a cure for
cancer. 
What they don't say is that they are not making much progress -- many
cancer rat
es, especially for children, are going up.  They also do not tell us that
state 
and federal governments are not taking basic steps to protect us from
cancer - s
top polluters from dumping cancer-causing chemicals into our air and water.  

State and federal governments allowed polluters to dump more than 230
million po
unds of cancer-causing chemicals (CCC) and 2.2 billion pounds of total
toxic che
micals into our air and water in 1995. That is almost one pound of
cancer-causin
g chemicals, and eight pounds of toxic pollution for every man, women, and
child
 in America each year.   Recently released 1996 information shows these
cancer p
ollution levels were down only 5.5%.

Great Lakes states led the nation in the legal dumping of cancer-causing
chemica
ls and hormone disrupting chemicals into our air and water, according
informatio
n from the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), the industry's own reports
required by
 Superfund.

90 percent of this cancer pollution is dumped in the air, followed by
pumped int
o the ground, dumped and land and into the water.

Growing medical scientific evidence shows that this pollution threatens our
heal
th, our children, and our communities with cancer and other health
problems.  It
 is time to clean up these cancer-causing and toxic chemicals. 80-95% of
the can
cer is caused by environmental sources, including smoking.

In Great Lakes States: America's Growing Cancer Alley, we analyze the
informatio
n on the top 10 cancer-causing polluters in each Great Lakes state for
1995.  We
 contacted each polluter and asked them what they make, why they use these
chemi
cals, and what they are doing to clean them up.  

We name the Cancer Dirty Dozen, the top cancer polluters in the Great Lakes
regi
on, which are: British Petroleum of Lima, Ohio, Kodak of Rochester, New
York, G.
E. Plastics of Mount Vernon, Indiana and Ottawa, Illinois, Pharmacia and
Upjohn 
Co. of Portage, Michigan, Flexible Foam Products, Elkhart, Indiana, General
Foam
 Corp, Bridgeview, Illinois, Foamex of Elkhart, Indiana, Tomkins Industry
of Thr
ee Rivers, Michigan, Ford Electronics of Connersville, Indiana, Stone
Container 
of Coxhocton, Ohio, and NO-SAG Foam of West Chicago, Illinois

Indiana is most polluted state in the Great Lakes region and third in the
nation
 with 15.5 million pounds of cancer-causing pollution, or 2.6 pounds of
pollutio
n per person. Followed by Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania -- all rank in
the to
p six nationally. Minnesota was the cleanest state in the Great Lakes
region wit
h only 3.3 million pounds of cancer-causing pollution. Texas leads the
nation in
 total cancer-causing pollution with 27.6 million pounds in 1995.

Great Lakes states dump almost one-third of all cancer chemicals in the
county, 
according to a study by the Environmental Information Center last year.

There is mounting evidence that toxic pollution is causing cancer and other
heal
th problems, especially in children.  New research on child-cancer
published in 
the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health shows a significant link
betwee
n child cancer and cancer-causing chemical pollution from large industrial
facil
ities, oil plants, steel plants, highways and airports.  

Studies by EPA and others show higher cancer risks in many cities such as
Chicag
o, Detroit and Lima, Ohio, and Rochester, NY due to similar pollution
sources.  
For instance, a 1995 New York State Health Department study showed that
women li
ving near Kodak Park in Rochester had higher rates of pancreatic cancer.
The st
udy linked Kodak Park's enormous dichloromethane pollution with incidences
of ca
ncer among women in the area.

The good news is that some companies are aware of the problem and are
taking ste
ps to clean up the pollution.  For instance, Parker Pen of Janesville,
Wisconsin
 is taking steps to eliminate their cancer pollution by switching to soap
and wa
ter cleaning process. While there is progress, this pollution still poses
an una
cceptable cancer-risk to our families' health.  

The bad news is that state governors and mayors such as Richard Daley and
Dennis
 Archer are leading the charge to weaken the enforcement of the Clean Air
Act an
d environmental justice provisions that would protect families and workers
from 
cancer causing pollution.  These efforts are misdirected since Money
magazine re
cently reported that the top issues people consider when deciding where to
live 
are clean water and clean air.

Protect Yourself from Cancer-Causing Pollution

To reduce your cancer risk, you can:
* Find out what pollutants are being dumped in your neighborhood by
checking the
 EDF website at www.scorecard.org.  
* Ask local polluter to sign "good neighbor" agreements to reduce pollution
and 
protect workers.
* Buy less from big cancer polluters like British Petroleum and Kodak.  Try
to f
ind non-toxic or less toxic alternatives to household, lawn and garden, and
auto
motive chemicals.  Reduce car -- walk, bicycle, carpool, or use transit
whenever
 possible.
* Use energy wisely by turning off lights, insulating your water heater,
tuning 
up your automobile and furnace regularly, limiting air conditioner use and
raise
 your thermostat setting when not at home in the summer, and lowering the
settin
g in the winter.

Ask polluting businesses to:
* Reduce dumping of cancer-causing chemicals by 90% in five years.
* Pay for independent health studies to show who is threatened the most
from pol
lution.
* Pay sick workers and cancer victims for their medical bills, pain and
sufferin
g.

Ask your governor, mayor, and local leaders to:
* Enforce Clean Air laws, such as the new smog and soot protections, to
reduce c
ancer-causing chemicals that also cause smog.
* Do child and community cancer and health studies to determine danger near
(wit
hin 3-5 miles of) major pollution sources, such as power plants, highways,
airpo
rts, and industries.
* Include cancer-causing chemicals in state's implementation plans for NOx
and o
zone pollution.
* Stop trying to undermine Clean Air and environmental justice enforcement.
* Consider the cancer pollution dangers before building new highways,
airports, 
or other public projects.

Ask your senators and representatives to:
* Support enforcing the Clean Air Act to clean up soot, smog, and
cancer-causing
 pollution.

Ask President Clinton, Vice President Gore and the EPA to:
* Enforce the Clean Air Act health and urban air pollution standards to
protect 
people from cancer pollution. Strengthen the Residual Risk Rule to make
sure all
 neighborhoods are safe from pollution. 
* Tax pollution since just a $10  per pound tax would generate $32 billion
per y
ear, $120 for every American.