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June 2, 2009

News Release
Cancer Action NY
Cancer Action Network
A news conference on recent steps taken toward reducing dioxin exposure and the minimization of dioxin releases to the environment
Cancer Action NY Director Donald L. Hassig will answer questions for members of the news media
Friday, June 5th, 2009, 11:30 A
Clinton County Government Building, first floor lobby
Plattsburgh, NY USA 

Cancer Action NY Resurrects Dioxin Exposure Reduction Petition
Cancer Action NY has now resurrected a petition submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration in 2004 calling for rule-making that would serve to reduce dioxin exposure in the United States.  Rules requested would provide for a ban on the feeding of animal fats to food animals, and labeling that notifies consumers of the presence of dioxins in animal fat containing foods, including:  fat containing dairy products, meats and eggs. 
FDA is responding to our petition by arguing that dioxin levels in the environment have decreased over the period of years since the petition was submitted.  Considering the fact that the new data referred to by FDA came from an EPA and FDA that were extremely compromised by upper level management appointments made during the Reagan and Bush administrations, Cancer Action NY has expressed its interest in seeing additional testing by third party scientists.  All documents in this docket can be viewed at the URL found below.
NYS DEC Continues Rule-Making that would Further Minimize Dioxin Releases
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently opened public comment on revisions to its draft regulation that would ban open waste burning statewide.  Further information regarding this matter can be found at:

Details at: http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/54477.html

The comment period will close June 26, 2009.

For further information:  Donald L. Hassig, Director, Cancer Action NY and the Cancer Action Network; 315 262 2456



News Release
Cancer Action NY
Cancer Action Network
A Great Step Toward Truly Comprehensive Cancer Prevention
On Monday, May 18th, 2009, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Donald L. Hassig, Director, Cancer Action NY began a joint project to bring about the inclusion of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds (DLC) in the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (NCCCP) administered and implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Currently, cancer control planning at the national level only addresses:  tobacco use, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and alcohol use.  Director Hassig describes the new partnership this way, "Working with NIEHS is going to be a wonderful experience; inclusion of dioxins in the NCCCP will be a huge step forward for cancer prevention in the US."
Cancer Action Network Radio

This is Cancer Action Network radio on dioxin exposure breast cancer risk.  Dr. Linda Birnbaum is the new Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.  Her interview is the anchor for the series on dioxins/open waste burning/breast cancer.
The interview with Margaret Roberts/Capitol Region Action Against Breast Cancer describes the work of her organization and the serious lack of awareness that exists among urban women regarding dioxin exposure and the associated breast cancer risk.

Background Facts of the Issue
1.  An international group of scientists working with data from the Seveso Women's Health Study found an association between dioxin exposure and elevated breast cancer rates.   Their research was published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2002. 
2.  The US EPA dioxin reassessment attributes over 95 percent of dioxin exposure to consumption of animal fat foods:  meats, dairy products, eggs.  Dioxins are persistent, fat-soluble air pollutants that accumulate in the fat tissue of animals.
3.  The US EPA dioxin inventory lists open waste burning as the largest source of dioxin releases to the environment.
4.  Open waste burning takes place in the rural parts of New York State where meats and dairy foods are produced.  Dioxins are created in these fires and deposit out of the polluted air onto the feed crops and pasture of cattle.  
5. Urban consumers are exposed to the dioxins of these fires when they eat meats, dairy products and eggs.  The dioxins are in the milk and beef because cattle eat large quantities of vegetative surfaces (grass blades, corn leaves and stalks, alfalfa leaves and stems, etc.). These surfaces are contaminated with dioxins due to the deposition described above.  The eggs, chicken meat, turkey meat, and pork contain dioxins because cow fat is fed to poultry, and hogs.  Dioxin bearing particulates fall into large bodies of water as well as upon terrestrial environments.  Runoff water contains dioxins that fell on the land and were picked up as a result of soil erosion.  Aquatic dioxins bioaccumulate in fish. 
6.  NYS DEC is currently engaged in rule-making that will most likely ban open waste burning statewide.  New York State Farm Bureau is the only opposition to the statewide burning ban.  Enforcement of this ban will need to be accompanied by education.  Public awareness of the connection between dioxin exposure and breast cancer will result in better enforcement and a larger education program.  
The following URL provides access to papers that contain background on the above.

This URL provides access to information that directs the user to certain pages of the US EPA dioxin reassessment that describe dioxin contamination of the US food supply.

Cancer Control Now Becoming Cancer Prevention 

New York State adopted a Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan in 2003.  The draft NYS CCCP stated that pollution was not a significant cause of cancer.  Cancer Action NY raised a protesting cry and an AP story was picked up by New York Post and numerous other newspapers.  We followed the first salvo with a press conference at the Legislative Office Building in the Empire State Plaza and as a result the NYS CCCP was revised.  New York's final cancer control plan is far ahead of many other states in matters of cancer prevention addressing pollutant carcinogens.  Goal No. 2 of the plan is to Reduce Environmental Exposure/"By 2010, reduce population risks associated with environmental exposures to known or likely environmental risk factors for cancer."  The problem with this plan is that it is not being vigorously acted upon.  Despite having made many attempts to speak with her, I have not once received an answer from Leslie Larson, Director of the NYS CCC Program.  I believe that Goal No. 2 was included in the plan only to smoothe the waters of environmental discontent.  The NYS government workers who implement the plan do so as if Goal No. 2 did not exist.  And remember, there is now only one year left for NYS DOH to take a step toward achieving Goal No. 2.

Nonetheless, the NYS CCCP is better than the MN CCCP.  Under the heading of Guiding Principles, the MN CCCP states:  "We support science-based and evidence-informed approaches to address cancer control across the continuum of cancer care."  There is no mention of pollutant cancer risk factors in this document.

New York has a superior CCCP to that in existence in Pennsylvania.  The PA CCCP, also adopted in 2003, states as a Core Goal:  "Prevent cancer from occurring whenever possible."  In the section of this plan, which sets forth Priority Goals and Objectives for Cancer Prevention and Healthy Lifestyles there is no mention of reducing exposure to pollutant carcinogens, only cigarette smoke.

The WI CCCP sets forth as Goal No. 1:  "Reduce the risk of developing cancer."  The priority action of this plan is to:  "Develop priorities from scientific data to address Wisconsin's cancer burden."  Priority areas of the Prevention Section of the WI CCCP include:  Tobacco, Healthy Lifestyles and Sunlight.  No pollutant carcinogens to be found in here.

The Michigan Cancer Consortium Initiative fails to list a single pollutant risk factor in its Breast Cancer Factsheet.  This Factsheet does not list animal fat consumption as a risk factor.  Objective No. 2 of the MI CCI Breast Cancer Priority Strategic Plan is:  "Women should receive information to help them understand their risk of developing breast cancer."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program's National CCC Promotional Toolkit contains the following on the subject of risk reduction:


As you can see, pollutant carcinogens are missing from this document.  Hopefully, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will respond to the joint advocacy of the NIEHS and Cancer Action NY by creating a national cancer control program that includes a focus on pollutant carcinogens.

Thanks for your interest in science-based, protective of public health, owing nothing to industry cancer prevention.



ALCOA/MASSENA Acid Pollution and Carcinogenic Metals Contaminating Adirondack Waters

Cancer Action NY, 4/26/09

The ALCOA primary aluminum production facility at Massena, New York releases nearly three thousand tons per year of SO2 into the air.  These are uncontrolled SO2 emissions; ALCOA removed the wet scrubbers that capture SO2 many years ago.

ALCOA/Massena is a major acid rain maker for the Adirondack Mountains.  It is upwind of the prevailing West wind for the eastern Adirondacks.  When the winds are from the northwest, ALCOA acid impacts the central Adirondacks.  This acid source is one of the closest heavy polluters to the mountains.

There is a connection between acid precipitation and cancer.  Acidic runoff water leaches carcinogenic metals, including:  lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic and nickel from the soil.  These metals exist at increased concentrations in surface and ground waters due to acid pollution.  The New York State Department of Health advisory, “Chemicals in Sportfish and Game”, warns against eating fish from many Adirondack ponds and lakes because of mercury contamination.  Mercury is present in these waters as a result of acidification.  The metal carcinogens listed above contaminate these waters also, regardless of the absence of this information in the DOH advisory.   Loons and otter in Cranberry Lake have unhealthy levels of lead in their bodies because they live on contaminated fish.

The fact that ALCOA poisons the most beautiful and most wild part of New York State without any public outcry raises serious questions.  If people know about this, why do they choose to do nothing about it?  If people don’t know about it, why do they lack this important information?

I believe that people can find the answers to these questions by thinking about what they love.  I believe that once people have thought carefully and clearly about what they love most they will begin thinking about how to protect the mountains.  I believe that the solution to the ALCOA acid problem will follow close upon their thinking.




NYS DEC Proposes to Ban Open Burning/Cancer Action NY Guides Activists in Creation of Environmental Health Education Campaigns


Cancer Action NY, 1/30/08

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has made know to the public its intention of enacting a regulation that would prohibit open waste burning statewide.  Establishing such a ban would be an act of good government. 

It is highly likely that enforcement of the new regulation will be complaint driven.  If citizens are hesitant to make complaints against violators, the progress toward elimination of open burning will be very slow.  A more vigorous enforcement strategy would utilize patrolling environmental conservation officers giving warnings and subsequently issuing tickets.  Only strong public support for the ban will bring about such enforcement efforts. 

The failure of the New York State Legislature to pass a law banning open burning makes it clear that no great amount of public support exists.  Most New York State residents are unaware of the open burning problem.  Public education on the adverse health effects of open burning can build the large numbers of ban supporters necessary to obtain the aggressive enforcement activity that will succeed in rapidly eliminating this heavily polluting waste disposal practice.

Cancer Action NY is working to create a grassroots environmental health education campaign here in one of New York State’s largest milk production areas.  We are creating additional campaigns in urban areas to educate consumers.  Grassroots environmental health education is based upon the tenet that communities can educate themselves when various parts of the community, including:  students, local artists, civic organizations, environmental groups and the news media work together to provide information to the public in unique and inspiring ways.   Our message is that dioxins cause cancer, dioxins are air pollution contaminants of animal fat foods, open waste burning is the largest source of dioxin releases to the environment, and bringing an end to open burning is a matter of cancer risk reduction.  We need powerful artwork to use for making posters.  Share your artwork to help reduce the amount of dioxins in foods thereby protecting the public health.  Contact us at canceractionny@yahoo.com

Diligent enforcement of an open waste burning ban in combination with environmental health education on dioxin pollution will end open burning.  Working together good government and enlightened communities can protect the Earth resulting in healthier lives for all of us.





Cancer  Action NY, 1/29/05

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has been in the process of conducting a reassessment of the health damaging effects of dioxin exposure for the past decade.  In 2000, the agency published a draft risk characterization that attributed a 1 in 1000 upper-bound excess cancer risk to average background levels of dioxin exposure.

Several federal government agencies, including:  the US Department of Agriculture, the US Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the EPA, are represented on the Interagency Working Group on Dioxin.  These parties have developed a paper entitled “Questions and Answers About Dioxins” that provides basic information for the public on the matter of exposure and adverse health effects.

The Institute of Medicine (IoM) published, “Dioxins and Dioxin-Like Compounds in the Food Supply:  Strategies to Decrease Exposure”, in 2003.  The critical message of this report is that current levels of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds (DLC) in animal fat foods impose a significant health risk upon the general public.  Cancer and endocrine disruption disorders are dioxin-associated diseases of especial concern.  Policy recommendations are made in Chapter 7 of the IoM document.  The two “most promising leverage points for affecting DLC exposure from food” are:  (1) the animal production stage where DLC enter the food supply through forage crops and feeds and are subsequently recycled back through the system by practices such as the reuse of animal fats as ingredients in animal feeds; and (2) food consumption patterns, where consumption of foods with higher levels of animal fat, particularly by children, contributes to DLC exposure and life-long DLC body burdens.  With regard to the first leverage point, it is recommended that no more animal fat be utilized as an ingredient in the feeds of animals used for food production.  As an intervention on food consumption, the IoM’s expert panel recommends that an effort be made to educate girls and women of child-bearing age concerning the health protective value of decreasing the quantity of animal fat foods which they consume.

Cancer Action NY has published a book entitled “Cancer Prevention”, the second edition of which includes the Interagency Working Group on Dioxins paper referred to above, the Risk Characterization chapter from the US EPA’s dioxin reassessment and the executive summary of the Institute of Medicine report on dioxins in the food supply.  We are providing copies of this book to libraries and policy makers.  In an effort to obtain the cooperation of county health departments in bringing dioxin cancer risk factor information to the public we have conferred with the heads of health departments in the following counties:  Albany, St. Lawrence, and Clinton.  The Albany County and St. Lawrence County Public Health Departments are now in the process of including public education on the dioxin risk factor among the activities of their departments.  This is being done by way of their Community Health Assessment process.  Development of outreach materials and strategies will follow.

For further information:  Donald L. Hassig, Director, Cancer Action NY; canceractionny@yahoo.com; www.canceractionny.org




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