Can making a package make you sick?
Posted by Lisa McTigue Pierce, Executive Editor -- Packaging Digest, 11/19/2012 6:50:25 AM
This Canadian study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health, included more than 1,000 women with breast cancer, age-matched with a control group from the same communities in southern Ontario, a manufacturing-rich area that, among other pursuits, supplies parts to the nearby U.S. auto industry.
Women who worked for 10 years in jobs classified as highly exposed to cancer-causing substances and endocrine disrupting chemicals—including in the automotive, agricultural, plastics, canning, and the casino, bar and racetrack sectors—had elevated breast cancer risk. The risk factor was especially high-five times higher than in the control—for pre-menopausal women working in the automotive plastics and food-canning sectors. Canning industry exposures could include pesticide residues and exposures specific to canning processes involving coating emissions, likely to include BPA.
Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., president/CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, made the following statement about the study:
"This study is a remarkable contribution to our understanding of breast cancer risk. It is one of the very few occupational breast cancer studies to date that enrolled enough women to ensure statistical significance and to be able to come to robust conclusions. Studies such as this are vitally important in highlighting the risks that exposures to these chemicals pose to workers and the population in general.
"This study demonstrates what the Breast Cancer Fund has been saying for years. We are all exposed to a cocktail of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors every day that puts us at greater risk for breast cancer, and we need to prioritize and invest in preventing exposures to these toxic chemicals.
"No one should have to face a cancer diagnosis because of the work they do. These workers are the canaries in the coal mines—we need to heed the warning of this study and take measures to protect them and all of us from toxic chemical exposures.
"This study provides sufficient evidence that plastics and canning workers who come into daily contact with a range of potential carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds face serious health risks. We urgently need to enforce existing laws and overhaul our broken chemicals policy system so that workers and all of us are protected."
The Breast Cancer Fund works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease.
Source: The Breast Cancer Fund
The following statement is from the American Chemistry Council:
"Our members support strong enforcement of the standards and laws that protect worker health and safety as we continue to produce materials that enable healthier and more efficient lives, including the plastics that make today’s automobiles safer and more fuel efficient than ever before.
“It is concerning that the authors could be over-interpreting their results and unnecessarily alarm workers. This study included no data showing if there was actual chemical exposure, from what chemicals, at what levels, and over what period of time in any particular workplace. Although this is an important area of research, these findings are inconsistent with other research. This study should not be used to draw any conclusions about the cause of cancer patterns in workers.”
• The study only demonstrates statistical associations. And, the study only examines occupations, not exposures to any agents or substances. Since there is no actual determination of exposures to such substances, no documentation of their presence in the workplace of study subjects and no basis to conclude that exposures to such substances are any different for cases rather than controls.
• Although this is a worthy and important area of research, it is inappropriate to use such research as the basis for speculation about causes of patterns of cancer rates among occupations without any information of substance about whether there are actual exposures, to what actual substances and how big they might be.
• As listed by the American Cancer Society, the well-established risk factors for breast cancer are not chemical exposures, but rather a combination of lifestyle and genetic factors. These include: gender, aging, genetic risk factors, family history of breast cancer, personal history of breast cancer, race and ethnicity, dense breast tissue, menstrual periods, previous chest radiation, Diethylstilbestrol exposure, having children, birth control, hormone therapy after menopause, breastfeeding, alcohol, being overweight or obese and physical activity. Under a separate heading, “Factors with uncertain, controversial or unproven effect on breast cancer risk” the National Cancer Institute lists “chemicals in the environment;” adding that “research does not show a clear link between breast cancer risk and exposure to these substances.” This study did not account for the majority of these risk factors, meaning that any of them could be responsible for any particular case's cancer, rather than an occupational exposure.
• The potential carcinogenic properties of chemicals, and the ability of some agents to affect the endocrine system, are all subjects of intense research and testing. Most evidence is mixed and does not indicate any clear breast-cancer causing agents that would operate in humans at exposure levels that they experience in the environment or workplace.
Kathryn St. John on behalf of ACC - 2012-19-11 17:20:29 EST
No related content found.