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HOME PESTICIDE USE PLACES CHILDREN AT RISK OF ILLNESS
In Dallas, Texas, a review of 37 hospitalized pesticide poisonings among infants and children at the Children's Medical Center revealed five cases were due to pesticide exposure from playing on carpets and floors of homes following spraying or fogging inside residences. (Zwiener, 1988) :
Six of 21 children admitted to Arkansas Children's Hospital for organophosphate poisoning were judged to have been exposed following insecticide spraying inside the home. (Fenske, 1990)
Parental use of pesticides both in the home and in the garden may increase the risk of childhood leukemia as much as seven-fold. (Lowengart, 1987)
CALIFORNIA CHILD CANCER CLUSTERSBIRTH DEFECTS RAISE CONCERN
• In the agricultural community of McFarland, California
(population 6,400), ten cases of cancer in children under 20 were observed from 1975 to 1985 when three cases would have been expected. From 1982 to 1985, when one case would have been expected, eight were observed. (Kern County Health Department,
In Earlimart, California (population 4,414), five cases of childhood cancer were observed from 1986 to 1989 when only 0.4 cases would have been expected based on the National Cancer Institute SEER (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results) data for Hispanics. All of the parents of these children are farmworkers and the mothers of four of the children worked in the grape vineyards during their pregnancy. (Moses, 1989)
Children born in areas with high pesticide use are twice as likely to be born with limb reduction defects than children born in areas of minimal pesticide use. (Schwartz, 1988)
Chairman MILLER. And Barbara, I recognize you for any statement that you may have. STATEMENT OF HON. BARBARA BOXER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA Mrs. BOXER. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I have just a couple of remarks to make.
First of all, I am so proud to be on your committee. And as you know, for the last couple of years, I chaired the Task Force on Health for the Budget Committee. We have had the opportunity to work together many times.
And I just want to say for the sake of the people who are here who do not know that much about the workings of Congress, that this committee-the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families—was founded only because of the gentleman sitting here, Mr. George Miller, who felt that children needed a voice in the Congress of the United States. And I want you to know that this committee is essentially committed to making sure that the problems of families and children are heard, all the time. That is their only focus, and their only purpose.
And being able to work with people like Pete Stark on Ways and Means, Mr. Miller has built coalitions in the Congress. And we have seen attention paid, for the first time, really, in the past few years, to the horrible trends we have seen in our society, such as children in poverty, children with AIDS, children of divorced parents, children with drug problems, the WIC program, the Head Start program. And given all the budget problems we have had, many children's initiatives have gone through the Congress, really in large part because of this committee and the leadership of George Miller.
So whenever I have a chance, I like to tell people about this committee, and the person who founded it. Because without it, we would not have a voice for children. I think that today's hearing is especially important because if we do not have healthy children, we do not have a future. And we are beginning to find out some horrible things.
I mean, this news that you alluded to, Mr. Chairman, on the second-hand smoke and the impact on kids. If parents do not imme diately stop smoking in front of their children, they are harming them. And we need to get this message out. The purpose of this hearing is very important.
I will have a constituent coming forward very briefly at some point to talk about an issue we are facing in Marin County. But I really want to thank you for the privilege of being on this committee, and being with you today.
Chairman MILLER. Barbara, thank you. Pete?
STATEMENT OF HON. PETE STARK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA Mr. STARK. Thank you, George. Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you and your select committee for holding these hearings. And thank you for letting me participate. Because the people of the Bay area that we represent are suffering from-right now
from all of the problems that I know your hearing today is going to illustrate to us in great detail.
I think it is important to remember that this is a political problem. Those of you, most of you in the audience, are professionals, and understand the technical aspects of what is happening. And Í will look forward to your explaining that to me. And I am inclined to believe you.
But unfortunately, I do not understand most of the technical jargon that you will use. But I do understand a little bit about politics. And there are two problems.
Less than two out of every hundred industries in California have any kind of monitoring system. That means 98 businesses using, doing nothing. Two may–1.4 is the figure.
Why? Two reasons. Business will not do the right thing unless you make them. All these Boards of Directors give a hoot about is profit.
Now, that is not so bad. That is why you elect them, those of you who are stockholders. But that means that Government has to make them do the right thing. We need laws. And that brings us to the second problem.
The Republicans have spent the last 12 years dismantling regulations, processes, and turning their back on the poor, and children, and helpless, and workers who have no control over their environment.
So one, we have got to control business. Two, we have got to get rid of the Republicans. And it was illustrated this morning so grandly by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. You could have heard him on, certainly on the networks and perhaps on national public radio where I heard him, telling me that the way to get better health by the end of this century, in effect, is to exercise? Stop smoking? Be careful with sex? And that ought to turn the country's health procedures around in the next decade.
I do not believe that, Dr. Sullivan. I really believe that the Federal Government has a stronger role than just preaching the litany of Jesse Helms and Charles Atlas. We really have to go to work. And it is under the leadership of people like Barbara and Chairman Miller that we will very specifically, and unfortunately dramatically and sadly, illustrate the need for Government to do something.
For example, I would like to go back next week and put a huge excise tax on all lead. Now, I know what is going to happen. The battery manufacturers and the film manufacturers, and whoever else uses lead, are going to say, “Oh, my goodness, our business will close."
We will say, “Okay, there will be a huge tax on lead. But if you monitor, and have a safe workplace, we will give you a rebate. And I will bet you we are going to find people, more than just two out of every hundred industries will start to do the right thing.
So I need your help. I am happy to be here today, to hear where the problems are. And then in a kind of heavy-handed and crude way that often I have been accused of, I am going to go back and see if, with George and Barbara's leadership, we can make these people-business and the Republicans-do the right thing.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman MILLER. Thank you. I also want to thank and recog. nize Supervisor Don Prado who came by earlier, who has been involved with both trying to secure funding, and efforts to deal with the lead problem.
Just a side note: I can remember standing on the side of a free way in Los Angeles at an elementary school in 1971 with George Mosconi, when we felt we were able to attack the lead problem, and draw attention to what was happening to children in schools, near freeways, and in other environments with heavy lead concentrations. And this was both a state effort and national effort.
It is kind of tragic that in 1990 we find that almost the same numbers of children are being exposed with some of the same problems. It just shows the diligence that is needed when we speak about the health of our children.
With that, let's welcome the first panel, which will be made up of Dana Hughes, who is a consultant for Children NOW, based here in Oakland. She will be accompanied by Jim Steyer, who is the President of Children NOW.
If you would come forward. Welcome to the committee. Your written statements will be placed in the record in their entirety. And you proceed in the manner in which you are most comfortable. We will ask you to summarize so there will be time for questions by the Members of the committee.
Jim, welcome; and Dana, welcome to you. PREPARED STATEMENT OF FORTNEY H. (PETE) STARK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS AND CHILDREN: EXPLORING THE RISKS Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend and thank you for holding this hearing which calls attention to a very important problem in our state and in the Bay Area which we represent. The state of California and its people have been leaders in the recognition of environmental hazards which are detrimental to health and safety. It is especially important to identify the risks to our children and to protect them from preventable diseases.
An article last week in the Washington Post indicated that there are at least 2500 California children under age 17 who have potentially toxic levels of lead in their blood because they live near factories that use lead or in homes with lead-based paint. Many other children are affected by parents who carry lead home on contaminated clothing from work in such places as battery manufacturing plants, radiator repair shops and ceramic plants. Unfortunately, unborn babies are thought to be particularly susceptible to lead poisoning when their mothers are exposed to lead fumes at work.
The sad part of this story is that we have known about lead poisoning and how to prevent it for many years. These children are being needlessly exposed and suffering a preventable disease. Why does lead remain such a problem, particularly here in California where people have been environmentally sensitive?
One reason is because lead is now recognized to cause problems at levels much lower than were previously thought dangerous. Although the OSHA standard has been very successful, we now know that it must be set lower to meet our new level of knowledge. A second reason is the lack of environmental and biological monitoring in businesses where we know a hazard exists. Only 1.4 percent of lead using industries in California have biological monitoring programs for their lead-exposed workers! And finally, the standard has been inadequately enforced, with many exceptions and variances given to industry.
There are many obvious remedies to some of these problems. New standards can be set, more monitoring can be required, more control technology and respirators can be used and people can be better educated. However, I would like to propose that non-essential uses for lead be identified and eliminated. It may be advanta
geous to impose an excise fee on lead produced in primary smelters and on all imported lead.
Again, let me thank Congressman Miller for holding these hearings, and be assured that I stand ready to take the necessary steps to prevent these needless hazards to our children.
STATEMENT OF JAMES STEYER, J.D., PRESIDENT OF CHILDREN
NOW, OAKLAND, CA Mr. STEYER. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. Children NOW is a California-based policy and advocacy organization for kids. We act as a strong and independent voice for children in the Legislature, in the media, in the community. We are delighted to have the opportunity to present testimony on environmental toxins and children.
Before I turn it over to the author of our report that we are releasing in conjunction with the hearing today, I would like to tell you briefly the reasons why Children NOW undertook this report.
First is that, at a time when there is growing concern here in California and around the country about environmental issues, we wanted to put the spotlight on the tremendous implications for children as children when we are talking about environmental problems. Far fewer people today understand that our actions have critical and immediate consequences to the health and safety of our planet's most vulnerable and least culpable inhabitants, and that is children.
We hope our report will help point some light on that.
Second, we pay particular attention to the needs of children who are poor, or at risk, and children of color. We feel that there is a tremendous need to place greater emphasis on the consequences of environmental hazards on children in low-income neighborhoods.
And finally, we hope that we can begin a growing collaboration between children's organizations such as Children NOW and environmental organizations, to see the ways in which we can work together in two fields that have tended to be separate, to focus growing attention on this problem.
We have done that both through our Board member, Dennis Hayes, who was the Chairperson of Earth Day, 1990. And also in the work of my colleague, Dana Hughes, who worked with environmental groups around the Bay area, and the country, to help put together our report which is entitled, “What's Gotten Into Our Children?"
And with that, I would like to turn it over to Dana Hughes, who is the principal author of the report.
Chairman MILLER. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF DANA HUGHES, M.P.H., M.S., CONSULTANT,
CHILDREN NOW, OAKLAND, CA Ms. HUGHES. I would like to spend my time presenting the highlights of this report for you. But I should preface it by saying that this was a report designed for the lay public and for policymakers. And it is a non-technical report, and we relied very heavily on the work of other people who have done the primary research. And we are grateful to their work.