According to U.S. PIRG, which advocates for the interest of the American consuming public, in 2020, a year in which the global community is focused on the highly-contagious coronavirus, an estimated 1.8 million people will receive a cancer diagnosis. And more than 600,000 people will have died from it. In light of these sobering statistics, US PIRG, in honor of February being National Cancer Prevention Month, offers the following changes which are necessary for greatly reducing the number of cancer diagnoses and deaths every year.
Although US PIRG acknowledges that scientists don’t yet fully understand all the root causes of cancer, it’s undeniable that many chemicals in consumer products and the environment directly cause cancer or are associated with an increased risk of developing it.
US PIRG’s vision for a cancer-free future includes:
Thoroughly Testing Chemicals
Chemicals should be thoroughly tested until they convincingly demonstrate to independent entities that they absolutely pose no risk (both short- and long-term) to human, animal and environmental health.
“The burden should be on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate that their product doesn’t cause cancer or other health impacts before millions of people are exposed, rather than on the victims who are suffering with cancer as a result of exposure,” writes US PIRG’s Gina Werdel.
Phase Out Toxic Chemicals
Certain chemicals are associated with a cancer risk. For example, phthalates in feminine hygiene products, cosmetics, toys, etc., as well as asbestos, fragrances and parabens. These health-harming chemicals should be removed from all U.S. products, suggests US PIRG.
Promote Safe Alternatives
Cleaner and safer alternatives to cancer-linked chemicals should be ubiquitous in the U.S. marketplace.
Right to Know
Consumers should be better informed by corporations from which they purchase products about the toxic ingredients they are exposed to. And rather than health policy heavily influenced by corporate interests, American consumers should have more of a role in decisions that affect public health.
Clean Up and Properly Dispose of Toxic Chemicals
Not only is it important to phase out toxic chemicals from consumer products, the food supply and environment, it’s also important to safely get rid of said harmful agents.
Companies that intentionally dump toxic chemicals into the environment should be held liable for all the costs associated with the harm from these cancer-causing materials. The fines should take into account the damage caused in both the past and present.
4 Steps To A Cancer-Free Future
US PIRG is calling on decision makers to take action to prevent cancer in the U.S. For each week of National Cancer Prevention Month, US PIRG offers a problem and solution:
Chemicals in Cosmetics
Women should be able to have faith that the creams, serums, lotions, etc. that they put on their faces and bodies every day will cause no harm. Unfortunately, cosmetics are laden with petrochemicals, several of which have been associated with cancer.
From asbestos in kids’ makeup, lead in lipstick and formaldehyde in baby shampoo, US PIRG (and other organizations, notably EWG) has identified several examples of toxic chemicals in everyday beauty products.
US PIRG references a petition that consumers can sign, asking cosmetics giant L’Oreal, to disclose all ingredients in their products, phase out toxic chemicals, and switch to safer alternatives. In addition, US PIRG, like EWG’s SKIN DEEP database, offers a safe cosmetics product guide.
Did you know one in six Americans lives within just three miles of a toxic waste site? Over 1,300 of these sites are listed by the EPA—an agency that has come under fire for not protecting the interests of consumer health— as national clean-up priorities.
US PIRG includes a link to tell your Congress members to support a Polluter Pays Tax to fund the cleanup of toxic waste sites.
US PIRG recommends that e-cigarettes be banned, as one in five high schoolers reported using vape/e-cigarettes last year.
One of the most controversial chemicals is glyphosate, which is the most widely-sprayed herbicide in the world. It’s also the main active ingredient in Monsanto’s line of Roundup weed and grass killers. More and more U.S. cities have phased out or are phasing out the chemical, which was classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Over 125,000 Roundup cancer lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto. People who have filed claims allege that Roundup caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Currently, the EPA is taking public comments as it reconsiders glyphosate’s as a registered pesticide. You can submit a comment to the agency here.