The Democratic Process in Operation

Nancy Hepp, MS
Research and Communications Specialist

Pacific International Terminals has proposed building a deep-water marine terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County on Puget Sound. The proposed Gateway Pacific Terminal would handle import and export of up to 54 million dry metric tons per year of bulk commodities, mostly coal for export. The US Army Corps of Engineers, the Washington Department of Ecology and Whatcom County (collectively referred to as the Co-Lead Agencies) are preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) and recently concluded a series of seven meetings throughout Washington State to gather public comments on the scope of the EIS. More than 9,000 people attended these meetings. I was one of them.

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Moving into a New Decade of Science and Civility with Your Support

Elise Miller, MEd
CHE Director

Rereading CHE’s e-newsletter introductions published over this past year in recognition of CHE’s 10th anniversary, I am reminded how fortunate we are to work with such an array of truly remarkable leaders—leaders, like you, who are providing the critical thinking and unwavering commitment we need to move towards a healthier, more just and sustainable world. From the first piece in January 2012 by Philip Lee, MD, Former United States Assistant Secretary of Health and CHE’s Chair, to last month’s artful essay by Pam Miller, Executive Director of the Alaska Coalition Against Toxics and coordinator of CHE-Alaska, each introduction (2012 CHE newsletters) highlighted a different sector where CHE partners play a significant role in shaping environmental health research and policy.

Diabetes/obesity, healthy aging, reproductive health, and breast cancer are among the areas in which we’ve been most active. CHE has also been able to drive critical thinking on the emerging health science related to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and cumulative impacts. Another major thrust of our work this past year has been finding ways to articulate a complexity model for understanding how cumulative stressors—meaning not only chemicals, but other factors including the built, food, natural, socioeconomic and psychosocial environments—can result in a range of diseases and disabilities. In addition, our Environmental Health Primary Prevention trainings have educated a new cadre of professionals working in the areas of breast cancer, reproductive health and healthy aging about environmental health science who are now integrating this newfound knowledge in their respective sectors.

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BPA Exposures in the Human Fetus

Ted Schettler, MD, MPH
Science Director

Nahar MS, Liao C, Kannan K, Dolinoy DC. (2012), Fetal liver bisphenol A concentrations and biotransformation gene expression reveal variable exposure and altered capacity for metabolism in humans. Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology. doi: 10.1002/jbt.21459

This recently published study shows that the developing fetus is generally exposed to much higher levels of free (unconjugated) BPA than to conjugated BPA. In 78% of the samples, the ratio of free to conjugated BPA was greater than one with a mean of 6.91. (the authors undertook a number of efforts to avoid sample contamination, as described in their paper).

Previous studies have shown free BPA in amniotic fluid.

This adds to the growing evidence that the fetus is regularly exposed to free (active) BPA; that the chemical is not rapidly inactivated and excreted as in adults. Efforts to control BPA exposure in infants and children do nothing to protect the fetus…The fetus can only be protected by reducing/eliminating exposures in adults.

Animal studies show that fetal and perinatal exposures to BPA alter the development of the mammary gland and prostate, making them more likely to develop cancer later in life. Over 93% of Americans have measureable levels of BPA/BPA metabolites in their urine….i.e. exposures are ubiquitous. Based on the animal data, we continue to expose virtually the entire human population to a chemical that increases the risk of breast and prostate cancer. When will this stop?