Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi and 20 Other Members of Congress Urge Release of Data to Help California Officials Address Environmental Health Threats

October 24, 2002

WASHINGTON - House Democratic Whip Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and 19 other California Democrats today released a letter they have sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging the release of California-specific data on exposure to harmful environmental chemicals.

The letter asks the CDC to release California-specific data from its 2001 National Exposure Report, which sampled blood from more than 3,800 Americans to measure their exposure to 27 environmental pollutants, such as lead, mercury, and cotinine (a byproduct of secondhand smoke).

Although the California data represents a statistically significant sample on its own, the CDC has thus far refused to provide that information to the state. The study found that all subjects tested had measurable levels of harmful toxins, including women of childbearing age.

"Exposure data is a critical tool for determining when and where chronic diseases occur, and the role of environmental pollutants in cancer, birth defects, asthma, and other adverse health outcomes," said Pelosi. "The information from this report would help California’s health officials target resources and develop effective public health interventions.

"In the Bay Area, for example, we saw breast cancer rates in Marin County increase a shocking 60 percent over the past decade. We must understand what could be causing such a dramatic rise, especially when three out of four women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of cancer or other known risk factors. For these women, environmental factors may be the link to their cancer."

As a senior Member of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Pelosi has secured significant funding increases for the CDC’s Environmental Health Lab. These increases have been used to produce the information in the National Exposure Report. The CDC’s next National Exposure Report is due out in December 2002 and will provide comparative data to the 2001 report -- making access to the California data even more relevant.

Download A PDF Copy of the Letter


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