Toxics and Health
Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility (Chesapeake PSR) works to protect people and the environment from toxic pollutants in Maryland.
Toxic pollution causes - or is suspected to cause - cancer, birth defects, reproductive issues and other serious illnesses. Toxic air pollutants in Maryland may cause neurological, reproductive, developmental and respiratory illnesses. Exposure to certain toxic pollutants can even cause death. Children are more vulnerable to the harmful effects of toxins because their brains, nervous systems and organs are still developing.
Chesapeake PSR actively supports the following efforts to minimize the health effects of toxic pollutants in Maryland:
- Efforts to improve current policies and programs for medical and environmental interventions in Maryland and Baltimore with respect to children with elevated blood lead levels. We also work to identify information, data and knowledge gaps in current surveillance and intervention efforts.
- Efforts to minimize toxic air pollution from Maryland's coal-fired power plants and to stop the waste-to-energy incinerators from being built in Maryland. Chesapeake PSR's Gwen DuBois, MD, was an important health voice in a coalition that successfully stopped the building of the Curtis Bay, Baltimore incinerator. Chesapeake PSR does this work jointly with our climate change and energy program.
- Passage of a Healthy Lawn Care law in Montgomery County, Maryland. The aim of this law, which passed in 2015, is to halt the use of synthetic lawn care pesticides, therefore reducing exposure to chemicals that may cause cancers and other health ailments including endocrine disruption and asthma.
- Passage of the Maryland Pollinator Protection Act that would establish labeling requirements for any seed, plant material or nursery stock that uses the neonicotinoids pesticide and limit the sale of these pesticides to professionally qualified applicants. Neonicotinoids affect an exposed insect's nervous system, causing paralysis and death. The act passed the 2016 Maryland General Assembly session. Read Chesapeake PSR's testimony.
Chesapeake PSR and other groups filed an amicus brief in support of a 2015 landmark Montgomery County, Maryland law that restricts the use of toxic pesticides on public and private land.
Attacking and suppressing science is becoming the norm in the U.S., whether it's Scott Pruitt's EPA refusing to ban chlorpyrifos or USDA dropping a plan to test food for glyphosate. It falls on all of us to protect science.
Reducing lead levels in children is a major issue in Maryland. Blood lead levels remain particularly acute in Baltimore City. The consequences of not addressing blood lead levels will remain with us for generations. Here is an update on legislation under consideration, and why lead matters.
Lead in lipstick is still allowed in the US. The FDA recently released a draft guidance on allowable parts per million for lead in cosmetics. Kim Egan of Chesapeake PSR's advisory group writes about why there is no safe level of lead exposure for humans.
A lawsuit seeks to overturn Montgomery County, Maryland's Healthy Lawns Act. Chesapeake PSR is part of a coalition to retain the law's restrictions on certain non-essential toxic pesticides.
Antibiotics resistance is a global - and avoidable - problem. Doctors and health professionals have a role to play in reducing overuse of antibiotics in agriculture.
Oil trains in Baltimore pose a risk to health and safety. A proposed bill requires the city to assess risks of and responses to oil train accidents. A Baltimore City Council public hearing is November 1 at 10 a.m.
Neonicotinoids have been shown in studies to kill bees and reduce sperm counts in male bees. Chesapeake PSR supports reducing use of neonics in Maryland. Please sign this petition asking Ace Hardware and others to stop selling plants treated with neonicotinoid pesticides.
The pesticide atrazine likely harms most species of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, the U.S. EPA recently concluded. Atrazine is also known to harm human health. Leading up to the 2017 legislative session, Chesapeake PSR will work with experts to better understand the extent of the problem in Maryland, and to consider possible legislative responses.
The Pollinator Protector Act becomes law in Maryland, limiting the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. We owe our appreciation to many groups, including the Maryland Pesticide Network, the beekeepers of Maryland, and the Maryland General Assembly.