Berkeley, CA "Stop Cancer Where It Starts"

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Berkeley, CA, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 10/10/00

Vote: Unanimous

Source File:


Resolution No. 60,797-N.S.
Establishing October As “Stop Cancer Where It Starts” Month

WHEREAS, traditional “cancer awareness” campaigns focus on early detection and cure, and exclude the issue of real prevention;

WHEREAS, detection methods, such as mammography, can only find cancers that already exist, and thus have no impact on the rising numbers of people developing cancer; and

WHEREAS, aside from smoking, little to no attention is given to the possible causes of cancer; and

WHEREAS, knowing the causes and eliminating them is the only way to “Stop Cancer Where it Starts;” and

WHEREAS, childhood cancer rates have increased by about 1 percent per year from 1974 to 1991, rates for certain brain tumors, sarcomas, and germ cell tumors increased an average of 2 percent or more per year; and

WHEREAS, breast cancer continues to rise by over one percent annually, and the rates of this disease in the San Francisco Bay Area are among the highest in the world; and

WHEREAS, only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are hereditary and result from mutations, or alterations, in breast cancer susceptibility genes; and

WHEREAS, testicular cancer has risen by more than 5.5 percent per year over the last 60 years; and

WHEREAS, the incidence of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma is increasing at a rate of 3-4 percent per year and from 1940 through the 1980's, multiple myeloma has been increasing at a rate of 4 percent among white men and women; studies also show a five-fold increased risk of multiple myeloma among farmworkers; and

WHEREAS, bioaccumulative and persistent chemicals, some with environmental half-lives of decades or longer, continue to be released into California waters, soils, air, and sediments where they are expected to persist for many years to come; many of these chemicals, such as mercury, cadmium, dioxins, dibenzofurans, and organochlorine pesticides, are known to cause birth defects, reproductive harm, or cancer; and

WHEREAS, pesticide use increased from 153 to 215 million pounds in the period from 1991 to 1998, with particularly steep increases in use of pesticides which are carcinogens (126.6% increase) and reproductive toxicants (20.4%) and pesticides have been linked to numerous health problems in humans including cancers such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, brain tumors, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and childhood cancers; and

WHEREAS, in June, 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classified dioxin as a known human carcinogen, and chlorine products such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or vinyl plastic, when combusted, produce dioxins; and

WHEREAS, the City of Oakland, the City of Berkeley, and the City of San Francisco passed resolutions in 1999, declaring their intentions to reduce dioxin levels to zero, and finding that elimination of the production of dioxin is the only viable course in protecting public health; and

WHEREAS, in 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency added dioxin pollution in the San Francisco Bay as the highest priority pollutant under California's Clean Water Act; and

WHEREAS, thousands of California drinking water sources are contaminated with pesticides, fertilizers, petroleum products, and industrial chemicals. Air pollution remains a major source of health problems in California and levels of diesel exhaust pollution in California urban areas are predicted to result in a lifetime excess cancer risk of nearly one in 2000; and

WHEREAS, low income people and people of color are at greatest risk from environmental hazards. Studies, including in Alameda County and in Berkeley, have shown that communities of color are more likely to be close to industrial and commercial areas where hazardous materials are used and released to the environment; and

WHEREAS, health and environmental policies, as well as industrial and other business practices, should be guided by the Precautionary Principle: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not established with absolute scientific certainty. In this context, the proponent of an activity or substance, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof of harmlessness; and

WHEREAS, cancers cannot generally be “cured” but can potentially be prevented by eliminating the industrial emission of dioxins and other toxic agents into the air, soil and water; and

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley declares the month of October as “Stop Cancer Where It Starts Month”, in order to bring awareness not only of the incidence of and possible cures for cancer, but also of the environmental links to cancer.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley encourage industries located in the Bay Area to contribute to the health of its workers and all residents by implementing ways to attain the desired level of zero toxic emissions.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the goal of the City of Berkeley is to eliminate the use of PVC in new construction or renovation projects by requiring each project to avoid PVC to the maximum extent possible.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley shall develop a Healthy Building ordinance establishing clear criteria for what constitutes a “Healthy Building” in which to live and work, for example elimination of PVC and formaldehyde, among others.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley shall develop or obtain fact sheets on the links between cancer and carcinogenic chemicals, including dioxins and pesticides, and their alternatives, and distribute them to all clinics, hospitals, nurseries, and hardware, houseware, and grocery stores and other businesses or agencies in the City of Berkeley.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley commits to continued and active participation in the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) taskforce on dioxin pollution prevention.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley resolves to eliminate the use of pesticides in City parks, buildings, medians, and other City land or property, and to rely on non-toxic alternatives.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley resolves to replace City vehicles that run on “dirty” diesel with cleaner fuel.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley, commits to purchase totally chlorine-free (TCF) paper products when they are available from domestic, unionized sources.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley shall develop an ordinance to eliminate PVC medical products, among other hazardous products, wherever possible, with safer alternatives as a condition of hospital operations, and to direct staff to return with a timeline for drafting the ordinance.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that in order to stand as a model for other public entities and private businesses, the City of Berkeley shall promote any of its bans of hazardous chemicals or products—for example, posting at City park “You have entered a pesticide-free zone;” posting in city building: “You have entered a PVC-free zone”.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley resolves to provide all nurseries, hardware and houseware stores, and grocery stores, with information on alternatives to pesticides, and request a written pledge to train staff on the issue of potential links between cancer and pesticides and alternatives to dangerous pesticides; to make the information readily available to their customers; and, to make alternative products available for purchase.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Berkeley resolves to work with other public facilities and institutions located in Berkeley, and promote banning pesticides and using safer alternative products and methods.