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New Bill To Track and Respond To Environmentally-Related Diseases
(Beyond Pesticides, October 13, 2004)
California House Democratic Leader, Nancy Pelosi was joined last Friday by fellow congress people in introducing the “Coordinated Environmental Health Network Act” - legislation to improve the public health system's response to environmental hazards, according to Pelosi’s office.

In explaining the purpose for the Act, Pelosi pointed to the numerous problems and associations with disease and exposure to environmental toxins from pesticides to industrial waste. “Environmental contaminants have been linked to births defects, developmental delays, and many chronic diseases,” she said. “We do not understand the long-term health effects of the vast majority of the approximately 80,000 chemicals that have been released into the environment over the past 50 years and the more than 7 billion pounds of chemicals that are released each year by industrial facilities in the U.S.”

According to Pelosi, the Act would improve infrastructure that enables local, state and federal public health agencies to monitor disease rates and environmental hazards by putting in place a new system to collect, analyze, and report data on the rate of disease and the presence of relevant environmental factors and exposures. Also proposed in the Act is the creation of an alert system that would notify officials when there is a sudden increase in any disease or condition, including those associated with a biological or chemical attack.

“Once fully operational, the network will coordinate national, state, and local efforts to inform communities, public health officials, researchers, and policymakers of potential environmental health risks, and to integrate this information with other parts of the public health system,” said Pelosi in an issued statement.

Joining Pelosi in support of the Act are House Representatives Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI). The Act is also supported by numerous public health and environmental organizations including the Trust for America's Health, American Public Health Association, Citizens for a Cleaner Environment, March of Dimes, American Lung Association, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, The Breast Cancer Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and many others.

TAKE ACTION: Use all or part of this Daily News article to contact your congressperson and ask him/her to support passage of the Bill to establish the Coordinated Environmental Health Network Act. For more information, see a Summary of the proposed Act, and a copy of the Bill.