Main content

Toxic Bust

Breast cancer receives a great deal of attention in the U.S. An entire month is devoted to it; millions of dollars are raised for it. People run, walk, write and conduct research--all for the cause of breast cancer. Yet, despite these efforts, growing numbers of American women develop breast cancer each year and we still do not know why, or how best to prevent it. Most breast cancer funding and research has gone toward treatment, and finding the elusive cure. Far less emphasis has been given to prevention and discovering the causes of breast cancer.

TOXIC BUST, a thought-provoking and visually compelling documentary, uncovers the growing evidence which links breast cancer to chemical exposure.

The film follows a 40-something woman who finds a lump in her breast, but like the majority of women with breast cancer, she has none of the 'established' risk factors. As she questions what may have caused her cancer, the film focuses on three cancer 'hotspots' (Cape Cod MA, SF Bay Area, and hi-tech manufacturing workers) to more fully explore the connection between breast cancer and chemical exposure in the home, community and workplace.

TOXIC BUST also raises questions about the long term health costs associated with early childhood chemical exposure and highlights the disproportionate toxic burden carried by low-income communities and workers.

Interweaving fiction and documentary, hard science and personal testimony, TOXIC BUST challenges viewers to question how chemical use in the United States undermines the health of its citizens.

'In her ground-breaking film Toxic Bust Megan Siler makes a convincing argument that chemicals in the environment could be implicated in the increasing rates of breast cancer. Toxic Bust takes viewers on a virtual journey from the affluent coastal town of Cape Cod to the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area, and then to the high-tech world of Silicon Valley through the experience of women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. These disparate communities share one thing in common: they are home to the highest rates of breast cancer anywhere in the world.' The Milky Way

'Toxic Bust is recommended for libraries looking for an introduction to the topic and supporting college programs in health sciences, environmental toxicology and health, women's studies and science.' Lori Widzinski, Educational Media Reviews Online

'[Toxic Bust is] well produced and soundly researched, with highly knowledgeable experts offering commentary...a solid production...it resonates so deeply in the public psyche; it belongs in every public library.' Library Journal

'Beautifully filmed...Toxic Bust provides a sobering glimpse into the possible dangers of our seemingly innocuous lifestyle choices. Highly Recommended.' Video Librarian

'Toxic Bust could serve well in classrooms or in community groups to sparkle discussion, further study, and activism.' Feminist Collections

Citation

Main credits

Siler, Megan (film director)
Siler, Megan (film producer)
Siler, Megan (screenwriter)
Siler, Megan (editor of moving image work)
Siler, Megan (videographer)
Campanelli, Brooke (narrator)

Other credits

Editors, Shirley Gutierrez, Megan Siler; original score, Joshua Myers; videographers, Sophia Constantinou, Gary Mercer, Megan Siler.


Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

Activism
Air Pollution
American Studies
Anthropology
Environment
Environmental Justice
Genetics
Geography
Health
Pollution
Poverty
Social Psychology
Sociology
Toxic Chemicals

Keywords

breast cancer, toxic chemicals, cancer research, chemical exposure, cancer hotspots, Cape Cod, Bay Area, Hunter's Point, hi-tech manufacturing, health, health costs, early childhood exposure, toxic burden, low income communities; "Toxic Bust"; Bullfrog Films

(Text)

Toxicbust

Chemicals and Breast Cancer

Warning:

CONTAMINANTS

May Be Present

a film by

Megan Siler

 

WOMAN:  It could have started early in my life, long before I was aware of any dangers.   Back then I wondered what it would be like to have breasts.  Now I wonder what it will be like if I don’t. 

 

(Text)

Every 3 minutes a woman is

diagnosed with breast cancer.

 

WOMAN:  Breasts, that’s all I heard all my life was, ‘Oh, where did you get those big breasts from?’  ‘Breasts.’ ‘Breasts.’  ‘Breasts.’  ‘Breasts.’  And then I get breast cancer.

 

WOMAN: The kind of cancer that I got that the age that I got, part of me feels that maybe the environment had a little more to do with it than I thought.

 

WOMAN:  My mom always said, ‘What you don’t know won’t hurt you.’  Now I know that’s not really true.

 

WOMAN:  You just don’t wake up one morning and have breast cancer.  It’s over a period of time.  Right?

 

WOMAN:  I shouldn’t have been going through this.  I shouldn’t have been diagnosed with this disease.  It just never made sense.

 

(Text)

Since 1960 the breast cancer

rate has almost tripled.

 

WOMAN:  Why?  Why?  You know, they tell you don’t question, but you do.

 

(Text)

1 in 7 American Women will develop

breast cancer in her lifetime.

 

WOMAN:  I never thought about my breasts, but I think about them all the time now.

 

(Text)

TOXICbust

Chemicals and Breast Cancer

 

WOMAN:  Fourteen shots later, they found two micro calcifications were…

 

WOMAN:  Oh, two.

 

WOMAN:   And she felt lumps in my breasts…

 

WOMAN:  And I felt a lump…

 

WOMAN:  A little knot on the side of my breast…

 

WOMAN:  They said it was a spot.

 

WOMAN:  They said it could be like a little tumor.

 

WOMAN:  This little lump grew significantly.

 

WOMAN:  I didn’t smoke.  I didn’t drink.  I ate healthy. 

 

WOMAN:  I did my self-examinations.  I did my mammograms. 

 

WOMAN:  Looking at the risk factors, none of them really matched up to me.

 

WOMAN:  Why do I have to endure this?  I mean, I’m healthy.  I take care of myself.  I’m… you know, I’m full of life.  I’m 21-years-old.   This makes no sense.

 

WOMAN:  I was doing all the things that they tell you that you should do, and then they tell you that you have breast cancer. 

 

WOMAN:  I wasn’t sure if it was cancer or not.  You feel something, and you don’t ever want to believe that’s what it is. 

 

WOMAN:  Whatever it was, I just wanted it gone.  It didn’t make sense.  No one in my family had cancer. 

 

(Text)

Less than 10% of breast

cancer cases are hereditary.

 

WOMAN:  In fact, I don’t have any of the risk factors. 

(Text)

60% of women with breast cancer to not

have any of the established risk factors.

 

So what else could be causing it?

 

GINA SOLOMON, MD, MPH:  Breast cancer is one of a small group of cancers that has been steadily rising.  The main explanation, it’s most likely environmental.   There’s a lot of research now indicating that a woman’s lifetime exposure to estrogen may be one of the key factors predisposing her to breast cancer. 

 

(Text)

Gina Solomon, MD, MPH

Natural Resources Defense Council

 

Estrogen can come from inside, because, of course, women make their own estrogen.  Estrogens also can come from outside, either from drugs that we take, or from chemicals in our environment that mimic estrogen. 

 

(Text)

(Warnings)

 

JULIA BRODY, PH.D.:  When is comes to estrogenic compounds from many sources, including pesticides, detergents, plastics, cosmetics, we know that natural estrogen affects breast cancer risks. 

 

(Text)

Julia Brody, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Silent Spring Institute

 

What about these synthetic estrogens in consumer products that we use all the time?

 

WOMAN:  We know that there are toxic chemicals that can initiate a cancer.  We also know that there are toxic chemicals that promote a cancer that has already started, and there are chemicals that can overwhelm the immune system that normally would stop the growth of those cells.

 

Since the 1940’s, when there was such a boon in synthetic chemical manufacture, there has always been a boon in cancer. 

 

(Text)

Laboratory tests of chemicals found

common personal care products like

shampoo, toothpaste, perfume and

make-up, revealed that:

884 are toxic

218 cause reproductive

abnormalities

146 cause tumors

314 cause biological mutation

 

PHILIP J. LANDRIGAN, MD:  Certain chemicals in the environment absolutely can cause cancer.  We know about benzene having the potential to cause leukemia in children. 

 

(Text)

Philip J. Landrigan MD

Community and Preventative Medicine

Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, NY

 

We know that certain pesticides have the potential to cause cancer. And then around these few chemicals for whom a cause and effect relationship has been clearly established, there are many thousands of untested chemicals, whose potential to cause cancer can only be suspected.

 

I really think that the time has come to open a second front on the war on cancer, and the second front is going to require much more substantial investment in seeking the causes of cancer.

 

(text)

85,000 chemicals are in use today.

Less than 10% have been tested

for their effects on human health.

 

WOMAN:  I think we really don’t know yet what’s going to happen to women born after the introduction of the synthetic chemicals at the end of World War II.  Those women are just now in their 50’s, just coming into time of greater breast cancer risk.  And I think that is very worrisome. 

 

CHERYL OSIMO:  We would summer here on the Cape throughout my entire childhood.  In 1978, we bought a home in Hyannis Port, and we brought up our children there. 

 

(Text)

Cheryl Osimo

 

We had a very happy life and things were going along very well, and then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I think fear is the right word for what I was feeling, fear that I would die and leave my children.

 

There was no history of breast cancer in my family, and for the life of me, I could not figure out why I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I thought, ‘How could I have this disease?’  I’ve tried to eat all the right foods.  I’ve tried to exercise.  Obviously, the environment has to be playing an important role in my breast cancer.

 

(Text)

Cape Cod has a breast cancer

Rate 20% higher than the rest

of Massachusetts.

 

The Silent Spring Institute has

been researching links between

chemical exposure and breast

cancer incidence on Cape Cod.

 

(Text)

Julia Brody, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Silent Spring Institute

 

JULIA BRODY, PH.D.:  When you start with what we already know about breast cancer, most of the risk factors that have been identified are related to lifetime estrogen exposure.  So it’s a clearly urgent question to look at compounds from consumer products that can mimic estrogen.  But there’s also a question of, well, what is different about the Cape?  There are two things that emerged as possible keys.  One, the entire Cape was sprayed for gypsy moths twice.  There also are cranberry bogs and other agricultural lands and golf courses and wetlands that were sprayed repeatedly for mosquito control.  And the case geography intermixes these areas where pesticides were used with homes.  And it’s an area where there’s a history of wastewater contamination of drinking water.  To protect the marine sanctuary, wastes are all disposed on land, mostly in septic systems over the drinking water source.  So there’s a potential for what you use in your home to go down the drain, and from there out through groundwater and into drinking water.

 

WOMAN:  I used to think back to when my children would be playing in their sandbox in our backyard.  And I remember that a man would come periodically and he was dressed up from head to toe with this plastic gear.  And he would go behind my house, where there was this little pond, and he was spraying for mosquitoes.  I had no choice.  This was something that was being done in our town.  Those chemicals would of, of course, been going into my children’s sandbox, on the slides, on the swings that they played on, but I was completely ignorant.  I never thought about it then.  I only thought about it afterwards.

 

JULIA BRODY, PH.D.:  We have been concerned that when you look at chemicals one at a time, you don’t get a comprehensive picture of a women’s exposure.  If each of these chemicals is estrogenic, then what’s the estrogenic potential of a mixture of them together?  One of the surprising things we found is that there are many compounds in air that we really weren’t expecting.  That means we’re breathing them.  We’re finding flame retardants and dust.  So if they’re in dust then babies are ingesting them.

 

We found DDT in two-thirds of the homes that we sampled.  DDT was banned in 1972.  That’s more than 30 years ago.  So that really tells us that if we put a chemical into use, we may not have the option of changing our minds later.

 

(Text)

Cheryl Osimo

Cape Cod Coordinator

Silent Spring Institute

 

CHERYL OSIMO:  All chemicals, whether they’re coming from farmland or it’s draining into our water from the products we use in our homes, unless they’re proven safe, if we’re getting cancer from them.

 

WOMAN:  I see Cape Cod and the research study that Silent Spring is doing as a laboratory for the reset of the country.  Whatever we find will lend a hand in helping us figure out what’s causing elevated rates of breast cancer in other parts of the world.

 

WOMAN:  I moved to California because I thought it was cleaner here, a healthier way of life.  But now it seems like so many people I know are getting cancer.  Is it something about living here in the Bay Area?

 

(Text)

The breast cancer rate in

Marin County and in the city

of San Francisco is 20% higher

than in the rest of the nation.

 

ANDREA FOX:  When I was diagnosed I was aware that Marin had one of the highest rates. 

 

(Text)

Andrea Fox

 

I was born in Long Island, which also has one of the highest rates, and I spent many, many summers in Cape Cod, which also has one of the highest rates.  And so it was like if you could look at yourself, and, you know, the three worst places I’ve seemed to have been there.

 

WOMAN:  What I’ve decided is it really is an environmental issue.

 

WOMAN:  We know that women with higher income and higher education have higher breast cancer risks, but we know that money and education don’t cause breast cancer.  Having your kids later does increase breast cancer risk, but does not adequately explain the association we see between income and education and breast cancer.

 

One thing that we examined is the question of whether there might be patterns in exposure to chemicals.  Women in higher breast cancer risk neighborhoods needs more dry cleaning.  There may be other products as well.  It may be that lawn chemicals or certain types of cleaning products or cosmetics are used differently by different groups.

 

(Text)

Women of color generally have

lower rates of breast cancer

than white women.

 

But in communities with heavy

chemical exposure their rates

are often higher, and they

develop it at an earlier age.

 

WOMAN:  I know that Bayview Hunters Point has the highest amount of breast cancer in the United States.

 

WOMAN:  People would say, ‘Oh, yeah.  You know, this whole family all died of cancer.’  ‘Ms. So-and-so and her mother and her daughter all had it.’  Everyone over there has the sickness. 

 

WOMAN:  On one block that I know in Hunters Point, nine people have died of cancer.

 

KAREN PIERCE:  Bayview Hunters Point remains the poorest neighborhood in San Francisco with the highest rates of numerous illnesses.

 

(Text)

Karen Pierce

Bayview Hunters Point Health and

Environmental Assessment Task Force

 

The Health Department learned that the rate of breast cancer in women under 40 in Bayview Hunters Point was about twice the rate that was expected.

 

Community members feel that all of this illness, especially the breast cancer is directly related to the shipyard, the toxins that were left behind, and the fact that Bayview Hunters Point has 37% of all of the toxic-producing industries located inside the city.

 

(Text)

Gail Bishop

 

GAIL BISHOP:  I was 42-years-old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

 

(Text)

Hunters Point Naval Shipyard

environmental cleanup site

 

GAIL BISHOP:  I wanted to know why.  But I really believed that a lot of it could be environmental because they’re just dumping everything over in their community.

 

KAREN PIERCE:  We have diesel trucks going through the neighborhood constantly, day and night.  And we live with the City’s sewage plant.  There’s also PG&E’s oldest operating power plant, with another power plant that’s right across the creek

 

MARGIE CHERRY:  Bayview Hunters Point is loaded with toxins. 

 

(Text)

Margie Cherry

Imani Breast Center Support Group

 

At the end of the shipyard gate, they found barrels of toxic chemicals and the chemicals had begun to erode through the barrels that buckled the top.  And they said 2,000-some years before the land would be clear enough to be contaminant-free.  Who’s going to live that long?

 

SHARON GREEN-PEACE:  Here in the village, which is the complex that I live in is right above the shipyard. 

 

(Text)

Sharon Green-Peace

 

I knew that the shipyard was contaminated to a certain degree, but I also knew that the shipyard was closed, so I didn’t think anything else about it until after the breast cancer.

 

(Text)

In 1989, Hunters Point Naval Shipyard

was declared a federal Superfund

hazardous waste site.

 

KAREN PIERCE:  During and after World War II, the Navy towed the ships that had been exposed to radiation back to Hunters Point, stripped down the parts that were contaminated, and cleaned them up.  So all that scraping went into the Bay, flew around, got into the soils, got dumped into the landfill spots, and left. 

 

(Text)

The National Radiological

Defense Laboratory

 

A year ago, the Navy finally admitted that the National Radiological Defense Laboratory was located on that site, and that they had conducted radiological research, including human subject research on the shipyard and never did any cleanup.  They also did research on animals, and the carcasses were dumped into the landfill and directly into the Bay.  You have to understand that people were living right there across the street from some of the laboratories.

 

(Text)

Radiation is an established

environmental cause of

breast cancer.

 

(Text)

Hunters Point Naval Shipyard

environmental cleanup site

 

WOMAN:  They told us that they was not going to be able to clean Hunters Point up, because they don’t know what’s buried in the ground in the first place.  And we breathing that stuff.  The kids are outside playing in that stuff. 

 

I’ve been in that community all my life, but I would not want to live in an area like Bayview Hunters Point anymore.  I don’t want a reoccurrence.  You know, and I believe that if I went back there I would probably get a reoccurrence, so I want to stay away.

 

SHARON GREEN-PEACE:  Knowing what I know now I probably never would have bought the house in Hunters Point, because of the shipyard being there.  You know, maybe I took a chance with, with my life, just trying to get a bargain.  And now I figure my life wasn’t work a bargain.

 

KAREN PIERCE:  We are sitting where the majority of the toxins are stored, are manufactured in this city, but we’re all exposed.  Everyday it’s being disperse throughout the city and throughout the whole area, and it’s just a matter of time before other people get the same level of exposure.  Places like Bayview Hunters Point really are canaries in the coal mines.

 

WOMAN:  Okay, the radiologist is looking at them now.  So… but don’t panic.

 

WOMAN:  Right.  I felt like a defendant waiting for my sentence.  But what was my crime?  Was it how I grew up? 

 

I was raised in the Great Lakes Region, not far from Detroit.  Back then, we swam in the lakes all the time.  Everyone did.  But then they put the signs up about the swimming.  When I was 12, we moved to a new suburb on the edge of a farming community.  There were lots of lawns, lawns and driveways.  My parents thought it was idyllic. 

 

Fortunately, there was this really cool creek nearby where we kids used to get into trouble.  I remember the frogs.  We used to see who could find the deformed ones.  I never really thought about it then.  Sometimes we would visit my uncle’s apple farm.   During the harvest, he’d let us kids help out, sorting the good fruit from the bad, which is kind of how I feel right now.  He sprayed the orchards all the time, and I remember how the smell of it stuck to you for days.

 

GINA SOLOMON, MD, MPH:  Someone applies a pesticide. 

 

(Text)

Gina Solomon, MD, MPH

Natural Resources Defense Council

 

We often would think about what residues might end up on the food that they are spraying, but that’s one little piece of the problem.  Those chemicals accumulate in the food chain.  Humans eat fish and meat, dairy products, all of which contain the combined lifetime exposure to toxic chemicals from all of those animals that we eat.  And then the levels concentrate even further once they get into our bodies and once they get into our breast milk.  Unfortunately, the highest doses are going to the most vulnerable individuals.

 

(Text)

Over 200 synthetic chemicals have

been found in women’s breast milk.

 

PHILIP J. LANDRIGAN MD:  There’s no questions that carcinogens can reach the fetus and result in the occurrence of cancer. 

 

(Text)

Philip J. Landrigan MD

Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, NY

 

What happens is they go across the placenta, they get into the baby, they cause mutations in the baby’s cells, and eventually the cancer occurs.

 

GINA SOLOMON, MD, MPH:  What we’re learning about breast cancer is that it probably starts very early in life.  Any exposures during fetal development and infancy are proportionately greater on a pound for pound basis than they are for an adult.   That fetus may be predisposed to diseases such as breast cancer, but may not appear right away, but, in fact, may be triggered by exposures later in life.

 

PHILIP J. LANDRIGAN MD:  Everyday we and our children are being exposed to thousands of chemicals whose potential to cause cancer and whose potential to cause other toxic effects has simply never been tested.  What we’re doing really is we’re conducting a vast toxocologic experiment, and it’s our children and it’s our children’s children who are the experimental subjects.

 

(Text)

Children of workers exposed to

the organic solvents used in

hi-tech manufacturing have been

found to have elevated rates of

birth defects.

 

Workers exposed to these

solvents have also been

found to have elevated rates

of breast cancer.

 

ARMIDA MESA:  I worked for IBM for 24 years. 

 

(Text)

Armida Mesa

 

Back then, with a high school diploma, the money I was making was great.  I mean… and you just feel proud to be part of… part of a big company like that.  I totally trusted that they would never put anything on the floor that would be of any harm to us.

 

AMANDA HAWES:  Semiconductor manufacturing and all of this high tech production in what are called clean rooms because they are carefully designed to keep particles off the product.  That does not have anything to do with whether it’s a safe place to work if you a human being living and breathing. 

 

(Text)

Amanda Hawes

Plaintiffs’ Attorney

Worker lawsuit against IBM

 

So it’s this real disconnect between it being clean, cleaner than a hospital, if you’re talking about particles, but absolutely not a safe place to work.

 

ARMIDA MESA:  Twenty-four years you learn to do a lot of different operations.  We were washing wafers, and we would soak then in methylene chloride, and then Freon, and alcohol.  You didn’t have very good ventilation, so you were always breathing these chemicals.  I also used gycol, epoxy, coolant—these chemicals were every day for 20-some years.

 

(Text)

Robert Harrison, MD, MPH

Clinical Professor, Occupational Health

University of California, SF

 

ROBERT HARRISON MD, MPH:  We know that the longer someone is exposure to chemicals, the greater is their risk of eventually developing cancer.  Organic solvents, in particular, are very well absorbed the body, and they are likely to affect brain cells, breast tissue, the cells of the bone marrow that form various elements of the blood.

 

AMANDA HAWES:  If you’re a manufacturer of a product, you have an obligation before you put it on the market top test it, and to inform the person who is likely to come in contact with it everything they need to do and everything they need to know so they can use the product without being injured.  These didn’t do those things. 

 

(Text)

MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET

 

Common Name:

ZA 5214-E PHOTORESIST

 

Potential Health Effects:

 

NO HAZARD IN NORMAL INDUSTRIAL USE

 

The information comes with these chemical mixtures, would leave you with the impression that you don’t have to worry about the headache, and that is not as bad as it gets.

 

ARMIDA MESA:  I had a lot of sinus infections. I developed thyroid problems.  I had developed breast cancer.  I had just turned 40 when I found out I had it.  I felt the lump, and I wasn’t sure if it was cancer or not.  I was a little scary.  You just… you know, you don’t know if you’re going to live or die, so, it’s, it’s like, oh… People were getting sick that I had known at IBM.  And then two women that I worked with side-by-side had breast cancer.  That’s when you start wondering if there’s any connection. 

 

I joined the lawsuit because I’m pretty sure that the chemicals that I worked with had something to do with my illness.

 

(Text)

San Jose Mercury News

 

IBM, EX-EMPLOYEES GO TO COURT

OVER CANCER CLUSTER

 

By Rachel Conrad

…families allege that IBM knowingly exposed workers

to cancer-causing chemicals in its semiconductor factories,

and lied to them about the health risks.

 

(Text)

San Jose Mercury News

 

DOCTOR LINKS CANCER CASES TO IBM PLANT

 

By Elise Ackerman

 

California’s top occupational health doctor told a jury

Tuesday that exposure to workplace chemicals caused

Two former IBM workers to develop cancer.

 

(Text)

San Francisco Chronicle

 

IBM Suite Cites Database of Death

 

Plaintiffs say workers exposed

To cancer risk

 

Benjamin Pimenthal

Chronicle Staff Writer

 

 

(Text)

San Francisco Chronicle

 

The Valley’s Toxic History

 

IBM trial is latest round in long

Dispute over the tech industry’s

Environmental record

 

Benjamin Pimenthal

Chronicle Staff Writer

 

 

MAN:  Historically, industry has exerted a lot of pressure on our government to make sure that chemicals can be used without having to show that they’re safe for workers.  For workers, we wait until there is harm.  We wait until there are health effects that can be documented. 

 

In the case of IBM, there was a large database that began to show patterns of unusual death due to breast cancer, brain cancer, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as early as 1975.  It’s my belief that those companies have the responsibility to take action 20-, 30 years ago, at the point where we began to think that these chemicals may be causing harm to humans.

 

AMANDA HAWES:  What was so devastating to them about working in the so-called clean industry is the habits weren’t obvious.   They were told, ‘There’s no way that what you do is a problem for your health.  This is a clean industry.  Everything is checked out.  Trust us.’  And that’s exactly what they did, and here’s what they’re facing.

 

ARMIDA MESA:  I had a lot of trust in IBM and I would never think that a big company like that would put us at risk.  We were so proud to be IBM-er’s.

 

And you get angry, because like I say, you give totally to this company, and then to think that they have something to do with, you know, with your illness, it’s, it’s hard.

 

WOMAN:  I know what cancer looks like.  I went through it with one of my closest friends, but I never thought I might be next.

 

WOMAN:  There’s a before and there’s an after.  After is never going to be the same. 

 

WOMAN:  You never know if it’s going to come back and get you.

 

WOMAN:  Every time you get an ache or pain you always wonder, ‘Oh, have I got it back?’ 

 

WOMAN:  I’m living and breathing, but they can’t give me a guarantee.

 

WOMAN:  Breast cancer never leaves you, and that is the cruelest thing about this disease.  You are not cured from breast cancer.

 

(Text)

Conventional cancer treatment

generates close to $100 billion

in revenues annually.

 

 

(Text)

Less than 3% of federal

research funds go toward

investigating environmental

links to breast cancer.

 

JULIA BRODY, PH.D.:  The cancer research system has been conservative.

 

(Text)

Julia Brody, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Silent Spring Institute

 

They’re looking to fund studies where they know there’s going to be a payoff, and perhaps in a new treatment of chemotherapy that will also be a marketable product.

 

WOMAN:  There are chemical companies and pharmaceutical companies, that are making billions of dollars, and no one is going to get rich on doing environmental research.  In fact, people seem to lose money.

 

WOMAN:  Everything looked to different to me.

 

WOMAN:  I’m more conscious about things around me.  If you put toxic things in, then what do you expect to get out.

 

WOMAN:  And they don’t talk a lot about prevention.

 

WOMAN:  I don’t know.  I don’t know what you do.

 

WOMAN:  I had to do something.

 

WOMAN:  We are not always purchasing products that are safe.  I started a whole new approach to my life.

 

WOMAN:  I use natural things to clean house. 

 

WOMAN:  I won’t use pesticides around my home.

 

WOMAN:  It makes you more aware of what’s on the label.

 

GINA SOLOMON, MD, MPH:   When we cut the use of pesticides, for example, by buying organic foods, we’re not only protecting ourselves in our own homes, but we’re also protecting our water, we’re protecting the schools near the farmland, we’re protecting the farm workers and their families. 

 

(Text)

Gina Solomon, MD, MPH

Natural Resources Defense Council

 

So we can make a huge difference by doing one very small action in our day to day shopping life.

 

WOMAN:  There are some things individuals can do to reduce their exposures.   For example, you can microwave in glass and ceramics instead of plastics.  You can take your cleaning to a cleaner who doesn’t use perk.

 

I do think, though, that most of the exposure can’t really be solved one woman at a time.  When you go to the grocery story and you don’t have the time or the knowledge to read the ingredient list; many of the products aren’t even labeled to tell you what chemicals are in them.

 

(Text)

(Precautionary labels)

 

PHILIP LANDRIGAN, MD:  I’m suspicious about many chemicals, but suspicions are not enough. 

 

(Text)

Philip Landrigan, MD

Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, NY

 

What we need to do is proper toxocologic testing that establishes the potential of chemicals to cause cancer, and that’s what’s not been done—first, because it’s expensive, and, secondly, because the law has been too weak.

 

(Text)

Robert Harrison, MD, MPH

Occupational Health, UCSF

 

ROBERT HARRISON, MD, MPH:  The United States industry, as a whole, needs to move towards what the Europeans are looking at, which is to apply what we call the precautionary principle to chemicals.  It would require chemical companies to show proof that their chemicals are safe before they can be used.

 

(Text)

The New York Times

 

Europe Proposes Overhaul

Of Chemical Industry

 

By Paul Mueller

 

The European Commission on Wednesday announced

plans for a sweeping overhaul of Europe’s chemical

industry that it said would weed out health risks in

everything from carpets to laundry detergents.

 

 

(Text)

Los Angeles Times

 

Europe’s Rules Forcing

U.S. Firms to Clean Up

 

Unwilling to Surrender Sales, Companies

Struggle to Meet the EU’s Tough Stand on Toxics

 

By Marla Case

Times Staff Writer

 

WOMAN:  DDT, PCB’s and many of the organic [?] pesticides were banned.  And we are seeing decrease in levels of these levels in our breast milk, in our breast fat today.  What we need to do is look at the chemicals that we are choosing to use, figure out how to reduce those uses across the board to protect our entire community, and our entire country, and the planet.

 

GAIL BISHOP:  I have a concern about my daughters because the rate of breast cancer that’s rising in the African-American community and the mortality is high, and they are getting younger. 

 

(Text)

Gail Bishop

 

So they need to find out why and correct it, and stop it because it could be stopped.

 

CHERYL OSIMO:  I never thought that cancer would become a part of my life.  I felt angry, and I think I still am a little angry. 

 

(Text)

Cheryl Osimo

 

But I do think that this time in my life that I’m able to transform my anger into positive energy, and that’s what keeps me going.

 

WOMAN:  My daughter asked me if the bird that lost that could still fly.  I said, ‘Yes, sometimes birds just lose their feathers.’  Then she said, ‘Mommy, can birds get breast cancer.’  I told her about my diagnosis that morning. She’s trying to understand.  Then she asked, ‘What about me?  Can I get it?’  I wanted to scream out, ‘No, absolutely not.’  Like my mother, I think what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.  But now I know that’s not really true. 

 

She released the feather back to the sea.  She hoped that the bird would find it.  We hoped the bird would be okay.

 

 

(END CREDITS )

 

(Text)

In appreciation of the women

Interviewed for Toxic Bust

 

 

Andrea Fox  1967-2002

 

Gail Bishop

 

Margie Cherrie

 

Sharon Green-Peace

 

Tania Katan

 

Armida Mesa

 

Cheryl Osimo

 

Roni Peskin-Metzer

 

 

(Text)

 

In appreciation of the women

Interviewed for Toxic Bust

 

Rhoda Charles

 

Cindy Croft

 

Michele Furley

 

Wanda Green

 

Mary Holbrook

 

The Imani Breast Cancer

Support Group

 

 

(Text)

 

Director, Producer, Writer

 

MEGAN SILER

 

 

(Text)

 

Editors

 

SHIRLEY GUTIERREZ

 

MEGAN SILER

Related Films

Tapped

An unflinching examination of the big business of bottled water.

Cracking Cancer

A clinical research trial at the Personalized OncoGenomics Program is…

Death By Design

Investigates the underbelly of the international electronics industry…