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New Toxics Legislation Could Reduce Breast Cancer Rates

A statement by Nancy Buermeyer, Senior Policy Strategist, Breast Cancer Fund

For Immediate Release: April 10, 2013
Contact: Margie Kelly, 541-222-9699, or Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246,

We thank Senators Frank Lautenberg and Kirsten Gillibrand for introducing the Safe Chemicals Act, legislation that will repair the nation’s broken chemical management system and protect families from diseases like breast cancer that are linked to toxic chemical exposure.

Breast cancer kills 40,000 women in the United States every year. We know we can save lives if we reduce our exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, and that’s exactly what Senator Lautenberg’s bill will do. Passing this bill is just plan common sense. What senator could disagree?

Apparently, Senator David Vitter disagrees. Last year, when the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 was gaining momentum in Congress, Vitter pledged to write his own bill on chemical regulations. Now, Vitter is expected to introduce a competing bill that promises to be less about protecting people from toxic chemicals and more about protecting the chemical industry from regulation. Based on reports of who Vitter has been meeting with—Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, the American Chemistry Council—and who he's not—no health or environmental groups, to our knowledge—this bill promises to be the "Pro-Chemical Industry Act."

By blocking new standards to make chemicals safer, Vitter is ignoring growing scientific consensus on links between toxic chemicals and cancer, as well as failing to serve his women constituents’ needs: Louisiana reportedly has the third highest death rate from breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In February, a federal advisory committee concluded that identifying and eliminating environmental causes of breast cancer, such as cancer-causing chemicals found in everyday products, was the best opportunity to reduce incidence of the disease.

In addition, the committee endorsed key elements of the Safe Chemicals Act, including establishing safety standards that protect human health, requiring safety reviews of new chemicals by manufacturers, and taking action on chemicals known or found to be toxic.

It’s well past time for meaningful chemical policy reform, and the Safe Chemicals Act will get us there. We’re urging senators to steer clear of Vitter's bad bill and instead support Lautenberg's Safe Chemicals Act.


The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals linked to the disease.

• Breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in her lifetime.
• Most breast cancers occur in people with no family history, meaning environmental factors play a significant role in the causation of the disease.
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, the second leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer in the United States, and the leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide.
• Black women experience the highest death rates from breast cancer despite lower incidence rates than white women.
• Breast cancer incidence rates in Asia and Africa have increased dramatically in recent years.