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Opinion Piece Cites PHI Research on Harmful and Generational Effects of DDT on Health

An opinion piece from The Hill highlights critical and groundbreaking research from PHI’s Child Health and Development Studies program on the generational and harmful impact of DDT on women’s health. Congressman Ted Lieu (California’s 33rd District), is a co-author on the piece, and is using the research findings to call for federal efforts to investigate the impacts of DDT on wildlife and human health.

‘Under the sea, out of mind’ has turned into a ticking time bomb

From 1947 until 1961, one of the biggest environmental crimes of the past century was taking place right under our noses. Now, in 2022, this reckless action has proven to have major health implications — like cancer — not just for wildlife, but potentially for humans.

For nearly 15 years, Montrose Chemical Company was dumping barrels of DDT and acid sludge into the ocean just off the coast of Los Angeles near Santa Catalina Island.

Why is this concerning? Starting in the late 1970s, veterinarians and researchers from The Marine Mammal Center noticed a startling and unique occurrence of fatal reproductive cancer among sea lions stranded along the California coast. Cancer in marine mammals, like most wildlife mammals, is rare — one percent or less develop some type of cancer.

After decades of research, analysis of blubber samples, and the retrospective study of hundreds of cases and controls, the team and its colleagues discovered that this occurrence in California sea lions is tied in part to high burdens of toxic chemicals in the ocean, most notably DDT.

If that story doesn’t sound the warning bells, this should: UC Davis scientists, alongside the Public Health Institute in Oakland, revealed that the granddaughters of women exposed to DDT during pregnancy suffer from significant health threats. These health threats put these women at a greater risk of breast cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other cardiometabolic diseases.

We call on U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to use the authority of the FDA to work with the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to come up with a comprehensive plan to fully understand the effects that DDT in the ocean has on wildlife and human health, expedite the expansive cleanup needed to curb further issues and, most importantly, to stop this from ever happening again. We intend to bring together congressional members and state representatives, as well as critical nonprofit organizations working on the ocean’s frontlines, to support these critical initiatives.

Click below to read the full opinion piece from The Hill.  Read more about the DDT study from PHI.

Originally published by The Hill

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