BCA Policy Corner

By Alicia Harris, BCA Program Associate

Recently, Breast Cancer Action increased efforts to exert a positive influence on policy in the Bay Area, the state of California, and the United States at large. As part of our mission to bring about change to end the breast cancer epidemic, we’re focusing on policy that will help to create healthy environments by reducing involuntary exposures to toxic chemicals. Members of the BCA staff participated in training and are taking new roles on existing coalitions to increase our capacity for this work.

To enhance my policy work at BCA, this fall I applied to and was accepted by the Women’s Policy Institute, a yearlong program sponsored by the Women’s Foundation of California. As a member of the Environmental Justice team, I’ll work to create a bill and conduct advocacy to pass it through the California legislature. To facilitate this process, I’ll participate in four weeklong trainings to build public policy knowledge.

Kim Irish, a Women’s Policy Institute alumna, is currently participating in a similar program, Reach the Decision Makers, that focuses on policy engagement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. More information is available here.

On behalf of BCA, Kim joined the steering committee of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, a coalition of which BCA has been a member for several years. BCA recently testified before the Public Safety Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to support a local ordinance created by the Nail Salon Collaborative. The San Francisco Nail Salon Recognition Ordinance, which was passed with a unanimous vote, recognizes salon owners who stop using dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, and toluene. These chemicals, commonly found in nail polish, have been linked to cancer, birth defects, respiratory harm, and other health problems. In California, those most exposed to the “toxic trio” are women from Vietnamese immigrant communities. We hope that the passage of the San Francisco ordinance will provide a precedent that will positively affect the lives of many women across the United States.

Most recently, BCA has signed on to letters related to a Green Chemistry Initiative in California. This initiative was introduced to identify ways to reduce the impact of toxic chemicals on the environment and human health. Click here for more information.

Despite two years of additional comments from environmental health advocates, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control released a proposal for the initiative that may weaken controls on chemical companies, allowing them to continue manufacturing unsafe products that may endanger our health. BCA signed on to a letter asking California Governor Schwarzenegger to withdraw the flawed proposal. In a huge win, the Department of Toxic Substances Control decided not to move forward with its revisions at the end of December.  We’ll continue to update members on this legislation and on all our current campaigns via Facebook and Twitter so stay tuned.  We’ve a busy year ahead on the environmental front but it’s your active support and involvement that keeps us moving forward.

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