Select Accomplishments From 29 Years of Service

  • PSR-LA jump-started the Los Angeles anti-nuclear peace movement in 1981 when we hosted the 3,000-strong symposium on the medical consequences of nuclear war.
  • PSR-LA was the first to convene delegations of American physicians in the early 1980’s to visit their counterparts in Russia and China.
  • PSR-LA was a leader in stopping the state’s proposed radioactive waste dump at Ward Valley, California – a few miles from the Colorado River.
  • PSR-LA broadened its public health mission to include environmental issues in 1989. Since then, PSR-LA has become widely recognized for our unique ability to provide science-based resources on air quality, pesticides, toxins, and environmental justice to diverse communities and organizations.
  • In 2000, PSR-LA’s Health Care Without Harm program convinced UCLA to go mercury-free. PSR-LA has worked with over thirty community clinics in Southern California, removing hundreds of pounds of toxic mercury from old blood pressure machines and thermometers and replacing them with new mercury-free equipment.
  • Working with the Los Angeles Safe Schools Coalition, PSR-LA passed one of the nation’s first integrated pest management and precautionary principle policies.
  • In 1994, PSR-LA began organizing UC-Irvine medical students to protest (and ultimately drive out of business) California’s Saturday Night Special hand-gun manufacturers. PSR-national subsequently launched a violence prevention program of its own.
  • PSR-LA has trained hundreds of physicians and medical students to identify and counsel those individuals most at risk of gun injury.

More Accomplishments By Year


  • “Californians Against Medical Torture,” a medical, legal, and human rights coalition that PSR-LA forms with allied groups, works with State Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas to successfully pass a resolution condemning medical professionals’ participation in torture.
  • PSR-LA helps achieve a monumental victory regarding the highly contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory (Rocketdyne). Working with Committee to Bridge the Gap, Sierra Club, and community members, PSR-LA helped secure legislation for Rocketydyne’s polluted soil and groundwater to be remediated to the strictest Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund standards with state oversight.
  • Public health groups, along with PSR-LA, prevail in a legal action against the EPA, securing a court order that mandates it move quickly to protect the public from carbon monoxide.
  • Therapist members of PSR-LA convene and form a special project of PSR-LA called “Therapists for Social Responsibility,” whose goal is to use therapists’ professional skills to further social justice. Members begin work with The Soldiers’ Project to provide support for returning veterans and their families. The Soldiers Project was founded by past PSR-LA Board member Dr. Judith Broder to provide free counseling services to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom veterans and their families.
  • PSR-LA becomes co-convener of the coalition, “Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy” (CHANGE) working with state-wide coalition members to develop a position paper on chemical policy reform.
  • PSR-LA hosts two Iranian physicians and a chemical weapons survivor as part of a national tour to highlight the human consequences of war and promote the need for new policies of engagement with Iran. Through lectures and discussion with the members of the medical community and the public, the doctors contrasted the consequences of war in comparison to the possibilities to achieve peace through diplomacy.
  • In collaboration with environmental justice advocates, PSR-LA issues a ground-breaking statement against pollution trading as a solution to climate change. PSR-LA is also invited by the CDC to participate in setting the agenda for addressing the health impacts of climate change on minority populations in the United States.
  • PSR-LA is instrumental in recruiting the first Green Shield certified pest control company in Los Angeles.
  • PSR-LA hires a membership coordinator to increase organizational capacity, train, and mobilize the next generation of physician advocates.
  • Academy of Television Arts & Science honors Law & Order Episode, “Hurt,” which was in part inspired by PSR-LA’s work with Californians Against Medical Torture, and galvanized many of the human rights groups working on torture issues.


  • PSR-LA successfully lobbies Congress to oppose the Bush administration’s new hydrogen bomb, the so-called reliable replacement warhead. PSR-LA also co-hosts a special briefing at the American Film Institute on the reliable replacement warhead with former Assistant Secretary of Defense Philip Coyle.
  • Hundreds of health educators, community leaders, and tenant organizers are trained by PSR-LA in the practice of integrated pest management.
  • PSR-LA, along with the Pesticide Action Network, serves as a consultant for “Loophole,” an episode of the crime drama “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” The episode focused on the controversial EPA practice of observational research and exposure to pesticides. The airing prompted an official response from the EPA, and screenings with hundreds of viewers took place.
  • The Healthy Homes Collaborative, housed at PSR-LA, trains hundreds of housing code enforcement inspectors on lead-safe practices; the program has reached over 8,000 high-risk low-income tenant and property-owners.
  • PSR-LA and HBO co-host a screening of the documentary by filmmaker Steven Okazaki, “White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” Includes film discussion with Okazaki and Shigeko Sasamori, Hiroshima survivor and Hiroshima maiden.


  • PSR-LA takes a leading role in the Asthma Coalition of Los Angeles County to develop the publication “Controlling Asthma in Los Angeles County: A Call to Action.”
  • Hundreds of activists and supporters attend PSR-LA hosted conference, “The Medical Consequences of War in Iraq: Health Challenges Beyond the Battlefield” at UCLA. The events address the devastating effects of war on Iraqi citizens, American troops, and their families.
  • In collaboration with 9/11 families, PSR-LA hosts a special event with author, Gore Vidal.
  • On the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, PSR-LA hosts a national conference on radiation and health at UCLA.
  • Shining a light on the region’s little-known military pollution, PSR-LA hosts the first-ever military toxin tour of Southern California. PSR-LA also commissioned and released a study on the military-toxin, trichloroethylene, which identified 114 contaminated sites in Los Angeles.
  • Working with Environmental Health Legislative Working Group and the LA Green Team, PSR-LA trains dozens of new policy advocates.
  • PSR-LA is part of the LAX coalition that won a $500 million community benefits agreement to protect low-income South Coast communities from air pollution.
  • In conjunction with the Green Schools coalition, PSR-LA helps win AB 315 to reduce toxic exposure at California’s schools.
  • PSR-LA coordinates the west coast leg of the Environmental Justice for All tour, an eight-day event which highlighted lack of environmental enforcement in low-income and communities of color.


  • Bearing the signatures of more than sixty physicians, PSR-LA petitions the California Medical Board seeking investigation of Guantánamo’s medical chief on accusations of physician complicity in torture.
  • PSR-LA serves on California Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice Advisory Board. Among the recommendations of this committee is the implementation of precautionary approaches and the development of working definitions of cumulative impacts.
  • As part of the “Mayors for Peace Campaign,” PSR-LA hosts an event at the Japanese American National Museum featuring Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba and Japan’s consul general.
  • PSR-LA organizes the first annual World Asthma Day event in LA County, drawing together hundreds of families, health professionals, environmental advocates, and young people to address the asthma epidemic in Los Angeles.
  • Los Angeles Unified School District engages PSR-LA to be a leader in their integrated pest management team, which helps to ensure the use of pest management practices with the lowest risk to children’s health at Los Angeles schools.
  • PSR-LA hosts a groundbreaking summit on the subject of chemical policy reform in California, bringing together environment, women’s health, and environmental justice advocates.


  • PSR-LA leads a statewide effort in publishing, “Recommendations for Improving California’s Public and Environmental Health.”
  • PSR-LA appointed as regional center for the leading statewide effort to reduce asthma.
  • “Degrees of Danger,” released – a PSR-LA report linking climate change with human health effects.
  • PSR-LA is a national leader in the cleanup of the rocket fuel contaminant, perchlorate—assisting researchers and releasing studies on perchlorate contamination in milk.
  • PSR-LA’s conference, L.A.’s Untold Media Stories: The Environmental and National Security Stories You Haven’t Heard About, May 8, successfully attracts both public and the press.


  • PSR-LA submits detailed critique of the Department of Defense’s environmental documents on ground-based interceptor missiles in Southern California.
  • PSR-LA plays a key role in the passage of a bill that bans two types of poly-brominated diphenyl ethers, PBDE’s, from consumer products. PBDE’s have been detected in Californians’ breast milk at levels that cause health effects in laboratory experiments.
  • PSR-LA directs a statewide program for community clinics on mercury pollution prevention and patient risk.
  • PSR-LA helps craft Cal/EPA’s Environmental Justice Guidelines, a first of its kind in the U.S.
  • PSR-LA provides leadership in the fight for Ahmanson Ranch, a 3,050-home development planned on contaminated land next to the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Pollution revelations sink a $2 billion project which is sold to State of California for $150 million. No park purchase in Ventura or Los Angeles counties has been larger in land area or expense.


  • PSR-LA takes a leading role in winning legislation that ends the state’s attempt to build a radioactive waste dump at Ward Valley. The act furthers ensures that all future waste dumps are built to the highest standards.
  • PSR-LA organizes the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” conference at UCLA.


  • PSR-LA is a founding member of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace and addresses the national trauma wrought by September 11.
  • PSR-LA teams with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce mercury and dioxin emissions in a City of Los Angeles program.


  • PSR-LA campaigns to win implementation of the “Healthy Schools Act,” which will give parents the right to know before toxic pesticides are used on school grounds.
  • PSR-LA plays a crucial role in uncovering contamination at the Aerojet-Chino Hills that was the target of housing development plans. The 800-acre lab, polluted with depleted uranium, perchlorate and unexploded ordnance, is now undergoing a cleanup costing over $46 million under the direction of Cal-EPA’s Department of Toxics Substances Control.


  • PSR-LA helps secure new pest-control policies at Los Angeles Unified School District, implementing a new integrated pest-management plan.


  • PSR-LA’s photographic exhibit, Atomic City: Los Angeles in the Nuclear Era, the first historical depiction of Los Angeles’s participation in nuclear affairs, is seen by thousands at the Los Angeles Central Library.
  • PSR-LA publishes the 160-page report, “Generations at Risk: How Environmental Toxins May Affect Reproductive Health in California.”


  • PSR-LA is selected as the flagship medical organization in the statewide coalition, Californians for Pesticide Reform C performing research, publishing studies, and advocating means to reduce exposure to the most toxic toxins.
  • Dr. Helen Caldicott gives grand rounds presentations at five southern California hospitals and medical schools.


  • PSR-LA’s technology-access project trains hundreds of LA activists and disadvantaged communities to enter the information age.
  • Hundreds of physicians are trained in grand rounds and continuing medical education (CME) courses to identify individuals at-risk of gun injury.


  • The Atomic Age Film Series runs for 19 weeks at Laemmle theaters and serves as the city’s chief remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the nuclear age.


  • PSR-LA’s “Cease Fire” conference on firearm violence attracts over 500 people.
  • PSR-LA successfully revokes the state’s license to operate a radioactive waste dump at Ward Valley.


  • PSR-LA and Committee to Bridge the Gap force the cleanup of nuclear pollution at Rockwell International’s Santa Susana facility.


  • PSR-LA organizes a major symposium on the environment at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium; 2800 attend.


  • PSR-LA organizes Los Angeles’ first widely attended symposium on global warming; 3000 jam into the Bonaventure Hotel.


  • Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, of which PSR is an affiliate. PSR-LA members attend the ceremony in Oslo, Norway.
  • PSR-LA is the first and only chapter to visit the People’s Republic of China and meet with dissident doctors and activists.


  • PSR-LA travels to the Soviet Union , the first chapter to do so, and meets with Soviet physicians.


  • PSR-LA produces the award-winning film, Race to Oblivion , starring Burt Lancaster.


  • PSR-LA’s symposium on nuclear war is attended by 3000 people, catalyzing L.A.’s anti-nuclear movement.