Our Health, Our Future – PSR-LA’s 30th Anniversary

Throughout the past thirty years, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles has been recognized as a leader in promoting a healthier, more peaceful world. The coming year holds great opportunities to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, support clean energy and a non-toxic economy, expand health care, and build a more just and sustainable future.

However, arrayed against us are well-funded lobbyists representing industries that stand to gain from stopping our efforts. PSR-LA is poised to take strategic advantage of these opportunities and build upon our 30 year legacy of success. We have an incredible team that is deeply committed to creating a safer healthier world. In order to fully realize our goals and defeat entrenched interests, we are seeking $300,000 in unrestricted funds to continue the invaluable work of PSR-LA. We are counting on your donation to help us make the powerful voice of doctors an instrument of progressive change in 2010.

Statement of Need

Peace and Security

Jimmy Hara, MD and the UN’s Arin Ghosh at the 64th Commemoration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Los Angeles.

2010 will be one for the history books in nuclear weapons policy. PSR-LA must increase our efforts to make sure the next chapter is about creating a safer, healthier, nuclear weapons free world, with physicians and health professionals leading advocacy from a public health standpoint. Early in 2010, the successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) which limits the nuclear arsenals of the US and Russia, the START “Follow on agreement”, will require Senate ratification. Later in the year, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) will go before the Senate for ratification. Approval of a new START agreement and CTBT could tremendously bolster the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which will have its 5 year review conference in May 2010. The NPT itself is at a critical juncture, and it is imperative that the treaty be fortified to fulfill its purpose and map the way to verifiable global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Toxic Chemicals and Health

August 19 at St. John's Well Child & Family Center, a local Pico Union resident says, "Baby Bottles Shouldn't Be Toxic"

Our chemical management system is broken. It doesn’t ensure that the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the products we use every day are safe for our health and the environment. We have a unique opportunity to make policy change, using a precautionary approach, and PSR-LA is leading efforts at both the national and state level to fix this system. In 2008, the California governor signed two bills into law that create a framework for the Green Chemistry Initiative. PSR-LA is making sure these laws are implemented, which means we’ve been holding the line against the powerful chemical industry that only tries to weaken regulations that protect public health. This initiative could start California on a path towards comprehensive reform that reduces and eliminates hazardous chemicals in products and the environment – but we need your support to make sure the trusted voices of physicians and health advocates are heard above the chemical industry opposition.  In 2010, the first set of regulations will be issued, and PSR-LA will be at the forefront to ensure that highly hazardous chemicals are removed from products and our environment, and that health is protected over profits.

Climate Change and the New Green Economy

PSR-LA joins Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy at a rally on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento – united for a toxic-free future and safe products for all.

Many important environmental health debates will come to fore next year, and PSR-LA is an excellent position to play a decisive role in protecting Californian’s health from dangerous chemicals. In 2004, more than 400,000 California workers and children were diagnosed with preventable and often deadly chronic diseases, such as cancer, emphysema and asthma linked to chemical exposures in the workplace, home and school. In the greater Los Angeles area alone, 1.2 million people live less than two miles from a hazardous waste facility. Despite routine exposure to these chemicals, less than 10% of the estimated 80,000 chemicals currently on the market have undergone even minimal screening for their potential to cause health impacts to humans — prior to being sold. Physicians and health professionals can powerfully bring home the message that these chemicals gravely impact health and must be removed from our products and environment.

2010 will also present new opportunities for PSR-LA to provide innovative solutions in climate change, building a green economy that protects public healthy. Climate change has tThe potential to cause widespread injuries and death related to natural disasters, heat-related illnesses, pest and water borne diseases, malnutrition, and air and water pollution will affect people across the country and around the globe. Children, the poor, and the elderly, and anyone with a weak or impaired immune system are the most vulnerable to climate change’s destruction. Over the coming year, PSR-LA will use our unique position as a public health advocate to frame climate change as a public health crisis that must be addressed through regulatory approacheswith rapid reduction in carbon and other air pollutants, and policies that prompt private sector investment and innovation in the new green energy economy. PSR-LA will produce a policy brief outline how we can promote the growth of the green jobs sectors such as sustainable agriculture and support entrepreneurial efforts to deliver safer less toxic products. This policy brief will serves as a rallying point as we work with or environmental justice allies to promote green pathways out of poverty that also protect the health of communities.

Programs for 2010

Physicians on Call — Preventing the Proliferation and Use of Nuclear Weapons

Dr. Jose Quiroga, PSR-LA Board of Directors

President Obama expressed a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, held promising negotiations with the Russians, and introduced an historic resolution on nuclear disarmament that was unanimously passed by the U.N. Security Council. However , we know that the realization of these efforts will encounter staunch resistance in Washington, and efforts to ratify the CTBT or the START Follow-on Agreement will not be easy. More than any other time in recent history, PSR-LA has the opportunity to make a difference in US nuclear policy by educating and organizing health professionals to advocate for progressive disarmament.

It is imperative that public health be brought into the debate. Too often, discussions of nuclear weapons become mired in ideology, deterrence theory, and reliability of verification technology. What’s lost in these important discussions is the primary motivator for taking action – preventing the incredible devastation of life and the planet that just one nuclear bomb could wreak.

In order to amplify our message, PSR-LA must step up our efforts to educate and organize health professionals and our membership so they can be “on call” when important debates take place in Congress and in the media. Our goal is to expand our successful Ambassador program that provides issue and skills training to health professionals so that they can be deployed intobe effective educators and leaders in promoting prevention. a voice and an educator at hospital grand rounds, medical associations, and community organizations to make it clear that when it comes to public health and nuclear weapons, prevention is indeed the only cure. In addition, to illustrate the horrific and long-lasting effects of nuclear weapons, PSR-LA and Schecter Films Inc. will co-produce “Dr. James Yamazaki and the Children of the Atomic Bomb.” Dr. Yamazaki’s first-hand account as the lead physician in Nagasaki studying the health of atomic bomb survivors presents powerful evidence of a past we must not repeat. The film will bring his message to health professionals, and especially young people, whose dreams and aspirations depend on a nuclear free world.

Changing How Toxic Chemicals are Produced, Used, and Regulated

“My community has the right to BPA-free products.” Pico Union mothers and children gather to support SB 797, promoting toxic-free products for their community and prioritizing the health of children.

While the passage of the 2008 Green Chemistry Initiative may be seen as a great step forward in how chemicals are regulated, its long and arduous process of implementation has meant delaying action on highly toxic chemicals. That’s why PSR-LA and our allies are championing legislation that improves implementation and takes immediate action on known harmful chemicals, such as bisphenol-A (BPA).

One bill that puts health first is SB 797 (Pavley) The Toxin-Free Toddlers and Babies Act, which protects children from exposure to bisphenol-A (BPA). Largely because of our successful advocacy efforts in April, SB 797 passed the Senate on June 2, 2009, but the bill is ultimately held until 2010. This year, we must cross the finish line and make sure that safe BPA-free products are available to all communities. his toxic chemical is banned.

PSR-LA will also be working to develop effective green chemistry regulations and address budget cuts in health and human services that will disproportionally impact the lives of low-income Californians. Much of the difficulty in fixing the broken chemicals system lies in the well-funded opposition: the Chemical industry lobbyists and their company scientists who and persuasive lobbyistproclaim their products are safe, despite overwhelming evidence that indicates harm to human healthdenying the harm of their products. . To combat the industry’s media scare tactics, This year, PSR-LA is teaming up with Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE) to produce Behind the Scenes – Pulling Back the Curtain on Bad Actor Chemicals and their LobbyistsAgents, a – report andsocial media and direct advocacy campaign with accompanying print materials that media campaign that will engage members and allies in a campaign to eliminatinge identify 10 of the worst chemicals used in products in California.and track the worst chemicals, how much the industry behind them spends on lobbyists and who supports represent them.

PSR-LA is also preventing home pesticide poisonings, which harm local children and families everyday. By partnering with community groups to eradicate slum housing conditions, we are addressing the root of the problem as well as teaching local clinicians how to recognize and report pesticide poisonings. We’ve built strong alliances with tenants’ rights groups and landlords, and provided training on how building maintenance practices can reduce highly toxic pesticides exposures in homes, protecting most often low-income communities of color. In 2010, PSR-LA is laying the groundwork for a campaign that requires pesticides-free practices, protecting the health and well-being of the most vulnerable, in buildings throughout Los Angeles and California.
In addition, with the necessary funding, PSR-LA will continue our well-established and effective work with tenants’ rights groups to ensure to protect families’ health from exposure to lead, pesticides and other toxic threats in homes.

Climate Change and Creating a Healthy Green Economy

Working for solutions to climate change, a sustainable economy, and green pathways out of poverty. Photo credit: Hillary Birch Vanaria.

PSR-LA is using its position as a public health advocate to frame climate change as a public health crisis that must be addressed through regulatory approaches that prompt private sector investment and innovation in the new green economy. Our partners in the climate change debate include the Los Angeles Apollo Alliance on which PSR-LA serves as a steering committee member. PSR-LA’s role in the Alliance is to insert the public health voice in their campaign to promote clean energy and sustainable jobs for low-income communities in Los Angeles. PSR-LA is also a member of the Air Resources Board Environmental Justice Advisory Committee on Climate Change and the Public Health Work Group as members of these committees we provide expertise on climate and health, community health issues and equity issues.

This coming year, PSR-LA will kick start our climate change work with abuild upon our successful project entitled, efforts to bring together environmental groups with public health, labor, economic development, and social justice advocates to promote reduction in use and exposure to toxic chemicals. This project, entitled Public Health and Green Jobs, demonstrating how a green job can also improve an individual’s, and a community’s, health. PSR-LA will highlight innovative programs and businesses that have successfullywill combine PSR-LA’s work on pesticides and toxic policy reform with our emerging work to address climate change and promote a healthy and sustainable economy. brought low risk products to underserved communities while reducing exposure to toxic chemicals and increasing jobs. This project will help us educate, organize, and mobilize as we work with our allies to promote green pathways out of poverty, and protect the health of our communities.

We will convene advocates and experts from the fields of sustainable agriculture, economic development, food security, and chemical policy reform. In addition, we will produce a policy document that identifies why we need to expand the definition of green jobs and highlight innovative programs and small businesses that have successfully brought low risk products to underserved communities, reduced exposure to toxic chemicals and increased jobs. This policy brief will be an organizing and educational tool for informing policymakers, funders and community based organizations about the need to integrate the issue of public health with economic development strategies.

30th Anniversary Campaign Founding Donors

  • Daniel Alvy
  • Judd Apatow
  • Neal Baer, M.D.
  • Patricia Brenn-Cogen, M.D.
  • Laura Fox, M.D. and J.D. Hofbauer, M.D.
  • Jimmy Hara, M.D. and Diane Hara
  • Nancy Gibbs, M.D.
  • Quinton James, M.D.
  • Suzy Marks
  • Beth Meltzer, Ph.D. and David Meltzer, M.D.
  • William Perkins, M.D. and Bohdana Kallmunzer Perkins
  • Stephen Read, M.D.
  • Jose Quiroga M.D.
  • Stanley and Betty Sheinbaum
  • Brenda Thomasson
  • Robert C. Wesley, Jr., MD