PSR-LA’s 2010 Membership Dinner marked the 30th Anniversary our local chapter’s success in advocacy and movement-building for peace and health.

(Left to right: Denise Duffield, Ana Mascarenas, Dr. Shirah Vollner, Dr. Jose Quiroga, Martha Dina Arguello, Senator Fran Pavley, Dr. Ira Helfand, Dr. Nancy Gibbs, Dr. Jimmy Hara, Dr. Margaret Wacker

Held at UCLA’s Faculty Club on March 27, special guest speakers Senator Fran Pavley and Dr. Ira Helfand truly embody what it means to “walk the talk” for public health. Their expertise spans issues that PSR-LA was founded on and continues to organize around — from nuclear weapons and energy, to climate change and toxic chemicals.

A room full of physicians, health advocates, peace activists, academics, and community leaders listened with rapt attention during Dr. Helfand’s address. He described in meticulous detail how life and the planet would be affected in the event of a limited nuclear exchange anywhere on the globe. From lack of medical care to long-term disruption of food availability leading to mass disease exposure and starvation, the consequences of such an event are sometimes too difficult to imagine – but we must.

Special guest speakers Senator Fran Pavley and Dr. Ira Helfand.

Dr. Helfand’s mission to spread this awareness and motivate his fellow physicians into prevention advocacy are the trademark of a PSR member. His continued leadership on the PSR National Board and speaking engagements across the country have helped keep the doctor’s voice in nuclear prevention policy debates. Dr. Helfand is an internist and emergency physician who practices in Springfield, Massachusetts. He reminded us: “These bombs are not some force of nature. We built them and we can take them apart.”

Dr. Helfand’s most recent study, An Assessment of the Extent of Projected Global Famine Resulting From Limited, Regional Nuclear War, was presented at the Royal Society of Medicine, London in 2007. He has also published studies on the medical consequences of war in the New England Journal of Medicine, and the British Medical Journal, and has lectured widely in the United States, and in India, China, Russia, and throughout Europe.

California State Senator Fran Pavley has a reputation nationwide for standing up to well-resourced and profit-driven industries that ask  health and environment to take  a backseat. She represents Senate District 23 including portions of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties in the California Legislature. Her landmark legislation on global warming has become a model for other states and countries to follow. Fourteen other states have modeled their own laws after AB 1493 (Clean Car Regulations), now known as the “Pavley” law. With the “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006″ (AB 32), Senator Pavley authored a groundbreaking approach to cap greenhouse gas emissions emitted from California.

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Pavley has been a steadfast champion to ensure the implementation of SB 990, which will ensure that the Santa Susana Field Laboratory is cleaned up to the highest possible environmental standards. Upon entering the Senate in 2008, Senator Pavley rolled up her sleeves and took the chemical industry head-on. PSR-LA a co-sponsor of one of her bills, SB 797, which seeks to prevent children’s exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical, Bisphenol-A (BPA).

As Senator Pavley addressed the membership dinner audience, she shared her intense focus on keeping our public health and environment policy priorities on the right track. Keep an eye out for PSR-LA action alerts related to toxic chemicals and clearing up our air — Senator Pavley is the driving force behind so much of the health protective policy that gains momentum in our state’s Capitol.

It was evening of inspiration to act, catch up on emerging science, and an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the local and international policies that keep us advocating for social responsibility. PSR-LA has a 30-year history of building a movement for public health, and many years to come with continued generations of leadership.