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Earthgauge Radio December 13 2012: Cancer in the workplace and the crisis of ocean acidification

December 13, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

This week on Earthgauge Radio, we’re talking about environmental health and ocean acidification. I have two interviews on the program today:

  • Dr. James Brophy, co-author of a groundbreaking new study demonstrating that women working in particular occupations have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, likely due to exposure to toxic chemicals and environmental pollutants
  • Dr. Robert Rangeley of the World Wildlife Fund of Canada who will explain why the rapid acidification of the word’s oceans threatens many forms of marine life and may even endanger the oceanic food chain

Click the audio player above to stream the show or right click here to download. Individual interviews with James Brophy and Robert Rangeley will be posted shortly.

Part 1 – Ocean acidification

The United Nations International Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar wrapped up last week. Although virtually ignored in the Canadian mainstream media, we covered it here on Earthgauge quite extensively but in the end, little was accomplished with no new commitments to cut CO2 emissions and no new funding being committed. Only 37 of the 195 participating nations agreed to extend the ineffectual Kyoto Protocol to curb greenhouse gas emissions and as Reuters news agency reported, “many of those most concerned about climate change are close to despair.”

Meanwhile, global emissions in 2012 are expected to rise by 2.6 percent over 2011 levels. This represents an astonishing 58 percent increase in emissions since 1990. Now we’ve talked a lot on this show about what all this excess CO2 means for our changing climate but what are the implications for the global oceans? After all, about a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions are absorbed by the earth’s oceans, where they’re having an impact that’s just starting to be understood.

It turns out excess CO2 due to burning fossil fuels is actually changing the chemistry of the seas and proving harmful for many forms of marine life. A more acidic ocean could wipe out species, disrupt the food web and impact fishing, tourism and other human activities on the oceans. Over the last 250 years, oceans have absorbed 530 billion tons of CO2, triggering a 30 percent increase in ocean acidity.

So to kick off the program today we welcome our newest Earthgauge contributor, Xerez Bridglall, who will bring us an interview she did with Dr. Robert Rangeley, the VP of Conservation, Atlantic Region, for the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Sometimes described as “the other CO2 problem”, the rapid acidification of the word’s oceans represents an extremely grave threat not only to marine life but of course to the vast majority of humanity who depend on the bounty of the oceans for our food, well being or our livelihoods. Dr. Rangeley will explain what is happening and why it is so important.

Robert Rangeley:

Right click here to download this interview.

Part 2 – Toxic chemicals and cancer

Sticking with the petrochemical theme, on the program today we’re also talking about environmental health and the growing evidence of links between pollutants in our environment and serious diseases such as cancer. I am thrilled to present a feature interview today with Dr. James Brophy, who is the co-author of a remarkable new study published in the prestigious online journal Environmental Health demonstrating that women working in particular occupations have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Their research found that women employed in the automotive plastics industry, for instance, were almost five times as likely to develop breast cancer, prior to menopause, as women in the control group. This study clearly demonstrates the value of including detailed work histories in the environmental and occupational epidemiology of breast cancer.

Needless to say, this research has been causing quite a stir and has been reported around the world as a groundbreaking contribution to women’s health. Jeanne Rizzo, president of the Breast Cancer Fund, a San Francisco-based group that has pressed for more research into environmental causes of breast cancer called the study “a very powerful piece of work. The piece that’s really been missing for female breast cancer is occupation.”

So recently I caught up with Dr. James Brophy who is an adjunct professor at the University of Windsor to talk to him about how and why the study was conducted, the implications of this research and why the cancer research community has been so slow to recognize the occupational and environmental risks associated with breast and other forms of cancer.

Earthgauge Radio airs Thursday mornings from 7-8 AM on CKCU 93.1 in Ottawa. Podcasts on iTunes and earthgauge.ca. Stream live on www.ckcufm.com. Check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EarthgaugeRadio.

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