Launching the Community Advisory Board of the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program to…
On July 2, 2019 the Scientific Committee of the Hunters Point Biomonitoring Program launched the Community Advisory Board (CAB) for oversight, design and control of a community led effort to institute a screening, referral and investigational project for residents living adjacent to the Superfund site at the Hunters Point Shipyard.
The Meet & Greet occurred on Tuesday evening, July 2, 2019 at Radio Africa & Kitchen. An inspirational gathering of community leaders, environmental health and justice advocates, medical scientists, technical experts and shipyard workers came together to express a united voice in supporting the need for the nations first biomonitoring program implemented to screen residents and workers on and adjacent to a federal Superfund site.
Biomonitoring measures pollution in people and the new science of biomonitoring offers insight into the “body burden” of toxic chemicals you may have hiding in your body if you have been exposed to chemical toxins where you live, work or play!
Toxic chemical exposures affect energy levels, cognitive and reproductive function and overall life expectancy. Exposure to toxins like lead, mercury, arsenic and radionuclides known to be present at the Hunters Point Shipyard and polluting industries concentrated in heavily industrialized southeast San Francisco, heighten risk for cancer, autoimmune and neurological diseases, cardiopulmonary, metabolic and degenerative diseases.
Many people ask why would I want to know what dangerous chemicals may be hiding in my body? Many people prefer not to know! Silent killer diseases like HIV, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and glaucoma often go undetected because people do not seek medical care for vague but suspicious symptoms of preventable conditions. For the vast majority of people who have a stroke the first symptom is the stroke. Simple interventions including community education, nutrition optimization and exposure mitigation can reduce the incidence of environmental diseases.
In Bayview Hunters Point many people have symptoms of chronic exposure to toxic air contaminants like particulates that cause interstitial and fibrotic lung diseases the San Francisco Department of Public Health does not track in it’s 94124 disease surveillance.
Community scientists demand DPH expand its categories of cardiopulmonary disease to include interstitial and fibrotic lung diseases caused by progressive scarring of lung tissue. The lack of lung elasticity seen in these “restrictive” lung diseases affect the ability to breathe and get oxygen into the bloodstream. Interstitial lung disease can be caused by long term exposure to hazardous materials like asbestos.
My father, George Donald Porter, died prematurely of pulmonary asbestosis and endocrine disorders after a career as a longshore worker at the Hunters Point Shipyard and Silver Terrace homeowner. I was a physician specialist with the San Francisco Department of Public Health in 1992 when I discovered my father dead and obtained his medical record that included chest xray findings of interstitial lung disease due to asbestosis.
Marie Harrison was crowned “The Mother of the Environmental Justice Movement in Bayview Hunters Point” by the SF Bayview Newspaper following her death on May 5, 2019 due to a chronic progressive lung disease called Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) caused by exposure to numerous toxic air contaminants documented in air monitoring studies conducted in southeast San Francisco.
Like many interstitial lung diseases, IPF may not show up on chest xray and is often confused with asthma, COPD and congestive heart failure. Patients may present with feelings of fatigue, shortness of breath and a chronic cough that does not produce sputum.
The Marie Harrison Bayview Air Monitoring Network will install particulate air monitors in 10 community locations to be determined by the MHBAM steering committee in collaboration with residents and technical experts. Funded by the California Air Resources Board, this network will provide local, real-time air quality information for Bayview Hunters Point residents to take action and protect their health from threatening exposures.
In Imperial County, California asthma incidence and hospitalizations decreased after implementation of a community air monitoring network (cam).
Did you know a simple affordable home air filter -the Air Doctor -can be purchased or prescribed by a physician removes nearly 100% of particles and the majority of toxic ozone, volatile organic compounds and gases?
The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program hopes to screen high risk residents using a safe, simple and low cost urine test called Genova Diagnostics Comprehensive Urine Elements test for 35 toxic and nutrient elements including many of the major chemicals and radionuclides documented to be present in soil samples at the federal Superfund site and in occupational exposed workers in toxic industries. Top researchers at UCSF hope to develop a more stringent methodology relying on state laboratories to test for a range of toxins using mass spectrometry.
Like all screening tests from HIV testing to screening mammograms, there may be false negative and false positive results. That’s why the community scientists have recruited the help of university scientists, investigational researchers and major funders like the Rose Foundation for Better Communities and the Environment and the Packard Foundation’s commitment to improving the lives of children, families and communities and restoring and protecting our planet.
University and community based scientists are exploring the creation of a rigorous protocol and methodology for implementation of a fully funded investigational research project that will detect, protect and prevent Bayview Hunters Point residents from the dangers of environmental exposures to toxic chemicals and airborne contaminants.
The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program will offer medical evaluation, referral and mandatory follow up of residents who voluntarily seek the service.The university led effort is organized by Rupa Marya, MD, UCSF Associate Professor of Medicine and Faculty Director of the Do No Harm Coalition, Dr. Marya was recognized as a “leading figure at the intersection of medicine and social justice by Bioneers 2018 where she delivered a keynote address on health and justice and revisioning healing and public health in the 21st century.
“Biomonitoring is the next, logical, critical step for us to take in addressing threats to public health.” Senator Deborah Ortiz — author The Healthy California Biomonitoring Program implemented in 2008.