Nurses say the province must act on dangerous toxins and chemicals

    TORONTO, April 26 /CNW/ - The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
(RNAO) is appearing before the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly
today to urge all parties to support Bill 164.
    The bill entitled "Recognizing a Fundamental Right: The Community Right
to Know Act would strengthen the public's right to know about potential
hazards in consumer products and provide better access to information about
toxins and pollutants.
    "RNs are engaged in health promotion, disease prevention, and illness
care. Our goal is to keep Ontarians healthy and care for them when they are
sick and that's why we are speaking out about the environment," says RNAO
President Mary Ferguson-Paré.
    RNAO Executive Director Doris Grinspun will tell the committee that the
province must move quickly with a plan to get toxins out of the environment to
help Ontarians avoid environmental diseases. "The plan should include
regulation, technical assistance, and incentives through subsidies and taxes,"
says Grinspun. "Bill 164 is a necessary first step towards informing Ontarians
and protecting their health but more must be done.
    RNAO is also urging government to seek guidance from jurisdictions such
as the European Union, which is leading the way with a precautionary principle
when it comes to industrial substances and their impact on the environment and
people's health. This includes building large margins of safety to protect
children who are especially vulnerable to toxins.
    "We know that the environment is a major determinant of health and people
flourish best when they live in clean, green environments," says
Ferguson-Paré. Evidence linking the environment to health outcomes is well
known. In developed regions, environmental factors accounted for 17 per cent
of deaths. Research suggests that occupational exposures alone account for 10
to 20 per cent of cancer deaths. Equally alarming is the Canadian and
international evidence showing these negative impacts are experienced more
frequently by lower-income people. "Environmental protection is not only a
matter of health but also a matter of social justice," Ferguson-Paré adds.
    Conditions such as asthma, cancer, developmental disabilities, and birth
defects have become the primary causes of illness and death in children in
industrialized countries. Chemicals in the environment are partly responsible
for these trends. Recently, tests have shown Canadians (including politicians
who volunteered to be tested) had elevated levels of hazardous chemicals in
their bodies, including hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, and others associated
with respiratory illnesses and reproductive disorders.
    "The time for procrastination has passed. People are demanding action
from their legislators and governments. Nurses are speaking out on this issue
because we will not allow Ontarians and their children to be sickened by
environmental causes," adds Grinspun.

    The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional
association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario.
Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in
nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care
system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.

For further information:

For further information: Marion Zych, Director of Communications,
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, Phone: (647) 406-5605

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