FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 21, 2013
Kauai Doctors and Nurses Implore Mayor:
“Sign Bill 2491 Into Law Now”
Citing Notable Rates of Birth Defects and Disease,
West Side and Kaua’i Newborns, Children, Future Generations at Stake
WAIMEA – Citing notable incidents of birth defects and elevated rates of diseases in their clinical practices, doctors and nurses in west Kauai are imploring Mayor Bernard Carvalho to sign Bill 2491 into law.
Doctors and medical professionals island-wide are adding their support to the growing list of medical professionals urging bill passage for the sake of their west side colleagues and patients. To date, at least 50 doctors, nurses and mental health professionals have formally expressed concurrence.
In one letter delivered by medical professionals to the Mayor, several doctors point to specific and rare birth defects, some that may be occurring at a rate 10 times above the national average. One letter signed by several doctors describes a general calculation of a rare set of heart defects that appear to be higher in west Kauai newborns:
“Recent CDC statistics put transposition at 1/3300 births, hypoplastic left heart at 1/4344 births and hypoplastic right at 1/17000 births. In the last 3 years we have had about 750 deliveries; this gives us an incidence of 53/10,000 births for these 4 defects. National US data shows an incidence of 5.5/10,000 births, so we have 10 times the national rate.”
“Without the basic Right to Know provisions provided by Bill 2491, our patients, especially the young mothers and children of west Kauai, bear the unfair risk of health impacts due to possible exposure,” another letter states.
A support letter, delivered by east Kauai pediatrician Lee Evslin to both the County Council and to the Mayor, cited a subset of cancer data recently released by the Hawaii Department of Health, showing:
“the rate for leukemia increased on Kauai 60% between [two identified] time periods and leukemia happens to be the cancer type most closely linked to pesticide exposure.”
The same letter also stated:
“I am very concerned that the three growing seasons and the dry windy conditions on the westside may be producing a magnification of the problems inherent in pesticide exposure.”
While the doctors do not claim to know for certain if there is a direct link between birth defects, disease incidents and pesticide use on west Kauai, they emphasize that the disclosure provisions of Bill 2491 will allow them to better understand, diagnose, treat and advise their patients.
American Academy of Pediatrics Report Raises Alarm.
Over the past several months, medical professionals have pressed policy-makers to pay attention to a November 2012 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which cites growing evidence that developing fetuses and children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides.
The Academy cites research linking pesticides to delays in neurological development, endocrine abnormalities, behavioral issues and an increase in childhood cancers such as leukemia. The report also expresses concern that those living in agricultural regions may be at greater risk.
“[T]he medical community’s voice must count when the County engages in lawmaking,” stated one west side doctor whose letter is attracting additional signatures, “medical professionals of the west side asked for help. The Council has given it in the form of Bill 2491. And now I ask that you do the humanitarian and upright act of honoring this process, and sign the bill into law.”
Ongoing Learning During Rulemaking Process.
In their letters and calls, medical professionals also invited the Mayor to learn more about their concerns, and how the pesticide disclosure provisions of Bill 2491 will allow them to better diagnose their patients, whether in acute or chronic exposure situations.
After Bill 2491 is signed into law, a rulemaking process begins, allowing the Mayor and his administration to work out the details and administration of the Council-approved legislation. “The Mayor is not a legislator. The Mayor and his staff administer and implement what our County lawmakers decide based on the democratic process,” said Marghee Maupin, a nurse practitioner in west Kauai. “It’s time to sign this bill into law and get on with giving Kauai the best health care we possibly can.”
Bill 2491 was approved by the Kauai County Council in a vote of 6-1 and had overwhelming public support from residents, generating thousands of testimonial letters of support and over 53,000 petition signatures from Kauai and worldwide. It is known as the “Right to Know” bill, providing for pesticide disclosure, modest buffer zones, and a health study to examine the impacts of heavy pesticide use on Kauai.