Breast Milk Emergency – Wallace and Elder Call for 100% Breast Milk
Protection in Observance of World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7, 2022
We Declare an Emergency for Clean, Safe Breast Milk in Maryland Based on
New EPA PFAS Safety Recommendations
Two Emergency Steps to Protect Breast Milk Will Be Wallace-Elder Program
(1) Emergency Drinking Water Purification Needed Now
Breastfeeding is a crucial start to a healthy life. We support Maryland mothers’ right to clean water and clean food, so their breast milk is safe for nursing babies.
Unfortunately we all consume toxic chemicals in our food, water, and the air we breathe from industrial manufacturing and use. Chemicals such as mercury, PCBs, PFAS and TCE all accumulate in human bodies and they don’t go away. So an American mother’s body becomes a reservoir of environmental toxins.
A study of 45 women in Massachusetts showed that the average concentration of PFOA (arguably the deadliest of all PFAS or “forever chemicals”) was 10,950 over the EPA threshold, while the highest concentration was 40,250 times over the limit.
These toxins pass into breast milk, and then into infants’ fragile, developing brain and other organs. PFAS levels in breast milk have been found 40,000 times over EPA guidelines for drinking water. Yet this is the only liquid that these infants drink.
PFAS and these other toxics have been linked to a host of cancers. In children, PFAS also causes a decrease in infant live birth rates, and development of ADHD and childhood asthma.
We consider the new, stronger EPA health advisory on PFAS “permanent poisons” that was published in June 2022 as establishing clear scientific grounds to declare an emergency in Maryland for breast milk protection. Recent testing has shown 100% of American breast milk has these toxic PFAS. This threat to babies must be addressed immediately, not wait for years for legislation and regulation. Other toxics such as mercury, lead and arsenic are also present in Maryland drinking water and pass into breast milk of nursing mothers.
In the absence of the EPA providing these life-saving regulations, we call on the state of Maryland — and we promise if elected — to regulate all PFAS as a class of hazardous chemicals in food and water, and to require all PFAS compounds to be reduced to levels under the current limits of detection in drinking water, groundwater, and surface water.
If elected, Nancy and Pat will immediately provide reverse osmosis drinking water
filters to every house and apartment with a nursing mother on an emergency basis. These “RO filters” will provide clean water for mothers, and also clean water for mixing infant formula. The financial benefit from the improved health of the babies and their families will more than outweigh the cost. These reverse osmosis filters will also create truly clean drinking water for all members of the households, removing nearly all of these toxic chemicals:
Poly and per-fluoroalkyd substances (PFAS)
We also call for these additional measures to evaluate and reduce the known sources of these toxins in Maryland food and water:
1) free, voluntary breast milk testing services to lactating mothers, similar to the emergency free covid testing services
2) an immediate moratorium on spreading sewer sludge containing PFAS on Maryland agricultural fields
3) require removal of PFAS toxics from liquid effluent at wastewater treatment plants before discharge into Maryland rivers and the Chesapeake Bay
4) a halt to the outflow of these carcinogens from Maryland’s industrial and military sites
Scientific Call for Dramatic Reduction in PFAS Exposure
The June 15, 2022 EPA advisory dramatically lowered the recommended drinking water intake of PFAS, by 17,000 percent. But the harm from current levels has been ignored by the Maryland Democratic legislature and Republican governor, which created a law to wait two more years to stop selling new, PFAS-containing products. And that new law does nothing to provide safe, clean water now to our most vulnerable, youngest residents and their mothers. The law also does nothing to clean up existing contamination in the soil and groundwater, or stop PFAS in
sewage treatment outflows.
US Center for Disease Control (CDC) warning to pregnant women on mercury in seafood, also passes through breast milk
Mercury is a second toxic poison that is transmitted through breast milk to babies. Mercury causes harm to developing brains and immune systems. It also crosses the placenta during pregnancy to harm a fetus’ brain development. There is no “safe” limit for mercury intake, yet it is found in our drinking water and seafood. The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) already recommends pregnant women restrict their intake of seafood because of mercury levels, but never prints the words “this recommended amount is safe” because no amount is safe. We must prioritize protection of mothers and babies today from mercury which will also occur with
these emergency water filters.
We call on the Maryland governor to implement maximum protection immediately, even now during this election season, to protect babies from these dangerous, permanent poisons. Just as we have provided free testing kits for COVID-19 to the entire public, we can provide water filters which eliminate these toxics while additional community testing and regulations are developed.
To protect babies in the future, we also support a building requirement that all new homes must have whole-house reverse osmosis filters. This will allow any purchaser to safely plan their pregnancies or entertain grandchildren knowing that Maryland drinking water will not harm them. Since these “forever chemicals” persist in the groundwater and streams and there is no known way to remove PFAS from our bodies, the only way to protect Marylanders long-term is to ensure filtered water at the least cost, when housing is constructed.
(2) Emergency Testing of Chesapeake Seafood and Public Posting – Nursing
Mothers’ Right to Know
Mothers also have a right to know the amount of toxic chemicals in foods which pass through breast milk to babies including PFAS and mercury. Seafood especially accumulates these poisons thousands of times higher than the surrounding water. Maryland needs an immediate, robust food testing program with the results provided on websites for the public. Mothers and children’s doctors can then make their best decisions given the many other benefits of breast feeding.
Sexism in Maryland Democratic and Republican Parties Ignoring Women and Babies’ Health
As a women’s issue, and a children’s issue, we believe that breast milk has not been taken seriously as a political issue in Maryland politics. Pat Elder, our lieutenant governor candidate who is a national expert on PFAS, and governor candidate Nancy Wallace will make this issue a top priority for their administration. All parents and caretakers of children will benefit with a healthy start to our children’s lives. Today’s cancer epidemic in children must stop, and this is one step we can take in Maryland immediately to protect our babies’ health and future.
Babies Can’t Wait – Breast Milk Needs Emergency Protection Now
Breastfeeding babies have an inalienable right to clean breast milk and clean infant formula.
Nursing mothers have a right to clean drinking water without toxic chemicals, without paying extra for expensive purified water. And they have a right to all taxpayer funded studies of food toxics so they can make their best decisions about nursing and diet.
Scientific studies including by the National Academy of Sciences are raising the alarm about these chemicals, and we must follow the science with the best protections for our people and the environment immediately.
PCB= polychlorinated bipheyls
PFAS = poly and perfluoroalkyd substances, a group of 4,700 industrial chemicals
using fluorine in artificial molecules
TCE = trichloroethylene used in paints and industrial grease removers
“Rainwater everywhere on Earth unsafe to drink due to “forever chemicals” [PFAS], study finds”, August 9, 2022