|January 23, 2002|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
Windsor, Ontario - The Citizens Environment Alliance believes that governments and their agencies must respond to the analysis "Community Health Profile of Windsor", published in Environmental Health Perspectives (December 2001) and conducted by Jim Brophy of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers and Michael Gilbertson of the International Joint Commission.
Specifically, the following actions are necessary to begin addressing the gross disparities in the health of Windsorites vis a vis their Canadian counterparts:
1) Throughout the 1970's and early 80's the improvements in Great Lakes water quality were due in large part to the IJC acting as an impartial technical and scientific expert unaffected by political arguments. Since then, environmentally-minded scientists within the IJC have been "downsized", dismissed, or discouraged from pursuing positive research. The IJC has ignored requests from Citizen groups, like the CEA, to be the 'Watch Dog' of government agencies who ARE responsible to ensure the public's health and well being. At a public meeting in 1996 hosted by the IJC, its Science Advisory Board concluded there was no scientific evidence presented to warrant concern on human health issues. And yet, at that meeting, the public raised the issues of sludge burning by the Detroit Waste Water Treatment Plant, the health hazard of Conner Creek, persistent toxics pollutants discharged into the water and the air, etc.
2) The Randolph Report recommended the creation of a stand alone environment department that would be responsible for Pollution Control Plants, Solid Waste, Waste Management and Water and Air Quality.
This Department could concern itself with implementing pollution prevention strategies, monitoring the State of Michigan and Province of Ontario proposed pollution permits, and working towards a more pleasant environment for all Windsorites. In fact, the City of Windsor and the County of Essex should commit to creating a regional department that would work towards regional solutions in a cooperative manner.
3) Environment Canada must open an office in Windsor or Essex County. Many health and environmental issues facing this region fall within federal jurisdiction (ex. transboundary pollution). Environment Canada would better assist our communities in addressing environmental issues if they were doing it from Windsor or Essex County, as opposed to Burlington or Toronto.
4) Working with local agencies, Health Canada must conduct a full epidemiological study of Windsor and Essex County. The Health Canada data that have been 'interpreted' by Brophy and Gilbertson were data collected from 1986-1992 .... meaning much of the information used to make these conclusions is old ... some of it is 16 years old. Whether these data represent the current health conditions, is uncertain. What can be said, however, is that the model used to analyze the data is unverified and can only be considered a preliminary step to a complete epidemiological study which would account for differences in the health of Windsor residents. It is only when these differences such as life style, length of residency, etc. are accounted for that the "excess deaths" can be attributed to environmental factors. The federal government has the responsibility to address and redress these issues.
5) Governments must work together to address environmental and public health issues. No significant effort has been made that addresses the already known disproportionate health problems in Windsor. All governments must admit that there is a problem, admit that they have a role to play in seeking solutions, and commit to working cooperatively toward solutions.
The need for government agencies to take a serious role in the elimination of the pollutants that we all know are affecting the health and well being of Windsor-Detroit citizens is obvious. The remediation of our environment is long overdue; it's time to get to work.
For more information contact:
President, Citizens Environment Alliance