May 19, 2010

SOM environmental cancer expert joins Sierra Club for community discussion on chemical exposure

Michael Harbut, M.D., M.P.H., F.C.C.P., chief of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Wayne State University School of Medicine and co-director of the National Center for Vermiculite and Asbestos-Related Cancers at the Karmanos Cancer Center, is joining the Sierra Club to gather from the community ideas and strategies that will strengthen the way the public is protected from exposure to harmful chemicals.

"A Community Conversation on Public Health and Chemicals Exposure" is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 26 at the Kemeny Recreation Facility, located at 2260 S. Fort St. in Detroit. The event is hosted by the Karmanos Cancer Center and the Sierra Club.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is seeking participation from all residents. They can speak about what chemicals worry them, what chemicals they have been exposed to and what safeguards they believe government should have in place to protect the population.

"Although the past decades have brought a decrease in the number of childhood cancer deaths, they have also brought an increase in the number of children diagnosed with cancer," Dr. Harbut said. "The studies show that a century of Michigan industrial pollution has left a legacy of suffering and disease ranging from leukemia to an increase in rates of Parkinson's disease.

"This Community Conversation will give us a chance to suggest priorities to the federal government to begin to make things right."

The event is part of the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health and ATSDR's two-year project called, "The National Conversation on Public Health and Chemicals Exposure." The project's vision is to help ensure that industries within the United States use and manage chemicals in ways that are safe and healthy for all people.

Dr. Harbut is an internationally known expert in the diagnosis and treatment of environmental and workplace diseases.

For more information on the ATSDR public input process, visit