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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



By Mrs. CLINTON (for herself, Mr. CHAFEE, and Mr. REID):

S. 1442. A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to establish a Coordinated Environmental Health Network, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Mrs. CLINTON. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce, with my colleagues Senators CHAFEE and REID, the Coordinated Environmental Health Tracking Act of 2005.

There is a saying--``what you don't know can't hurt you.'' But when it comes to chronic disease, what we don't know can hurt all of us. The bill we are introducing today will help us solve the mysteries behind the high rates of chronic diseases such as cancer, autism, and Alzheimer's that afflict so many American communities.

Once we are able to track diseases, and detect links to environmental or other causes, we will be able to prevent public health crises before they occur.

The environmental links to the onset of diseases are not well understood. They are hidden health hazards that manifest themselves in chronic diseases. We are only beginning to understand what these hazards are and what is the scope of their effects on our health.

We need more specifics on these environmental factors. For example, we need to know what is the cumulative effect of extended exposure to a variety of environmental factors over time.

One way to get those specifics is to track the outbreak of chronic diseases, just like we track the outbreaks of infectious diseases.

This legislation would establish a comprehensive national tracking system for chronic diseases, so that we can identify, address and prevent them.

It would help States to participate in this national tracking system- by providing them with Environmental Health Tracking Network Grants, assisting them in developing the infrastructure necessary to participate in this network.

It would also create a chronic disease response force, bringing the expertise of environmental, scientific and health experts to areas with potential clusters of chronic diseases, like Long Island's breast cancer cluster.

It will allow us to monitor our environmental health by requiring an annual report of the results of the Nationwide Health Tracking Network, helping to educate and arm us with valuable information in the fight against chronic diseases.

Finally, it will help us build the public health expertise we need to address these issues in the future, by providing funding for the establishment of at least seven biomonitoring labs and setting up epidemiology fellowships and centers of excellence for environmental health.

I believe that this legislation will help obtain and act on the best possible evidence to improve our Nation's health and to begin to tackle the extraordinary human and economic costs that chronic disease imposes on our country.

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