David Koon, 60, has served as State Assemblyman from the 135th district in Rochester since 1996. He is the Chair of the Legislative Commission on Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste. His prior work includes working as an Industrial Engineer for Bauch and Lomb. His longstanding commitment to his community includes promoting violence prevention and serving on the board of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He and his wife, Suzanne, created the Jennifer Patterson Koon Peacemaking Foundation in honor of their daughter. In addition to Jennifer (deceased), they have a son and two grandchildren. We found four phthalates and seven PBDEs in David, as well as bisphenol A in his urine.
"The results of my individual evaluation certainly raised my awareness of the personal impact of manmade chemicals. The report created a new perspective for me regarding the need for action - if not by the federal government, then by the State."
Heather Loukmas, 36, has been Executive Director of the Learning Disabilities Association of New York State (LDANYS) for four years and was Associate Director for five years prior. She is responsible for the organization’s action on state policies, regulations and laws that impact children and adults with learning disabilities, serves on state-level panels and committees, and raises public awareness about the link between learning disabilities and toxic chemicals. Heather lives in Clifton Park with her husband Jeff and their daughter age 5, and son, 8 months. As an Executive Director and mother of two young children, Heather is professionally and personally committed to protecting children’s environmental health. We found four phthalates and seven PDBEs in Heather’s body, as well as bisphenol A in her blood and urine. Heather had the highest levels of one brominated flame retardant (BDE-154/PBB-153), likely due to accidental grain contamination, which made its way into dairy products, meat, and eggs, in the early 1970's when Heather was a toddler in Michigan. (See also Terry Brown from Michigan.)
”This project started as an academic exercise for me. But finding out that I carry a chemical linked to early menarche in daughters of exposed women made it clear to me that it’s not just about the products we can control, but a much bigger picture. This isn’t a problem we could shop our way out of.”
John Sferazo, 52, is President and co-founder of the non-profit Unsung Heroes Helping Heroes, which advocates for and assists workers from the World Trade Center and other disasters to secure medical and psychological treatment, rehabilitation and monetary benefits. A union structural ironworker, John began working at Ground Zero before sunrise on September 12th, 2001 and continued there for more than 30 days. His breathing and lung capacity have decreased due to exposure to 9/11 pollutants, leaving him unable to work since August 2004. We found all five phthalates and seven PBDEs in John’s body, as well as bisphenol A in his urine. John had the third highest DEHP levels and the highest dimethyl phthalate (more than 3.5 times higher than CDC’s 95th percentile) and BDE-99 levels. The tubing for his sleep apnea machine (needed for his health ailments post-9/11) may be a significant source of the phthalates.
“As someone whose life has already been dramatically changed because of environmental exposures, who has taken medications to purge toxic chemicals from my bodies, I was shocked to find these chemicals. It's clear action is needed to protect all of us.”
Edith Williams, Ph.D, MS, 27, was finishing her PhD and working as a Research Associate at the State University of New York's Department of Family Medicine, when her samples were collected. She worked closely with the Toxic Waste Lupus Coalition in Buffalo, and researched the different availability of fresh, healthy food in white communities versus communities of color. She has since moved to the University of South Carolina, where she is a Research Assistant Professor with a focus on disproportionate impacts on the health of African-American women. She lives in Columbia, South Carolina with her two children. We found three phthalates and seven PBDEs in Edith’s body, as well as bisphenol A in her urine.
“I am glad to see work like this being done, work that recognizes women don't exist in bubbles and our health is directly affected by what we encounter every day in our environments.”
Black/Latina woman, 27, One of our participants, an environmentaladvocate in New York City, wished to not make public her identity as linked to her personal test results We found all five phthalates and six PBDEs in her body, as well as bisphenol A in her urine. None of her levels were in the upper range of our participants, although all participants in whom we detected diethyl phthalate had levels above CDC’s 95th percentile.
"Insurance companies may take things like this into consideration to determine their coverage premiums, though it may be illegal for them to do so. There's so much uncertainty as to what our chemical body burden may mean that, as a young woman of color, I am not confident that this information won't be used in the future to limit my access to health care."