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Petitioning Department of Homeland Security, President of the United States, United States Department of Labor, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate

United States TPS Extension for Salvadorans

On January 8, President Donald Trump blocked the temporary protected status (TPS) of 250,000+ Salvadoran immigrants who LEGALLY live and work in the United States.  Now, despite many living in the U.S. for 15-20 years, these fingerprinted, documented, tax paying individuals are given ONLY 18 MONTHS (Sept. 2019) to get permanent resident status (which can take years to accomplish, if at all) otherwise be forced to leave the country. Now, the U.S. is considered their home--a country that's allowed them to build a better, safer life. These people aren't just grandparents, parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. They are also our friends, neighbors and community leaders who are intertwined in our workplaces, schools and neighborhoods. They are our loved ones. And now President Trump is saying that their contributions don't matter and that they don't belong.WATCH: "Their Status is Temporary. But to Salvadorans, the U.S. is Home""These innocent people fled their home country after a disastrous earthquake, and while living conditions may have slightly improved, El Salvador now faces a significant problem with drug trafficking, gangs and crime. Since 2001, these people have established themselves in the United States, making countless contributions to our society and our local communities. It would be devastating to send them home after they have created a humble living for themselves and their families." - Rep. Diaz-Balart PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE the petition to help Salvadorans get their TPS extended, as well as pass legislation to help them find a path to permanent residency and/or citizenship. 

Michael Boley
11,276 supporters
Petitioning Georgia State Senate, Georgia State House, Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Gerald E Greene, Sanford D. Bishop Jr., David Scott, Doug Collins, Wes Cantrell, Jody B. Hice, Earl L. "Buddy" Carter, Barry...

Tell EPA We Deserve Clean Air - Cancer Causing Chemicals Being Emitted From Businesses

PLEASE READ AND SIGN! WE NEED TO COME TOGETHER AND MAKE THIS STOP!  Residents Unaware of Cancer-Causing Toxin in Air  By Brenda Goodman, MA, Andy Miller This story is jointly reported by Brenda Goodman of WebMD and Andy Miller of Georgia Health News. July 19, 2019 -- Ann Singley was trying to muscle her lawnmower out of a ditch in front of her home in Covington, GA., when she felt a tug in her breast. It was a hard lump, and in the days after she discovered it, it didn’t go away. It was stage III breast cancer. Singley, who was 33, was just beginning what would be a long and desperate fight to survive. Her youngest child, Gene, was only 3. “She told me, all he’s going to remember about her is her being sick,” said Singley’s mother, Velma Slaton. The year Singley was diagnosed with breast cancer, 2007, a company now called BD Bard, which sterilizes medical devices, reported releasing more than 9,000 pounds of a gas called ethylene oxide into the air about a half-mile from her home. Ethylene oxide is used on about half the medical products in the U.S. that need sterilizing, according to industry estimates. It’s also used to make other chemicals, like antifreeze. As Singley began her treatment, scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had just begun a 10-year study to better understand the risks of ethylene oxide to human health. By 2016, the agency had made its decision: Ethylene oxide was far more dangerous than the scientists had understood before. The agency moved it from a list of chemicals that probably could cause cancer to a list of those that definitely caused cancer. The EPA also updated a key risk number for the chemical to reflect that it was 30 times more likely to cause certain cancers than scientists had once known. Two years later, in 2018, the agency used that new risk value for a periodic report that assesses health risks from releases of airborne toxins in the U.S. That report, called the National Air Toxics Assessment, or NATA, flagged 109 census tracts across the country where cancer risks were higher because of exposure to airborne toxins. Most of the risks were driven by just one chemical: ethylene oxide. The highest risks were in 12 census tracts in “cancer alley,” in Louisiana, near facilities that make ethylene oxide or use it to make other chemicals. Other states with affected areas included Pennsylvania, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Delaware, New Jersey, and Illinois, according to an analysis of the NATA data by The Intercept, an investigative reporting site. Georgia has three affected census tracts, all in metro Atlanta -- two in the Smyrna area, and one in Covington where Ann Singley lived. The report estimated that around Smyrna, ethylene oxide causes 114 extra cases of cancer for every million people exposed over their lifetimes. In Covington, it estimated the gas causes 214 cases for every million people exposed. The EPA considers the cancer risk from pollution to be unacceptable when it tops 100 cases for every million people who are exposed to a chemical over the course of their lifetime. In the neighborhoods that have been impacted in Georgia, people are just hearing about the hazard --from Georgia Health News and WebMD nearly a year after the federal government released its official list of the hot spots. The EPA decided not to put out a news release, and state regulators did not issue one either. “EPA is not issuing a press release,” wrote Larry Lincoln, director of the EPA’s office of external affairs for Region 4, which covers the Southeastern U.S., in an email message to state officials. As a result, few people who live in the impacted census tracts in Georgia and elsewhere are aware of the threat, which goes back decades. Companies that release ethylene oxide have largely continued to do business as usual. Many are legally allowed to release thousands of pounds of ethylene oxide each year because they received state permits before the EPA lowered the risk threshold for the chemical. “No one wants to believe something irresponsible is going on,” said Tony Adams, a former board member of the homeowners association at townhome community in Smyrna. News that ethylene oxide might be a problem touched off heated debate on the neighborhood’s Facebook page. Maps made in June by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) -- which did its own modeling to examine risks from the toxin -- show that releases in both the Covington and Smyrna areas exceed the state’s level of a chemical where health risks begin to rise. That level is known as the acceptable area concentration, or AAC. The AAC for ethylene oxide represents one additional case of cancer for every 1 million people exposed. In Smyrna, the state estimates ethylene oxide emissions are 27 to 61 times higher than the AAC. In Covington, concentrations of ethylene oxide in neighborhoods around the plant range from 17 to 97 times the AAC. “Oh my,” said Stephanie Cargile, as she looked at the state’s maps. “So what do I need to do? Move? I’m not going to jeopardize my children,” said Cargile, 59, who lives in Covington with her two grandsons. The state maps offer only educated guesses about the pollution in the affected areas. That’s because they are based on estimated emissions that are self-reported by the companies. No air testing for ethylene oxide has been done in the neighborhoods around the plants. In an interview, Georgia EPD said it has no plans to do air testing. It also said it has no immediate plans to require the companies to cut their emissions. “It’s far too early for that,” Karen Hays, chief of Georgia EPD’s Air Protection Branch, said in an interview with Georgia Health News and WebMD. “We’re trying to figure out what is actually going on, on the ground. This is modeling. We’re looking at this. This is what we have come up with so far.” When asked whether the EPD had any plans to talk to people about the pollution near their homes, Hays said, “We have not so far.” Proving that cancers have been caused by environmental pollution is difficult, and there has been no specific health investigation of the Georgia census tracts that are at risk. But data compiled by the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry show at least one of the cancers tied to ethylene oxide , non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has risen significantly over the last decade, especially among men, in the 30014 ZIP code around the sterilizing plant in Covington. That’s the same pattern seen in studies of exposed workers. The EPA’s risk review noted that men who worked with ethylene oxide in sterilizing plants were more vulnerable to “lymphoid” cancers -- including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma -- than their female co-workers. A lawmaker says he is troubled by the state’s response. “I’d like to see independent air quality testing in the area around Covington that the EPD study says is impacted,” said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who represents Georgia’s 4th District, which includes Covington and the BD Bard Plant. “The fact that state and federal agencies have known the dangers of ethylene oxide and have not informed residents is unacceptable. Federal, state, and local officials should work together to assess the dangers these emissions pose to our communities and determine next steps to protect the health and well-being of our citizens.” State Sen. Brian Strickland, a Republican who represents the Covington area, declined to comment. An airborne menace. Ethylene oxide is a stealthy poison. It’s an invisible gas with no noticeable odor in outdoor air. It’s used to sterilize medical equipment because it penetrates cardboard, paper, and plastic, laying waste to microbes like bacteria and fungi that can cause infections or spoil foods. The chemical can snip and scramble DNA, the instructions for how living cells work. Errors in DNA can cause cells to grow out of control, leading to cancer. Workers exposed to the gas on the job got breast, leukemia, and lymphoma cancers at higher-than-expected rates, according to a 2004 study of more than 18,000 employees at sterilization plants. Besides breast and blood cancers, rats and mice that were dosed with ethylene oxide to study its toxic effects got lung and brain tumors, uterine cancers, and cancers of their connective tissue. They also had more miscarriages and breathing problems than unexposed mice. Ethylene oxide molecules disperse in outdoor air, but they don’t disappear for a long time. The chemical has a half-life of about 200 days in air, or almost 7 months. That means it takes that long for just half of the chemical to break down. “It’s enough time that an ethylene oxide molecule that’s released will probably go around the world two or three times before it’s destroyed,” says Richard Peltier, PhD, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In communities where ethylene oxide is steadily released “you’re being exposed to this continuously 24 hours a day,” he says. Documents obtained through lawsuits against chemical companies show the industry had heard about the cancer risks related to ethylene oxide as early as the 1980s. At a toxicology conference in Galveston, TX, in 1981, Marvin Legator, PhD, briefed the audience on emerging cancer risks from chemicals. “The biggest problem chemical we have right now is ethylene oxide,” he said. It would be 35 more years before EPA policy caught up to Legator’s warning.Outrage in IllinoisThere was one place where news about ethylene oxide exploded: the Village of Willowbrook, IL, an affluent suburb of Chicago. The EPA has a regional office in Willowbrook. There, EPA staff had been working for months behind the scenes, before the air toxics report’s public release, to learn whether the cancer risks predicted by that upcoming assessment existed in the real world. The EPA’s air toxics assessment is a cancer risk screening tool. Its conclusions are based on data modeling, not a measurement of chemicals in the air. The regional EPA staff wanted to know how much ethylene oxide they were actually breathing. For them, the threat was personal. They ordered air testing in 39 locations in the neighborhood that surrounds a medical sterilizing plant run by a company called Sterigenics, which had reported releases of hundreds of thousands of pounds of ethylene oxide to the outside air there over more than 2 decades. The results of that sampling confirmed higher levels of ethylene oxide in the air around Willowbrook. he regional EPA staff then asked the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a specialized division of the CDC, for help. ATSDR reviews the latest science and likely exposures to understand specific health risks to communities from toxic pollution. Based on the levels of ethylene oxide found in the air around Willowbrook, ATSDR’s calculations showed the extra cancer risk for residents was roughly 6,400 cases of cancer for every million people. The EPA considers the cancer risk in a community to be too high when it tops 100 cases for every 1 million people exposed to a pollutant. The ATSDR report came out August 21, 2018. The EPA released its National Air Toxics Assessment the next day. News of the cancer risks spread rapidly. “We found out about the ATSDR report the day after it was published,” said Margie Donnell, a real estate attorney who lives in Willowbrook. “We were told it was never supposed to be made public,” she says. “The village freaked out.” Residents in Willowbrook quickly mobilized, forming a nonprofit called Citizens 4 Clean Air. They raised money and started a Facebook group called Stop Sterigenics to spread the word about the pollution. “Sterigenics has a proven track record of complying with and going above and beyond what the regulations require in the safe use of EO [ethylene oxide] to sterilize critical medical products and devices.” - Statement from Sterigenics Three days after the report came out, the group was protesting in front of the Sterigenics plant. They enlisted the help of Illinois legislators, including Democratic U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. By October, the Illinois attorney general had sued Sterigenics in state court. In February 2019, after more air testing, the Illinois Department of Environmental Protection issued an order that shut the plant down. Sterigenics says that the amounts of ethylene oxide it released were tightly controlled and always within legal limits. Just this week, though, state and company officials announced that Sterigenics will resume its operations at its Willowbrook facility after installing new equipment intended to cut its ethylene oxide emissions. The company will face no fines from the state but will set aside $300,000 during the next year for “environmental improvements, or educational scholarships or programs,” in the Willowbrook area, according to reporting by the Chicago Tribune. “Sterigenics has a proven track record of complying with and going above and beyond what the regulations require in the safe use of EO [ethylene oxide] to sterilize critical medical products and devices,” said the company in a statement posted on the Sterigenics Willowbrook website. Donnell says the EPA’s air testing suggests that the emissions the company was reporting to the EPA were wrong. “Self-reporting [by a company] is a guess. It’s abundantly clear that the numbers are just a guesstimate or whatever the company wants to submit,” she says. In other public responses, Sterigenics has questioned whether its operations were the sole source of emissions measured near the plant. It says the EPA failed to account for ethylene oxide from background sources like traffic and construction around the canisters that took air samples. Scientists don’t dispute that ethylene oxide can come from sources other than sterilization plants. But they note that EPA air testing showed that levels of ethylene oxide fell by an average of 50% after the company ceased operations, according to the Chicago Tribune. The emissions plunged by more than 90% in air monitors that were closest to the plant. Sterigenics and other medical sterilizers also take issue with the EPA’s new risk value for ethylene oxide, which finds that the chemical can cause cancer in minuscule amounts. They say the threshold set by the EPA is unreasonable, because it’s a level of ethylene oxide that is lower than the amount found in healthy human bodies. Independent experts don’t doubt that our bodies make some ethylene oxide. But they say even if it comes from normal body processes, that doesn’t mean it is without harm. Peltier says ethylene oxide from industrial pollution adds to what we already have in our bodies. And he says airborne ethylene oxide is a cancer source we should be able to protect people from. “We can control the outside environment exposures. We can’t control the ones on the inside,” he says. In Smyrna, GA, another Sterigenics plant sits tucked into a low-slung industrial area next to The Light Bulb Depot and a doggie daycare. The Garden, a shelter for homeless women and children, is across the street. Smyrna is one of Atlanta’s closest suburbs. New townhomes in the area, which has become a hot location because it’s close to Atlanta highways, are selling for $500,000 and up. There, residents are just learning from reporters that a toxic gas is drifting through their neighborhood. Cassandra Saffold started shaking when a reporter from WebMD showed her a map made by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The map estimates concentrations of ethylene oxide near the townhomes, where she lives, at 27 times the annual safe level determined by the state. “This is my major investment,” she said, speaking of her home’s resale value. “What if we can’t get it shut down?” Saffold alerted her homeowners association, and within 3 days, members were posting on the Stop Sterigenics Facebook page, looking for more information. Adams, a massage therapist who also lives in the townhomes, said he, too, was worried about his home’s value, but “I’m more concerned about my health than money. And I like money.” He says he and his neighbors “want to have peace of mind that the air we’re breathing is not toxic.” To come up with its maps, the state worked for months with BD Bard and Sterigenics, using numbers reported by the companies for the modeling. Unlike in Willowbrook, no follow-up air testing has been done. Emails obtained through the Georgia Open Records Act show that as the companies worked with state regulators, they dramatically lowered their own emissions estimates, dropping them from thousands to hundreds of pounds. Sterigenics says it was able to lower its emissions, in part, by better controlling “back vent” emissions that escaped when plant workers opened the door of the sterilizing chamber after a cleaning cycle. Bard says its numbers dropped because testing showed its pollution control equipment removes more ethylene oxide than the company had first estimated. Even using the companies’ lower figures, data modelers at the state EPD found that the estimated ethylene oxide emissions from the Sterigenics and BD Bard plants exceeded the state’s yearly acceptable levels. Smyrna resident John Keller says he is troubled that the state has relied solely on the company for information about its releases. “That’s a mistake,” says Keller, 83, a retired dentist. “They need to do their own testing. Depending on the company to admit to their own pollution is like depending on Philip Morris to tell you about cigarettes.” State Goes Easy on BusinessThe state of Georgia consistently ranks high on lists of the best states for businesses. One reason, according to surveys, is a friendly regulatory environment. “They need to do their own testing. Depending on the company to admit to their own pollution is like depending on Philip Morris to tell you about cigarettes.” - John Keller, Smyrna resident According to state guidelines, a company seeking a permit to operate in Georgia has to demonstrate that its releases will not exceed acceptable concentrations of certain toxins. And even though the models the EPD made followed the same process the state uses to set limits on releases of toxic air pollutants, the EPD said these models won’t be used for that purpose. Emails obtained under the Georgia Open Records Act suggest how the state has been reluctant to provide information to assist federal investigations into Georgia’s ethylene oxide pollution. EPD Air Protection Branch chief Karen Hays pushed back at EPA staff who requested more information on medical sterilizers in Georgia, including how companies were making their estimates for ethylene oxide emissions. Hays said the work was unnecessary and burdensome, emails show. The EPA backed off the request. In April, ATSDR, a division of the CDC, reached out to see if the state had modeled any health impacts from ethylene oxide sterilizers. Emails show that Hays suggested that ATSDR file an open records request to get more data, though her staff had, in fact, been working on those models for months. An EPD manager who works on finding out health risks to people from environmental pollution questioned that federal agency’s report on Willowbrook. “My concern with ATSDR’s recommendations is the assumption that a causal relationship can be easily drawn between chronic exposure to [ethylene oxide] air emissions and elevated cancers in the population surrounding a facility under routine monitoring,” the manager wrote. It’s unclear if the state of Georgia will require either company to take any corrective measures. Sterigenics says it is installing new pollution control equipment in its Smyrna plant, which will make its operations even safer. Hays says she has asked a different department of the EPD to study what its maps mean for the health of residents around the plants. She has given it a deadline of August 1 to report back. State regulators say they are waiting before they take further action, because the EPA may roll back the new, stricter risk value for ethylene oxide at the request of the American Chemistry Council. When Hays read the news that the EPA might be reconsidering its new risk value for ethylene oxide, she responded to a colleague with just one word: “Yeah!” Though the state doesn’t plan to test air in the impacted neighborhoods, the EPD is testing a single sample of air for ethylene oxide at its monitoring site in south DeKalb County. The site is not near any plants that release ethylene oxide. Instead, Georgia wants to see if ethylene oxide may be present in the air from sources like traffic. Georgia state Sen. Jen Jordan, who represents part of the impacted Smyrna area, questions whether enough is being done. “This is bad,” says Jordan, a Democrat for the 6th District. “I’m incredibly troubled that it sounds like they were trying to manage the situation instead of being transparent,” she says. “When we have modeling and a memo that shows elevated cancer risk, why that would not somehow have some kind of regulatory or legal impact on a company, especially when we know what they’re doing is hurting the people that live around them,” Jordan says. Cancer Risks Around Medical SterilizersAt the request of WebMD and Georgia Health News, the Georgia Department of Public Health looked up cancer rates in the ZIP codes around the plants in Smyrna and Covington. The 30339 ZIP code sits next to the Sterigenics plant in Smyrna. The ZIP code covers a slightly different area from the one the pollution was projected to impact, so there’s no way to make a direct comparison. People who live in the 30014 ZIP code are diagnosed with more cancers than residents in Newton County overall and in the state as a whole. -- Data from Georgia Department of Public Health Cancer rates in this ZIP code appeared to be on par with those in the rest of the state. In 30339, the latest data show 474 cases of cancer were diagnosed for every 100,000 people, the same as the statewide rate. While rates of breast cancer were slightly higher in 30339 than in the rest of the state, the difference is not statistically significant, meaning it could be due to chance alone. While higher levels of cancer haven’t shown up in state data in the Smyrna area, the numbers tell a different story in Covington. People who live in the 30014 ZIP code are diagnosed with more cancers than residents in Newton County overall and in the state as a whole. In 30014, there were 527 cases of cancer diagnosed for every 100,000 people, compared with an average of 474 cases of cancer diagnosed for every 100,000 people statewide. The difference between the cancer rate in 30014 and the state is statistically significant, meaning that the increase is not likely due to chance alone. Rates of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer linked to ethylene oxide exposure, have recently been higher in the 30014 ZIP code, compared with the Georgia average. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma rates have been rising an average of nearly 7% each year from 2007 to 2016 in this ZIP code. The increases are statistically significant, according to public health officials. Rates of breast cancer, another type of cancer linked to the toxin, have varied. The latest data show rates in the ZIP code are close to the state average of 127 cases diagnosed for every 100,000 people. But historical data indicate that they peaked in this ZIP code between 2010 and 2014, when 139 cases were diagnosed for every 100,000 people. Over the same time frame, Georgia’s breast cancer rate was 127 cases per 100,000. In a written statement, the Department of Public Health cautions that it is extremely difficult to find out if an environmental exposure has caused cancer. The department says its data shouldn’t be seen as a link between any particular environmental exposure and a specific type of cancer. That’s particularly true in some of the impacted neighborhoods in Covington, which have had documented exposures to other types of toxic chemicals in addition to ethylene oxide. Longtime CompanyAnn Singley had lived in the same neighborhood of neat wooden row houses for much of her life. The homes were built to house workers at the old Covington Mill. Singley grew up, for a time, in a house on Wheat Street, where she lived with her mother and four brothers. She moved back in 1991 when she married her husband, Kelly, a deputy for the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. Bard has a longstanding presence here, too. The company has been using ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment in the area for decades. Federal records show the plant, which sits about half a mile as the crow flies from the yellow house where the Singleys lived, has been emitting ethylene oxide to the outdoor air since at least 1987, the first year companies were required to report releases of toxic chemicals to the federal government. That year, the plant reported releasing more than 76,000 pounds of ethylene oxide. By 1991, when the Singleys moved in, that number was down to 35,700 pounds. “Neither Georgia EPD nor U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has asked BD to take any actions as a result of this report, as our ethylene oxide levels … are well below all required levels.” - Statement, BD Bard Those numbers are much higher than current reported releases, but experts say that when the releases were made years ago, less was known about the risk, which means communities impacted by ethylene oxide may have been exposed for decades. The state’s model shows the risks from the ethylene oxide emissions span a wide area in Covington -- more than 15 miles from the facility. Location intelligence company Esri estimates more than 18,000 people are impacted there. In the Covington Mill neighborhood, ethylene oxide emissions exceed the state’s annual safe level by an average of 23 to 34 times. In 2015, the average concentration of ethylene oxide in a neighborhood on the other side of Bard, called Settlers Grove, was 97 times higher than the state’s safe level. That means ethylene oxide in the air could be expected to cause 97 cases of cancer for every 1 million people exposed over the course of their lifetimes. Cancer is common, to be sure. According to the American Cancer Society, one in three people will get cancer in their lifetime, and most will never know exactly what caused it. Some of the risk for cancer can be inherited, through genes. Cancer can also develop because of exposure to something in the environment. Experts who have studied the issue believe that environmental cancer triggers have been overlooked. In 2010, a federal report from the President’s Cancer Panel concluded that “the true burden of environmental induced cancer has been grossly underestimated” and that human exposure to cancer-causing chemicals is widespread in the U.S., where chemicals are untested and “largely unregulated.” In response to questions from WebMD and Georgia Health News, BD Bard issued a written statement: “BD cares deeply for our employees and the communities in which we operate. We are an important part of the Covington community and take our responsibility to be a good corporate citizen very seriously. We continue to take all steps necessary to ensure the safe operation of our facilities.” The company further says that the EPD’s maps are based on computer modeling and not actual air testing. “Neither Georgia EPD nor U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has asked BD to take any actions as a result of this report, as our ethylene oxide levels … are well below all required levels.” Resident’s Asthma, Breast CancerOn the other side of the BD plant, in apartments maintained by the Newton County Housing Authority, state regulators predict concentrations of ethylene oxide are 42 times higher than the acceptable limit. Resident Cynthia Newsome was not surprised to learn her air quality could be compromised. “You just walk outside and your lungs say, ‘Nope!’” she says. Newsome, who is 49, has gotten asthma since moving to the unit she rents there. Her daughter and her two grandsons, who live with her, have it too. They require an arsenal of pills and inhalers to manage their breathing problems. She runs an air purifier inside the house, and she has stopped sitting on her front porch because of her health problems. “I stay sick all the time,” she says. In addition to her breathing problems, she says she has symptoms like skin rashes that she attributes to “weird allergies.”     She’d like to move, but three bouts of breast cancer have wiped her out financially. She was first diagnosed at age 29, when she lived 12 miles away from the BD Bard plant at the Salem Glen apartments. That neighborhood is just outside the state’s impact zone for ethylene oxide. She said she has no history of breast cancer in her family and no known risk genes for it. Many different things can contribute to having cancer and asthma. It would be almost impossible for doctors to pinpoint what led to Newsome’s health problems. Still, it’s rare for a woman to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her 20s or 30s. According to the National Cancer Institute, the chances of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer between the ages of 30 and 40 are just .4%. That translates to about 1 case for every 227 women. (Ann Singley was also diagnosed in her 30s). Velma Slaton says her daughter always wondered how she got breast cancer. Tests failed to find any genes that would have increased her risk. “I would have traded my life so she could be here with her family and her kids, because my kids were grown. Hers weren’t,” Slaton said. The year after doctors found Ann’s breast cancer, Velma and her twin sister were diagnosed with it, too. They both live in Covington. They survived, but Ann was not so fortunate. After surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation put the cancer into remission, it returned in 2010. Her bones were riddled with it. Her doctor hoped she would make it to Christmas of 2012, but she didn’t. She passed away on Dec. 10 at home. Her youngest son, Gene, was 8.  “It was a horrible experience. I’ve been alone ever since. I guess I’m afraid to start over because something like that could happen again,” says her husband, Kelly. Ann died the day before their 21st wedding anniversary. “If they knew about it, if they knew there was a possibility that it could cause cancer and they allowed it to continue anyway, those people should be punished.” - Kelly Singley, husband of Ann Singley When told by reporters about the ethylene oxide near his home, he said the information was concerning. He recalled his birth mother worked at the Bard plant in the 1970s. She died of a brain tumor when he was 3. “If that’s something that’s going on, if something is causing a problem, they need to stop that particular part of the operation and move it out to unincorporated areas where people won’t be affected by it,” he said. “If they knew about it, if they knew there was a possibility that it could cause cancer and they allowed it to continue anyway, those people should be punished.” WebMD Health NewsReviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on July 19, 2019 SourcesVelma Slaton, breast cancer survivor and mother of Ann Singley, Covington, GA. Kelly Singley, widower, Covington, GA. Tony Adams, resident, of Smyrna, Georgia. Karen Hays, chief, Air Protection Branch, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, Atlanta. Richard Peltier, PhD, associate professor of environmental health sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Margie Donnell, co-founder, Stop Sterigenics, Willowbrook, IL. Cassandra Saffold, resident, Smyrna, GA. John Keller, lives near Sterigenics, Smyrna, GA. Jen Jordan, Georgia state senator, District 6, Smyrna, GA. Rene McLeroy, resident of Covington Mill, Covington, GA. Cynthia Newsome, resident of Newton County Housing Authority, Covington, GA. Environmental Protection Agency, Toxics Release Inventory, accessed July 15, 2019. Ethylene Oxide Sterilization Association, position statement, September 2018. EPA, Integrated Risk Information System, Ethylene Oxide, July 15, 2019. EPA, National Air Toxics Assessment, Aug. 22, 2018. The Intercept: “A Tale of Two Toxic Cities.” Georgia Open Records Act request to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, April 2, 2019. International Agency for Research on Cancer, ethylene oxide monograph, June 2018. University of California at San Francisco, Industry Documents Library: “Toxicology Conference in Galveston,” July 16-18, 1981. Chicago Tribune: “State Finds More Cancer Than Expected Near the Sterigenics Plant.” ATSDR: “Letter Health Consultation: Sterigenics International, Willowbrook, Illinois.” Area Development magazine: “2018 Top States for Doing Business.” Georgia EPD: “Toxic Impact Assessment Guideline,” accessed July 15, 2019. Sterigenics: “Responses to Georgia Health News.” BD, company statement, June 2019. American Chemistry Council, request for correction, Sept. 25, 2018. Georgia Department of Public Health, Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry 2019. ESRI, location intelligence company, 2019 updated demographics. National Cancer Institute, SEER breast cancer data, accessed July 2019.© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Clayton Van Pelt
7,997 supporters
Petitioning Donald J. Trump, Theresa May MP, Council of the European Union, European Parliament, Elizabeth Warren, Justin Trudeau, Athletics Canada Board of Directors, United Nations Security Council, John Ker...


  The United Nations, Heads of Government, Heads of Parliament and other members of the International Community, We write to bring to your notice, the wanton killings, maiming and brazen violation of human rights of the citizens of Nigeria, particularly the people of Rivers State which enveloped the Gubernatorial Election held on March 9, 2019 by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, using the Nigerian Military, a litany of security personnel and thugs loyal to the All Progressive Congress (APC). It is per the above ratio, that this petition is raised to save our democracy that is on the precipice. The world would recall that the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in exercising its constitutional functions while determining the suit filed by 22 aggrieved members of the party barred the candidate of the APC from contesting the Rivers Gubernatorial election. Following this judgement by the Supreme Court, Rotimi Amaechi, the leader of the party in Rivers State and his lieutenants have unleashed the most crude form of attack on the people of Rivers State. The media is awash with pictorial and video evidence of the mayhem caused by Rotimi Amechi, in the bid to cause anarchy and destroy Nigeria’s hard earned democracy. The militarization of Rivers State during this election, have been used to perpetrate the worst form of brigandage, tryanny and chaos known to the lexicon of human existence in recent times. Homes and Polling units have been invaded and opposition members shot in cold blood. The military have been used to cart away Electoral materials in an attempt to thwart and subdue the will of the people. The death toll has risen to an astronomical level owing to the desperation of a man whose party fielded no candidate in the election, but has sworn to make the state uninhabitable for the citizens. Suffice it to say, that the Rivers State government and the entire people of Rivers State have times without number, called on the President, the Inspector General of Police and the Chief of Army Staff to bring to an end to wit; the killings and inhuman treatment to no avail. The current federal government out of desperation has further empowered Mr Rotimi Amechi to enable him kill more people. It is vital to note, that the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) working with the incumbent Federal Government suspended the election in Rivers State, after results have been announced at the various polling units, refused to collate same and announce the PDP candidate winner in an election that he had clearly won. This has further caused panic amongst the citizenry who now live in fear. It is against this backdrop, that we ask you to intervene and blacklist Rotimi Amechi who in our opinion has become a terrorist, bar his family members from traveling and withdraw their visas. The people of Rivers State should not die for choosing the path of prosperity and progress. The people must be allowed to elect a government of their choice. Anything to the contrary would be a recipe for anarchy. THANK YOU. 

7,446 supporters
Petitioning The Honorable Ken Calvert, Rep. Ken Calvert, Donald J. Trump, Edmund G. Brown Jr., Dianne Feinstein, California State Senate, California State House, Nancy Pelosi, Kevin McCarthy, Hillary Clinton, ...

Unhomeless the Homeless in California

**Declare State of Emergency in California for All Homeless Individuals and their Companion Animals**  *♡♡♡PLEASE REMEMBER♡♡♡* THAT THE NUMBERS LISTED IN THIS PETITION REPRESENT ACTUAL ***♡♡♡HUMAN BEINGS♡♡♡*** On any given night, there are over 148,000 homeless people in California - 23% of the entire nation’s homeless population. In L.A. County, for example, the number of homeless people climbed 12% in a year to just shy of 59,000, according to the latest point-in-time count. **The Los Angeles County count found a 24% increase in homeless youth, defined as people under 25, and a 7% jump in people 62 or older.  Officials estimate about 29% of people experiencing homelessness in the county are mentally ill or coping with substance abuse problems. About two-thirds of all people on the streets of metro Los Angeles are male, just under one-third are female, and about 2% identify as transgender or gender non-conforming. This year’s Count revealed that 23% of the unsheltered people experiencing homelessness—more than 9,200 people—were homeless for the first time last year. The majority (53%) cited economic hardship as the cause.  Los Angeles County has the second largest population of homeless people of any region in the United States, according to a government report released Wednesday. In Los Angeles, 600,000 people are considered "severely rent burdened," which means they spend half their income on rent. More than 8,000 people became homeless here for the first time last year, according to the 2017 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority report. "We are reaching levels of inequality that we have not seen since the Gilded Age," said Tracy Rosenthal of the Los Angeles Tenants Union. The union helps organize tenant boycotts against things like rent increases and gentrification. **Updated 9/19** In L.A. County, for example, the number of homeless people climbed 12% in a year to just shy of 59,000, according to the latest point-in-time count. Within the city, the number soared to more than 36,000, a 16% increase. Los Angeles County's total — 55,188 — was behind only New York City's 76,501, according to the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. However, 95 percent of people experiencing homelessness in New York City were sheltered, the report found, while only 22 percent of those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles were sheltered in 2017. The HUD report findings were similar to the results of the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count released in June by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which put the county's homeless total at 57,794 — an increase of 23 percent over the previous count. The HUD report found that on one night in January, nearly one of every four people experiencing homelessness in the United States was in New York City or Los Angeles. According to the report, overall homelessness increased nationwide this year for the first time in seven years, by slightly under 1 percent compared to 2016. On a given night across the country, 553,742 people were homeless, with nearly two-thirds housed in shelters or transitional housing programs and one- third living on the streets, according to the report L.A.'s big increase in homelessness had a significant impact on the national numbers. Between 2016 and 2017, individual homelessness increased by 9 percent (15,540 people) in the nation's major cities. Los Angeles accounted for 60 percent of this increase. According to the report, Los Angeles County ranked: - second nationally in the percent of unsheltered homeless, at 84.3 percent; - first in the number of individuals who are homeless, at 47,082; - first in the number of unaccompanied homeless youth at 5,163; and first in the number of homeless veterans (4,476) and percentage of unsheltered veterans (76.1 percent). California had 134,278 homeless people, and while the Golden State has the nation's largest population, the rate of 34 homeless residents per 10,000 people was twice the national average, according to the report. Of those, 68 percent were living on the streets, by far the worst percentage. The report said half the nation's homeless live in California, New York, Florida, Texas or Washington. Counties across the state are facing a pervasive and deepening homeless crisis that imminently endangers the health and safety of tens of thousands of residents, including veterans, women, children, LGBT, youth, persons with disabilities and seniors.  Nowhere is this more evident than in Los Angeles County at least  134,278 men, women and children -- 10,000 to 12,000 in Downtown, including more than 8,000 parents and children in the San Fernando Valley alone -- are without homes.More than 53,000 homeless people, or 40 percent of the state’s total, live in Los Angeles County. That number is up from about 36,000 just six years ago. There are beds for less than one third of the homeless in Los Angeles county, comprehensive services are available to far fewer than half, and the county jails are routinely used as a substitution for mental health facilities.  In Los Angeles county the tremendous scale of homelessness threatens the economic stability of the entire region by burdening emergency medical services and the social services infrastructure. It is time to treat this crisis like the emergency it truly is.  The increasing numbers of displaced homeless people and the lack of ongoing resources to stably re-house them require immediate and extraordinary action. That is why We in LA County are taking the lead in a statewide effort to ask Governor Brown to declare a state of emergency in California to address this growing humanitarian crisis. We need: *Provide 50,000 more vouchers, through a combination of Housing Choice Vouchers and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, two longstanding key programs that provide needed rental subsidies for extremely low-income Americans; *Increse the value of those vouchers to account for the high cost of rents in America’s cities and counties; and, *Create a program based on best-practices to incentivize landlords to work with voucher holders to find stable housing Specifically, we urge you to implement the following recommendations: (1) Create a system for secure storage of the personal property of people experiencing homelessness. Without reasonable provision for the storage and safety of homeless people’s possessions (for example, a site with a tub or shopping cart - sized public locker system), homeless encampments are inevitable. (2) Meet the basic medical and hygienic needs of the homeless people in our midst. Beyond simply assuring access to public restrooms throughout our cities / county during the day, we ask that you: a) Establish a system of easily accessible medical / hygienic facilities (perhaps through medical vans or hygienic equivalents) to be made available to homeless people during the day, so that they could be treated for simple ailments like colds or the flu, as well as have their persons and their belongings “deloused” (freed from bed bugs / lice) b) Establish a system of infirmaries and, if needed, one-night quarantine wards for those arriving ill or infested with bugs, so that homeless persons arriving at the shelters for the night can become confident that they will not simply contract the flu or pests while sleeping at the shelters. (3) Do not close shelters (that is, do not expel the people that the shelters are serving) before a reasonable hour (7-8 am). No one should be forced to leave a shelter at 5 or 6 am, literally into the cold and darkness, before most other businesses and services open. (4) Establish a system of “day centers,” often called “multipurpose centers,” so that people experiencing homelessness have safe places to go to during the day where they could have many of the above mentioned needs met, as well have places to receive counseling, access to phones and computers with internet access for jobs, possible family and/or friends to reconnect  or simply to rest /recreate. (5) Respect the right of people experiencing homelessness to file complaints against homeless service providers and allow them to document the problems and complaints they have about the shelters through photography, video, or audio recordings MUCH MORE NEEDS TO BE ACTUALLY IMPLEMENTED NOW ! Please join us! Sign our petition urging to declare the homeless crisis a state of emergency and bring the concerted effort and resources needed to tackle this crisis in a meaningful way.  Homelessness, Humanitarianism, Social justice, Human Rights, Economic Justice, Homeless crisis, Affordable housing, Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and the Right to Live Free of prejudice.  No human in our country should be homeless. Let's take the first step together. Every single man, woman, child, baby deserves a safe place to call home. Along with their cats, dogs, birds, fish, and all the other additional animals types that are "family pets/companionship and should be lovingly taken cherished in a home also. Please then Share this petition with your family, friends, neighbors, and on your social media to spread the word even further.  Thank you for your support.

Lori Jean Siebers
5,224 supporters
Petitioning Paul Ricci, CEO

Stop the hidden exploitation of home-based Medical Transcriptionists in MT Services (MTSO)

Summary:  Tens of thousands of U.S. and Canadian home-based medical transcriptionist/editors (MTEs) work either as regular employees or independent contractors for various medical transcription service organizations (MTSOs) located throughout the country.  Their pay and working conditions have deteriorated in the last decade since the introduction of speech recognition technology, although the new technology did not prove as productive as forecast to warrant the reductions in pay at implementation, and did not replace the need for the same level of skilled workers.  Physicians and other healthcare providers don't get their pay cut when EHRs, robots or other technology help them to work more efficiently or with less strain and fatigue.  Healthcare facility-based MTEs doing the same work with the same technology, who may or may not have union representation, and often also work from home, are paid at least double to triple on average what their peers in MTSOs receive.  The difference is that workers in MTSOs are isolated from each other and unable to collectively bargain for their pay, performance measurement system, or other working conditions.  This petition calls for MTSOs to enable their employees to access their peers to organize for collective bargaining, and to utilize a fair, industry-standard performance measurement system and market-base pay system comparable to their counterparts in healthcare facilities.  It also calls on healthcare providers and administrators to support these efforts when considering outsourcing medical transcription. Detail:   In the last decade or so, MTSOs have been able to slash pay up to 60% based on the new technology of Speech Recognition (SR), which was projected to be far more accurate and productive than it actually turned out to be. (It was forecast as a 100% production increase, leading to cutting the pay rate in half of straight transcribing at implementation, versus an actual yielded productivity increase of approximately 20% to 30% in MTSOs, but not readjusting the pay rate upon this finding).  SR was made even less productive than forecast by changing from assigning single or backup accounts to assigning work across multiple, rotating, changing accounts to meet turnaround times, new account acquisitions or losses, and in some cases to train the SR for accounts to be off-shored later to India.  Production and quality are best maximized and maintained with familiar and unchanging conditions.  The change in technology did not reduce the skill level or knowledge base requirement of the workers, and in fact added new skills of editing.   Performance measurement systems were put in place by MTSOs to pay MTs again by production, across all workers, even though there are varying software platforms with variable productivity features, and varying amounts and complexity of accounts, dictators, and work types, which is often not factored and adjusted fully or at all.  Despite the variability, all workers are held to the same standard, even though this is contradictory to best practices established by AHDI (Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity).   In recent years, QA standards in MTSOs have risen beyond industry standards from 98% to 99% or 99.6%, which requires more time, yet not necessarily adjusted for in line count requirements, and which are difficult to fully gauge.  In some MTSOs, pay rates for the entire week are often reduced if the QA or production standards are not met weekly, even if off by 1 line or 0.1% for a single audit in a week.  This practice is also not recommended by AHDI.  Performance audits are not averaged over time to allow for variability in work assignments, new technology or accounts, illness, life situations, etc.  Rather, each week, the MT must meet standards or lose pay that week and be set up for performance action planning and termination, even when the variability makes meeting performance standards on a weekly basis difficult, and regardless if their average scores over several weeks is actually above standard.  Workers are put in the frustrating position of not being able to gauge or control their performance, which is described by AHDI as the failing of this type of compensation system.  Go too fast, they may lose points in QA accuracy. Go too slow for accuracy and they may lose points for production. Again, this system is not recommended by AHDI as best industry practice. Turnover is unnecessarily frequent due to rigidly-applied, erroneous standards, and the "luck of the draw" in work assignments, personal health and life situations, or a more or less lenient manager.  Many managers are pressured to adhere strictly to metrics, and those that are too lenient in making allowances for typically excusable circumstances become "no longer with the company." Some managers may manipulate the work to "justify" moving MTs around or out with changing "business needs."  As a result of the work assignment and compensation methods, pay is often near minimum wage, or less, which the company has to mark up to pay minimum wage.  This then becomes a performance issue on the metrics spreadsheet, which is all these workers basically are, a number on a spreadsheet, that also includes line counts, quality, "force to QA rate" for blanks, and productive time (time on keyboard versus not keyboarding).  Though they are a skilled technical and knowledge base, and their counterparts in healthcare facilities are making double the pay in an hourly-pay or unchanging environment, they are kept to minimum wage.  Most MTs who have worked in the industry for awhile saw their wages fall to half of what they previously were before the misapplied technology of SR, and they can no longer make a living.  Though they may receive benefits such as health insurance, their wages are often so low they qualify for public-assisted healthcare, similar to what was found at Walmart or McDonalds.  Some MTSOs will overuse or misuse independent contractors (ICs), stretching the boundaries of their work requirements to avoid paying employee-status benefits or payroll service, and subjecting them to the same working conditions as employee-status MTs. Beyond low wages for MTs in MTSOs (in which many MTSOs reap CEO salaries and profits in the multiple millions to near billions of dollars), the environment described above creates a pressure-filled and morale-challenged environment, with MTs often receiving feedback on minor errors and metric shortfalls on a daily to weekly basis, and living in fear of decreased wages each week or losing their jobs due to performance metrics.  There are often work shortages due to improper staffing and account work distribution, and staff are expected to make up time later or use PTO if they have it regardless of their schedules, and may end up short on payday.  Many feel they are on a treadmill, and not able to earn more in what is supposed to be an incentive pay system.  Many have had their savings depleted to make ends meet.  Others have simply left, some to find relatively better positions in other MTSOs, but which may ultimately end up being bought out by those same larger companies in what has become a monopolistic, noncompetitive (copying practice and pay) environment, and some MTs have simply left the industry altogether.   Some report their experiences directly to management, others anonymously in places like Glassdoor, Indeed, MT Stars etc.  An article describing the situation was published a short while back in For the Record. Many will not say anything because they fear that more of their jobs will be off-shored to India or other countries, although turnaround time needs and time zones, proficiency gaps, and quality concerns continue to keep work in the states.  Some MTSOs refuse to offshore medical records due to varying concerns around quality, HIPAA security, privacy, and confidentiality, other regulatory violations, identity theft, fraud, extortion, logistics, and support for U.S. (and Canadian)-based employees. We ask your help to petition the MTSOs to allow MTs full access to their peers including email addresses and meeting forums for the purpose of collaborating and collective bargaining, and to bring performance and compensation systems and wages up to the best practices of AHDI and the market pay of their peers in healthcare organizations. We ask that healthcare consumers call on healthcare providers to keep their medical records in the United States (and Canada) where its citizens and MTs are rigorously trained, required and committed to follow stringent privacy and confidentiality laws as well as practice professional ethics. We also call upon healthcare providers, hospital administrators, AHIMA, CHIMA and AHDI to show their support for the skilled, U.S. (and Canadian) home-based staff in MTSOs that work hard to alleviate the record-keeping burden of providers, providing high-quality medical records within needed time frames. We call on them to require MTSOs to improve their practice as we have requested. We ask them to withdraw support and patronage for MTSOs that engage in the aforementioned inhumane and poor management, erroneous and unjust performance and compensation practices, and offshoring work in an effort to cut costs, that in the long run does not return a savings and harms U.S. (and Canadian) citizen workers.  We call on them to patronize and support MTSOs that do not offshore their work and that provide fair performance measurement and pay commensurate with the skill and knowledge base of the position, the cost of living and comparative pay to their peers in healthcare organizations. Additional References: 1. The EHR Burden needs to be Solved: 2. As Hospitals Go Digital, Human Stories Get Left Behind: 3. EHRs, Clerical Tasks Contribute to Physician Burnout: 4.  Readers Write: It’s Time to Get Doctors Out of EHR Data Entry:  5. Finance Leaders Rethink Transcription: Six Critical Criteria in a Changing Landscape: 6. Medical Transcription Services: How to Choose and Negotiate: 7. Hidden High Costs of Offshoring Medical Transcription Work to India: 8. Offshore Health Records May Pose Privacy Risk: 9. Offshoring and Privacy Protection: 10.  The Truth About Medical Transcription: 11.  Life at the Low End of the Pay Scale: 12.  The Sledgehammer Approach to Management (SLAPM): 13.  Five Tips To Better Measure Productivity:  14.  Are Scorecards and Metrics Killing Employee Engagement?  15.  Measuring Programmer Productivity is a Waste of Time [shift in focus from individual metrics to outcome or group metrics (turnaround time) and process bottleneck improvements]:  16.  Electronic record errors growing issue in lawsuits:  17.  Exploitation is Exploitation is Exploitation:

MT Coalition
3,200 supporters
Petitioning Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Ken Calvert, United States Department of Labor, Gavin Newsom

Start treating California's disabled citizens' mental health needs

A beloved family member who has ALS, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, had a psychotic break recently and was suicidal. He desperately needed an inpatient mental health program to stabilize his condition. The hospital administration applied to programs throughout the entire State of California. He was rejected at every program, because they claim that, while they can treat the mental health aspect, they cannot treat the physical needs of ALS. He was finally admitted into the only program in the entire State of California who would accept him that we could find. Without inpatient mental health care, I feared for his life. I have since learned that this is a widespread, prevalent issue across all disabilities, and people with disabilities are being rejected repeatedly and, sadly, predictably. This is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires medical facilities to make the appropriate accommodations for people who are living with disabilities. More importantly, it is an intolerable violation of human decency to allow the neglect of the most vulnerable of our citizens' needs. How many have committed suicide on your watch? I am asking you to do the following immediately: 1. Audit all mental health programs within the State of California for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), indicating the number of people with disabilities accepted into their programs, the number of people with disabilities rejected access to their programs, and, lastly, accommodations they make to treat people with disabilities. 2. Determine and execute mandatory methods of accommodating people with disabilities, including funding for atypical accommodations. 3. Enforce strict adherence to providing access for people with disabilities to mental health programs. 4. Publish an annual public report with specific details of compliance or noncompliance. Thank you for your immediate attention to this life-and-death matter.

Catherine Scott
2,922 supporters