I finally recieved word from both the Canadian Cancer Society and HBC/Zeller's after sending this letter to every contact at the BCSC, HBC/Zeller's and the CCS. Still not even a slight whisper from the BCSC, not even a confirmation email. Nothing.
Hello, I have sent several emails regarding the decision of the BCSC to support and endorse the sale of Teflon 'think pink' cookware, and to support and endorse the sale of vinyl window stickers made by Chroma-graphics, which is a PlastiColor company. http://www.chroma-graphics.com/asp/category2.asp?cat=Decals http://www.amazon.com/Bialetti-8-Piece-Cook-Cure-Cookware/dp/B000EG66HG
I am familiar with the Canadian Cancer Society's position on Teflon cookware. It is my understanding that Teflon and PTFE is a known carcinogen, however when used 'safely' it poses no risk, or has not yet been proven to pose a significant enough risk to affect policy. What is the definition of 'safely' when considering the entire lifespan of the product? It is my concern that PTFE, along with many others like PVC, are known toxins and at some point in their life-cycle (manufacturing, use, or disposal) they persist in the environment and become infused in our food webs and water cycles and do indeed cause cancer. Perhaps there is not a direct link between using a Teflon non-stick cookware product 'safely' and breast cancer, but what is known for a fact is that persistent chemicals like PVC, BPA, and PTFE will have negative impact on human health, regardless of how they get there.
I think that it is in very poor taste to have the Breast Cancer Society of Canada partner with Teflon and Vinyl products and encourage the sale of the products through promises of 10% donations. Perhaps advocating against these products cant be done yet as research is still on going:
"Another chemical used during the making of non-stick coating, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), may be present at very low levels in the cookware, according to at least one study. Some studies have shown that exposure to PFOA over long periods of time may be linked to cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer, though this research is not conclusive and is continuing. Several studies show that PFOA causes cancer in laboratory animals. Based on these and other studies, the majority of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board believes that PFOA likely causes cancer."
-quoted from Canadian Cancer Society
In light of the fact that these products likely do cause cancer, I would think that the BCSC and CCS at the very least shouldn't be endorsing the sale of these products, especially when other organizations and governments have taken proactive measures against their use. Volkswagen, Honda, Ikea, on and on and on have been phasing out the use of Vinyl, yet some how the one institution that should be the most aware and show the greatest level of concern for human and environmental health has managed to endorse, encourage and brand the very product that causes what they are fighting. Ottawa has also taken measures to avoid risk: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060620/non_stick_chemicals_canada_060620/20060620 Why is the BCSC and CCS still endorsing these products? Is it an oversight, or are the risks know about? This is a very ugly contradiction and should be put under a certain amount of scrutiny. The Think Pink movement should not be used to sell cancer causing chemicals, nor unknown but likely carcinogenic products. This issue should be looked at by the BCSC as it has a responsibility to inform the public of health risks. From my point of view the BCSC and its affiliated "Think Pink" marketing campaign, in the specific case of pink Teflon cookware and vinyl stickers is posing a health risk when it is being falsely advertised as a help to the cancer movement, when in fact it is a hindrance. I think it would be a nice gesture, and fair, if the Tobacco industry chose to donate a percentage of their profits towards finding a cure for that which their products cause. However, when considering the smoking/cancer risk, one would normally, and rationally, come to the conclusion that eradicating the root of the problem (smoking) would be more effective than trying to fix the problem that it creates (cancer). This choice goes directly against the statement that is made on the HBC website by the BCSC
"The goal of the Think Pink™ program is to one day live in a world without breast cancer. The funds raised work towards this goal by supporting breast cancer research, and breast health education and awareness programs across the country. Think Pink™ and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation believe in being breast aware and proactive in our health."
The statements are rife with rotten contradictions. The goal of the "Think Pink" program needs to be re-considered if they are going to peddle carcinogenic chemicals in the name of a fanciful "world without breast cancer".
To me, it is appalling that HBC/Zeller's, and the BCSC can get away with doing this. I have been into Zeller's many times and spoken with two managers who have pledged to get back to me, and have not done so for months. I have emailed the BCSC numerous times about this issue, and their association with HBC/Zeller's and the Think Pink campaign, and have not received one response.
I thank you for your response and would encourage you to put me in contact with someone within your organization who may be able to help get more information about the stance of the BCSC's position on this issue. Cancer has touched my friends and family, and its time we collectively made a well thought out effort to address the root problems, as well as trying to find a cure.
I am astonished every single day how hard we work against ourselves. Thanks very much, and I look forward to hearing your response, as I have yet to receive a substantiated response in the months I have been trying to bring this issue to attention to HBC, Zeller's, the BCSC, and the CCS.
The response was interesting and not surprising. The next step for me is to investigate the BCS a little more and find out why they have no regard to the sorts of products they sell. Is this because they operate for a profit and thus endorse products that are cheap and sell, irrespective of whether they do and likely cause cancer? Or have they made a mistake? If the latter is true, I would have hoped for a more forth coming response and appology for the rather crass and irresponsible decision they have made to brand these products.
I am also in the process of putting together something succinct to hopefully get the media to publish, or look into at least. However, I also have a thesis to write and am running out of time, so there might be a hiatus of new information on the blog for the time being.
Dear Mr. Davis,
I do understand your concern in this matter and it is really unfortunate that the managers have not reverted back to you. However, I would like to inform you that since we only provide space for these products to sell, I wouldn't be able to provide you with the appropriate assisstance. If there is any other concern that we can assisst you with, please contact us at 1866 746 7422 or Customer.Service@hbc.com Regards,
Here is the response I received from the Canadian Cancer Society:
Thank you for writing back to the Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Information Service.
You have stated in one of your emails that you had never received a response from the National office of the Canadian Cancer Society regarding Teflon products. My files indicate that a response from National was sent to you in December 2008. *(I never received this email, probably an honest mistake)* Just in case the email did not get through properly, I have included the original response from our National office for you to review below.
With regards to the breast cancer ribbon stickers you refer to and the dangers of vinyl chloride, I would first like to point out that the Breast Cancer Society of Canada is not affiliated with the Canadian Cancer Society and therefore these stickers are not coming from our organization.
Vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen. Please find attached some information from the Canadian Cancer Encyclopedia that you may wish to review. You may also be interested in reading the links from Health Canada and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding vinyl chloride:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
If you have any further questions for us Taylor, please let us know.
Audrie, Information Specialist
Email from National:
Dear Ms. Davis,
Thank you for contacting the Canadian Cancer Society.
With regards to PTFE being a known carcinogen, there is a debate in the scientific community about this chemical. There is some concern that PTFE (the non-stick coating) may break down during use to release small amounts of TFE, a substance that may cause cancer in humans, however there is no definitive evidence at this time.
Similarly, there is no conclusive research at this time to indicate that PFOA (the substance used during the manufacture of non-stick coatings) causes cancer in humans, however, this issue continues to be monitored and assessed by the scientific community. The Canadian Cancer Society believes that Canadians have the right to know what is in their products. This allows individuals to choose to avoid certain products when the science is not entirely conclusive.
With regards to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, it is a charity that works independently of us and we cannot speak to their policies or partnerships. With respect to our own corporate relationships, however, the Canadian Cancer Society seeks corporate partnerships that are meaningful, educate Canadians about the disease and help generate funds in support of our mission.
All new corporate partnerships are reviewed against our National Corporate Relationship and Gift Acceptance Policy which is available on our website:
I hope this information will be helpful.
The Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society's Cancer Information Service is available toll-free at 1 888 939-3333 in both English and French, Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. anywhere in Canada.(Node Regina Inquiry ID #511668)