Today the Seattle Human Rights Commission passed Resolution 14-01 calling on Washington State to Raise the Fish Consumption Rate to that of Oregon’s at 175 g/day using a risk level of 10-6 to ensure that all Washingtonians, even our highest fish consumers, are protected in the free and equal exercise of our human rights to health and our own means of subsistence. This is a huge step forward for public health and human rights. And better still the Commission is calling on all of us to urge the Governor and Ecology Director Maia Bellon to act NOW and adopt the rule that science, public health, and human rights clearly demand.
This is how the Human Rights Commission made the connection between the fish consumption rate and human rights….
Everyone has a human right to health and to live in conditions that will ensure their health. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and mercury are a few examples of toxic substances persistent in state waterways. Because chemicals accumulate in fish tissue, fish consumption is the primary route for human exposure to chemical pollutants. High fish consumers, such as Native Americans or people in other communities whose diets include fish and shellfish, are at a particularly high risk. But everyone who eats fish harvested from Washington’s waters is at risk of cancer due to the chemicals found in our waterways. A more protective FCR accompanied by an appropriate risk factor will set more stringent pollution and clean-up standards for Washington’s waterways to ensure that even high-fish consumers in our state will be protected from unsafe exposures to harmful substances.
What can you do?
The Washington State Department of Ecology is now in its rule-making process to adopt new human health criteria in the Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters of the State of Washington, Chapter 173-201A WAC. Join the Seattle Human Rights Commission in making your voice heard on this important issue!
Pick up a phone, and call The Washington State Department of Ecology as well as Governor Inslee’s Office. Your message could be as straightforward as the following:
For Ecology: Director Maia Bellon (360-407-7001)
“Hello, my name is __________, and I would like to thank Director Bellon for taking initiative in reassessing Washington’s human health criteria in the Water Quality Standards for Surface Waters. I urge the Washington State Department of Ecology to raise our fish consumption rate to at least 175 g/day with a risk of 10-6 (“ten to the negative sixth”) to protect the health and human rights of all fish consumers. Thank you.”
Governor Jay Inslee: (360-902-4111)
“Hello, my name is __________, and I would like to thank Governor Inslee for taking initiative in organizing an informal advisory committee on Water Quality Standards to help him make an informed recommendation on the draft CR-102 rule. I urge Governor Inslee to recommend a fish consumption rate of at least 175 g/day with a risk of 10-6 (“ten to the negative sixth”) to Director Bellon to protect the health and human rights of all fish consumers. Thank you.”
And thank you!!! The full text of the resolution follows:
Resolution 14-01: Calling on Washington State Department of Ecology to Raise the Statewide Fish Consumption Rate
WHEREAS, all people are born free and equal in dignity and rights; and
WHEREAS, the Seattle Human Rights Commission is committed to protecting and advocating for justice, human rights, and the equal treatment of all people who live and work in Seattle; and
WHEREAS, the City of Seattle was declared to be a Human Rights City on December 10, 2012, committing itself to protect, respect and fulfill the full range of inherent human rights for all as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and numerous other international human rights treaties; and
WHEREAS, health is an internationally-recognized human right outlined in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and
WHEREAS, Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the U.S. has ratified, and Article 1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which the U.S. has signed, both provide that “in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence”; and
WHEREAS, Article 20(1) of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples establishes and protects the right of indigenous peoples “to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence” and Article 20(2) creates a basis for “just and fair redress” where indigenous peoples are deprived of these rights; and
WHEREAS, a state’s fish consumption rate is used to set safe and acceptable levels of pollutants that may be released into a state’s waters while still protecting the health of its citizens who consume fish harvested from the state’s waters; and
WHEREAS, a state’s fish consumption rate directly impacts its water quality standards and human health criteria; and
WHEREAS, the State of Washington has a fish consumption rate of 6.5 g/day; and
WHEREAS, Washington State’s Department of Health advises Washingtonians to consume two 226 gram servings of fish per week, a recommendation that substantially exceeds Washington State’s fish consumption rate; and