by Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai
“Hope rises like a phoenix from the ashes of shattered dreams.” – S.A. Sachs
The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program, aka HP Biomonitoring, marches forward this month with bold new initiatives that offer hope for Hunters Point residents and workers overburdened by the unjust impacts of environmental toxic exposures and pollution.
On Wednesday, March 2, 2022, HP Biomonitoring representatives will meet with Julian Rees, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of HOPO Therapeutics. Dr. Julian Rees and Rebecca Abergel, Ph.D., are on a mission to help communities impacted by heavy metal and radiation poisoning, and HP Biomonitoring is seeking their help!
Dr. Rebecca Abergel is an inorganic chemist whose research focuses on the elimination of heavy metals in the human body. Abergel is associate professor of Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley and co-founder of HOPO Therapeutics.
HOPO Tx belongs to a class of drugs called chelating agents. It is a unique scientific advancement that, unlike other chelating agents, can be administered by mouth and, in preclinical studies, does not leach vital essential minerals like iron, calcium and zinc.
HOPO Therapeutics has been granted investigational new drug status by the FDA, meaning, it has been shown to be both safe and effective in preclinical studies in removing a wide range of heavy metals from the body, including lead, cadmium, gadolinium and the radioactive elements uranium and plutonium.
All of these radioactive and carcinogenic heavy metals have been detected or are strongly suspected to contribute to the body burden of Hunters Point residents and workers living within the one mile buffer zone of the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard’s system of federal Superfund sites. Watch the HP Biomonitoring ROC Cluster mapping here.
The HP Biomonitoring geospatial mapping was expanded to include the Proposition 65 listed heavy metal cadmium that was used at the shipyard as cadmium-109 and has been detected in dangerous concentrations in multiple urinary screenings.
Unfortunately, HOPO Tx investigators cannot provide, sell or distribute the active pharmaceutical ingredient 3,4,3-Li (1.2-HOPO) to private individuals, organizations or physician practices. They are, however, exploring options for making the product available through the FDA’s Expanded Access Compassionate Use Program that grants permission to provide an investigational drug to those in need.
HP Biomonitoring’s ever-expanding cancer cluster
The HP Biomonitoring cancer cluster expanded by seven new cases in a two-week period after a minister who attended the Feb. 12 community march and rally reported he and his wife are 20-year homeowners on Ingalls Street diagnosed with prostate and breast cancer.
On Feb. 22, 2022, UCSF Internist Rupa Marya, MD, reported hospitalizing a woman diagnosed with pancreatic cancer who lives on Quesada Avenue, blocks away from the shipyard’s radiation-contaminated Parcel E-2 landfill, shoreline and western panhandle fence line, where her 24-year-old son died of lymphoma.
Three new cases in one day were identified on Feb. 23, including a woman diagnosed with both breast cancer and myeloma while living on the Hunters Point hilltop on Dolphin Court and two brothers diagnosed with prostate and colon cancer while living on Northridge Road and Ingalls Street. All have been offered complimentary urinary toxic exposure screenings by HP Biomonitoring.
The California Cancer Registry under the direction of Kathleen Davidson-Allen and Meg McKinley are verifying the Hunters Point Cancer Cluster. HP Biomonitoring has prepared a flier for distribution and survey work to identify the scope of the cluster that centers around the Crisp Road entry to the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory complex on the shipyard’s southern shoreline west along Palou Avenue, north towards the Hunters Point hilltop and southwest along the shipyard’s western fence line toward Yosemite Slough.
HP Biomonitoring awarded $50k from the California EPA!
“As you know, improving the health and well being of African Americans is a key priority for 100 Black Men of America. With our mission in mind, 100 Black Men of America, Inc., is delighted to write a letter in support of your proposal entitled ‘Community Window on Environmental Exposures in Bayview Hunters Point.’
“Your critical program has the potential for improving the quality of life and life expectancy for thousands of at-risk residents in San Francisco’s most vulnerable community who live in close proximity to a very toxic EPA Superfund site,” stated Mark Alexander, Ph.D., health and wellness chair, Aug. 10, 2021.
Mark Alexander, Ph.D., is a research scientist and former assistant director of the Medical Effectiveness Research Center for Diverse Populations at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Alexander grew up in Bayview Hunters Point and, along with HP Biomonitoring founder and PI Dr. Ahimsa Porter Sumchai, graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School. He was instrumental in the start-up and implementation of the Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program.
Boasting powerful letters of support from 100 Black Men of America, Inc, the SF Bay View newspaper and the Marie Harrison Community Foundation, Inc., the Hunters Point Biomonitoring Foundation was notified on Feb. 15, 2022, of the awarding of a $50,000 CalEPA EJ small grant for implementation of Community Window on Environmental Exposures in Bayview Hunters Point that proposes to create a live and virtual mapping project towards the ultimate goal of establishing the Hunters Point Community Toxic Registry.
implementation of a live and virtual “community window”
The Hunters Point Biomonitoring Foundation, Inc. proposes to promote community resilience and understanding of environmental justice information systems by establishing Community Window on Environmental Exposures that will meet CalEPA’s statutory commitments to reduce pollution and exposure to toxic chemicals and strengthen collaborative efforts in building local capacity and uplifting community knowledge.
The project offers an 18-month timetable, work plan and budget for implementation of a live and virtual “community window” that will integrate environmental monitoring and mapping tools with weekly neighborhood pollution patrols and publication of the “Environmental Crime and Grime Blog.”
HP Biomonitoring wholeheartedly supports the groundbreaking initiative led by BVHP community leader Derek Toliver, founder and CEO of STEM2Hearts, that kicked off on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021, with the STEM Frenzy series that prioritizes STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – enrichment for African American children.
Aude Bouagnon, Ph.D., neuroscientist and medical researcher, represented HP Biomonitoring at the November 2021 STEM Frenzy workshop.
HP Biomonitoring hosted a display table with microscope, magnifying glasses, medical equipment and model human skull and bones at the STEM Frenzy Festival held on Lee Street in the OMI neighborhood. STEM Frenzy monthly workshops for K-12 students delve into science, technology, engineering and math, offering access to hands-on educational experiences to help underserved, deserving students of color prosper and flourish.
Toward the establishment of the Hunters Point Community Toxic Registry
The Hunters Point Community Biomonitoring Program and its 501(c)3 non-profit public benefit foundation are committed to the ultimate creation of the Hunters Point Community Toxic Registry.
Modeled after toxic exposure registries adopted by atom bomb survivors in Japan, the Veterans Administration Environmental Registry, the World Trade Center Medical Monitoring Program and the CDC-monitored Flint Michigan Lead Exposure Registry, the Hunters Point Community Toxic Registry promises to connect residents and workers in the exposed community to expert medical, social and legal advocacy and nutritional services and programs that promote health, wellness and understanding of how environmental exposures affect the broader community and their personalized impacts.