Be Safe

Chemical Mixtures May Lead to Cancer

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A recently published scientific paper came to a striking conclusion – “the cumulative effects of individual (non-carcinogenic) chemicals acting on different pathways, and a variety of related systems, organs, tissues and cells could plausibly conspire to produce carcinogenic synergies.” In other words, exposure to multiple chemicals at low doses, considered individually to be”safe could result in various low dose effects that lead to the formation of cancer. This is a remarkable observation and conclusion. It is also an important advance in the understanding of the risks chemicals pose to society.

Organized by the non-profit Getting to Know Cancer, a group of 350 cancer research scientists came together in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2013 to address the question of continuous multiple chemical exposures and the risks these exposure pose. Referred to as the Halifax Project, this effort merged two very distinct fields – environmental toxicology and the biological mechanisms of cancer – and provided the opportunity for researchers to look at the diversity of environmental factors that contribute to cancer by examining the impact that exposure to very small amounts of chemicals can have on various systems of the body.

A task force of nearly 200 scientists formed at this meeting took on the challenge of assessing whether or not everyday exposures to mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals have a role to play in cancer causation. The researchers began by identifying a number of specific key pathways and mechanisms that are important in the formation of cancer. Then they identified individual (non-carcinogenic) chemicals that are commonly found in the environment that had some potential to disrupt these systems. A total of 85 environmental chemicals were identified.

The authors found that 59% of these chemicals (50/85) had low dose effects “at levels that are deemed relevant given the background levels of exposure that exist in the environment.” They found that only 15% of the chemicals reviewed (13/85) had a dose-response threshold and that the remaining 26% (22/85) could not be categorized due to a lack of dose-response information. The authors concluded that these results help “to validate the idea that chemicals can act disruptively on key cancer-related mechanisms at environmentally relevant levels of exposure.”

This is an incredibly important observation because it challenges the traditional thinking about how cancer forms in the body. It challenges the notion that all cancers share common traits (considered the “hallmarks of cancer”) that govern the transformation of normal cells to cancer cells. The authors also discuss how the results in this paper impact the process of risk assessment which even its most sophisticated model fails to address continuous exposures to mixtures of common chemicals.

The authors point out how surprisingly little is actually known about the combined effects of chemical mixtures on cancer related mechanisms and processes. This effort however seems to be a very positive step forward.

To read the full paper, go to <http://carcin.oxfordjournals.org/content/36/Suppl_1/S254.full.pdf+html>.

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EPA Can Map Environmental Justice Communities – Can They Stop The Poisoning?

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Today we know how to identify Environmental Justice communities but what is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doing to relieve their community burdens? A new mapping tool created by the EPA, called EJSCREEN was recently released. This tool is great for academia or researchers but how does it help environmentally impacted communities? Why is generating information, that community already know because they are living with the pollution and associated diseases daily, more important than helping them?

CHEJ, for example, has worked for over thirty years with Save Our County in East Liverpool, Ohio This community in the 1990’s was defined by EPA as an Environmental Justice community, through their evaluation process which is the same as the mapping categories. Yet nothing has changed as a result of this definition.

  • The hazardous waste incinerator, WTI, still operates and remains for most of the time in violation of air and other standards.
  • Other industries continue to pollute with little enforcement.
  • An elementary school was closed due to the air emissions from the WTI Incinerator stack which is almost level to the school windows (incinerator is in the valley) stack peeked over the embankment. The City was force to shoulder the costs of relocating students and staff.
  • In the past several years new wells were drilled for natural gas extraction and infrastructure.
  • The community has the highest number of cancers in their county than other similar counties in the state.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed in East Liverpool, Ohio as a result of being defined an environmental justice community.

  • No decision to stop new polluting industries from setting up shop.
  • No action on denying permits, when they have been a significant repeat violator of the laws and regulation, when up for renewal permit.
  • No fee data and information when requested under the freedom of information requests.
  • No additional public comment meetings for new or existing permits. Absolute nothing changed in East Liverpool, OH and so many other communities.

    Thank you EPA for providing a tool for academics, for communities to say yes our community qualifies (although they already knew) and for real estate and banking institutions to provide information that will make it more difficult for families in Environmental Justice communities to secure a home improvement loan or sell their property.

    Now can you spend some time and money on reducing the pollution burdens and assisting with the medical professionals for disease related injuries.

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    DDT Linked to Fourfold Increase in Breast Cancer Risk

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    Women exposed in the womb to high levels of the pesticide DDT have a nearly fourfold increased risk of developing breast cancer, according to new results of research conducted on California mothers and daughters for more than half a century.

    Full story at National Geographic

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    Which brands use BPA?

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    You’ve probably heard of bisphenol A, or BPA, a synthetic estrogen found in the linings of many food cans. One of the nastiest endocrine disruptors on the market, BPA has been linked to a variety of serious disorders, including cancer, reproductive damage and heart disease.

    But I bet you haven’t heard this: Consumers have NO reliable way of knowing which canned foods use BPA-based epoxy in their linings. Crazy, right?

    At EWG, we thought so too, which is why we’re proud to release our latest analysis, BPA in Canned Food: Behind the Brand Curtain. We developed this report to help consumers like you determine which products contain BPA and which brands you can count on for BPA-free products.

    Click here to check out the full report and get the facts on which canned food products still contain BPA.


    EWG


    After scrutinizing more than 250 brands of canned food, EWG analysts found that while many companies have publicly pledged to stop using BPA in their cans, more than 110 brands still line all or some of their metal cans with an epoxy resin containing BPA.

    EWG divides the brands into four categories: those using cans with BPA, those using BPA-free cans for some products, those always using BPA-free cans and those that are unclear. That way, you can tell exactly which products to seek out and which to avoid.

    Federal regulations don’t require manufacturers to label their products so you can identify cans with BPA-based linings. That’s why EWG stepped up to do this research — so you have the resources you need to avoid BPA and shop smarter.

    Click here to learn more and see which canned food brands you should avoid and which ones you can count on for BPA-free products.

    While you can’t yet rely on federal regulations to safeguard you and your family from toxic chemicals like BPA, you can always depend on EWG.

    Thanks for making this work possible.

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    Merle Norman and Mary Kay: Support the Personal Care Products Safety Act

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    Do you know if your personal care products are safe?

    Right now, cosmetics companies can put just about anything in their products – even chemicals associated with cancer and endocrine disruption.

    Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced a bill that would require cosmetics companies to prove that their products are safe before marketing them. It would give the federal Food and Drug Administration the power to review risky ingredients.

    While many cosmetics companies support the bill, Merle Norman and Mary Kay haven’t stepped up yet! EWG needs you to take action today and tell these companies to support the Personal Care Products Safety Act.

    Click here to add your name to EWG’s petition to Merle Norman and Mary Kay! Cosmetics shouldn’t include potentially dangerous ingredients.

    What goes on our skin is often absorbed into our bodies, and that’s certainly the case with chemicals in personal care products. EWG’s Teen Body Burden study found an average of 13 cosmetics chemicals in the bodies of teenage girls. Among the suspect substances were phthalates, triclosan and parabens — all of which have been found to alter the hormone system. Enough is enough.

    The Personal Care Products Safety Act would give the FDA the power it needs to protect consumers from these chemicals. Many cosmetics companies are working with us to get this bill passed and protect their customers. So why are Merle Norman and Mary Kay sitting on the bench?!

    Stand with us today as we call on these two cosmetics companies to put consumers like you first and support the Personal Care Products Safety Act!

    Click here to sign our petition telling Merle Norman and Mary Kay to support the Personal Care Products Safety Act!

    Thank you for adding your voice – together we can get carcinogens and hormone disruptors out of our products.

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    Health effects of vinyl flooring on baby boys

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    Mind the Store has achieved tremendous victories lately – the nation’s two largest home improvement retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s, have committed to phasing out toxic phthalates in flooring by the end of the year.  

    We’re now turning our attention to Menards, the 3rd largest home improvement chain in the country with sales of over $8 billion and 280 stores in 14 states. You may not have a Menards in your area, that is ok. We still need you to act. If Home Depot and Lowe’s can ban phthalates in flooring, so can Menards!  

    TAKE ACTION: Tell Menards to phase out toxic phthalates in flooring.

    Testing has found some vinyl flooring Menards sells contains toxic phthalates, chemicals linked to asthma and birth defects in baby boys. Chemicals that are so toxic, they have been restricted in children’s toys.

    Let’s turn up the heat on Menards
    — Take action today!

    Act Now!

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    Waterways May be Contaminated with High Levels of BPA Released into the Atmosphere

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    Our water may be contaminated by hormone-disrupting pollutants. Scientists have discovered that harmful concentrations of Bisphenol-A (BPA) may have been deposited directly into rivers and streams by municipal or industrial wastewater.

    “There is a growing concern that hormone disruptors such as BPA not only threaten wildlife but also humans,” said Chris Kassotis, one of the researchers, in a news release. “Recent studies have documented widespread atmospheric releases of BPA from industrial sources across the United States. The results from our study provide evidence that these atmospheric discharges can dramatically elevate BPA in nearby environments.”

    Read more.

    It’s Time to Move Beyond Risk Assessment

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    Risk assessment is the standard method for evaluating exposure to toxic chemicals, despite the fact that it’s nearly impossible to do a risk assessment that is objective and accurate. There are just too many hard-to-measure factors affecting the chance that any one chemical will harm us and if so, how and to what extent, and too many ways for personal bias to change the results. For example, there’s been a long argument about whether arsenic causes cancer. We do know that it’s poisonous. It probably does cause cancer, but many people seem to be immune. So we’re not sure how many cases might occur, and what amount of arsenic might cause cancer. Also, it doesn’t seem to cause cancer in animals, so there’s no way to put the information together. When there are information gaps, the only thing we can do is build-in an extra safely factor, by making the “allowable” level a certain amount less than what we think the “safe” level is. But is that really the answer?

    The public wants greater protection from exposure to toxic chemicals than provided by the traditional quantitative risk assessment approach which has many limitations and uncertainties. Instead, support has grown for use of a precautionary approach that promotes (1) preventive action, (2) democratic and transparent decision-making with the broadest possible public participation, and (3) a shifting of the questions being asked (e.g., instead of asking what level of risk is acceptable, asking how much risk can be avoided; what is the need; why is it needed; who benefits and who is harmed; and what are the alternatives?) as well as the presumptions used in decision-making (e.g., shifting the burden of proof to the proponents of potentially harmful activities, and placing public health above other considerations).

    In its 2009 report, Science and Decisions, the National Resource Council (NRC) of the National Academies acknowledged that risk assessment is “at a crossroads” facing “a number of substantial challenges”, that “its credibility is being challenged”, and that the “regulatory risk assessment process is bogged down”.  The report made a number of recommendations that focused on improving the methodology of risk assessments (e.g., thorough evaluation of uncertainties and variability, unified dose-response approach to cancer and non-cancer endpoints, broadening the assessment of cumulative and interacting health risks and stressors), and improving the relevance or utility of risk assessments for decision-making (e.g., involving all stakeholders at the earliest stage of the planning, design and scoping of the risk assessment, and increasing the transparency of the assessment methods and process).

    The NRC recommended two major shifts: (1) “that risk assessment should be viewed as a method for evaluating the relative merits of various options for managing risk”, with the risk management questions being “clearly posed, through careful evaluation of the options available to manage environmental problems at hand,” casting light on “a wider range of decision options than has traditionally been the case”; and (2) aligning closely the technical analysis with the problem at hand so that the risk assessment will be relevant to the needs of the decision-makers and stakeholders who are addressing the problem (e.g., a “one size fits all” approach to risk assessment will not be appropriate for such very different problems as regulating a chemical and deciding on a site remediation approach).

    These recommendations are now more than 5 years old, and there’s little evidence that government is adopting these recommendations. Doing so should improve the ability to interpret hazards, contamination levels and population exposures, dose-response relationships, and cumulative risks (exposures from multiple pathways, complex mixtures, multiple stressors, and factors affecting vulnerability), as well as the evaluation of a wide range of alternative options (e.g., inherently safer technologies, alternative ways to achieve the same goal, etc.). It could also provide a way to integrate the risk assessment tool within a broader precautionary approach that seeks to reduce or avoid exposures to toxic chemicals, which the public is actively calling for. It’s time to stop accepting risk assessment as the best we can do to evaluate risks and adopt more a holistic approach to protecting public health and the environment.


    vinyl flooring

    Mind the Store, get phthalates out of flooring

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    Over the last two weeks we have achieved tremendous victories – the nation’s two largest home improvement retailers, Home Depot and Lowe’s, have committed to phase out toxic phthalates in flooring by the end of the year.  

    This is HUGE as together they sell billions of dollars worth of flooring a year! This is a lot to celebrate, but we’re not stopping there. 

    We’re now turning our attention to Menards, the 3rd largest home improvement chain in the country with sales of over $8 billion and 280 stores in 14 states. If Home Depot and Lowe’s can ban phthalates in flooring, so can Menards!  

    TAKE ACTION: Tell Menards to phase out toxic phthalates in flooring.

    Testing has found some vinyl flooring Menards sells contains toxic phthalates, chemicals linked to asthma and birth defects in baby boys. Chemicals that are so toxic they have been restricted in children’s toys.

    This may not be easy. Menards has earned a reputation for violating environmental laws in their own home state of Wisconsin. The were fined $1.5 million after their CEO, John Menard Jr.  ”used his own pickup truck to haul bags of chromium-contaminated incinerator ash produced by the company and dump it into his trash at home.”1 That’s who we’re up against.

    Help us turn up the heat on Menards and leverage the victories we’ve achieved to date. Take action today!

    Act Now!

    For a toxic-free future,

    Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director
    Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families

    PS — Help us continue the momentum by calling on the nation’s #3 home improvement chain Menards to ban toxic phthalates in flooring!


    cans

    State agency puts BPA on Prop. 65 list, says it harms reproductive health

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    Metal can liners are made from plastic that contains BPA. The Can Manufacturers Institute opposes the listing of Bisphenol-A on the Prop. 65 list as a female reproductive toxicant, or as harmful to women's reproductive health. Once listed the manufacturers and retailers will have 12 months to institute warning labels based on what level is considered safe to consume.Metal can liners are made from plastic that contains BPA. The Can Manufacturers Institute opposes the listing of Bisphenol-A on the Prop. 65 list as a female reproductive toxicant, or as harmful to women’s reproductive health. Once listed the manufacturers and retailers will have 12 months to institute warning labels based on what level is considered safe to consume.NEO VISION/GETTY IMAGES/AMANA IMAGES RM

    The chemical Bisphenol-A goes on the Proposition 65 list this week after a unanimous vote by a state scientific panel concluded the element is harmful to women’s reproductive health, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

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