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Home Depot banning toxic phthalates in flooring

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Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families has some GREAT news to share from their Mind the Store campaign! Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, is banning added phthalates in their vinyl flooring! The Mind the Store campaign has been working with the retailer to develop this policy over the past year.

A report at HealthyStuff.org shows other retailers like Lowe’s, Lumber Liquidators, and Ace Hardware are still carrying flooring with these harmful chemicals. They found that 58% of vinyl flooring tested at top retailers contains these harmful chemicals, which have been linked to asthma and birth defects in baby boys.

What’s worse — phthalates don’t stay in flooring – they get into the air and dust we breathe in our homes, and then make their way into our bodies. While Home Depot is banning added phthalates in its flooring products, when Lowe’s, the US’ second largest home improvement retailer, was asked whether it had a policy on phthalates it responded that it did not. If Home Depot can ban phthalates in flooring, so should Lowe’s!

TAKE ACTION: Tell Lowe’s to eliminate toxic phthalates in flooring.

Today is a day to celebrate, to thank Home Depot for the bold steps they have taken, and challenge Lowe’s and other home improvement retailers to join Home Depot in getting toxic phthalates out of flooring. Will you join us?


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The phthalate DEHP undermines female fertility in mice

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Two studies in mice add to the evidence that the phthalate DEHP, a plasticizing agent used in auto upholstery, baby toys, building materials and many other consumer products, can undermine female reproductive health, in part by disrupting the growth and function of the ovaries.

In the first study, reported in the journal Reproductive Toxicology, researchers found that exposing pregnant mice to DEHP increased the male-to-female sex ratio of their pups. Reproductive outcomes for the pups also were altered. About one in four of those exposed to DEHP in the womb took longer to become pregnant and/or lost some of their own pups.

The second study, reported in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, revealed that DEHP disrupts the growth and function of in the adult ovary. Exposure to DEHP increased the production of proteins that inhibit growth and promote degradation of the follicles, and decreased the production of steroid hormones, the researchers found.

“The follicles are the structures that contain the egg, and if you’re killing those, you may have fertility issues,” said University of Illinois comparative biosciences professor Jodi Flaws, who led both studies. “The bottom line is that DEHP may damage the follicles and impair the ability of the ovary to make sex steroids like estrogens and androgens, which are really important for reproduction.”

Most of the research conducted so far on the reproductive effects of phthalates has focused on males, “because phthalates are thought to interfere with the androgen system,” Flaws said.

“Studies that were done on females historically used very high doses of chemicals that aren’t environmentally relevant,” she said. “So our work has been to focus on the female and on environmentally relevant doses that people might see, either in the environment or occupationally or medically.”

It is important to evaluate lower phthalate doses because they reflect real-world exposures, and also because low doses of endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates can have more serious consequences than high doses, Flaws said.

“Sometimes it’s at the low doses that you have the most profound effects, and that’s what we’re seeing with the ,” she said.

These studies are among several initiatives of the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at the U. of I., which is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Explore further: BPA exposure affects fertility in next three generations of mice

More information: Reproductive Toxicology Volume 53, June 2015, Pages 23–32. DOI: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2015.02.013
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology Volume 284, Issue 1, 1 April 2015, Pages 42–53 DOI: 10.1016/j.taap.2015.02.010

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Scientists warn of hormone impacts from benzene, xylene, other common solvents

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Researchers warn that benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene may disrupt people’s hormone systems at levels deemed “safe” by feds

April 15, 2015

By Brian Bienkowski
Environmental Health News

Four chemicals present both inside and outside homes might disrupt our endocrine systems at levels considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to an analysis released today.

The chemicals – benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene – are ubiquitous: in the air outside and in many products inside homes and businesses. They have been linked to reproductive, respiratory and heart problems, as well as smaller babies. Now researchers from The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) and the University of Colorado, Boulder, say that such health impacts may be due to the chemicals’ ability to interfere with people’s hormones at low exposure levels.

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Theo Colborn, who passed away last December, was a co author on the new study.

“There’s evidence of connection between the low level, everyday exposures and things like asthma, reduced fetal growth,” said Ashley Bolden, a research associate at TEDX and lead author of the study. “And for a lot of the health effects found, we think it’s disrupted endocrine-signaling pathways involved in these outcomes.”

Bolden and colleagues – including scientist, activist, author and TEDX founder Theo Colborn who passed away last December – pored over more than 40 studies on the health impacts of low exposure to the chemicals.

“Hormones are how the body communicates with itself. Interrupt that, you can expect all sorts of negative health outcomes.”-Susan Nagel, University of Missouri-Columbia(Colborn also co-authored “Our Stolen Future” along with Dianne Dumanoski and Pete Myers, founder of Environmental Health News and chief scientist at Environmental Health Sciences.)

They looked at exposures lower than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s reference concentrations for the chemicals, which is the agency’s estimated inhalation exposure level that is not likely to cause health impacts during a person’s lifetime.

Many of the health problems – asthma, low birth weights, cardiovascular, disease, preterm births, abnormal sperm – can be rooted in early disruptions to the developing endocrine system, Bolden said.

The analysis doesn’t prove that exposure to low levels of the chemicals disrupt hormones. However, any potential problems with developing hormone systems are cause for concern.

“Hormones are how the body communicates with itself to get work done. Interrupt that, you can expect all sorts of negative health outcomes,” said Susan Nagel an associate professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health School of Medicine who was not involved in the study.

Cathy Milbourn, a spokesperson for the EPA, said in an emailed response that the agency will “review the study and incorporate the findings into our work as appropriate.”

The “EPA is screening thousands of chemicals for potential risk of endocrine disruption,” she said. “As potential risk of endocrine disruption is identified, these chemicals are assessed further.”

The four chemicals are retrieved from the wellheads during crude oil and natural gas extraction and, after refining, are used as gasoline additives and in a wide variety of consumer products such as adhesives, detergents, degreasers, dyes, pesticides, polishes and solvents.

Ethylbenzene is one of the top ten chemicals used in children’s products such as toys and playground equipment, according to a 2013 EPA report. Toluene is in the top ten chemicals used in consumer products such as fuels and paints, the report found.

All four get into indoor and outdoor air via fossil fuel burning, vehicle emissions and by volatizing from products. Bolden said studies that measure the air in and around homes and businesses find the chemicals 90 to 95 percent of the time.

Katie Brown, spokeswoman for Energy in Depth, a program of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said in an email that the study suggests “products deemed safe by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are more dangerous than oil and gas development.

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Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene are added to gasoline and emitted to the air during combustion.

“Contrary to their intentions, what this report actually shows is that people should be no more afraid of oil and gas development than products in their home,” she said.

The Consumer Specialty Products Association, a trade group that represents companies that manufacturer consumer goods including cleaning products, pesticides, polishes, would not comment on the study but a spokesperson said that member groups typically don’t use the chemicals mentioned.

In several of the monitoring studies Bolden and colleagues examined, levels of the chemicals were higher in indoor air than in outdoor air, suggesting that people might be exposed within their homes.

“A lot of time indoor air is poorly circulated,” Bolden said.

Nagel cited a “huge need” to look at the impact of exposure to ambient levels of these chemicals. The study highlights “a whole lot we don’t know” about how these compounds may impact humans, she said.

Using human tissue cells, Nagel’s lab has previously shown that the chemicals can disrupt the androgen and estrogen hormones.

The authors said regulators should give air contaminants the same attention they’ve given greenhouse gas emissions recently.

“Tremendous efforts have led to the development of successful regulations focused on controlling greenhouse gases in an attempt to reduce global temperatures,” the authors wrote in the study published today in Environmental Science and Technology journal.

“Similar efforts need to be directed toward compounds that cause poor air quality both indoors and outdoors.”

EHN welcomes republication of our stories, but we require that publications include the author’s name and Environmental Health News at the top of the piece, along with a link back to EHN’s version.

For questions or feedback about this piece, contact Brian Bienkowski at bbienkowski@ehn.org.


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Boy (2-4) looking at cookie jar while eating chocolate chip cookie

Endocrine disruptors in our food

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Would you eat something that some cosmetics companies won’t put in their products? You might be.

A new EWG analysis has found propyl paraben, a preservative linked to endocrine disruption and not allowed in food sold in the European Union, in nearly 50 U.S. snack foods, including Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Weight Watchers cakes, Cafe Valley muffins, and La Banderita corn tortillas.

Some cosmetics companies have removed propyl paraben from their formulations, so why aren’t food companies doing the same?! It’s time to stand up for the health of allconsumers.

Click here to sign EWG’s petition: Tell Sara Lee, Weight Watchers and other food companies to stop using the endocrine-disrupting preservative propyl paraben in their food NOW!


EWG


What is propyl paraben? This endocrine-disrupting chemical has been shown to decrease sperm counts and testosterone in animals and has been reported to accelerate the growth of breast cancer cells. It can even alter the expression of genes!

Despite this and other mounting evidence that propyl paraben disrupts the endocrine system, the federal Food and Drug Administration has allowed it to be labeled “Generally Recognized As Safe” and has not taken action to eliminate its use in food or reassess its safety in light of recent science.

Consumers can’t wait for the FDA to act – endocrine disruptors shouldn’t be in the food we eat!

Click here to stand with EWG and demand that food companies remove propyl paraben from their products immediately.

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Board of Directors Announce Lois Gibbs Shifting Energy To Field

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The Board of Directors of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) is pleased to s, our founder and Executive Director, has accepted the opportunity to shift the focus of her work to our newly created Leadership Training Academy program.

To maintain our momentum in supporting community-based environmental health and justice work, we have begun the formal search for the next grassroots leader with excellent training and management skills and a vision of powerful action – our successor Executive Director. To support the Board in the search process, CHEJ has engaged Democracy Partners. Our process of outreach and selection begins very soon. Questions or suggestions should be directed to Cheri Whiteman by e-mail at cheriwhiteman@democracypartners.com.

Lois Gibbs will shift her full-time attention away from her current day-to-day administrative responsibilities with the engagement of our next Executive Director, which is expected to occur this summer. “I’m excited to spend more time in the field to build the advocacy base for change!” said Lois, “and it’s a great opportunity for one of the emerging community leaders out there to take CHEJ to the next level!”

CHEJ has launched the Leadership Training Academy program to strengthen and sustain the infrastructure of fledgling environmental health and justice organizations in the United States.

CHEJ recently completed a strategic review and refocus of our work. We were aided as a Board in this process by a group of allies and advisors, and our retreat was facilitated by Jim Abernathy. In examining our work, the following important findings led CHEJ’s Board to take those steps to reshape the organization to meet the increasing demand from the field for Leadership Training Academy program services:

• There are more local, state and regional groups emerging than in the past. This is due primarily to energy-related proposals and activities such as pipelines, extraction wells, export terminals and associated waste disposal.

• Established groups are growing and looking for advice on long-term organizing, establishing collaborative efforts, Board development and establishing a three-year strategic organizational plan.

Lois describes the Academy program this way: “The Leadership Training Academy is a training center ‘without walls.’ It provides a distinctive brand of leadership skills-building training and mentoring of local group leaders around the country to build the base of the environmental health and justice movement. This program is based on a proven, time-tested methodological framework that is grounded in CHEJ’s 34 years of grassroots leadership and coaching experience, campaign strategy knowledge and the tactics of successful grassroots victories. A special focus of the training activities is with thousands of women leading grassroots groups on a range of environmental health and economic justice issues. People of color, young people and women together comprise what many call the ‘emerging American electorate,’ and it is they who will both determine environmental and economic policy, and live with the consequences of the decisions.”

I personally am excited to “free Lois” to spend more of her energy in the field, and the Board of Directors looks forward to working with new leadership. We’ve always known that success comes when we learn from the past and step boldly into the future. With a new CHEJ Executive Director and our legendary friend and teacher, Lois Gibbs, we will have the best of both worlds!

Thank you,

Peter B. Sessa
CHEJ Board Chair

no-fracking MD -bloomberg 304

Maryland Senate Pass Ban on Fracking – Nexr the House Vote

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The natural gas extraction method known as “fracking” would be banned in Maryland until October 2017 under legislation approved Monday night by the Maryland Senate.

By a 45-2 vote, senators sent the measure to the House, which has passed a version of the bill that environmental advocates believe is stronger. The House bill calls for a three-year moratorium and further study of the health and economic development impact of the practice. The Senate bill does not require a study.

It now needs to go back to the house who earlier this year passed a stronger bill so should be no problem.

Read the entire story here.

Is your child’s school toxic?

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New test results posted by the Santa Monica-Malibu school district (SMMUSD) show nine classrooms and other facilities containing toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in concentrations up to 11,000 times above federal safety limits. The revelation came a day after America Unites for Kids and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) sued the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District for violating the federal Toxic Substances Control Act involving excessive levels of PCBs in school buildings.

The new test results prepared by the district’s own consultant showed PCB levels ranging from 330 parts-per-million to 570,000 ppm, meaning that over 50% of the caulk sample was pure PCB, a cancer-causing, banned chemical. By contrast, the federal safety limit is just 50 ppm. Despite these extremely high levels of a highly toxic chemical banned by Congress, all of these rooms are still in use by students and teachers of the combined elementary, middle and high schools. Elementary school special needs students are in a classroom tested at 470,000 ppm.

CHEJ has a program that can help you to identify if your school is a problem and how to get something done. If your school was built before 1980 it is more likely, than newer schools, to have PCB’s in lighting and caulk.  Check out our project materials at CHEJ’s PCBs in Schools webpage.  This is a win-win the school can remove the PCB’s in light fixtures which are also a problem and charge the school district the difference in their electric bill (since the new fixtures are energy efficient) until the costs are paid off.

Read more about a Los Angeles school district’s own tests show shocking pcb levels.

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EPA Adds Two, Proposes Six Hazardous Waste Sites to Superfund’s National Priorities List

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Cleaning up hazardous waste sites protects human health, raises property value, and facilitates the economic restoration of communities

Release Date: 03/24/2015 Contact Information: George Hull (News Media Only), hull.george@epa.gov202-564-0790

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is adding two hazardous waste sites that pose risks to human health and the environment to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites, reducing health impacts, including protecting infant health, and encouraging economic revitalization of a formerly toxic site. In addition, the agency is proposing to add sixadditional sites to the list.

“By updating the NPL, we continue to fulfill our mission to protect public health and the environment by cleaning up contaminated land and returning formerly toxic sites to communities for productive use,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “Superfund cleanups help advance the economic well-being of communities by turning contaminated properties into productive community resources that can enhance property values, create jobs and broaden tax bases.”

Recent academic research contributes more evidence that Superfund cleanups help protect public health. An academic study,Superfund Cleanups and Infant Health, demonstrated that investment in Superfund cleanups reduces the incidence of congenital abnormalities for those living within 5,000 meters (or 5,468 yards) of a site.

Today, more than 800 Superfund sites across the nation support some type of continued use, active reuse or planned reuse activities. EPA found at 450 of the 800 sites, at the end of fiscal year 2014, there were ongoing operations of approximately 3,400 businesses, generating annual sales of more than $65 billion and employing more than 89,000 people. Another study conducted by researchers at Duke and Pittsburgh Universities, concluded that making a site final on the NPL may increase housing prices by signaling that a site will be cleaned up. Furthermore, the study found that once a site has all cleanup remedies in place, nearby properties have a significant increase in property values as compared to pre-NPL proposal values. The following two sites have been added to the NPL:

  • Indiana – Kokomo Contaminated Ground Water Plume (ground water plume) in Kokomo, Ind.
  • Michigan – DSC McLouth Steel Gibraltar Plant (steel finishing operation) in Gibraltar, Mich.

The following six sites have been proposed for addition to the NPL:

  • Illinois – Estech General Chemical Company (pesticide manufacturer) in Calumet City, Ill.
  • Louisiana – Colonial Creosote (wood treatment plant) in Bogalusa, La.
  • Massachusetts – BJAT LLC (various industrial operations) in Franklin, Mass.
  • Montana – Anaconda Aluminum Company Columbia Falls Reduction Plant (aluminum smelter) in Columbia Falls, Mont.
  • Texas – Main Street Ground Water Plume (ground water plume) in Burnet, Tex.
  • Washington – Grain Handling Facility at Freeman (grain handling facility) in Freeman, Wash.

The Superfund program, a federal program established by Congress in 1980, investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country and converts them into productive community resources by eliminating or reducing public health risks and environmental contamination associated with hazardous waste sites.

The sites announced today have characteristics and conditions that vary in terms of size, complexity and contamination. As with all NPL sites, EPA first works to identify the parties responsible for the contamination at a site, and requires them to conduct or pay for the cleanup. For the newly added sites without viable potentially responsible parties, EPA will investigate the full extent of the contamination before starting substantial cleanup at the site.

Past and current uses of the sites announced today include pesticide manufacturing, aluminum smelting, grain handling, wood treatment and steel finishing operations. Improper hazardous waste management associated with these activities, led to the release of numerous site contaminants into the environment, including lead, mercury, zinc and other metals; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and chlorinated solvents, such as vinyl chloride. Contamination affects surface water, ground water, soil and wetlands.

The Kokomo Contaminated Ground Water Plume is in an area with facilities that handle chlorinated solvents, however no source has been identified. The plume is approximately 294 acres and encompasses several municipal wells in the city. Approximately 55,000 Kokomo residents rely on drinking water from the affected well field.

The DSC McLouth Steel Gibraltar Plant Area site is a former steel processing facility which ceased operations in the mid- 1990’s where mismanaged leachate control systems have resulted in contamination to adjacent creeks and drains leading to the Detroit River.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the enactment of the Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law establishing the Superfund program. Superfund’s passage was a giant step forward in cleaning up industrial waste sites to help ensure human health and environmental protection. The Superfund law gives EPA the authority to clean up releases of hazardous substances and directs EPA to update the NPL at least annually. The NPL contains the nation’s most serious uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. The list serves as the basis for prioritizing both enforcement actions and long-term EPA Superfund cleanup funding; only sites on the NPL are eligible for such funding.

Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the final and proposed sites: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm

Information about how a site is listed on the NPL: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/npl_hrs.htm

Superfund sites in local communities: http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/index.htm

More information about the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law establishing the Superfund program, can be found at: http://epa.gov/superfund/policy/cercla.htm

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Toys from the Seventies and Eighties could be poisoning your children

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Nostalgia can be dangerous! Before passing on old toys to your children, consider new research that has found contaminants like arsenic, lead and cadmium in plastic toys from decades ago.

Read More.

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Take action for safer chemicals

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The San Francisco Chronicle recently discovered that the new bill intended to regulate the chemical industry was written by… the chemical industry.

That’s right. The American Chemistry Council, the leading trade organization and lobbying arm of the chemical industry, has left its fingerprints all over the very legislation that is supposed to regulate it.

Click here to take action right away and call for REAL toxics reform.

It would almost be laughable if there were not so much at stake – but this could not be more serious, Friend. This bill would fail to ensure that chemicals are safe, fail to set meaningful deadlines for safety reviews, fail to provide the Environmental Protection Agency with adequate resources and deny states the ability to enforce their own laws to protect public health and the environment.

Earlier this week I testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and presented the facts in opposition to this reprehensible bill. Now it’s your turn to speak up, too.

Click here to stand with EWG right now: Tell President Obama and your senators to reject the chemical industry’s bogus bill and support REAL reform!

If we don’t act quick, the first major, comprehensive environmental protection bill to emerge from Congress in almost a generation will be one that originated in the chemical industry – the very industry the bill purports to regulate.

We need to do everything we can to make sure that Congress enacts real chemical safety reform – not a bill blatantly written to protect the profits of the chemical industry. It’s time to shut down the bill written by the chemical industry and to protect the health of the American people!

Please speak up right now and tell President Obama and your senators that we need real chemical reform that protects the American people, not the chemical industry.