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vinyl flooring

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!

waterways

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.”

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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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vinyl flooring

VICTORY — Lowe’s commits to phase out phthalates in flooring

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We did it!

In less than one week, Lowe’s has agreed to eliminate toxic phthalates in their flooring by the end of this year!

This is huge as Lowe’s is the second largest home improvement retailer in the country.  

This shows the power we have as consumers to get big retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals in products.

Lowe’s commitment comes less than one week after we announced another big victory for our campaign – Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer took the lead by eliminating added phthalates by the end of 2015.  That victory was featured in a big NY Times story.  Our campaign has now successfully leveraged Home Depot’s policy by convincing Lowe’s to join them.

This follows a HealthyStuff.org report we just co-released that found nearly half (48%) of flooring samples tested at Lowe’s contained toxic phthalates.  

We welcome and congratulate both Home Depot and Lowe’s for doing what’s right for our families and homes.

A big question remains though– what about the other leading retailers of flooring?  To date, Lumber Liquidators, Ace Hardware, Menards and Build.com have no timeframes to eliminate phthalates in flooring, and testing has shown toxic phthalates in flooring they sell. 

Who will be the next retailer to join this growing trend?  Stay tuned, as we’ll be launching a new campaign in the next week targeting at least one of these laggards.

In the meantime, join us in celebrating the good news by sharing it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.

environmental working group

Stand Up for the Victims of DuPont

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We can’t let DuPont get away with this.

After spearheading one of the most extensive cover-ups in recent history, the chemical giant is now trying to shield itself from liability and escape its responsibilities to the thousands of victims left ill by its neglect.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • In 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency fined chemical giant DuPont a record $16.5 million for a decades-long cover-up of the health hazards of its product, C-8, also known as PFOA. One of a family of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, C-8 was a key ingredient in making Teflon, the non-stick, waterproof, stain-resistant “miracle of modern chemistry” used in thousands of household products.
  • DuPont knew that C-8 caused cancer, poisoned drinking water in the Mid-Ohio River Valley and polluted the blood of people and animals worldwide – but it never told its workers, local officials and residents, state regulators or the EPA!
  • Today, 10 years after the EPA took action, DuPont has failed to clean up water supplies, is shirking its promise to monitor the health of the communities it poisoned and is gearing up to fight in court against paying damages to its victims.
  • While C-8/PFOA will no longer be used in the U.S. by the end of this year, DuPont and other companies continue to use related chemicals that may not be much – if at all – safer. These next-generation PFCs are used to make greaseproof food wrappers, waterproof and stain-repellent clothing, and countless other products.

We must put a stop to this secrecy right now and bring justice to the victims of DuPont.

Click here to sign EWG’s petition and demand that DuPont keeps it promises to its victims in the Mid-Ohio Valley and beyond.

The EPA classifies C-8 as a “probable human carcinogen.” Exposure to it is associated with several serious diseases, including kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol.

We may never truly know how many victims have fallen ill due to DuPont’s careless use of C-8 and other chemicals, but it is far too many. And every one of those victims deserves justice.

Don’t let DuPont get away with trying to skirt the consequences of its toxic responsibilities and legacy in Parkersburg. EWG – and the victims of DuPont – need you to take action today.

Sign the petition: Tell DuPont to stop the secrecy and keep its promises to its victims!

Thanks for standing up for the victims of DuPont. Together, we’ll make sure justice is served.

- EWG Action Alert

nails

Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers

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“…Similar stories of illness and tragedy abound at nail salons across the country, of children born slow or “special,” of miscarriages and cancers, of coughs that will not go away and painful skin afflictions. The stories have become so common that older manicurists warn women of child-bearing age away from the business, with its potent brew of polishes, solvents, hardeners and glues that nail workers handle daily.

A growing body of medical research shows a link between the chemicals that make nail and beauty products useful — the ingredients that make them chip-resistant and pliable, quick to dry and brightly colored, for example — and serious health problems.”

Read more from the New York Times.

pizza

Scientists warn of chemicals in pizza boxes, carpet care

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A group of environmental scientists issued a warning Friday about commonly used chemicals known as PFASs.

The chemicals, which go by the longer names of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl, are found in everything from pizza boxes to carpet treatments, reports the New York Times.

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dupont

DuPont’s Cover-Up

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Ten years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency levied what was then its largest administrative penalty in the agency’s history.

The fine punished chemical giant DuPont for its decades-long cover-up of the health hazards of a substance known as C8, or PFOA. One in a family of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, C8 was a key ingredient in making Teflon, the non-stick, waterproof, stain-resistant “miracle of modern chemistry” used in thousands of household products.

Internal documents revealed that DuPont had long known about the dangers of C8 yet engaged in a calculated cover-up for years. The company knew all along that C8 caused cancer, had poisoned drinking water in the mid-Ohio River Valley and polluted the blood of people and animals worldwide.

But just as the phaseout of C8 did not end the global health threat from PFCs, DuPont’s fine and $300 million settlement did not deliver justice to the people of the mid-Ohio Valley. In many ways, it was only the beginning, and 10 years later, their fight continues.

Click here to learn more about DuPont’s cover-up and how you can avoid PFCs today in EWG’s latest report.


EWG


While the production, use and importation of C8 has ended in the United States, DuPont and other companies have replaced it with similar chemicals that may not be much – if at all – safer.

These next-generation PFCs are used in grease-resistant food wrappers, waterproof clothing, stain- and water-resistant coatings for carpets and furniture as well as many other products. Few have been tested for safety, and the names, composition and health effects of most are hidden as “trade secrets.”

In light of the new PFCs’ potential for harm, their continued global production, the chemicals’ persistence in the environment and ongoing presence in drinking water in at least 29 states, we’re a long way from the day when PFCs will be no cause for concern.

Read EWG’s latest report on the DuPont scandal and see how PFCs continue to affect the health of Americans today.