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


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.

vinyl flooring

Mind the Store, get phthalates out of flooring


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!


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


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.

Read More

vinyl flooring

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


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


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


DuPont’s Cover-Up


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.


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.


Plastic recyclers feel the squeeze after oil price crash


As oil prices fall, bottle makers are relying more on brand new plastic as opposed to recycled. Read the article from Financial Times.


Recycled Vinyl Can Reintroduce Chemical Hazards Into Building Products


“Today’s announcement by Home Depot that it will require manufacturers to phase out phthalate plasticizers from all of the vinyl flooring products it sells was the latest in a long history of efforts to eliminate hazardous additives from vinyl building products. But this does not mean that all phthalate-free vinyl floors (and other PVC products) are now free of potential concerns for building occupants.

Healthy Building Network (HBN) research found that recycled PVC used in building products usually contains legacy toxic hazards like lead, cadmium, and phthalates. (PVC is short for polyvinyl chloride, or “vinyl.”) We reveal this and more in our new report, Post-Consumer Polyvinyl Chloride in Building Products, published today.

HBN examined the supply chain for vinyl flooring. We discovered that post-consumer PVC used in flooring is more likely to come from insulation jackets stripped from old cables and wires than from discarded vinyl flooring.[1] These jackets typically contain high levels of heavy metals, problematic plasticizers, and even PCBs – substances that building product manufacturers have worked to eliminate from their consumer products in recent years.

While we tracked the recycled PVC supply chain, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Ecology Center[2] tested scores of vinyl floors sold by retail stores. They shared their results with HBN and generously allowed us to debut their findings in this report.

The Ecology Center tests revealed content previously unknown to the public. Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device on 74 floors, the Ecology Center determined that each inner layer likely contained electrical and electronic PVC waste.[3] And the recycled PVC had surprisingly high levels of heavy metals. In at least 69% of the floors’ inner layers, lead was present above the concentrations allowed in children’s toys. The XRF tests detected as much as 2% cadmium and 1% lead. This is a lot of lead and cadmium.

As PVC products age, they can release heavy metals. In 1996, the Consumer Products Safety Commission found that surface lead levels of 1.23 percent in deteriorating PVC mini-blinds “were high enough to present a lead poisoning hazard to children 6 years of age and younger if they ingested small amounts of dust from the blinds over a short period of time. Some states have identified children with elevated blood lead levels attributable to vinyl mini-blinds.”[4]

Few PVC recycling operations, whether small-scale or industrial, screen their inputs for toxicants. A recycling consortium in Europe acknowledges that phthalates and heavy metals remain in the recycled PVC feedstocks that they currently produce, and that these substances are present above regulatory thresholds of concern.

Over the past year, HBN has been examining the supply chain of recycled feedstocks in conjunction with StopWaste, a public agency responsible for reducing the waste stream in Alameda County, CA, and with support from the San Francisco Department of the Environment. Our collaboration’s goal is to identify the best practices for optimizing recycled materials – to increase recycling rates while minimizing toxic content – that can be used in building products.[5]

Wes Sullens of StopWaste is optimistic about the future of recycling. “While HBN’s research has identified some serious problems with certain sources of recycled PVC, it also identifies opportunities to clean it up for use in building products,” he notes. “Manufacturers and suppliers have shown the ability to screen, eliminate or minimize problematic ingredients that can affect the quality of future recycled content feedstocks. I am excited by this convergence of interests, and its potential to create higher-value and healthier products.”

Watch our next newsletter for the good news about what PVC flooring manufacturers are doing to address these issues.

Funding for research on post-consumer PVC feedstock was provided by StopWaste and donors to the Healthy Building Network (HBN). An evaluative framework to optimize recycling developed by StopWaste, the San Francisco Department of the Environment, and HBN, guided our research. Today’s post-consumer recycled PVC evaluation is a prequel to a forthcoming white paper by this new collaboration. It will identify pathways to optimize the benefits of using post-consumer recycled feedstocks in building products sold in the Bay Area of California and beyond.”

vinyl flooring

Home Depot banning toxic phthalates in flooring


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?

Act Now!


The phthalate DEHP undermines female fertility in mice


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