EPA Prevents Harmful Chemicals from Entering the Marketplace


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking action to protect the public from certain chemicals that have the potential to cause a range of health effects from cancer to reproductive and developmental harm to people and aquatic organisms.

“We are committed to protecting all Americans from exposure to harmful chemicals used in domestic and imported products,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention. “There must be a level playing field for U.S. businesses – which is why we’re targeting harmful chemicals no longer used in the U.S. that find their way into commerce, sometimes through imported products. This final action will give EPA the opportunity to restrict or limit any new uses of these chemicals, including imported goods with these chemicals.”

Today’s action addresses the following chemicals:

Most uses of certain benzidine-based dyes which can be used in textiles, paints and inks and can be converted in the body into a chemical that is known to cause cancer;

Most uses of DnPP, a phthalate, which can be used in PVC plastics and shown to cause developmental and/or reproductive effects in laboratory animals; and

Alkanes C 12-13, chloro, a short-chain chlorinated paraffin (SCCP), which can be used as industrial lubricants and are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic to aquatic organisms at low concentrations and can be transported globally in the environment.

Some of the chemicals in today’s rule have previously been used in consumer products but are not used in the market today. Today’s Significant New Use Rules (SNURs) issued under the Toxic Substances Control Act allow EPA to review any efforts by manufacturers, including importers, to introduce these chemicals into the market and take appropriate action to ensure that human health and the environment are protected. EPA believes that new uses of these chemicals should not be allowed without an opportunity for review and, if necessary, to place restrictions on these chemicals, as warranted.

The action adds nine benzidine-based dyes to an existing SNUR. It closes a loophole to ensure that these chemicals and products containing them, such as clothing, cannot be imported without EPA review and possible restriction. EPA has investigated safer dyes and colorants as alternatives to benzidine as part of its Safer Chemical Ingredients List and Design for the Environment program.

In 2012, EPA required companies to stop manufacturing and importing SCCPs and to pay fines as a result of an enforcement action. The SCCPs have been proposed for addition to the Stockholm Convention for Persistent Organic Pollutants:http://chm.pops.int/TheConvention/ThePOPs/ChemicalsProposedforListing/tabid/2510/Default.aspx

EPA is further evaluating related medium-chain (MCCPs) and long-chain chlorinated paraffins (LCCPs) as part of the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments.

EPA has added several phthalates to the TSCA Work Plan for Chemical Assessments. If a TSCA Work Plan assessment indicates a potential risk, the agency would determine if risk reduction actions, as appropriate, should be taken.

These final SNURs will require anyone who wishes to manufacture (including import) or process these chemical substances for a significant new use to notify EPA 90 days before starting or resuming new uses of these chemicals. This notice will provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the intended use of the chemicals and, if necessary, take action to prohibit or limit the activity.

Additional information on this SNUR: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/managechemrisk.html#current.

Fact sheet on benzidine-based dyes: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/benzidinefaq.html

Fact sheet on DnPP:


Fact sheet on Alkanes: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/pubs/actionplans/sccpsfaq.html

xmas lights

Study finds toxic chemicals in a majority of seasonal holiday products


String lights and beaded garlands have been hazards for multiple years

A new research study finds that top retailers of holiday decor continue to sell some seasonal decorations and other products that contain hazardous chemicals. Researchers found that 2/3 of these products have one or more hazardous chemicals that have been linked to serious health threats. The study is an update to previous research in 2012 and 2013 by HealthyStuff.org (a project of the Ann Arbor-based nonprofit organization, the Ecology Center), which found high levels of level chemical hazards in light strings, holiday garland and other décor products. Products were purchased and tested from Walgreens, Kroger, Lowe’s, Walmart, Target and Dollar Tree.

For the study, the Ecology Center researchers tested a total of 69 seasonal holiday products including beaded and tinsel garlands, artificial wreaths and greenery, stockings, figurines and other tabletop decorations, and gift bags. Products were tested for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. Chemical hazards can be released into the air, dust or on the skin when handling products, resulting in exposure.

“We’ve been testing and finding similar problems with these products since 2012. Most retailers have been slow to react and continue sell these products,” said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center’s principle researcher.  Environmental and public health advocates with the Mind the Store Campaign have called for the nation’s biggest retailers to work with suppliers to eliminate these hazards and develop safer substitute chemicals for these products.

Thirteen percent of the 2014 holiday products contained lead above 100 parts per million (ppm); 12% of the products contained more than 800 ppm bromine, indicating the presence of brominated flame retardants. Beaded garlands were found to contain a multitude of toxic contaminants, mirroring the results from the group’s 2013 study of beaded garlands. Light strings were also compared to an earlier study by HealthyStuff.org. The 2014 lights—including lights attached to decorations–commonly showed high levels of lead and bromine, as did the 2010 study.

“Parents shouldn’t have to worry that their holiday decorations may contain toxic chemicals,” said Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families. “Big retailers should get these hidden hazards out of holiday decorations, once and for all. Parents expect their favorite retailers to mind the store.”

HealthyStuff.org recommends common sense precautions when handling these products because they may contain hazardous substances.

  • Do not allow children (or adults) to put small holiday ornaments in their mouths.
  • Wash your hands after handling the holiday light strings.
  • Frequent vacuuming and reducing levels of dust can reduce exposures to many of these chemicals of concern.

HealthyStuff.org is a project of the Ecology Center. The full test results are available at HealthyStuff.org.


Chemical Phthalates in Food Packaging Linked With Lower IQ in Kids


Kids whose moms had the highest levels of certain chemicals in their bodies during pregnancy had markedly lower IQs at age 7, researchers said Wednesday.

It’s the latest in a series of studies linking the chemicals, called phthalates, with health effects ranging from behavioral disorders to deformations of the sex organs.

While the study doesn’t show for sure that the phthalates damaged the kids’ brains during development, the researchers say they did everything they could to filter out other possible effects and they still found the link between some — but not all — of the phthalates and IQ.

Read more from Maggie Fox at NBC News.

PVC pipe

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – 2014 Global Strategic Business Report


Global market for Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is poised to grow at a steady pace driven by improving global economic climate and increased demand for strong, durable and lightweight materials in industries such as electrical, construction, packaging, and automotive. 

The construction industry will continue to be the largest end-use market for PVC, backed by large scale urbanization and increased government focus on developing public infrastructure such as transportation, communication, power, water, and sewage, in emerging countries such as China and India. Urbanization and consumerism are mega growth drivers fuelling PVC consumption in developing countries. With urbanization rate in China still below 50%, the domestic construction sector is a major demand repository for PVC in Asia. 

For more information please click on: 


BPA and Health: New Research Focuses on Routes of Exposure


The health impacts of exposure to BPA, an endocrine disrupting environmental contaminant, continue to be much discussed in the environmental health field, as well as amongst consumers concerned about safer choices for themselves and their families. Additionally, the means by which people are exposed to contaminants such as BPA also continue to be researched.  A new study in PLOS One, authored by endocrinologist Frederick vom Saal, reports that touching thermal receipt paper after using hand sanitizer can increase the amount of BPA transferred from thermal paper to hands and then absorbed by the skin 100-fold. This elevated level of exposure to BPA has concerning implications for people’s health, as BPA is associated with a wide-range of developmental abnormalities as well as other diseases in adults.

A second review by Dr. vom Saal (Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology) discusses approaches being used by regulatory agencies to claim that levels of unconjugated (bioactive) serum BPA, as reported in dozens of human biomonitoring studies, can be ignored. Data from these studies suggest that exposures to BPA must be occurring from multiple sources and that these exposures must be factored into risk assessments.

This half-hour teleconference call is one in a monthly series sponsored by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s EDC Strategies Group.The CHE EDC Strategies Group is chaired by Carol Kwiatkowski (TEDX), Sharyle Patton (Commonweal), and Genon Jensen (HEAL).

Featured speaker:

Dr. Frederick vom Saal is a professor of reproductive biology in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri – Columbia. He has published more than 140 articles concerning the effects of exposure during fetal life to natural hormones, and both man made and naturally occurring endocrine disrupting chemicals

Additional calls in this series include:

1/8/14: Endocrine Disruption and Immune Dysfunction

2/19/14: Endocrine Disruption of the Neuro-immune Interface

3/19/14: Effects of Prenatal Exposures to EDCs on Childhood Development

4/16/14: How the Next Generation’s Brain Functions are Endangered by EDCs and Other Environmental Chemicals

5/21/14: Retha Newbold Speaks About CLARITY-BPA: A Novel Approach to Study Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

6/18/14: Prenatal Exposure to EDCs and Obesity: Combining Toxicology and Epidemiology with Dr. Juliette Legler

9/17/14: Maternal Bisphenol A Programs Offspring Metabolic Syndrome

10/15/14: Cold Feet: Perinatal DDT Exposure Increases Risk of Insulin Resistance

From the Collaborative on Health and the Environment.


SCIENCE: Phthalates and reproductive hormone levels in fetal blood


A new Japanese study examined the association between the exposure in utero to phthalates and reproductive hormone levels in cord blood.

514 pregnant females were enrolled in this study and their blood samples analysed for Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a major phthalate compounds used in production in Japan.

The study found that maternal DEHP exposure could negatively correlate with the levels of reproductive hormones. Another observation was that these associations were more pronounced in male than in female infants.

The researchers conclude that further investigations of other phthalates in comprehensive studies as well as long-term effects on reproductive development are needed.

The study has been published in the Journal PlosOne

More information:

Araki A, Mitsui T, Miyashita C, Nakajima T, Naito H, Ito S, Sasaki S, Cho K, Ikeno T, Nonomur. Association between Maternal Exposure to di(2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate and Reproductive Hormone Levels in Fetal Blood: The Hokkaido Study on Environment and Children’s Health.


How phthalate exposure impacts pregnancy


In recent years, scientists have linked chemicals known as phthalates with complications of pregnancy and fetal development. Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastic materials more flexible and can also be found in personal care products such as perfumes, deodorants and lotions. They can enter the human body by being ingested, inhaled or through the skin. Most often phthalates are metabolized and excreted quickly, but constant contact with them means that nearly everyone in the United States is exposed, some more than others.

Read more at Science Daily.

PVC pipe

Residents Sue National Pipe (PVC) NY


Nearly 50 Endicott, NY residents have banded together in a lawsuit filed last week against National Pipe & Plastics, accusing the manufacturer of having “devastated the neighborhood” where it opened a new plant earlier this year.  The lawsuit claims noise and odors wafting from the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe manufacturing plant at 15 Mills Ave. have created an “ongoing public nuisance” to residents of the West Endicott neighborhood.

Read more.

Human exposure to BPA can come from water bottles and food containers.

EPA Adds 23 Chemicals, Including BPA, to Key List for Scrutiny, Possible Action


On October 23rd, the EPA added 23 chemicals, including BPA, seven phthalates and two flame retardants to a key list of chemicals that may be subject to stricter regulation.

Human exposure to BPA can come from water bottles and food containers.

The chemicals on this list all have properties that make them particularly hazardous, whether they are used in children’s products, have been linked to cancer, or are particularly environmentally persistent.

The EPA also removed 15 chemicals from the list.

Read the full story at Bloomberg News.


Plastics chemical linked to changes in baby boys’ genitals


Environmental Health News

Oct. 29, 2014

Boys exposed in the womb to high levels of a chemical found in vinyl products are born with slightly altered genital development, according to research published today.

The study of nearly 200 Swedish babies is the first to link the chemical di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP) to changes in the development of the human male reproductive tract.

Previous studies of baby boys in three countries found that a similar plastics chemical, DEHP, was associated with the same type of changes in their genitalia.

Less is known about the reproductive risks of DiNP, a chemical which scientists say may be replacing DEHP in many products such as vinyl toys, flooring and packaging. In mice, high levels block testosterone and alter testicular development.

“Our data suggest that this substitute phthalate may not be safer than the chemical it is replacing,” wrote the researchers, led by Carl-Gustaf Bornehag at Sweden’s Karlstad University, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Levels of DiNP in U.S. adults and children have more than doubled in the past decade.

Ray Dumas/flickr
Phthalate chemicals found in vinyl products have been linked to altered genital development in baby boys.

“This study raises concern about DiNP, which is being used in increased amounts in products that contain vinyl plastics, and the impact on the developing fetus,” said Dr. Russ Hauser, a professor of environmental and occupational epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health who is not involved in the new study.

The researchers measured metabolites of five phthalates in the urine of pregnant women during the first trimester. Development of male reproductive organs begins during that period, said senior study author Shanna Swan, a professor of reproductive science at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

The researchers then measured the anogenital distance – the length between the anus and the genitals – when the boys were on average 21 months old. Boys who had been exposed to the highest levels of DiNP in the womb averaged a distance that was slightly shorter – about seven-hundredths of an inch – than the boys with the lowest exposures.

“These were really subtle changes,” Swan said.

Considered a sign of incomplete masculinization, shortened anogenital distance in men has been associated with abnormal testicular development and reduced semen quality and fertility. In men, this measurement is typically 50 to 100 percent longer than in women.

But it’s unknown whether a slightly shorter distance in infants corresponds with any fertility problems later in life.

“More research is needed to understand the extent to which shorter anogenital distance at birth is associated with impaired reproductive function later in life in humans,” said Emily Barrett, a reproductive health scientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.

For other phthalates, the study found shorter anogenital distance with higher concentrations, but the findings were not statistically significant, meaning they may have been due to chance. The Swedish women in the new study had phthalate levels similar to U.S. women in Swan’s previous studies. Those studies, published in 2005 and 2008, linked several phthalates to shorter anogenital distance.

Thomas van Ardenne
Pregnant women may be exposed to phthalates through food or through skin contact with home products.

A spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, a group representing chemical manufacturers, said the study “reports small changes that are associated with exposure to DiNP” but does not prove that the chemical caused the changes.

The spokesperson said the new findings “seem to contradict” the authors’ earlier findings as well as two other studies that found no association between DiNP and men’s anogenital distance. In addition, the study is based on a single urine sample from the mothers. As a result, the “plausibility is low,” the industry group said. “To demonstrate causal associations in the field of epidemiology, there are criteria that should be evaluated and considered…We found that this study scores low for many important considerations.”

The industry group did not answer questions about what types of products DiNP is used in. The scientists said exposures to the chemical can come from food or through skin contact with home furnishings or child-care articles.

In 2008, the United States temporarily banned use of DiNP and two other phthalate plasticizers in toys and other children’s products. “This ban does nothing to protect the developing fetus,” Swan said.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended in July to make the ban permanent and urged that “U.S. agencies responsible for dealing with DiNP exposures from food and other products conduct the necessary risk assessments.”

While it’s nearly impossible to eliminate exposure to phthalates, Swan suggested that pregnant women may be able to reduce their exposures by incorporating unprocessed, unpackaged foods into the diet and by avoiding heating or storing foods in plastic containers.

Read the original story at Environmental Health News.

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For questions or feedback about this piece, contact Editor in Chief Marla Cone at mcone@ehn.org.


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