APHA resolution on PVC

NYSUT Delegates

NY Teachers: “Let’s Get PVC Out of Our Schools!”

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NYSUT DelegatesOur fight for PVC-free schools is picking up momentum. This April, PVC-free school policies were endorsed by one of the nation’s largest educational labor federations: NYSUT, the New York State United Teachers, representing more than 600,000 employees and retirees from New York State schools, colleges, and healthcare facilities.

At their 40th annual representative assembly, NYSUT endorsed a proclamation titled, “Reducing & Phasing Out the Purchase of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Plastic in New York Schools”.  Recognizing the serious harm posed by vinyl chemicals like dioxin and phthalates, especially to school-aged children and women of childbearing age, NYSUT’s members added their support to the growing movement for PVC-free schools.

And NYSUT is not alone: last fall, The American Public Health Association, “the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world,” passed a similar resolution.

CHEJ would like to thank NYSUT’s membership – the teachers, college and university faculty and staff, bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, cafeteria workers, teacher assistants, nurses, healthcare technicians – for their progressive vision and activism on behalf of New York’s students, teachers, and staff.


“RESOLVED, that NYSUT urges school districts in New York state and the State Education Department to develop new green procurement policies to reduce and phase out the use and purchase of PVC building materials, office supplies and school supplies; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT support efforts to have school districts in New York state and the State Education Department implement cost-effective strategies to reduce and phase out PVC in building materials, office supplies and school supplies and should encourage suppliers and vendors to reduce or eliminate their use of PVC in product and packaging; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT urges New York state schools to educate the public about dangers of PVC and their strategies for phasing it out; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT urges state and federal governments, in enacting such phase-outs, to consider policies that alleviate short-term economic impacts on the PVC production workforce, and to also consider economic benefits to workers in industries making safer alternatives.”

Help us continue the momentum!

If you belong to a PTA, union, or other organization that might be interested in enacting a similar resolution, please contact CHEJ’s NYC Green Schools organizer, Daniel Gradess: DGradess[at]CHEJ[dot]org / 646-678-3993

PVC Free

APHA Calls for Phase Out of PVC

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In a major coup for public health, the American Public Health Association (APHA) passed an important policy resolution at their annual meeting earlier this month. The resolution, Reducing PVC in Facilities with Vulnerable Population,” urges local, state and federal governments and decision-makers to consider phasing out the use and purchase of flexible PVC in building materials, consumer products, and office suppliers in schools, daycare centers, medical care facilities, nursing homes, public housing, facilities for special needs and the disabled, and other facilities with vulnerable populations when cost-effective alternatives are available.

As a member of APHA, I contributed to this effort which addresses the hazards that PVC and phthalates pose to children’s health in schools, hospitals, daycare centers and other public institutions. This resolution by one of the largest associations of health professionals in the United States is an important new voice calling for government agencies to take action to address the risks posed by flexible PVC products. PVC is a plastic commonly found in building materials like flooring, carpeting, and roofing, as well as products that schools, hospitals and other institutions purchase such as computers, cell phones, backpacks, lunchboxes, 3-ring binders, IV bags, and other medical devices. Chemicals such as phthalates, which are added to make PVC soft and flexible, are released from these PVC products and pose avoidable public health risks. Phthalates have been linked to reproductive problems in a wide range of studies and have been restricted in toys in the United States.

APHA passes this resolution at a time when a growing number of leading businesses and healthcare institutions are supporting efforts to reduce the use of PVC.  Large corporations like Wal-Mart, Target, Apple, and Google have announced policies to reduce or phase out PVC in products and/or packaging.  Last month, the five largest healthcare purchasers in America, representing 1,100 hospitals with a purchasing power of over $130 billion, announced they will be asking suppliers whether or not their products contain toxic PVC plastic and phthalates.

The policy was enacted by the APHA in light of the widespread hazards flexible PVC poses to children other vulnerable populations through the release of hazardous chemicals such as phthalates, dioxin, and vinyl chloride.  Read the full text of the APHA policy statement.

See CHEJ’s press release. See what CNN had to say about this new policy.

_LB04102

Exxon Mobil: You Can’t Duck Reform!

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This Thursday, CHEJ joined environmental health leaders, environmental justice organizers, and nurses from Alaska to Texas for a spirited rally outside of Exxon Mobil’s Houston corporate offices to demand an end to the poisoning of our communities and kids’ toys.  We blasted Exxon Mobil for blocking new restrictions on toxic chemicals that damage children’s health and pollute local communities.    Betty the Be Safe Ducky,  the symbol of phthalate-laden PVC toxic toys, made a special visit to Texas just for the occasion.

You can read our press release here, and media coverage in Forbes and the Houston Press. Check out this slideshow of pictures from the action:

Environmental Justice in Texas

For far too long, Exxon has been polluting communities around Texas with their toxic emissions.  Asthma afflicts nearly 1 million children in Texas and accounts for almost 200,000 hospitalizations a year. In the Houston-Galveston region alone, roughly 76,000 children suffer from asthma.

“Exxon’s petrochemical plants were built around historic communities of color, and now Texas and Louisiana families are suffering from illnesses, such as asthma and cancer, linked to the toxic chemicals they release,” explains Juan Parras of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.

Exxon’s Corporate Profits Over Children’s Health

In recent years, Exxon Mobil has been playing politics with our children’s health.  Exxon is the largest manufacturer of phthalates in the United States, and for years has been doing all they can to defend their dinosaur product line at the expense of our children’s health. How have they done this?

  • In 2008, Congress banned toxic phthalates in PVC toys, which Exxon aggressively lobbied against.  The legislation set up a committee within the Consumer Product Safe Commission (CPSC) to review the hazards of some phthalates like DINP that were temporary banned in the legislation.  Ever since, Exxon has aggressively lobbied the federal government to overturn the ban on these toxic phthalates.
  • Exxon has also worked to stall the EPA’s chemical action plan on phthalates, by lobbying the White House Office of Management and Budget, who has been reviewing the action plan for over 500 days now.  500 days!
  • Even more recently, Exxon has been working to influence the EPA’s Design for the Environment (DFE) program to assess safer alternatives to phthalates.
  • ExxonMobil also opposes Congressional approval of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, which would overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the nation’s broken chemical safety law that was last updated 35 years ago.

Rather than lobbying government officials to protect their corporate profits at the expense of children’s health, ExxonMobil should invest in safer chemicals that are healthier for children, workers and communities.

American Public Health Association and PVC

Thursday’s action comes on the heels of the American Public Health Association, one of the nation’s largest health associations, calling for a phase-out of phthalate-laden PVC in schools, daycare centers, hospitals, and other facilities with vulnerable populations.    The new policy focuses on PVC particularly because of the hazards of phthalates.  While Congress has banned phthalates in toys, they continue to be widespread in our nation’s schools and hospitals.

This resolution by one of the largest association of health professionals in the United States is an important new voice calling for government agencies to take action to address the risks posed by PVC and phthalates.

See what CNN had to say about this new policy.

Emerging science: PVC chemicals harmful to kids’ health

The science is clear.  Phthalates are harmful to children’s health, and phthalate-laden PVC products have no place in our nation’s schools or hospitals.

Will Exxon listen up?

PVC

Big News! American Public Health Association Calls For a Phase Out of PVC in Schools

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This week the American Public Health Association (APHA) passed a major policy resolution on PVC. This is big news!  Here’s CHEJ’s press release announcing it:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday November 2, 2011

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Schade, CHEJ, 212.964.3680, mike(at)chej.org

Toxic Chemicals Need to be Removed from Schools and Daycare Centers

American Public Health Association Calls For a Phase Out of Toxic Vinyl Plastic in Schools, Daycare Centers and Hospitals

(Washington, DC)  More than 13,000 public health professionals across the country gathered in Washington, DC this week at the American Public Health Association’s (APHA) annual public meeting where a major policy resolution, Reducing PVC in Facilities with Vulnerable Populations was passed.  The policy resolution, “urges local, state and federal governments and decision-makers to consider phasing out the use and purchase of flexible PVC in building materials, consumer products, and office suppliers in schools, daycare centers, medical care facilities, nursing homes, public housing, facilities for special needs and the disabled, and other facilities with vulnerable populations when cost-effective alternatives are available.”

This resolution by one of the largest associations of health professionals in the United States is an important new voice calling for government agencies to take action to address the risks posed by flexible PVC products,” said Stephen Lester, Science Director for the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. “The APHA has now formally recognized the hazards that PVC and phthalates pose to children’s health in schools and daycare centers.”

PVC is a plastic commonly found in building materials like flooring, carpeting, and roofing, as well as products that schools, hospitals and other institutions purchase such as computers, cell phones, backpacks, lunchboxes, 3-ring binders, IV bags, and other medical devices. Chemicals such as phthalates, which are added to make PVC soft and flexible, are released from these PVC products and pose avoidable public health risks.

This comes at a time when a growing chorus of leading businesses and healthcare institutions are supporting efforts to reduce the use of PVC.  Large corporations like Wal-Mart, Target, Apple, and Google have announced policies to reduce or phase out PVC in products and/or packaging.  Just a few weeks ago, the largest healthcare purchasers in America, with a purchasing power of over $130 billion, announced they will be asking suppliers whether or not their products contain toxic PVC plastic and phthalates.  The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program provides incentives to avoid building materials such as PVC that release Persistent Bioaccumulative Toxins (PBTs) and contain phthalates.

A 2011 study found PVC is the most widely used hazardous plastic in the world.  Congress has enacted legislation banning phthalates in children’s PVC toys, but they are widespread in other PVC products in schools, hospitals, and other facilities with vulnerable populations.  Due to the environmental health hazards of phthalates, the EPA has recently developed a “chemical action plan” for phthalates, over 90% of which are found in PVC products.

The policy was enacted by the APHA in light of the widespread hazards flexible PVC poses to children other vulnerable populations through the release of hazardous chemicals such as phthalates, dioxin, and vinyl chloride.  The APHA policy statement:

  • Urges governmental bodies to educate administrators, purchasing staff, employees, parents and care-givers about PVC hazards and safer alternatives in schools, daycare centers, medical care facilities, and other facilities with vulnerable populations.
  • Urges state and federal governments to consider requiring labeling of PVC used in products, and consider requiring product manufacturers that sell PVC products to schools, daycare centers, medical care facilities, and other facilities with vulnerable populations to notify purchasers of the amount of PVC and the specific chemical name of additives used in individual products.
  • Urges state and federal governments to consider providing financial incentives for schools, daycare centers, medical care facilities and other facilities with vulnerable populations for the development, purchase and use of safer alternatives to PVC.
  • Urges local, state and federal governments and decision-makers to consider phasing out the use and purchase of flexible PVC in building materials, consumer products and office suppliers in schools, daycare centers, medical care facilities, and other facilities with vulnerable populations when cost-effective alternatives are available.
  • Urges state and federal governments, in enacting such phase-outs, to consider policies that alleviate short-term economic impacts on the PVC production workforce, and to also consider  economic benefits to workers in industries making safer alternatives.
  • Urges the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and other federal agencies to research the link between asthma and other health impacts, and exposure to phthalates and other additives released from PVC products.

The American Public Health Association is the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world.  There are over 22,000 APHA members. The Association aims to protect all Americans and their communities from preventable, serious health threats and strives to assure community-based health promotion and disease prevention activities and preventive health services are universally accessible in the United States.

ATTENTION JOURNALISTS: The resolution that was passed by the APHA is available here.

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The Center for Health, Environment & Justice exists to mentor the movement to build healthier communities by empowering people to prevent harm caused by chemical and toxic threats. We accomplish our work by connecting local community groups to national initiatives and corporate campaigns. CHEJ works with communities to empower groups by providing the tools, strategic vision, and encouragement they need to advocate for human health and the prevention of harm. Following her successful effort to prevent further harm for the people living in contaminated Love Canal, Lois Gibbs founded CHEJ in 1981 in order to continue the journey. To date, CHEJ has assisted over 10,000 groups nationwide. Details on CHEJ’s efforts to help people and communities prevent harm can be found at http://chej.org/