children’s health


We Need a Rational Policy on Chemical Safety


“Children’s health and the environment is a most fitting topic for World Environmental Health Day 2015. Children are the most vulnerable among us to degradation of the environment…

…Toxic chemicals are a particularly serious threat to children’s health. More than 80,000 new synthetic chemicals have been invented in the past 50 years. These chemicals are found in thousands of products that we use every day.”

Read More:


Children May Be Exposed to Unsafe Levels of BPA in School Meals


School meals may contain unsafe levels of bisphenol A (BPA), according to a study led by Jennifer Hartle, DrPh, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University’s Prevention Research Center and a Center for a Livable Future-Lerner Fellow (2013). BPA – a chemical commonly found in canned goods and plastic packaging – can disrupt human hormones and has been linked to adverse health effects including cancer. Current federal standards for school meals focus on nutrition and overlook exposure to toxic chemicals. Researchers say this exposure is of serious concern for low-income children since they are more likely to eat federally funded meals instead of bringing lunch from home.    

“During school site visits, I was shocked to see that virtually everything in school meals came from a can or plastic packaging,” Hartle said. “Meat came frozen, pre-packaged, pre-cooked and pre-seasoned. Salads were pre-cut and pre-bagged. Corn, peaches and green beans came in cans. The only items not packaged in plastic were oranges, apples and bananas.” The uptick in packaging is a result of schools’ efforts to streamline food preparation and meet federal nutrition standards while keeping costs low.

To better assess BPA exposure through school meals, Hartle, along with researchers from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), interviewed school food service personnel, visited school kitchens and cafeterias in the San Francisco Bay Area and analyzed studies on BPA food concentration values. They found that BPA exposure varies depending on what students eat, but a student consuming pizza and milk with canned fruits and vegetables could take in anywhere from minimal levels to 1.19 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day. While most students would not consume the maximum amount, those who do would take in more than half the dose shown to be toxic in animal studies in just one meal.

“With endocrine-disrupting chemicals particularly, there is so much uncertainty,” said Robert Lawrence, MD, co-author of the study and director of the CLF. “We can’t tie a specific dose to a specific response like we can with lead. But we know BPA is impacting human health. Animal models are showing there can be a wide range of health effects. This research shows we should take a precautionary approach and limit school meal exposure to BPA by serving students more fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Probabilistic modeling of school meals for potential bisphenol A (BPA) exposure,” was written by Jennifer C. Hartle, Mary A. Fox, and Robert S. Lawrence.

Phthalate baby

Pesticide use at home linked to childhood cancer risk


Children exposed to insecticides at home may have a slightly increased risk of developing leukemia or lymphoma, a new review finds.

The analysis, of 16 studies done since the 1990s, found that children exposed to indoor insecticides had an elevated risk of developing the blood cancers. There was also a weaker link between exposure to weed killers and the risk of leukemia.

The findings, reported online Sept. 14 and in the October print issue of Pediatrics, do not prove that chemical pesticides directly contribute to the cancers. And if they do, researchers said, several questions remain.

Read More

Beautiful Irina breastfeeding Patrick in the park.

Breastfeeding exposes babies to water- and stain-proofing chemicals


Women exposed to toxic water-proofing and stain-proofing chemicals may be passing these compounds on to their children via breastfeeding. These chemicals are linked to immune system problems that can place children at risk.

Learn more about this issue at Environmental Health News.

just moms stl

St. Louis Moms Call On Obama For Help


Anger builds at EPA over radioactive landfill.  “We believe that it would be within the power of the president to issue an executive order to clean up the bureaucratic administrative mess at West Lake Landfill, put one government agency in charge, said Ed Smith.”  Matt LaVanchy, a local fire department official, told radio station KTRS that he believes the fire could be less than 1,000 feet from the radioactive material, and is trying to train firefighters for possible outcomes.

CHEJ has been working with this community for years and agrees that it is time Obama steps in and commands action. EPA refuses to . . . Republic Service has failed nearly every step and people are dying. Time to take the site out of the hands of the incompetent and move the families down wind of the site. Read more here.

springfield oh 700 people aug 27 2015

700 People Told EPA “Dig it Up -Take It Out”


YES! The people of Clark County, Ohio showed up last night in force….

  • Their Health District attendance counters stopped at 650, with more people coming in the door.
  • US EPA’s Joan Tanaka said in all her 20 years’ work on Superfund sites, she had never seen such a huge crowd.

EPA’s purpose in coming to Clark County was to tell residents what information they wanted us to know….

  • They listened politely to too many power point slides that were unreadable, too many reassurances that were not believable, and too much talking that glossed over or avoided the real questions.

Their united purpose last night was to tell EPA what they wanted them to know–and boy did they do just that.

In summary the people were clear that they:

  • Do not and will not accept their proposed plan.
  • Want all hazardous wastes permanently removed from the Tremont City Barrel Fill.
  • Will continue to work with Ohio EPA and our elected leaders to change their remedy.
  • Do not trust EPA, their reassurances, or their ability to protect our health and water source forever.

Our preference last night was made very clear….We want permanent removal of all  hazardous wastes at the Barrel Fill.

U.S. EPA: Dig it up! Truck it out! Protect our water!


Is Your Child Coloring with Asbestos


Some children’s crayons—marketed with colorful characters such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and Mickey Mouse—and play crime lab kits contain cancer-causing, lung damaging asbestos fibers, according to a report released today. The report, commissioned by the environmental nonprofit Environmental Working Group Action Fund, found that four brands of children’s crayons out of 28 boxes tested and two of 21 children fingerprint kits contained asbestos. All of the products that tested positive for asbestos were made in China and imported to the United States.

Read More

China Explosion

Fear of Toxic Air and Distrust of Government Follow Tianjin Blasts


Within minutes of the immense chemical explosions that sent apocalyptic fireballs into the night sky over Tianjin, Zhou Haisen, 23, was making arrangements to leave town. He was terrified that poisonous gases would reach his apartment six miles from the scene, and his fears were swiftly reinforced by posts on Chinese social media. So he and his parents fled to his grandmother’s house an hour’s drive away. Read the full story in the New York Times .

birmingham AL

Families Expose to Toxic Chemicals Lives’ Matter


I am so frustrated and cannot understand how to win equal protection of health for all people.  I’ve been doing this work for over thirty years and observed that unlike food contamination or infectious disease, where health agencies move at the speed of light to keep people safe, when the source is toxic chemicals from a corporation, people are sacrificed.  I’m looking for ideas from those who read this blog.  Just recently we saw the call to action to protect public health  around the cilantro scare.

This week I received requests for help from local leaders CHEJ is working with that related to health studies and public health impacts from chemicals in their environment.

One study around hydro fracking, researchers found that pregnant women living near clusters of fracked wells were more likely to have babies with lower birth weights.  The second study found higher rates of hospitalization for heart conditions, neurological illness, and other conditions among people who live near fracking sites.

Those studies were not enough to stop fracking in the communities. In fact, health authorities said they believe it may not be the fracking at all – it could just be a random clustering of medical problems.

The third study was around a low wealth African American community in Birmingham, Alabama. Adjacent to the community is Walter Coke Facility that manufactures coke, toluene sulfonyl acid, produces pig iron from iron ore and more.

The Federal Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted a study to determine the health risk to community families based upon exposures to arsenic, lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in residential surface soil and homegrown garden produce in the communities collected from November 2012 through January 2015.

ATSDR concluded that:

  • past and current exposure to arsenic found in surface soil of some residential yards could harm people’s health. Children are especially at risk.
  • past and current exposure to lead found in surface soil of some residential yards could harm people’s health. Swallowing this lead‐contaminated soil could cause harmful health effects, especially in children and in the developing fetus of pregnant women.
  • long‐term exposure (i.e., many years) to PAHs found in the surface soil of some residential yards is at a level of concern for lifetime cancer risk.

The agency’s recommendation was for parents to:

  • monitor their children’s behavior while playing outdoors and prevent their children from intentionally or inadvertently eating soil;
  • take measures to reduce exposures to residential soil and to protect themselves, their families, and visitors;
  • have their children tested for blood lead; and
  • for EPA to continue testing for arsenic and lead in the soil and continue with its plans to cleanup additional properties (patch quilt of clean up not community wide as though the wind won’t carry toxic dust from one yard to another) to reduce levels in residential surface soil.

There was no mention of what the polluter should do. No mention of relocating families from the area to safe housing somewhere else. There was no mention of health monitoring or a clinic for people, especially children who are exposed and sick.

What level of human tragedy, suffering and loss of life will it take to stop the poisoning of American people from toxic chemicals?  The ethics behind the two responses of food/infectious disease versus chemical threats to public health is unethical.  Families being exposed to toxic chemicals matter just as much as everyone else. It’s time our health agencies stopped treating them as sacrificial families to protect corporate profits.

Phthalate baby

The End is Coming – Market for Phthalates Continues to Shrink


Last month, the nation’s third largest home improvement chain – Menards – agreed to phase out the use of phthalates in its vinyl flooring by the end of the year. In a statement in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Menards spokesperson Jeff Abbot said, “We are still aware of the phthalate concern and have been working diligently with our vendors to eliminate any flooring products that contain phthalates.” Menards, which follows the lead of Home Depot and Lowes, has roughly 285 stores in 14 states.

This announcement follows a report by the Health Building Network (HBN) that the world’s largest flooring manufacturers, Mohawk and Tarkett, are also phasing out the use of phthalate plasticizers. Rochelle Routman, VP of sustainability for Mohawk, told HBN that it “long ago” phased out the use of ortho-phthalates in all the vinyl floors that it manufacturers, and is working to eliminate them from third party manufactured floors. HBN reported in April that Tarkett, the world’s second largest flooring company, has phased out the intentional addition of phthalates to its flooring.

The decisions by these major retailers and by global manufacturing companies portends an end to the use of phthalates in consumer products. Consumers simply do not want to take risks, especially with their children, that they can avoid.

The August 2015 issue of Consumer Reports makes clear what parents should do if they have vinyl flooring in their home – regularly mop vinyl floors that contain phthalates and wash toddlers’ hands, especially if children crawl on the floors. Consumers Union tested 17 vinyl floors and found small amounts of phthalates on the surface layers – enough however to warrant action by parents. ”Although phthalate levels are very low, we recommend that parents of toddlers wet-mop often and wash those little hands after they’ve been crawling on a vinyl floor,” it reports. Frequent cleaning could help remove dust particles which are known to accumulate phthalates commonly used in these floorings.

Phthalates migrate from PVC, can accumulate in people’s bodies, and can cause developmental harm. Some phthalates are carcinogens.

Rather than worry about moping the floor and washing your children’s hands, most parents want nothing to do with vinyl flooring. The risks are too great and the market forces are following this lead.