children’s health

Recent Studies State Chemical In Plastic Liquid Containers Contain Tox

For BPA, Does the Dose Make the Poison?

Print

For those who keep up with environmental health research and chemical regulations, it is no surprise to come across conflicting reports on the safety or risk of various compounds. This week, in the case of the compound bisphenol A (BPA), these conflicting reports happened to emerge almost simultaneously. On January 21st, the European Food Safety Authority declared that BPA “poses no health risk to consumers of any age group…at current exposure levels.” The next day, a study published in the journal PLoS Genetics showed that even low and short-term exposures to BPA and other hormone-mimicking compounds could alter stem cells and lead to lower sperm counts.

BPA is a common ingredient in plastics used for food and drink containers. Its hormone-like properties allow it to disrupt the endocrine system, with potential health effects ranging from reproductive issues to cancer. Though BPA has been banned in baby bottles in the U.S., and BPA-free products have become widely available since concerns about the compound were first raised in 2008, it remains in products from water bottles to the inside coatings of cans.

David McNew via Getty Images

‘The dose makes the poison’ is a well-known adage in toxicology, implying that even hazardous chemicals can be harmless at low enough concentrations. However, decades of research have shown this to be an overly simplistic way of analyzing toxic exposures.  Dr. Theo Colborn, who passed away on December 14th, 2014, was a pioneering researcher in the field of endocrine disruption and a tireless advocate for precautionary chemical regulation. Her research on endocrine disruption demonstrated that even very low concentrations of harmful chemicals could result in changes to the reproductive system, particularly in developing babies and children who have less of a tolerance for exposure than adults. She also demonstrated that not all effects of toxic chemicals are immediately apparent, but can occur decades and even generations later.

The study published last week focused on both questions of concentration and timing. The researchers tested estrogenic compounds including BPA on mice, and found that they alter the stem cells, or undifferentiated cells, which are responsible for sperm production later in life. Patricia Hunt, the researcher who led the study, told Environmental Health News that exposure to even low doses of estrogens “is not simply affecting sperm being produced now, but impacting the stem cell population, and that will affect sperm produced throughout the lifetime.”

Uncertainties remain in the wake of this study. For instance, the researchers are still investigating whether the changes observed can cross generations, or whether the same changes can occur in human reproductive stem cells. The EFSA also recognized uncertainties in non-dietary sources of BPA, and they are still conducting long-term studies in rats. While scientists and regulators continue to chase answers, this past week shines a spotlight on the complicated realm of environmental health risk assessment, and shows the continued relevance of Dr. Theo Colborn’s work and legacy. Dose is indeed important in making a poison, but so is timing of exposure, and time itself in revealing the chronic and transgenerational effects of chemicals.

Children have higher exposures to some phthalates, which are found in some PVC plastics and personal care products.

Why Climate Change is a U.S. Children’s Health Issue

Print

Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health Director Dr. Frederica Perera and Dr. Patrick Kinney published an op-ed in LiveScience on May 8th. The op-ed highlights the importance of prioritizing children’s health in the discussion of climate change and fossil fuel.

Read it online 0r download a copy.

Children have higher exposures to some phthalates, which are found in some PVC plastics and personal care products.

Good news/bad news: Some phthalates down, some up

Print

By Lindsey Konkel
Staff Writer
Environmental Health News

January 15, 2014


Children have higher exposures to some phthalates, which are found in some PVC plastics and personal care products.


Scientists have documented for the first time that several phthalates – controversial chemicals used to make vinyl and fragrances – are declining in people while several others are rising. The study, published today, is the first comprehensive, nationwide attempt to document trends in exposure to these widely used chemicals over the past decade.

Anne Petersen/flickr
Most nail polish no longer contains the phthalate called DBP.

The researchers said the results suggest that manufacturers may be reformulating products in the wake of a federal regulation and environmental groups’ campaigns.

Three compounds banned in U.S. toys and other children’s products in 2008 have declined. But since other phthalates are increasing, it’s possible that industries have substituted them in some products.

“Our findings suggest that interventions may be working, though legislation didn’t entirely predict which levels went up or down,” said Ami Zota, a George Washington University assistant professor of environmental and occupational health who led the research when she was at the University of California, San Francisco.

Phthalates have been linked to a variety of health effects in animal tests and some human studies, including hormone disruptionaltered male genital development,diabetesasthmaattention disorders, learning disabilities and obesity.

Chemical industry representatives said that the traces found in most products are small, and not likely to cause harm.

“Despite the fact that phthalates are used in many products, exposure is extremely low – much lower than the levels considered safe by regulatory agencies,” said Liz Bowman, a spokesperson for the American Chemistry Council, which represents manufacturers of phthalates and other chemicals.

The researchers analyzed the urine of more than 11,000 American adults and children between 2001 and 2010. They discovered that people are still widely exposed to phthalates; some were found in 98 percent of people tested.

Breakdown products of three phthalates that Congress banned from toys and other children’s products were significantly lower in 2010 than in 2001. One of the compounds, known as DEHP, found in some toys, blood bags and medical tubing, decreased 37 percent.

“Despite the fact that phthalates are used in many products, exposure is extremely low – much lower than the levels considered safe by regulatory agencies.” –Liz Bowman, American Chemistry CouncilWhile DEHP remained higher in children than adults, the levels dropped faster in children, narrowing the gap over time, according to the study, which was published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The study did not look at children under 6, who may be more highly exposed to phthalates and more susceptible to adverse health effects.

“Today phthalate usage is virtually nonexistent in toys. They have been replaced by non-phthalate substitutes,” said Alan Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs for the Toy Industry Association. He added that the toy industry began to transition away from phthalates years ago, but that the trend has been accelerated by regulatory actions in the U.S. and European Union.

However, three other phthalates used in some children’s products increased between 2001 and 2010. DiNP rose 149 percent, while DnOP increased 25 percent and DiDP rose 15 percent. The three were temporarily banned in 2008 in U.S. toys and childcare products that could be put in a child’s mouth. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently debating whether to lift the restrictions or make them permanent.

In addition, last month, California added DiNP to a list of chemicals known by the state to cause cancer. That could lead to warning labels on consumer products sold in the state.

Diueine Monteiro/flickr
Phthalates are used as fragrances in some shampoos and lotions.

DBP, which dropped 17 percent in people in the decade studied, was used in nail polish until a few years ago, when most major manufacturers eliminated it. Benzylbutyl phthalate, used in vinyl tiles and sealants, decreased 32 percent. Both compounds were part of the 2008 ban for children’s products.

A phthalate used primarily for fragrance – diethyl phthalate or DEP – decreased 42 percent. While it is not subject to U.S. bans, advocacy groups have pressured the cosmetics industry to remove it from products with initiatives such as the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The study authors saw a steeper decline in DEP in adults and adolescents than in children, who may be less likely to use personal care products.

Joe Braun, an epidemiologist at Brown University who was not involved in the study, said “the age-dependent patterns confirm what we suspect about where these exposures are coming from.”

“These findings are not as reassuring as they could be,” Braun added.

For instance, DiBP, used in some nail polishes and personal care products, increased 206 percent in the decade studied.

Manufacturers may be using some phthalates as substitutes for the ones that declined, the researchers said. But it’s hard to know because they aren’t required to list ingredients on many consumer products.

“We are not confident that cosmetics manufacturers are replacing toxic phthalates with safer alternatives,” said Janet Nudelman, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The Personal Care Products Council, a Washington D.C.-based trade group, did not respond to requests for comment on the findings.

“There’s a clear need for better data reporting on ingredient composition of everyday consumer products so that we can fully understand the impacts of legislation and consumer pressure,” said Zota, who co-authored the study with UC San Francisco Professor Tracey Woodruff and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist Antonia Calafat.

Source: Zota et al. 2014

Beautiful-Smile-Young-Girl

Former DNR Official Issues Open Letter About Handling of Burning Bridgeton Landfill

Print

A former official with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources writes a sizzling farewell letter about the burning Bridgeton landfill. He has issued an open letter claiming politics – not science – is dominating the state’s handling of the landfill crisis. Norris says within the DNR, scientists are “losing their minds because they are fighting their own management structure,” which seems more concerned with politics than public safety. He says there is “an overall cozy relationship between the landfill owner and the DNR.” Read more.

Companies used BPS as a safe alternative to BPA. (David McNew/Getty Images)

BPA alternative disrupts normal brain-cell growth, is tied to hyperactivity, study says

Print

In a groundbreaking study, researchers have shown why a chemical once thought to be a safe alternative to bisphenol-A, which was abandoned by manufacturers of baby bottles and sippy cups after a public outcry, might itself be more harmful than BPA.

Companies used BPS as a safe alternative to BPA. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Read more from Amy Ellis Nutt at The Washington Post.

toysstock

US CPSC proposes ban on phthalates in children’s products

Print

12 January 2015

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is proposing to permanently ban the use of another five phthalates in children’s toys and childcare articles.

The move is based on the recommendations of the Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP), which assessed the risks of 14 phthalates and six alternatives to the substances (CW 22 July 2014).

The panel recommended that diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP), di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP), di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP) and dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP) be permanently banned from use in children’s toys and childcare articles at levels greater than 0.1%. There is no restriction in place for these substances at the moment. Their toxicological profiles are very similar to other antiandrogenic phthalates, so exposure to these substances contributes to the cumulative risk, the panel said.

It also suggested that the Commission’s interim ban on the use of diisononyl phthalate (DINP) at levels greater than 0.1% be made permanent.

The Commission voted 3-2 to accept a staff report proposing a rulemaking that embraces most of the CHAP’s recommendations. However, it is not proposing any prohibition of products containing diisooctyl phthalate (DIOP). “Although the CHAP recommended an interim prohibition on DIOP, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) did not provide for an interim prohibition as an option for the Commission’s rule under section 108. CPSIA section 108(b)(3),” the agency said in a Federal Register notice.

The CPSIA, which was enacted in 2008, permanently banned three phthalates:

  • di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP);
  • dibutyl pththalate (DBP); and
  • butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP).

It also imposed interim bans on:

  • DINP;
  • di-isodecyl phthalate  (DIDP); and
  • di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP).

Saying the proposed rule is based “largely on old data,” the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said the CPSC should have considered the most recently-available Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) biomonitoring data from 2009-10 and 2011-12 prior to issuing a proposed rule.

The 2009-10 biomonitoring data “clearly show a marked decrease in overall phthalate exposure since the 2005-06 data used by the CHAP, the ACC said. “This data is more relevant to exposures since the enactment of the CPSIA. This trend persists, as seen in the 2011-12 CDC data released this year..” Exposures to DINP remain extremely low with margins of exposure (MOEs) that are many times above the concentrations that induce adverse effects in rats, it said. “In fact, when the CHAP cumulative risk methodology is used with the 2009-10 data, the Hazard Index (HI) is well below one, indicating exposure levels do not pose a risk to human health, the ACC said.

Comments are due by 16 March. The CPSC has notified the WTO of the proposed rule.

From Chemical Watch: Global Risk & Regulation News

donnayoung

Utah oil town turns against midwife who asked about infant deaths

Print

In Utah, an oil boomtown has seen a suspicious number of stillborn infants in the recent past. Midwife Donna Young of the town of Vernal has drawn attention to the rising number of infant deaths, and is now facing criticism from her neighbors. Are the rise in infant deaths attributable to the environmental impacts of drilling?

Find out more from John M. Glionna at the LA Times.

epa

EPA Proposes Rule to Protect Consumers from Harmful Chemicals Found in Homes and Schools

Print

Today, EPA is taking action to protect consumers from new uses and imports of the harmful chemicals Toluene Diisocyanates (TDI).

These chemicals are currently widely used in residual amounts in the production of polyurethanes and consumer products, such as coatings, elastomers, adhesives, and sealants and can be found in products used in and around homes or schools. Diisocyanates are well known dermal and inhalation sensitizers in the workplace and can cause asthma, lung damage, and in severe cases, death.

The proposed decision would give EPA the opportunity to evaluate and if necessary, to take action to prohibit or limit the use of the chemicals at greater than 0.1% in coatings, adhesives, elastomers, binders, and sealants in consumer products including imported consumer products that make their way into the United States.  For all other uses in a consumer products, EPA would have the opportunity to evaluate the use of the chemicals at any level.

EPA’s proposed action, a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), would require manufacturers (including importers) to notify EPA at least 90 days before starting or resuming these new uses in consumer products.  EPA would then have the opportunity to evaluate the intended use of the chemicals and, if necessary, take action to prohibit or limit the activity.

Additional information on the proposed SNUR on TDI and related compounds and how to provide comments can be found at:  http://www.epa.gov/oppt/existingchemicals/index.html


children health environment

Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) 2015 Research Conference

Print

The Children’s Environmental Health Network will hold a conference on “Children: Food and Environment.” The conference will be held at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center in Austin, TX from Feb. 4-6.

Sarah Jones of the Children’s Environmental Health Network writes, “The focus of this event will be on how the interaction between food and environmental factors affect children’s health. The conference program will organize around specified health and developmental outcomes or affected organ/body systems, and include presentations on micro-level influences such as nutrient-mediated microbiome effects as well as macro-level influences such as contaminants rising from modern food production practices.”

Read more and register here: http://www.cehn.org/2015_research_conference

Pregnant-woman-hot-drink-012

Phthalates risk damaging children’s IQs in the womb, US researchers suggest

Print

Additives found in plastics and scented products could affect brain development and lower IQ.

Pregnant women should avoid additives called phthalates found in common household products, according to US researchers, who found evidence that the substances may reduce children’s IQ.

Children whose mothers had the highest levels of phthalates had IQs on average seven points below those whose mothers had the lowest. The 328 women from inner-city New York who took part in the study had levels of phthalates in urine measured in the last weeks of pregnancy. IQs of the children were tested at seven years old.

While the study was purely observational and cannot prove that phthalates caused the children’s lower IQs, the research team said pregnant women might still want to avoid the additives as a precaution.

“People, and especially pregnant women, should try to reduce their exposure to phthalates, and we as investigators follow the same advice that we give,” said Pam Factor-Litvak, an epidemiologist at Columbia University in New York.

Read more at theguardian.com