TSCA

Both hazard and exposure are necessary for a risk to exist.

Staying Safe (Probably): Risk, Hazard and Chemical Regulation

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Risk’ and ‘hazard.’

These two words are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings in the context of chemical safety assessment. When we say a particular chemical is ‘hazardous,’ we are noting its mere potential to cause negative health or environmental effects. On the other hand, ‘risk’ describes the probability that these negative effects will actually occur under specific circumstances. In order to generate a measurable risk, some exposure to the hazard in question must occur.


Both a hazard and an exposure are necessary for a risk to exist.


If you have followed my last several posts, you’ve probably caught on to the idea that attempting to declare a chemical ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ is an exercise in futility. To comprehensively determine risk, we must know not only the detailed structure and function of a chemical, but also understand the intricacies of its interactions with the environment and the human body. Current chemical regulation in the United States operates within a risk-based framework. We establish standards and criteria for acceptable levels of hazardous compounds in products, in the environment and in our bodies; we enact bans and restrictions on chemicals in order to limit our exposures. These regulations are the product of risk assessments, which report not only the hazardous properties of chemicals but also the likelihood of human exposure.

My recent post on BPA illustrates the complexity of risk assessment. Though BPA has demonstrated hazardous potential, the levels to which humans are exposed to the compound, and therefore the actual risks of its use, are uncertain. Exposure may seem like a simple factor to evaluate, but our understanding of exposure is continually evolving, particularly with consideration for the special vulnerability of developing babies and children.  The ban on BPA in baby bottles reflects this emerging awareness of long-term effects of chemical exposures. However, the replacement of BPA with BPS illustrates the shortcomings of an approach that controls risk by limiting exposure to specific high-profile hazardous compounds.

The replacement of BPA, a known hazard, with BPS – an untested and unregulated compound with a nearly identical structure – may be considered an example of what scientists and regulators refer to as “regrettable substitution.” Regrettable substitution occurs when we eliminate one hazardous chemical from consumer products, only to replace it with a similar or even more hazardous alternative. Our risk-based chemical regulation enables us to remove demonstrably dangerous chemicals from consumer products, but also leaves profound loopholes for new chemicals, untested and unregulated, to enter the market in their stead, as long as risk assessments have not proven them dangerous. In a 2010 post on his Environmental Defense Fund blog, Dr. Richard Denison refers to this process as playing “whack-a-mole” with chemicals. No sooner have we knocked one hazardous chemical back into its hole, than a replacement rears its likely-hazardous head…until we generate evidence of its actual risk and seek to replace it with another unknown quantity.

Is this game of “whack-a-chemical” inevitable, or do more precautionary approaches exist? In Europe, regulators are striving for a balance between risk assessment and the more protective approach of hazard classification. While risk assessment relies on scientific studies to determine the risks of chemicals under different exposure scenarios, hazard classification groups chemicals based on their inherent hazard potential. It is this potential to cause harm that guides regulation, not demonstrated adverse effects.  A hazard classification regulatory scheme might have prevented BPS from entering the market, since its structural similarities to BPA make it a likely health hazard.

Hazard classification is essentially a more precautionary approach to chemical regulations. And when we operate in a framework of precaution rather than risk, the regulatory question itself changes. “A precautionary approach asks how much harm can be avoided rather than asking how much is acceptable,” write Dr. Ted Schettler and coauthors in a 2002 essay on the role of the Precautionary Principle in regulation and policymaking.

How can we better incorporate the Precautionary Principle into the chemical regulation process in the US? This question has been at the epicenter of the debate on reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which I will cover next time on Backyard Talk.

Photo: Associated Press

Untested chemicals are everywhere, thanks to a 39-year-old US law. Will the Senate finally act?

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Many chemicals that are restricted or banned in Europe remain in use – and in some cases, untested – in the US, thanks to federal regulations that haven’t been updated since 1976. A new bill to overhaul the law is expected this spring.


Photo: Associated Press



PA Ban Fracking Now March

Demand What You Want-Not What’s “Feasible”

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Truer words have never been spoken. In CHEJ’s recent training on Lessons Learned from New York State, which recently banned fracking until it can be proven safe, Eric Weltman from Food and Water Watch told the group to demand what you want not what is feasible.

I find it frustrating and a bit troubling when I visit communities who are struggling to protect their health and environment from environmental threats and they ask for less than they deserve and need. When I ask leaders, “why short change themselves,” they often respond saying they don’t want to sound unreasonable or worse because their opponents said it’s too expensive. Leaders and community members are often bullied into believing that they must take less or they won’t get anything. This is just not true.

At Love Canal in 1978, our community was told that government does not evacuate families and purchase homes because of toxic pollution. If we didn’t stick to our goal we would never had been evacuated. When the environmental health and justice movement demanded that no more commercial landfills be built, we were all told it must go somewhere. Several years later up until today no new commercial hazardous wastes landfills have been built, although it is still legal to do so.

In one of CHEJ’s consumer campaigns around a multinational corporation, we were demanding they take certain products off their shelves. The corporations response was, we won’t be bullied by radical environmental group. Yet a short time later they did exactly what we and consumers across the country asked.

No one should ask or accept as the final decision, what is not right and fair. However, winning the big ask is more difficult and demands serious discipline. Everyone needs to be on the same page and demand the same goal. Yes, there are always those few who will say out loud and even in the media that they would be wiling to accept less. Yet if the loud vocal people, the base of the majority, the framers of the campaign stick with their larger goal for justice, they will dominate the campaign. Those with smaller goals will be essential drowned out by the voices and actions of this  larger group.

This was the case in New York State around fracking. There were good people who would have accepted better regulations or only drilling in certain parts of the state. In every issue those working from various groups often have different goals. Sometimes their efforts help build toward the larger goal and other times they may be an irritation. The key to win it all is to build larger stronger, more visible opposition and demand for the larger goals. In this way you can win your goals without publicly fighting with others.

As Eric told us, “we were relentless. With op-eds, press events, using the public participation/comment period to submit a hundred thousands of “comments” that said Ban Fracking Now –not detailed line by line comments about regulations that were proposed. Hundreds of groups participated in bird dogging the governor who couldn’t go anywhere without a group, small or large in his face demanding he ban fracking.”

Secondly, Eric was clear that you need a single target, in NYS it was the governor. “You need to find the person who has the power to give you what you are demanding,” he said. I would add that it always needs to be a person not an entity, like regulatory agency or corporation. You need a human face on your opponent and your messengers to make it all work.

This is a time tested strategy and if you follow it you are more likely to receive a higher level of justice not a compromising solution.

epa

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

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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


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Childhood Cancer & Environment

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Between 1975 and 2011, the U.S. has seen a 55% increase in the number of children diagnosed annually with childhood leukemia. Read more from Environmental Health Policy/PSR.

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States target toxic chemicals as Washington fails to act

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By Ronnie Greene for The Center forPublic Integrity

In Vermont, the Senate has just passed a bill potentially empowering the Green Mountain State to ban chemicals it deems harmful to consumers. Some 3,000 miles away, in Washington State, environmental reformers weren’t as successful: A bill to ban six toxic flame retardants died in the Senate, beaten back by industry opposition and politicians’ cries of state overreaching.

In state capitols from Maine to Oregon, environmental advocates are filing bills to identify and ban noxious chemicals and industry groups are fighting back with pointed rebukes and high-pitched lobbying. Toxic reform legislation is either breathing with new life or being extinguished altogether.

The toxics tug-of-war in state houses is direct fallout from the muddled environmental politicking of Washington, D.C.

In 1976, Congress passed the Toxic Substances Control Act, a federal framework intended to safeguard the public from dangerous chemicals. Yet in the nearly four decades since, TSCA, as it is known, has done little more than gather dust. Among tens of thousands of chemicals in commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency has “only been able to require testing on a little more than 200 existing chemicals,” and banned five, the EPA told The Center for Public Integrity.

Everyone wants to revamp TSCA — from the industry’s $100 million lobbying arm, the American Chemistry Council, to the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group, to the EPA itself.

Yet three years to the month since the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg proposed sweeping change through the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, the TSCA overhaul remains in the works, with proposals, counter-proposals and criticismsabout the working draft’s fine print.

Fed up with logjams in D.C., state legislators are filing hundreds of measures in their own states to do what the federal government hasn’t — take action against destructive chemicals, by singling out the most dangerous toxins and seeking to remove them from shelves.

While the political smoke continues in Washington, the chemical reform fire is playing out in statehouses from Montpelier to Olympia.

At least 442 bills involving toxics and chemicals have been filed in 2014, or refiled from previous sessions, covering 39 states, according to an environmental health legislation database maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures. A year earlier, 399 such bills were filed and the year before that, the database shows, more than 500.

“There’s only so much you will say, ‘We can wait and see. It will be great if the feds do something.’ I think people are losing patience,” said Justin Johnson, deputy secretary of the Vermont Agency for Natural Resources.

As the Center for Public Integrity reported last year, the American Chemistry Council and other industry groups fight nearly every state measure, contending that a patchwork of state laws would do more harm than good, and that true change should come through TSCA. The industry’s statehouse pushback, fueled by a chemical advocacy group that spends tens of millions of lobbying dollars along with making political campaign donations, has helped beat back hundreds of state bills in recent years.

Vermont’s Johnson is among the state officials who understand the argument that having multitudes of differing state laws “is not the way to go.” Yet in his state, as in others, the argument of waiting for Congress to act has grown stale.

“I’ve been personally to the statehouse here in Vermont for five years in a row. ‘Let’s wait and see what the feds do,’” said Johnson, who serves on the Environmental Council of the States, a nonpartisan association of state leaders. “It’s getting pretty old.”

Bills filed, and fought, from Vermont to Washington State

Last week in Vermont, the Senate approved Senate Bill 239, which would allow the state Department of Health to “identify and publish a list of chemicals of high concern,” following the lead of states such as Washington and Maine. The bill would require manufacturers of products using such chemicals to notify the state, “and to replace the chemical with a safer alternative.”

“Given where we are with the toxics reform at the federal level; given that we haven’t seen movement there; and given that we have over 60,000 chemicals that haven’t been adequately tested for their effect on public health, this is the way to begin,” the bill sponsor, Sen. Virginia “Ginny” Lyons, told a Vermont news website.

The bill must clear the House before becoming law.

As in other states, the toxics legislation faces opposition from industry, with lobbyists describing it as another piece in a patchwork of state laws across the U.S.

The Toy Industry Association, a trade group composed of 700 members, has gone on record opposing the bill, citing what it views as a “flawed scientific approach” as the basis for the measure, and the “immense cost to businesses” and the state.

“TIA commends the bill sponsors for their keen interest in the safety of children. We share that interest, and our industry is founded on the mission of bringing fun and joy to children’s lives,” the association wrote Vermont legislators.

“However, we have serious concerns regarding Senate Bill 239 as it does not consider the existing robust safety system for toys sold in this country — including federal regulation and international standards — and will create unnecessary burden on companies doing business in Vermont with arguably no measurable increase in safety.”

In Washington State, industry opposition helped quash the Toxic-Free Kids & Families Act. The measure would have banned six flame retardants on the state’s list of “Chemicals of High Concern for Children” — and put the onus on manufacturers to replace them with safer chemicals.

Sen. Sharon Nelson, a Democrat who has pushed toxics legislation for several years in Washington State, is among the legislators weary of waiting for the federal government to act. “We haven’t seen the changes at the federal level,” she said. “Ultimately the science will prevail, but it’s hard.”

As they had in previous sessions, the Association of Washington Business and the American Chemistry Council pushed back against the flame retardants bill, officially filing opposition to the proposal.

The bill died in the state Senate.

“I’ve seen every time we go into this across the nation, the chemistry council comes in behind the scenes and does a good job about casting questions: Should we be doing this at the state level? They’ve done a good job of just constantly either trying to water down the bills or kill them,” Senator Nelson said. “They’ve been effective. They are well-heeled lobbyists.”

Republican State Sen. Doug Ericksen, chair of the Washington legislature’s Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee, said the bill as proposed was problematic, putting too much power in the hands of a state agency to potentially ban chemicals.

Ericksen said he proposed a compromise measure but Democrats didn’t go along. Sen. Nelson said that measure was watered down to ban chemicals already being phased out.

In a broader sense, Sen. Ericksen echoes the industry’s biggest complaint with state bills. “The issue you get into is creating an island in Washington State,” Ericksen said. “I would say it doesn’t help for Washington State to have a go it alone mentality.”

Brandon Housekeeper, an Association of Washington Business government affairs official, used the same phrasing as Ericksen in describing his group’s opposition, asking “Whether Washington should act alone as an island and ban chemicals used in commerce.”

Housekeeper said the AWB, which describes itself as the state’s “premiere advocate for the business community” representing 8,000 members, helped Ericksen create the alternate bill. “Just an out and out ban in these things in their use didn’t seem appropriate, so we proposed a different path to get to that result,” Housekeeper said.

How effective was the industry effort? “I think the opponents of the legislation obviously had some voice and hand in how legislators reacted to the legislation. Because I think we asked valid questions,” Housekeeper said.

The AWB’s slogan: “We mean business.” Ericksen said he listens to industry and “all different points of view.”

“The industry groups are not necessarily opposed to eliminating these harmful chemicals from these product lines,” he said. “They just find it difficult when they are mandated to be included in one state and mandated to be prohibited in another state.”

More state battles: Oregon, Connecticut, Maine

Legislators in other states have also filed bills this session to identify and remove unsafe chemicals. In state after state, the legislation encounters strong industry pushback, with critics working capitol hallways to douse reform proposals.

“Even if these bills don’t pass, it’s raising awareness,” said Oregon Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, who for several years has proposed a bill that would, like Washington State’s, create a state list of high priority chemicals for children’s health.

Again this year, the bill was shot down. “The industry fought it very hard,” the Oregon legislator said.

Creating lists of dangerous chemicals can make a difference, Keny-Guyer believes. “If companies see they are showing up in these things, there’s much more incentive for them to find safer chemicals,” she said.

In many states, getting from proposal to approved bill is a steep climb.

In Connecticut, advocates are again trying to win approval for a bill allowing the state to compile and maintain a list of harmful chemicals. Supporters crafted the bill so it would not cost the state government a penny.

That same measure was pitched in 2013 but failed when the proposal was talked to death by a committee and never came to a vote.

“We really feel like we’re doing everything we can to kind of build momentum, but we’re not resting on anything at this point. I know that the industry is continuing to fight the bill on a daily basis,” said Anne Hulick, coordinator for the nonprofit Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Connecticut. “I’m worried the opposition is building and we don’t see it.”

The lack of an updated TSCA is a “really big factor,” she said, in why states like Connecticut need their own laws to target hazardous chemicals.

In Maine, advocates are pushing legislation in a state where the Republican governor last year vetoed a bill intended to protect pregnant women and children from harmful chemicals, and where the head of the Department of Environmental Protection is a former lobbyist for the American Chemistry Council. A spokeswoman for the Maine DEP’s director, Patricia Aho, said any potential conflicts had been “thoroughly vetted” before she took office in 2011. The governor’s office said he vetoed bills that were “not good policy.”

This year’s toxic reform push is a direct offshoot of the languishing pace of TSCA overhaul in D.C.

“It’s huge,” said Beth Ahearn, political director for the Maine Conservation Voters. “It creates all the reason we’ve decided to go ahead on our own, because we cannot wait for TSCA reform.”

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The Importance of Government Legislation: PVC Hazards and Chemical Policy Reform

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By Samantha Stahl

So you’ve decided to start living a PVC-free life.  You have finally gotten fed up with unsafe and unhealthy chemicals and are officially taking the steps to rid yourself of them for good.  You’ve done all of the research on why PVC and phthalates are bad for you and your family, and now, armed with knowledge, you are embarking on a new, guilt-free outlook on life.  You send your kids to school with binders and lunch-boxes that are PVC-free, buy them skin care products and fragrances that aren’t made with harmful plastics and leads, and you think your cork floors look better than their low cost would suggest.  And while you don’t work directly with PVC, you take small steps to move your office towards cleaner living as well.

But is this enough?

While consumer responsibility and choice is extraordinarily important in moving the market towards safer and healthier products for our daily lives, it may not be enough to protect us from the harmful effects of PVC.  Large scale change can really only be brought about with a delicate balance between individual actions and responsible legislation.  So while making sure that you and your family are exposed to as little toxins as possible is a goal worth the effort, you may still be vulnerable to the effects of the very toxic chemicals you thought you had banished from your daily life

Read more >

PVC

The latest news on the poison plastic: what every parent needs to know

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The bad news on vinyl, the poison plastic, and phthalates keeps on mounting.

The more I learn, the more I wonder, why are we still allowing this hazardous plastic in our schools and homes?

Here are some of the most recent developments that every parent needs to know.

First responders file lawsuit over vinyl chloride disaster

In response to the December vinyl chloride disaster, which sent over a cloud of over 20,000 gallons of vinyl chloride into the air (originally destined for OxyVinyls in NJ), a group of first responders have filed a lawsuit over this toxic exposure.  NBC Philadelphia reports:

“A class action lawsuit was filed today relating to the Paulsboro, New Jersey train derailment and chemical spill that forced hundreds of people from their homes and left dozens sick last year.

The plaintiffs include more than 100 first responders, young children, and property owners who allege they sustained injuries and damages after the hazardous chemical spill… First responders claim that Conrail representatives advised them throughout the day that they did not need breathing masks or other personal protective equipment, despite high readings of vinyl chloride in the air. The suit states they later underwent extensive medical testing that showed high levels of vinyl chloride in their urine.”

Vinyl chloride is the basic building block of PVC, used to make vinyl flooring in our nation’s schools, hospitals and homes.  You can’t make this plastic without this cancer-causing chemical.

The latest science: vinyl chemicals toxic to our health

As families and first responders have been suing over vinyl chloride epxousre, more scientific studies have been published showing that vinyl chemicals are harmful to our health.  Some notable studies in recent months include:

  • Research funded by the US Department of Defense found phthalates, used to make vinyl flooring soft and flexible, may contribute to disease even generations after exposure. They report that, Observations demonstrate that a mixture of plastic derived compounds, BPA and phthalates, can promote epigenetic transgenerational inheritance of adult onset disease. “
  • Only a few weeks after I blogged on new studies linking vinyl chemicals to asthma and obesity, researchers in China found a link between phthalates and obesity in school children.
  • Researchers in Ireland found potentially hazardous nanomaterials leach from PVC food packaging into food: “An exposure assessment revealed that human exposure to silver (assuming a worst case scenario that all silver is in its most harmful nanoform), is likely to be below current migration limits for conventional migrants and a provisional toxicity limit; however it is acknowledged there is still considerable uncertainty about the potential harmful effects of particles at the nanoscale.”

Policies to protect our kids from poisonous chemicals

On the policy front, the big news is the reintroduction of the Safe Chemicals Act by Senators Lautenberg and Gillibrand (honored to have her as my Senator here in NY, thank you very much :) ), which will go a long way in protecting American families from unnecessary toxic chemicals like phthalates.  Yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a news release announcing their endorsement of these common sense health safeguards.

As chemical policy reform continues to be debated here in the US, at the international level, Denmark has just unveiled a comprehensive new strategy to address phthalates in consumer products.

As part of the strategy, the Danish EPA will commence evaluation of the information available about the most common phthalates. And this may very well lead to new bans or other measures if necessary, the Minister for the Environment pledges.”

Pressure mounting to eliminate vinyl and phthalates nationwide

Meanwhile, the market movement away from vinyl and phthalates continues.  For instance, EPEAT has recently announced new standards for printers and imaging equipment, which rewards PVC avoidance in electronics – which should have a huge impact on the electronics sector.

Just yesterday, the San Francisco Travel Association announced that all new street banners around the convention center will be completely free of PVC, due to the hazards PVC poses from production to use to disposal.

“San Francisco has always been a city of firsts when it comes to sustainability and now that extends to our city’s street banners. I’m pleased to see the San Francisco Travel Association embrace our city’s goals of zero waste and toxics reduction by eliminating the use of PVC, a harmful and non-recyclable material, and up-cycling the banners as well,” said Melanie Nutter, director San Francisco Department of the Environment.

Last and certainly not least, CHEJ and our friends at the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families campaign have launched a new Mind the Store campaign to urge the nation’s top ten retailers to eliminate the hazardous 100 chemicals, which includes phthalates, vinyl chloride, and a number of other chemicals unique to this poison plastic.  Many retailers, such as Target, have already taken steps to phase out PVC, but much more is still needed. Read all about what bloggers are saying about the new campaign, who traveled to stores nationwide urging them to get these nasty chemicals out of their products.

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Phew, that’s a lot to report on!

Anything important I missed?  Would love to hear other new developments!

Till next time.  Your humble plastics crusader, Mike.

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U.S. Senate Defies Chemical Corporations – Passes Safe Chemicals Act Out of Committee

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Environmental  Health Advocates Celebrate Historic Vote

LouisvilleCharter.Org  Participants Respond

(Washington,  DC) The United States Senate resisted tens of millions of dollars in lobbying  and campaign contributions from the chemical industry to pass the Safe  Chemicals Act out of a key committee.  This bill would reform the Toxic Substance Control Act, for the first  time since 1976.

“A  measure of faith has been restored in our U.S. Senate. Despite corporate  influence and deceptive practices by the chemical industry, our legislators did  the right thing and acted to protect us from toxic chemicals that are linked to  so many illnesses. But their work is by no means over. As nurses, we urge  passage by the full Congress of the strongest possible Safe Chemicals Act,”  says Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM,  Director of Programs for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments.

Mark  Mitchell, MD Co-Chair of the National Medical Association’s Environmental  Health Task Force, comments, “Conditions such as lowered IQ, learning and behavioral problems, obesity,  diabetes, cancer, and infertility – all linked to chemical exposure – are on  the rise. The Senate has shown that they are serious in efforts to reduce  harmful exposure from many of the 84,000 unregulated chemicals in commerce.”

“Since  many people and communities of color, as well as workers, are  disproportionately impacted by chemicals, this is a major step towards justice  and human rights in the United States,” responds Kathleen A. Curtis, LPN, Executive Director of A Clean and  Healthy New York.

“We  applaud the U.S. Senators who stood up to some of the most powerful  corporations in the world to protect our health and especially our children’s health  from chemicals exposure,” Mike Schade,  Markets Campaign Coordinator with the Center for Health, Environment &  Justice (CHEJ).

“Today we moved closer towards protecting those most at  risk from chemical exposure. As a result the public as a whole will reap the  health benefit from this historic step 35 years in they making,” comments José  T. Bravo Executive Director Just Transition Alliance.

Available for Interviews

Mike Schade, Center for Health, Environment & Justice, New York. 718.873.3505 (cell), mike@chej.org. Mike Schade can address the manufacturing of polyvinyl chloride and the communities harmed by it, and the hazards PVC presents in everyday products, and market shifts created when consumer awareness was raised on bisphenol A (BPA).

Jose T. Bravo, Executive Director, Just Transition Alliance, San Diego, CA. 619.838.6694, jose@just-transition.org. Jose works with communities contaminated with chemicals, which occurs mostly where people of color and low-income residents live, Habla   Espanol.

Kathleen A. Curtis, LPN, A Clean & Healthy New York, 518.708.3922. Albany, New York. clean.kathy@gmail.com. Kathy can address chemical reform in states and on a federal level and the role of flame retardants in the story.

Katie Huffling, RN, MS, CNM,  Director of Programs for the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. 410-706-2351 khuff002@son.umaryland.edu. Katie can address concerns from nurses and helath care prodvers about chemical exposure issues.

Mark Mitchell, MD Co-Chair of the National Medical Association’s Environmental Health Task Force, the oldest and largest association of Physicians of Color. 860.794.9497, mmitchell@enviro-md.com. Mark can talk about health disparities linked to environmental issues, as well as hot spots, legacy chemicals, increased susceptibility and unanticipated exposures in environmental justice communities.

Richard Moore, Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, NM, 505.301.0276, ljinewmexico@gmail.com. Richard can talk about environmental justice issues and organizing in the Southwest around TSCA reform.

Michele Roberts, Environmental Justice Alliance, 504.450.8568, mroberts@ehumanrights.org. Michele can address TSCA policy issues and the impacts on communities in Mossville, Louisiana and other historic African American communities.

For Sale: American’s Health

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Who’s buying? Not the advocacy groups that work tirelessly to protect people’s health and the environment, they can’t afford the purchase.

It’s the American Chemistry Council (ACC) who spent more in the fourth quarter then any quarter in recent history . . . in fact they doubled their spending.

ACC, the chief lobbying arm of the chemical manufacturing industry, spent $5.37 million that quarter, the fifth highest of any lobbying operation on Capitol Hill during that time.

ACC’s lobbying disclosure report shows they were involved in a host of issues, ranging from efforts to update chemical regulations, to EPA’s air pollution rules for boilers and incinerators, to the long-delayed health assessments of substances like bisphenol A (BPA) and formaldehyde.

Their disclosure also demonstrates it lobbied EPA on its 27-year-old IRIS assessment of dioxin. EPA was supposed to finalize the non-cancer portion of its dioxin assessment on January 31st but didn’t happen in the face of significant industry opposition. However, the agency hasn’t publicly explained the delay.

So while ACC protects and possibly even increases their profit, the American people, our children are unnecessarily expose to chemicals and face a lifetime of health problems and learning disabilities.

Yes America is for sale, and it’s time for American to stand up for everyone to stand up and say America’s Not For Sale! No More!

ACC included Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D-N.J.) “Safe Chemicals Act” in their efforts, which would overhaul the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and require manufacturers to prove their substances are safe before they go on the market.

For all of 2011, ACC spent almost $10.3 million, significantly more than the $8.1 million it spent the year before. Last year’s total trumps what was spent by Dow Chemical Co., which spent $7.3 million. The American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade association for the oil and gas industry, also spent far less.

These industries had record earnings last year – their shareholders are not suffering from a drop in earnings. Even though they are eating and drinking dioxin just like the rest of us, they can afford the safest foods and the best health care money can buy, unlike CHEJ’s constituency.

Although the polluters and their lobbyist have more money than most of us can imagine we can still prevail. They understand the real power of the people and cannot control that element. In fact, this is why someone sent a thug into our offices and cut our telephone and internet lines at near the peak of our fundraising and dioxin campaign organizing. Despite their efforts we delivered over 2,000 individuals and organizations from across the country to EPA representing millions of people.

It is time to exercise our collective power and put the power back in the hands of American people. However, our power can only be activated when people take step up. With the 2012 elections this year everyone has an opportunity to exercise your power. Ask candidates where they stand on your important issues and let them know they must earn your vote. This country belongs to its people not to corporations whose greed is insurmountable.