In a pair of troubling scientific announcements this week, researchers presented findings suggesting that exposure to phthalates – the common, unlabeled chemical additives found in a wide range of consumer products, including many made of PVC/vinyl – may be linked to eczema and obesity in children. Previous studies have associated phthalate exposure with endocrine disruption and asthma,early puberty in girls, and learning disabilities.
The findings underscore the need to phase phthalates out of consumer products and construction materials like vinyl flooring, especially in schools, where they pose a particular threat to children and teachers of childbearing age. CHEJ’s annual Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies outlines ways parents can choose safer alternatives for their children.
The obesity study, presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Houston by South Korean pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Mi-Jung Par, found that children with the highest levels of the common phthalate di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in their blood were nearly five times as likely to be obese as children with the lowest levels.
The eczema study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers from the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health in New York, found that prenatal exposure to the phthalate butylbenzyl phthalate (BBzP) – commonly found in vinyl flooring – can increase a child’s risk of developing eczema, a skin condition characterized by red, itchy swelling of the skin. This comes at a time when another study found the very same phthalate can be absorbed into children’s bodies.
The evidence is overwhelming that reducing phthalate exposure, especially among children and womenof child-bearing age, is smart public-health policy and follows the precautionary principle. Click here to learn more about CHEJ’s work to phase PVC, in which over 90% of all phthalates are used, out of the NYC school system.
A hydrology expert found clear evidence collected by the Environmental Protection Agency that hydraulic fracturing polluted a Wyoming aquifer according to a June report.
Tom Myers, a hydrologic consultant, reviewed a report of ground water contamination in Pavillion, WY commissioned by the National Resources Defense Council, the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Sierra Club and the Oil and Gas Accountability Project. The findings of Myers’ report is being submitted to the EPA as technical comments.
“After consideration of the evidence presented in the EPA report and in URS, it is clear that hydraulic fracturing has caused pollution of the Wind River formation and aquifer,” Myers wrote. “The entire formation is considered an underground source of drinking water, but 169 gas wells have been constructed into it; this is fracking fluid injection directly into an underground source of drinking water,” wrote Myers.
When most people think of zero waste, they think of a near impossible and impractical goal.
They think that zero waste means not generating any waste or that all the waste that is generated has to be recovered, reused or recycled. Zero waste is much more than these narrow views envision. A new report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, On the Road to Zero Waste: Successes and Lessons from Around the World, provides a realistic view of what zero waste is by providing examples of how it is being applied and offers great hope of what it can be.
The report makes clear that zero waste is both a goal and a plan of action. The goal is to ensure resource recovery and protect scarce natural resources by ending waste disposal practices that use incinerators, dumps and landfills. The plan incorporates waste reduction, composting, recycling and reuse, changes in consumption habits and industrial redesign. The report also points out that zero waste is a “revolution” between waste and people. “It is a new way of thinking that aims to safeguard the health, and improve the lives of everyone who produces, handles, works with, or is affected by waste – in other words all of us.”
Nine success stories from across the globe are profiled in the report. Each of the communities profiled used different zero waste practices that were unique to its culture, economy and political realities, yet each led successfully to the same goal. Each shared several key ingredients – intensive prevention and source separation policies and flexible and decentralized, low-tech waste treatment systems. Each was more cost-effective and generated more employment than systems built around big incinerators and landfills.
The introduction to the report describes a common philosophy behind a comprehensive zero waste plan driven by four core strategies: 1) Setting a new direction away from waste disposal; 2) Supporting comprehensive reuse, recycling and organics treatment programs; 3) Engaging Communities; and 4) Designing for the future.
The new direction moves society away from waste disposal by setting goals and target dates to reduce waste going to landfills, abolishing waste incineration, establishing or raising landfill fees, shifting subsidies away from waste disposal and into discard recovery, and banning disposable products, among other interventions.
Zero waste systems separate waste at its source to ensure high recovery quality and efficiency. Separate organics collection is critical to ensure a stream of clean, high quality material which in turn enables the creation of useful products (compost and biogas) from the largest fraction of municipal waste. It also improves the recycling rates because materials remain free of contamination.
A critical element of zero waste is involving the local community in determining the direction of the waste management program. The public needs to be involved in the very design of the plan for it to succeed. Residents must actively participate by consuming sustainably, minimizing waste, separating discards, and composting at home.
Once zero waste practices are in place, it becomes easier to identify materials or products that cannot be reused, composted or recycled. This creates opportunities to address industrial design mistakes or inefficiencies so that companies will produce cleaner and more sustainable products. If it cannot be reused, composted or recycled, it should not be produced in the first place.
Zero waste strategies can help societies produce and consume goods while respecting ecological limits and the rights of communities to self determination. It can also help ensure that all discarded materials are safely and sustainably returned to nature or manufacturing.
Mr. Mouton was humble yet extremely persistent. He fought for his community for many, many years. He was outraged by the dioxin and vinyl chloride pollution that was getting into residents’ yards, chickens, homes, and their bodies. Portions of the community were relocated and demolished due to groundwater contamination from a nearby PVC plant.
He wouldn’t let them get away with this.
In 2000, Mr. Mouton and other leaders from Mossville traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to testify at a US EPA National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) meeting. At that meeting, he said:
“As I grew up in Mossville, I remember when the plants were built as a child. My father helped build a lot of those plants. It is terrible. We had beautiful green woods around us and we did all the fishing that we ever wanted. But they did not care anything about that. And that is the same thing today.
“People are sick and dying in our community because of the high levels of dioxins found in our blood…We have a lot of people sick. There’s a lot of people with some type of illness, lungs, or some with cancer that I know of. There’s a lot of sick people there that thedoctors don’t know what’s wrong with them.”
“They seem continually to stall, for some reason or another. They give us the impression that we do not know what our needs and wants are. They want to run the show; they want to take control.”
I met Mr. Mouton back in 2004 when PVC manufacturer CertainTeed was proposing to build a PVC plant on the Lake Erie waterfront in Buffalo, NY where I lived. We knew CertainTeed’s primary PVC plant was just outside Mossville, and that’s how I had the pleasure of working with and meeting Mr. Mouton.
“We’re being hit from the north, south, east, and west. Every time the wind changes, we get a lungful of pollution from some other plant. These chemicals end up in our water, our gardens, our children’s bodies. Each day we hear about someone in our community being diagnosed with cancer or another illness. We’re taking legal action so that we might live to see some improvements for ourselves and our community.” – Mr. Mouton, former President of Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN)
Over the past decade, MEAN, Earthjustice and other groups have taken EPA to court numerous times, and won! As a result of their work, the EPA agreed and promised to clamp down on pollution from PVC chemical plants like CertainTeed in Mossville.
Unfortunately, the EPA has now broken their promises to this community, which flies in the face of the EPA’s commitment to environmental justice. The EPA has set stronger emission standards for PVC plants in other communities, but weaker ones in Mossville, home to more than PVC plants than anywhere else in the country!
That’s why this week, MEAN, Earthjustice, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and other groups are fighting back once again. They’ve filed a petition and lawsuit demanding EPA reduce toxic pollution from the CertainTeed plant.
“After years of work to obtain the stronger air protection we need in Mossville, Louisiana, it was a shock to our community when EPA suddenly changed course and singled us out for weaker standards as compared to the rest of the nation. EPA should stay true to its commitment to environmental justice and correct this unfairness by setting stronger air pollution limits that will protect our health as we and all Americans deserve.”- Dorothy Felix, President of Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN)
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson owes this community justice. She owes it to Mr. Mouton’s family.
RIP Mr. Mouton. We will miss and never forget you. The struggle continues.
The future of our country will be the hands of our children. But what does that mean? We can raise our children with values and ethics and teach the basic lessons of life, encourage learning and education. Yet our children and our future children are at risk of not being able to lead our country. Our children risk not being able to succeed in business, in society because of the environmental chemicals that they are exposed to every single day. Chemicals are leaching from the floors that they crawl on as infants, beds that they sleep on nightly or the toys they play with and put into their mouths, all release dangerous chemicals. What will their future be like? How can our country grow and prosper or compete in the global economy?
Recently the Center for Disease our federal health agency reported that 1 out of every 88 American children is affected by autism. That is a 78% increase in autism since 2002 and 23% increase since 2006. As if that is not bad enough, the agency also reports that 14% of American children are affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Of course not all of these problems are the result of chemicals in a child’s environment but a good percentage are. Looking at the chemicals that are in every day products, ones that are linked to these particular diseases, it is clear society can prevent the harming of children. PCBs, for example are fond in our environment, in lighting and windows of schools built before 1980. Lead is found in toys imported from other countries; paint in older building, homes, play grounds and around various industrial sites. Brominated flame retardants are in mattresses, pillows, clothing and all types of furniture. Also there are Endocrine disruptors like phthalates found in PVC products that are all around us in flooring, toys, pipes, shower curtains and binds.
Not a single one of these chemicals in products are necessary for life or for comfort. Every one of them can be taken out of children’s environment today. We know how, and we know where to find and remove these threats. We are just lacking the political will.
Our politicians need to stop the madness and find the conviction and courage to stand up to Corporate America and say no more . . .”Our children will no longer be sacrificed.”
If I as a parent deliberately, knowing harmed my child I would go to jail, yet in America corporations are above the law and spend huge amount of money to keep their unsafe product from being eliminated in our marketplace and environment.
Just look at the statistics above or the rising cancer incidence in children across the country. This is an election year where we have a chance to ask the hard questions and vote out of office those that intend to harm our children to protect corporate interests. Everyone needs to get involved, today, so that we together can reverse the trend and protect our futures. For more information
CHEJ was sad to hear that Dr. Rosalie Bertell passed away this week. Dr. Bertell was an international leader in radiation health hazards and championed many campaigns to protect communities from radioactive waste sites and nuclear reactor releases.
Dr. Bertell was a nun whose life’s work at the International Institute of Concern for Public Health resulted in cutting-edge publications and research on the health effects of radiation. Her seminal book, “No Immediate Danger”, explains in layperson’s terms how radiation is harmful. Sister Bertell was often the only public health specialist who helped communities impacted by radioactive hazards, including the NL Industries uranium site in Albany, NY and the Uniontown IEL in Ohio. We commend Dr. Bertell for her compassionate dedication and her pioneering work on radiation health hazards.
During recent testimony on Ohio Governor Kasich so called “energy bill”, Tom Stewart, vice-president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association testified that Ohio has the highest quality crude oil known to be produced in the world. He testified that the crude is highly paraffinic and that they skim off the paraffin at the refineries to make candy out of it and also use it for coating on items like Advil and M&M’s.
Members of Frack Free Ohio sent Mr. Stewart some personalize M&M’s that read “Don’t Frac Ohio, Complements of Frack Free Ohio” and also posted on Mar’s Facebook page demanding to know if it is true that paraffin from crude oil is used to make the coating on M&M’s. This morning a member of Frack Free Ohio received this from the company;
“Only high quality ingredients that meet or exceed all federal standards are used to manufacture M&M’S® Chocolate Candies. Only materials made from natural plant sources are used to coat the outside of the candies. Any information to the contrary is inaccurate.”
People should go to M&M’s Facebook and ask the company to either admit to using well paraffinic from oil and gas wells or to request a public apology and retraction from Tom Stewart. Here is M&M’s Facebook link http://www.facebook.com/mms
Here’s summary of the transcript of Tom Stewarts testimony:
Let me give you a good example. If you have a gas well, that flows naturally, but it produces some water, and if you don’t maintain that well, in such a way, the water will build up and creates hydrostatic weight in the formation and the well will stop producing.
You got a couple ways you can solve that problem. You can go into the well and swab it out, you can try putting pump equipment and get it to pump out, or you can try to get the well to flow again. Here’s how a producer gets it to flow again, he goes to the grocery store and he buys, Tide, and he puts it down the backside of the well which causes it to bubble up and foam up, lighten the fluid and the well flows.
So to ask the question, what do you want me, as a producer, to give you the CAS number of… Tide? ‘Cuz it’s something that’s put down the well and it’s stripped and brought back.
You’re pumping the well (unintelligible) with pump jacks, they’re actuated by separate rods connected to a bottom hole pump where the bottom of the tube is four thousand feet deep in the ground. You’re pumping that well, over time, scale builds up on the balls and seats that actuate the pump. . . You can put scale remover down the, uh, back side of that well, pump it up through the tubing, it eliminates the scale you don’t have to pull the well or the tubing for it pump. Ohio produces, probably the highest quality crude oil known to be produced in the world, it’s Penngrade 38 degree oil. It’s highly paraffinic, they actually skim the paraffin off in refineries and make candy out of it, they also make, the coatings on Advil and M&M’s, so when you’re eating your next box of M&M’s, you’re eating crude oil.
Our 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.
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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][at]CHEJ[dot]org / 646-678-3993
Learn about all aspects of nuclear energy and network with activists by attending the Know Nukes Y’All Summit in Chattanooga, TN from June 28th to 30th. National experts, such as David Freeman and Dave Lochbaum, will be speaking at this Southern regional grassroots gathering. The event is sponsored by 15 national and regional groups. To register ($40 including meals), go to knownukesyallsummit.org or call 828-252-8409.