For years, Diane Wilson has tried to get Formosa Plastics Corp. to stop discharging plastic pellets from its sprawling petrochemical complex on the Central Texas coast. This week, she’s getting her day in court. Read more ...
“Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding is ubiquitous and is a threat to healthy human reproduction.”
That’s a pretty direct and bold statement. It is also a statement that outlines the stance of the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) in a report recently published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Suffice it to say it is not sugar coated.
The report, titled “International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics opinion on reproductive health impacts of exposure to toxic environmental chemicals” and authored by experts from the US, UK and Canada, makes a strong argument that prenatal exposures to toxic chemicals in the environment such as pesticides, plastics and metals are strongly related to health problems that develop throughout the lifespan of affected individuals. This means that problems like fertility issues, stillbirths, miscarriages, cancer, and attention problems are all strongly associated with exposure to unwanted chemicals during gestation and early child development.
This information is nothing new – the literature on the topic of cumulative chemical exposures during childhood development is comprehensive. But it is a new and powerful statement coming from an organization that is the leading global voice of reproductive health professionals in over 125 countries/territories.
Gian Carlo Di Renzo, leading author of the report, put it quite eloquently: “We are drowning our world in untested and unsafe chemicals and the price we are paying in terms of our reproductive health is of serious concern”. These chemicals account for tremendous losses. According to the report, ambient and household air pollution results in at least 7 million deaths a year, costs of pesticide poisoning in the Sub-Saharan region are estimated to be $66 billion, costs attributable to exposure to only a select few endocrine-disrupting chemicals was conservatively estimated to be on average €157 billion per year… the statistics go on an on.
FIGO takes a strong stance against toxic chemicals, offering health professionals four recommendations: “advocate for policies to prevent exposure to toxic environmental chemicals, work to ensure a healthy food system for all, make environmental health part of health care, and champion environmental justice.” These suggestions are in line with CHEJ’s mission and vision, and we congratulate FIGO for developing and actively pursuing this policy stance
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.
A new economic analysis has concluded that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals likely costs the European Union €157 billion ($209 billion U.S.) a year in actual health care expenses and lost earning potential, according to a new series of studies published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
A total of four papers were published (overview, neurobehavioral, male reproduction and obesity & diabetes) that focused on specific health conditions that can partly be attributed to endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) exposure. These included infertility and male reproductive dysfunction, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurobehavioural and learning disorders. A team of eighteen researchers from eight countries led by Leonardo Trasande, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Environmental Medicine & Population Health at NYU Medical Center, were involved in this landmark initiative.
EDCs interfere with numerous hormone functions and are commonly found in thousands of household products including plastics made with vinyl, electronics, pesticides, and cosmetics.
The overview paper concluded that “EDC exposures in the EU are likely to contribute substantially to disease and dysfunction across the life course with costs in the hundreds of billions per year. These estimates represent only those EDCs with the highest probability of causation; a broader analysis would have produced greater estimates of burden of disease and costs.”
The papers were prepared in conjunction with an evaluation being done by the EU Commission of the economic impact to industry of regulating EDCs in Europe. According to the authors, “Our goal here is to estimate the health and economic benefit of regulating EDCs in Europe, based on current evidence.”
The expert panels put together for this analysis “achieved consensus for probable (20%) EDC causation for IQ loss and associated intellectual disability, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, childhood obesity, adult obesity, adult diabetes, cryptorchidism, male infertility, and mortality associated with reduced T.”
“The analysis demonstrates just how staggering the cost of widespread endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure is to society,” said Leonardo Trasande, the lead author in a press statement released by the Endocrine Society. “This research crystalizes more than three decades of lab and population-based studies of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the EU.”
The press release goes on to say:
“In the EU, researchers found the biggest cost driver was loss of IQ and intellectual disabilities caused by prenatal exposure to pesticides containing organophosphates. The study estimated the harm done to unborn children costs society between €46.8 billion and €195 billion a year. About 13 million lost IQ points and 59,300 additional cases of intellectual disability per year can be attributed to organophosphate exposure.
“Adult obesity linked to phthalate exposure generated the second-highest total, with estimated costs of €15.6 billion a year.
“Our findings show that limiting exposure to the most common and hazardous endocrine-disrupting chemicals is likely to yield significant economic benefits,” said one of the study’s authors, Philippe Grandjean, MD, PhD, Professor of Environmental Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark and Adjunct Professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “This approach has the potential to inform decision-making in the environmental health arena. We are hoping to bring the latest endocrine science to the attention of policymakers as they weigh how to regulate these toxic chemicals.”
The impact of this paper is staggering. It should be a “wake up call” said Linda Birnbaum, Director of the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences when asked about the results. It also provides more evidence that low level exposure to chemicals found in everyday household products is affecting the health of many people not just in the Europe, but worldwide.
With the summer only a few weeks away, many parents are going out and buying new rain gear — but parents may unwittingly be exposing our most vulnerable children to lead, cadmium, and even phthalates, chemicals so toxic they have been banned in toys and baby products.
A brand new investigation of vinyl rain gear by the EcoWaste Coalition found elevated levels of lead and cadmium in vinyl raincoats marketed to children. Chemicals that can permanently disrupt the brain. Shockingly, 70% of raingear they tested contained elevated levels of lead or cadmium.
This follows a similar report I authored last year which also found high levels of toxic chemicals in children’s vinyl raincoats and rain boots, including Disney branded rain gear. This time, a Mickey Mouse raincoat contained 2,255 ppm of lead in it.
The EcoWaste coalition, a public interest network of community, church, school, environmental and health groups based in the Philippines, used an X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer (XRF) to test rain gear for the presence of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. The XRF device is also able to identify products made out of PVC, as a high chlorine reading from the device indicates the product is most likely made out of vinyl (vinyl being the #1 chlorinated plastic in the world not to mention the #1 use of chlorine gas).
The organization went out and tested 33 pieces of rain gear: 25 raincoats, 5 umbrellas, and 3 pairs of rain boots. The products were purchased from discount stores at shopping malls in the Philippines.
High levels of lead and cadmium in children’s vinyl raincoats.
The group found:
“Of the 25 samples of raincoats that are mostly made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and featuring favorite cartoon characters, 11 had lead from 292 to 15,500 ppm with the following as the five most loaded with lead:
1. An egg yellow “Tweety” medium raincoat with 15,500 ppm
2. Another egg yellow “Tweety” small raincoat with 14,100 ppm
3. A light yellow “Mickey Mouse” small raincoat with 2,255 ppm
4. A bright yellow “Yikang” two-piece large raincoat with 2,090 ppm
5. A blue “Tasmanian Devil” raincoat with 1,753 ppm
Of these 25 raincoats, 13 were found laced with cadmium with a green “Haiyan Ben 10” extra large raincoat containing 717 ppm cadmium.
Of the five umbrellas tested, lead was detected on the “Hello Kitty” design of two mini-umbrellas at 122 ppm and 275 ppm each.
Of the three pairs of boots, “Pengi” green boots and “Panda” red boots were found laden with cadmium amounting to 398 ppm and 523 ppm, respectively.”
Children may in turn be exposed to these hazardous metals, as studies have documented they may readily leach out of vinyl children’s products. Lead and cadmium are used to “stabilize” the product.
Phthalates in vinyl raincoats and rain boots
You may think, well that’s the Philippines, surely the US government wouldn’t allow such hazardous chemicals here, right?
As I mentioned above, less than a year ago CHEJ and the Empire State Consumer Project released a report investigating hazardous chemical additives in children’s back-to-school supplies. Among the products we tested were children’s vinyl raincoats and rain boots.
Our investigation found high levels of phthalates in the rain gear we tested, at levels much higher than what’s legal for kids’ toys. But just because the products aren’t toys, it’s totally legal for industry to use them in children’s products. Insane, right?! Phthalates are considered to be endocrine disrupting chemicals, are linked to asthma and reproductive effects, and according to the federal government children face the highest exposures to these poisonous substances. It’s nothing short of outrageous!
What can we do about it?
Look, I shouldn’t have to even say this. We shouldn’t have to worry whether your children’s raincoat contains these harmful chemicals. But sadly, we do.
As consumers, the best way to avoid these hazardous substances is to not purchase vinyl rain-gear in the first place as study after study has found hazardous chemicals in and leaching from vinyl. Whether it be phthalates, lead, cadmium, organotins, or even BPA. And perhaps even worse, the entire lifecycle of vinyl is nothing short of an environmental nightmare, releasing other highly hazardous substances including vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, dioxins, mercury, and PCB’s.
So next time you’re out shopping for a children’s raincoat or rain boots, make sure it’s not made out of vinyl/PVC plastic. Look for rain gear promoted as PVC-free. Our Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free School Supplies is a great resource, as it features listings PVC-free rain gear and other children’s products in over 40 product categories. Also — be sure to check out our wallet-sized version for shopping on the go.
It’s time to Mind the Store.
However, we can’t just shop our way out of this problem. Enough is enough! That’s why CHEJ is part of the national Mind the Store Campaign, which is urging the top ten retailers to take action on the worst of the worst chemicals, including these very same ones.
Learn more and take action at www.mindthestore.org
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Dioxins. Vinyl chloride. Phthalates.
There are an appalling number reasons why we consider vinyl to be the most toxic plastic on the planet.
One reason that many people don’t realize is that the vinyl chemical industry is one of the biggest users of mercury in the entire world, in fact the #2 user globally, and that use has been increasing in recent years – primarily in China, where many of our vinyl plastic products come from.
China is the world’s biggest user and emitter of mercury and within China, the single biggest users of mercury are the factories turning coal into PVC.
PVC, mercury and chlorine production
The United Nations estimates the chlorine industry has 100 plants in 44 countries across the globe that still use mercury to make chlorine. The #1 use of that chlorine is to make vinyl plastic, like vinyl flooring, pipes and school supplies.
According to the US EPA, “In the U.S., the chlor-alkali industry is currently the largest private-sector source of stored and in-use mercury, and therefore the largest private-sector source of potential new supplies as a result of future closures or conversions of mercury cell chlor-alkali equipment or plants.”
PVC, mercury and vinyl chloride monomer in China
In China and Russia, mercury is also used to make vinyl chloride monomer, the basic building block of PVC. And this use of mercury is increasing at an appalling rate.
According to the United Nations, “Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) production using the mercury catalyst process is the second largest demand sector for mercury globally (estimated at 570-800 tonnes annually in 2008). The process has emerged as a cost effective production technique for countries with high availability of acetylene over ethylene as raw materials (namely in China and Russia). It is believed that China represents 80-90 % of global capacity with 89 facilities currently identified. UNEP has collaborated with China on this important topic since 2008.”
Vinyl plastic industry’s use of mercury on the rise
In 2002, the Chinese PVC industry used 354 tons of mercury. Within two years, that had increased to 610 tons, growing at an annual rate of 31.4%. It’s been estimated that mercury usage continued to increase to over 1,000 tons by 2010.
No one really knows precisely how much the industry is using today, or how much of that mercury may be getting into the air, oceans and fish we all eat.
Why should we care?
According to the United Nations:
“Mercury is recognized as a chemical of global concern due to its long-range transport in the atmosphere, its persistence in the environment, its ability to bioaccumulate in ecosystems and its significant negative effect on human health and the environment.
Mercury can produce a range of adverse human health effects, including permanent damage to the nervous system, in particular the developing nervous system. Due to these effects, and also because mercury can be transferred from a mother to her unborn child, infants, children and women of child bearing age are considered vulnerable populations.”
The UN’s most recent assessment identifies the vinyl chlorine industry as one of the biggest sources of mercury on the planet.
If we want to eliminate global use and releases of mercury, one thing we can do is phase out the use of this hazardous plastic that is fundamentally reliable on this global pollutant. That’s a global strategy we can get behind.
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.
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.
The latest study found an association between the phthalates DINP and DIDP and asthma, which are primarily used to make vinyl flooring and other vinyl products flexible. The researchers report:
“The strong correlation between MCOP and MCNP suggests similar sources of exposure to the parent compounds, which are both used primarily as plasticizers of PVC and may be used in flooring, wall coverings, building materials, heat-resistant electrical cords, car interiors, and toys.”
OK. I need to vent, for just one moment.
We’re talking about asthma here people! You know, the disease that impacts over 7 million children! A disease that kills over 3,000 Americans a year. AND it’s super costly. According to the CDC, asthma costs $57 billion a year in healthcare costs. B-I-L-L-I-O-N.
Now that I got that out of me, as I’ve blogged before, this isn’t the first time certain phthalates have been linked to asthma. It’s not even the second or third!
What’s particularly interesting is that DINP and DIDP are phthalates the industry loves to argue are “safe.” And of course, they make the same argument for just about every other poisonous chemical they just love to pump into consumer products.
The other new study, which Nick Kristof wrote about in the New York Times last weekend, found a link between certain organotins and obesity.
Nick Kristof sums it up:
“Just this month, a new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that endocrine disruptors that are sometimes added to PVC plastic cause mice to grow obese and suffer liver problems — and the effect continues with descendants of those mice, generation after generation.”
These chemicals which can apparently help trigger obesity, have been coined obesogens (dioxins and phthalates have also been linked to obesity BTW).
Like phthalates, organotins are added to vinyl products to give them certain properties; in this case they’re used as “stabilizers.” Lead and cadmium are also used as stabilizers, and now the chemical industry seems to be playing a toxic shell game with our children’s health, where they’re replacing one toxic stabilizer for another (in this case, switching out lead for cadmium or organotins). If that’s not a regrettable substitute, I don’t know what is. Oy.
What’s especially concerning is that these chemicals continue to be used in building materials and other vinyl products in our homes and schools, where our kids spend so much of their time. Why is that they can be banned in toys, but still be allowed in so many other products?!
If we want to avoid these harmful additives, and all the other toxic hazards associated with vinyl (HELLO! chlorine gas, ethylene dichloride, vinyl chloride, chlorinated byproducts like PCBs, dioxins and furans, and mercury, oh my!), the best thing to do is to get it out of our schools and homes in the first place.
These new studies underscore the need for companies like Disney to get these chemicals and plastic out of children’s products one and for all.
After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Right?
The past few months have been a real doozy for the vinyl chemical industry.
While you were probably indulging in a bit too much holiday egg nog or prancing underneath the mistletoe, the vinyl chemical industry was in hot water from New Jersey to Delaware to California.
“These individuals can never know how much and for how long they were exposed to vinyl chloride, a highly toxic gas known to cause fatal cancer and liver damage,” the chairman stated.
The biggest news was no doubt the train cars carrying vinyl chloride heading to OxyVinyls that derailed in Paulsboro, NJ. The accident was nothing short of a major environmental and occupational health disaster. One of the trains released 23,000 gallons of vinyl chloride, which formed a cloud of toxic gas that drifted into homes and businesses throughout the community. More than 70 people were hospitalized after the vinyl chloride release. Air monitoring found very high levels of this chemical in the community. Hundreds of families were then forced to shelter in place and eventually evacuate their homes for days. Since then, it’s been revealed that first responders were exposed to high levels of vinyl chloride, as it’s shown up in their bodies. Thanks in part by the fine folks over at OxyVinyls (more on Oxy below). You can read more about the train disaster in this op-ed I authored for the NJ Star Ledger (the largest paper in NJ!).
The same week that Oxy’s vinyl chloride was poisoning the air of Paulsboro, vinyl manufacturer Formosa Plastics was fined by the state of Delaware more than $70,000 for various air pollution violations at their plant in Delaware City. It’s not the first time Formosa has been in hot water for violating the law.
In California the US Customs and Border Protection seized 35,000 toxic rubber (vinyl) duckies, which were in violation of the federal Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act for containing elevated levels of phthalates. According to the feds:
“they arrived from China dressed as Santa, Snowman, Gingerbread man, Reindeer and Penguin, all 35,712, but their cute holiday flair did not deflect the scrutiny of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists, at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport.”
And that was just in December!
What will 2013 bring for the vinyl industry?
The past few weeks have shown 2013 will not be much easier for the vinyl chemical industry.
Down in Georgia, a recycling company has reduced their stockpile of PVC, after more than 400 firefighters had to battle a fire at the plant.
“It’s been almost six months since Chattooga County, Ga., was hit by its largest fire in three decades, when more than 400 firefighters battled a blaze at a plastics recycling plant in Berryton, Ga. One thing has changed since then: The North Georgia Textile Supply Co. has whittled down its stockpile of a potentially toxic type of plastic: polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. When PVC burns and firefighters spray water on it, a cloud of chlorine gas can result. Since the fire, North Georgia Textile Supply Co. has reduced the amount of PVC at the recycling facility in the old Berryton yarn mill three miles southwest of Summerville, Ga.”
EPA published the latest toxic release inventory (TRI) data, and their latest findings show that 3 of the top 5 dioxin polluters in the country were vinyl companies: OxyVinyls, Dow Chemical, and Westlakes Vinyl (with Oxy and Dow #1 and #2).
New scientific studies published continue to underscore what we know – vinyl chemicals are toxic to our health. Studies have found dioxin delays the onset of puberty in boys, phthalates in the bodies of ants, and organotins (which are used to “stabilize” vinyl) linked to obesity, even in the grandchildren of those exposed. Nick Kristof wrote a fantastic column about this new study in last week’s New York Times.
Finally, WFPL radio ran a heartbreaking and extremely powerful story about the families of vinyl workers who died from liver cancer, after being exposed to high levels of vinyl chloride. This here says it all:
“But it’s too late for the workers who have already died from angiosarcoma or are suffering from liver disease. Janet Crecelius Johnson wonders why B.F. Goodrich couldn’t have erred on the side of caution. Her husband Revis was diagnosed with cancer a year to the day after he retired. He had worked night shifts for nearly 40 years, and was looking forward to spending more time with his family.
“Every time there’s a wedding, every time there’s a baby, you just think, ‘I wish he could be here.’””
Any other major stories I might have missed?
Today families, school children, hundreds of residents were evacuated again from the area around the train derailment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania which sent a cloud of vinyl chloride into the air early Friday. This event is yet another example of how our federal and state governmental agencies fail to respond in a health protective way. They failed to gather enough data to clearly, scientifically and honestly say to families it is safe to go home. They shot from the hip—said it was safe and they were wrong.
Imagine on Friday all of the schools were in lock down – meaning no one could leave or even open the doors and the homes and businesses around the accident were evacuated. Other than 48 homes closest to the accident, people were told they could go home. Sunday people went to church, children played outdoors in the unseasonably warm weekend riding bikes, climbing on swings at the playground and more. People were assured the risk had been eliminated and they are safe.
Today . . . Monday test results revealed that the area is not safe and schools were closed and homes and business were once again evacuated. This, it’s dangerous—not dangerous seesaw announcements, by trusted health authorities happens time and time again in every state. We’ll never know what that unnecessary vinyl chloride exposure to local small children and families did to their health. Vinyl chloride is a very dangerous chemical that causes cancer and nervous system damage. After 31 years of watching innocent families being victimized by corporation and then victimized by their own government authorities that are suppose to protect them, I am ready to scream. Why is it that chemical exposures are responded to with such casual concerns? Why can’t or won’t the authorities take precautionary steps when it comes to the health of innocent Americans?
I know when I ask this question of government health authorities they said because, the problem is contained. Moreover, we know who was exposed and who wasn’t and unlike infectious disease or contaminated food products it won’t reach beyond the physical area.
What is shocking is that somehow; those in charge of our health and environmental protection think this casual approach “because it’s contained” is acceptable. I don’t. There is no real urgency to accidents, spills or on-going pollution because it’s contained and what the authorities don’t say is it impacts on the responsible corporations’ bottom line. What about the American families’ bottom-line? They want protection, warnings, sound scientifically based information. They shouldn’t have to pay with their wallets and health.
Odd as it might seem, I sometimes wish people were treated like corporations profits. If that was the case PA families would not have been told to return home when it wasn’t safe.