Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[News Item] California seeks to remove toxic chemicals from consumer goods

From the 13 March 2014 Stateline Daily item

California took steps to reduce the toxins found in children’s sleeping products and home and building supplies on Thursday, when regulators announced they would begin asking manufacturers to eliminate chemicals known to cause cancer and other illnesses.

In making the announcement, regulators with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control rolled out a program six years in the making — the first of its kind in the nation — that aims to minimize consumers’ exposure to toxic chemicals.

“I can’t even tell you what a big deal this is,” said Kathleen Curtis, the national coordinator for the Alliance for Toxic-Free Fire Safety, a nationwide coalition. “It’s huge, and it’s a super smart strategic move by the state of California.

On Thursday, state leaders announced the first round of top priority chemicals that they want reduced or eliminated from products many Californians use: children’s bedding items, spray foam used to insulate and weatherize buildings, and paint strippers, removers and surface cleaners. All of these products, state officials say, contain toxins that can cause cancer, hormone imbalances and environmental degradation.

Meredith Williams, deputy director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control, said the state’s message to manufacturers is this: If you want to sell products in California, you must make products that are safe — or risk being banned from the country’s largest economy.

The announcement signals a larger victory for environmental advocates who have been working for years to rid furniture of toxins that were added as flame retardants. Studies have shown that some of these flame retardants do very little to reduce fires and have been linked to startling health risks. One of the most widely used flame retardants is TDCPP, which, under the Safer Consumer Products regulations, the state will pressure manufacturers to remove from toddlers’ nap mats, cots, cribs, playpens and bassinets.

TDCPP is one of three chemicals the state announced it is targeting: the others are diisocyanates, a chemical found in spray polyurethane foam that is used to weatherize buildings, and has been linked to lung damage, asthma, cancer and respiratory ailments; and methylene chloride, a carcinogen found in paint or varnish removers, paint strippers and surface cleaners. Thursday’s announcement marked the start of what is expected to be a yearlong process that will include a public comment period, discussions with manufacturers and studies to identify safe substitutions. In October, the state will release a second, and much lengthier, list of priority chemicals and products, Williams said. Manufacturers who don’t meet the new standards could be compelled to label their ingredients or have their products banned from California as early as 2016,

flame retardant cotton socks

flame retardant cotton socks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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March 21, 2014 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Pinkwashing’ is a form of social injustice asserts article in Environmental Justice

pink ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

From the 7 July 2011 Eureka news alert

New Rochelle, NY, July 7, 2011—Companies that try to increase sales of their products by adopting the color pink and pink ribbons to imply that they support breast cancer research—a practice called pinkwashing—but at the same time permit the use of chemicals shown to cause cancer are committing a form of social injustice against women, according to a thought-provoking article in Environmental Justice, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com) The entire issue is available online at www.liebertpub.com/env

Amy Lubitow, Portland State University (Oregon), and Mia Davis, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (Boston, MA), contend that aligning oneself with a cause such as breast cancer, while carrying out research, manufacturing, or other types of policies or processes that involve the use of chemicals with a proven link to cancer crosses a critical line between just and unjust practices. The authors state that “pinkwashing simultaneously increases profits and potentially contributes to increasing cancer rates and obscures an environmental health discourse that recognizes the environmental causes of breast cancer…” They support and expand on this view in the article entitled, “Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing for Profit.”

“The authors of this article draw needed attention to the dangerous use of consumers’ social and sometimes environmental consciousness by institutions who contribute to environmental health disparities. The blind financial support of these entities, by affected consumers, is a form of environmental injustice that is clearly elucidated by the authors,” said Sylvia Hood Washington, PhD, ND, MSE, MPH, Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Justice, and Research Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

July 7, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carcinogens – Eight Substances Added To The List

12th Report on Carcinogens

From the 12 June 2011 Medical News Today article

Eight substances have been added to the list of carcinogens by the HSS (US Department of Health and Human Services) today. The Report of Carcinogens has added formaldehyde, aristolochic acids, o-nitrotoluene, captafol, cobalt-tungsten carbide (in powder or hard metal form), riddelliine, certain inhalable glass wool fibers, and styrene to the list of carcinogens….

…The NTP prepares the Report on Carcinogens for the HHS Secretary. It is a congressionally mandated document. It identifies substances, agents, mixtures or exposures in two categories:

  • Those that are known to be human carcinogens
  • Those reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens

A substance which is included in the list in the Report on Carcinogens does not in itself mean it causes cancer. There are many factors which cause cancer, including how long the human is exposed and a person’s susceptibility to a particular substance.

There are now 240 carcinogens in the list.

Related Resources

  • Environmental Health and Toxicology (specialized information services from the US National Institutes of Health and US National Library of Medicine)
    • HazMap -an occupational toxicology database designed to link jobs to hazardous job tasks which are linked to occupational diseases and their symptoms. It is a relational database of chemicals, jobs and diseases.ToxNet – Databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases
    • Household Products Databases – This database links over 8,000 consumer brands to health effects from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by the manufacturers and allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients and many more databases..
    • Toxicology Web links from NIH & NLM (extensive list of govt, non-govt, and international Web sites)
    • Toxicology Resources especially for the public (from NIH and NLM), including ToxTown and ToxMap

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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