Mapping lead service lines: DC Water offers a model for utilities across the nation

Washington, DC’s water utility launched a helpful interactive map allowing residents to see whether water pipes are lead, non-lead, or if there’s no available information for nearly every building and public water source across DC – including residences, restaurants, retailers, schools, drinking water fountains, and even the White House and Smithsonian.

Lindsay McCormick is a Research Analyst.

When I moved to Washington, DC four years ago the phrase “lead service lines” did not roll off my tongue. That began to change as I became aware of DC’s historical lead problems – and dramatically so in the wake of the crisis in Flint, Michigan.

But I’m not alone.  Even though experts estimate that up to 10 million homes across the U.S. have lead service lines – lead pipes connecting the drinking water main in the street to the home – it’s an issue that is not well understood by most Americans.

And that should come as no surprise given that few water utilities across the U.S. can even say with confidence where the lead services lines are in their systems, and fewer still proactively share what information they have with customers.  Lead service lines are an aging infrastructure, typically found in communities with older housing.  Local recordkeeping over the years has been inconsistent, leaving many utilities today to rely on incomplete, difficult to access, or non-electronic historical records. Many communities appear to have no documentation of when they ceased installing lead service lines altogether.

Read More »

Posted in EPA, lead, States| Tagged , | Leave a comment

EPA issues first decisions mandated under the new TSCA

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

Today, EPA posted on its website risk determinations for four new chemicals it has reviewed under the new standards prescribed by the Lautenberg Act.  While the premanufacture notices (PMNs) for these chemicals were received by EPA prior to the June 22 signing of the new TSCA, EPA has reviewed them in the context of the new requirements.  (Unlike reviews of chemicals already in use, which may take some years to conduct, EPA reviews of new chemicals are generally to be completed within 90 days, which is why we’re already seeing these appear so soon after enactment.)

These decisions are notable in that they are the very first formal decisions EPA has made under the new law.  Based on an admittedly quick review of the decisions, I’ll offer a few observations.   Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Tagged , | 1 Response

Major Strides: Walmart Details Progress on Chemicals

Boma Brown-West is a Manager, Consumer Health Corporate Partnerships Program and Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist with the Health Program

In 2013, Walmart published its Sustainable Chemistry Policy, which focuses on ingredient transparency and advancing safer product formulations in household and personal care products. EDF worked with Walmart as it developed its policy and has advised the company during implementation and data analysis.

This past April, Walmart announced that the company achieved a 95% reduction by weight in the use of high priority chemicals of concern. Today, Walmart shared considerable additional information detailing the progress made, including the identities of the initial high priority chemicals. Let’s unpack this.

Read More »

Posted in Uncategorized| Leave a comment

We appear to have gotten lucky in the January 2014 West Virginia chemical spill

Richard Denison, Ph.D.is a Lead Senior Scientist.

[UPDATE:  Please see additions below.  On reflection, my "got lucky" theme here may well have been a poor choice, as I certainly did not mean to imply that the spill was anything other than a nightmare for affected residents; rather, it was my attempt to again highlight the extent to which officials were flying blind at the time due to numerous systemic failures.  While the NTP study I discuss here answers some questions and I believe is cause for some relief, it did not address all concerns, leaves considerable uncertainty, and doesn't begin to undo the damage of this incident and its continuing aftermath.  Apologies to anyone who took my phrase to imply otherwise.]

Readers may recall that I blogged extensively about the January 2014 spill of chemicals into the Elk River near Charleston from tanks used to store the chemical near the river’s edge, which disrupted the drinking water supply and the lives of 300,000 residents for many weeks thereafter.

A key concern was the dearth of health data – both publicly available and otherwise – on the key chemical components of the spilled mixture, which was used to wash coal.  As I reported in a series of blog posts, despite scant data, federal and state officials rushed to establish – and then defend their establishment of – a concentration of one part per million (1 ppm) as the “safe” level of the main component, 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM), of the spilled mixture.  I pointed to the lack of a scientific basis for that level, largely because of the lack of adequate health information.

That remained the case even after the chemical’s producer, Eastman Chemical, decided to make public its studies of the chemical that it had hidden, claiming them to constitute trade secrets.  I tried to be careful not to claim MCHM or other spilled chemicals posed health risks, but rather that the lack of safety data was highly concerning, given the widespread extent of exposure.

Among the many outcomes of the spill was an agreement by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to undertake a thorough study of the potential health and environmental effects of MCHM and other component chemicals.  That study is now complete, and the results were released last week.   Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, TSCA Reform| Tagged , , | 2 Responses

Protecting our most TENDR: Experts Call for Reducing Children’s Exposure to Neurodevelopmental Toxicants

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist with the Health Program.

Today, a prominent group of health care professionals, scientists, and advocates including EDF published a consensus statement highlighting the significant scientific evidence linking impacts on children’s brain development to exposures to certain toxic chemicals.

Beginning in utero, children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals and exposures occurring early in development can result in lasting, later life outcomes. The TENDR (Targeting Environmental NeuroDevelopmental Risks) Consensus Statement, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, outlines troubling statistics on the high incidences of neurological disorders in children, ranging from ADHD and other behavioral disorders to reduced IQ. Some  of the exemplar chemicals featured in the statement include the PBDE flame retardants, phthalates, air pollution, and lead—all harmful chemicals that EDF has blogged about and been working to address through policy improvements, better exposure monitoring tools, and market action.

A number of factors contribute to neurological disorders, but exposure to neurodevelopmental toxicants is preventable. The TENDR statement calls on government, the business community, and health professionals to all redouble efforts to reduce children’s exposures to neurodevelopmental toxicants. We applaud the broad set of individuals and organizations that came together to develop and support the TENDR consensus statement, and hope that it will catalyze actions to protect children from chemicals that adversely impact their brain development.

 

Posted in Air Pollution, Emerging Science, Food, Health Policy, Health Science| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

Fossil fuels don’t just change the climate, they impact our children’s health

Jonathan Choi, chemicals policy fellow, and Ananya Roy, health scientist, coauthored this post.

 

© Joel Pett, USA Today, Published December 2009

© Joel Pett, USA Today, Published December 2009

It was December 2009. The newly elected President Barack Obama was spending his first Christmas in the White House, the Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” was at the top of the Billboard year end charts, and the iPhone 3GS was the new kid on the block. Meanwhile, the environmental community’s eyes were turned towards Copenhagen, where climate negotiators were working to try to craft a lasting international agreement on emissions. In the middle of the negotiations, Joel Pett published a comic in USA Today (reposted here), which has stuck in the minds of a lot of us who spend time thinking about environmental issues.

So when a recent scientific review by Dr. Frederica Perera at Columbia University came to the scientists on our team, we couldn’t help but remember the point Joel made with his poignant graphic back in 2009. Namely, that by reducing fossil fuel combustion we can not only reduce our impact on climate change, but that we can have cleaner air and healthier children. The review draws our attention to the unique effect that fossil fuel combustion has on children’s health, both by accelerating climate change and by increasing their exposure to air pollutants. Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Emerging Science| Tagged , , | Read 1 Response
  • About this blog

    Science, health, and business experts at Environmental Defense Fund comment on chemical and nanotechnology issues of the day.
    Our work: Chemicals

  • Get blog posts by email

    Subscribe via RSS

  • Filter posts by tags

    • ADHD (1)
    • aggregate exposure (10)
    • Air Pollution (1)
    • Alternatives assessment (3)
    • American Chemistry Council (ACC) (57)
    • Ami Zota (1)
    • arsenic (3)
    • artificial colors (1)
    • asthma (4)
    • Australia (1)
    • behavior (1)
    • Behind the Label (1)
    • biomonitoring (9)
    • bipartisan (6)
    • bisphenol A (22)
    • blue (1)
    • BP Oil Disaster (18)
    • California (1)
    • Canada (7)
    • carbon nanotubes (24)
    • carcinogen (22)
    • Carcinogenic Mutagenic or Toxic for Reproduction (CMR) (12)
    • CDC (7)
    • Center for Science in the Public Interest (1)
    • certified colors (1)
    • Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP) (13)
    • chemical exposure (2)
    • chemical identity (32)
    • chemical testing (4)
    • Chemicals in Commerce Act (3)
    • Chicago Tribune (6)
    • Children's health (2)
    • children's safety (24)
    • China (10)
    • citizens petition (2)
    • Climate change (1)
    • Clinton (1)
    • color (1)
    • color additive (1)
    • computational toxicology (11)
    • Confidential Business Information (CBI) (58)
    • conflict of interest (8)
    • Congress (1)
    • Congressman Israel (1)
    • consumer products (52)
    • Consumer Specialty Products Association (CSPA) (4)
    • contamination (4)
    • CSPI (1)
    • cumulative exposure (4)
    • data requirements (47)
    • DEHP (1)
    • dermal exposure (1)
    • Design for Environment (1)
    • development (2)
    • developmental (1)
    • diabetes (4)
    • disclosure (1)
    • DNA methylation (4)
    • Drinking Water (6)
    • DuPont (11)
    • Durbin (1)
    • endocrine (2)
    • endocrine disruption (30)
    • environmental justice (1)
    • EPA (4)
    • epigenetics (4)
    • exposure and hazard (49)
    • fast food (1)
    • FD&C (1)
    • FDA (13)
    • Firemaster (2)
    • flame retardants (25)
    • Flint (1)
    • food additive (2)
    • food additive petition (2)
    • food additives (2)
    • Food Advisory Comittee (1)
    • food contact substances (1)
    • food dyes (1)
    • formaldehyde (15)
    • fragrances (1)
    • front group (13)
    • general interest (22)
    • George Washington University (1)
    • Globally Harmonized System (GHS) (5)
    • Government Accountability Office (5)
    • GRAS (2)
    • haz (1)
    • hazard (6)
    • High Production Volume (HPV) (23)
    • home buyers (1)
    • Household action level (2)
    • HUD (1)
    • in vitro (14)
    • in vivo (11)
    • industry tactics (44)
    • informed substitution (1)
    • inhalation (18)
    • IUR/CDR (27)
    • Japan (3)
    • Lautenberg Act (40)
    • lead (15)
    • lead and copper rule (1)
    • lead dust hazard (1)
    • Lead Exposure (4)
    • lead hazard (1)
    • lead-based paint (2)
    • markets (1)
    • Markey (1)
    • MCHM (1)
    • mercury (4)
    • methylmercury (2)
    • microbiome (3)
    • Milken Institute School of Public Health (1)
    • nanosilver (6)
    • National Academy of Sciences (NAS) (20)
    • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (7)
    • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) (5)
    • National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) (7)
    • National Toxicology Program (1)
    • NCHH (1)
    • NDWA (1)
    • New chemicals (5)
    • NHANES (1)
    • Obama (1)
    • obesity (6)
    • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (3)
    • Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) (4)
    • Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (16)
    • Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) (3)
    • oil dispersant (18)
    • ortho-phthalate (1)
    • ortho-phthalates (1)
    • PBDEs (19)
    • Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) (22)
    • personal care products (1)
    • pesticides (7)
    • PFOA (1)
    • phthalate (1)
    • phthalates (20)
    • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) (5)
    • prenatal (6)
    • prioritization (36)
    • Quigley (1)
    • real estate (1)
    • red (1)
    • Redfin (1)
    • renters (1)
    • report on carcinogens (1)
    • reproductive (2)
    • revised CSIA (4)
    • risk assessment (71)
    • Safe Chemicals Act (24)
    • Safer Chemicals Healthy Families (33)
    • safety (2)
    • Science Advisory Board (1)
    • secrecy (1)
    • Sierra Club (1)
    • Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) (21)
    • Small business (1)
    • snur (1)
    • soil lead hazard (1)
    • South Korea (4)
    • styrene (6)
    • Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) (15)
    • systematic review (1)
    • TBB (2)
    • test rule (18)
    • Tox21 (5)
    • ToxCast (10)
    • Transparency (1)
    • tributyltin (3)
    • trichloroethylene (TCE) (5)
    • TSCA Modernization Act (14)
    • TSCA Title IV (1)
    • Turkey (3)
    • U.S. states (17)
    • vulnerable populations (1)
    • Walmart (3)
    • Washington Post (1)
    • worker safety (23)
    • wristband (2)
    • WV chemical spill (12)
    • yellow (1)
    • Zillow (1)