Author Archives: Cal Baier-Anderson

Are we ready to get sensible about triclosan use?

Cal Baier-AndersonCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is acknowledging that new research raises "valid concerns" about the possible health effects of triclosan, an antimicrobial chemical that can be found in dozens of consumer products as diverse as soaps, personal care products, cutting boards, plastic sandals and even bath towels.

Originally developed as a surgical scrub for use by doctors and nurses, the burgeoning uses of this pesticidal chemical have hugely expanded human and environmental exposures.  With little evidence of any actual public health benefits from such uses, FDA along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) should move quickly to limit triclosan use.  Only those uses that have a demonstrable public health benefit, when weighed against potential health and environmental risks, should be allowed. Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science | Tagged , , , , | 3 Responses, comments now closed

Toxic Chemicals in Consumer Products: More than Just Consumer Exposure

Cal Baier-AndersonCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

An article recently published in the journal Macromolecules reports on the development of a new process that the authors claim can prevent the migration of phthalates from PVC plastic.   This “breakthrough” will undoubtedly be used to argue that industry should be allowed to continue to use a retinue of toxic chemicals in the manufacture of PVC destined for use in a broad variety of applications.

Concern for consumer exposures is often the main argument made against the use of toxic chemicals in consumer applications.  With evidence of exposure to chemicals like phthalates in nearly everyone who has been tested, including pregnant women, this is understandable.

But even if the new claims are proven to be true, there are many other reasons we need to find safer substitutes for such chemicals: worker exposures, environmental releases and end-of-life recycling and disposal issues, to name a few.  The potential impacts from continued use of toxic chemicals must be examined across their entire lifecycle. Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science | Tagged , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Study raises big questions about worker protection in nanotech labs

Cal Baier-AndersonCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

When it comes to chemical exposures, workers are on the front line.  Workers are usually the most likely to be exposed to harmful levels of chemicals, because they are the ones producing, processing, handling, sampling and measuring, transferring and transporting chemicals in larger and more concentrated quantities.

Throughout history, workers have been the canaries in the coal mines; the first to exhibit the health effects of hazardous chemical exposures, from scrotal cancer in chimney sweeps, to mesothelioma in shipyard and construction workers to liver cancer in vinyl chloride workers.

For these reasons, EDF has argued that workers handling or otherwise likely to be exposed to nanomaterials must be protected from harm (see our earlier posts here, here and here).  Now, a new government study published in the respected journal Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that certain comfortable assumptions about nanomaterial laboratory safety may be downright wrong. Read More »

Posted in Health Science, Nanotechnology | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

Testing for endocrine disruption: Are we there yet?

Cal Baier-AndersonCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

After long delays, the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs recently issued endocrine disruptor screening test orders for dozens of high-priority pesticide ingredients.  Endocrine disruptors are chemicals capable of interfering with the action of hormones that regulate biological processes such as development, growth, reproduction and metabolism.  The test orders require pesticide manufacturers to evaluate their chemicals using a specific battery of tests.

Identifying which chemicals are endocrine disruptors can help protect people and the environment from harmful exposures.  So, with test orders now in the hands of pesticide manufacturers, will we finally get the data we need? Read More »

Posted in Emerging Testing Methods, Health Science | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Not a silly question: Is Halloween mischief worth risking toxic exposures?

Cal Baier-AndersonCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

Growing up in the 1970s, Mischief Night was a big deal for me.  When I was in grade school, hoards of us kids took to our neighborhood just after dark to wreak innocent havoc.  More fun than Halloween, I recall soaping up car windows and decorating neighbors' trees with toilet paper.  (What were our parents thinking?)

When a wonder toy called Silly String hit the stores, Mischief Night turned psychedelic with crazy vibrant colors issuing in long streams from an aerosol can!  And what was the harm?  Silly String simply dried up and blew away.  Who knew that we might actually be spewing a brew of toxic chemicals?  Read More »

Posted in Health Science | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Greening ChAMP

Cal Baier-AndersonCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

In our critique of EPA's Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP), we have pointed out that, despite its limitations, there is value in the hazard data that EPA is collecting and analyzing.  How so? Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Regulating nano-silver as a pesticide

John BalbusCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

In May 2008, the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA) submitted a petition to EPA requesting that it regulate nano-silver used in products as a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).  The petition calls on EPA to take the following specific actions:

  1. Classify nano-silver as a pesticide.
  2. Determine that nano-silver is a new pesticide and require its registration as such.
  3. Analyze the potential risks of nano-silver to human health and the environment.
  4. Take enforcement actions against nano-silver-containing products being sold illegally without EPA approval under FIFRA. Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Nanotechnology, Regulation | Tagged , , , | 8 Responses, comments now closed

Nano's Rapid Transit System

John BalbusCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

In 2004, Gunter Oberdorster and colleagues demonstrated that upon inhalation, ultrafine particles, the dimensions of which are measured in nanometers, can move from the nasal passages of rodents to the brain via a specialized nerve called the olfactory bulb.  The evolutionary purpose of the olfactory bulb is to relay information about odors directly and rapidly from the nose to the brain.

The extent to which rapid transit via the olfactory bulb is a significant potential route of exposure to engineered nanomaterials is still an open question.  But two new papers add support for the relevance of this intriguing exposure pathway, raising important questions regarding the safety of inhaled nanoparticles.

Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Science | Tagged , , | 3 Responses, comments now closed

Down the Drain, then Down the Hatch

John BalbusCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

Can nanoparticles get into our drinking water and if so, what's the harm?

Nanoparticles are being used in cosmetics and other personal care products with increasing frequency.  Carbon fullerenes, also known as buckyballs, have recently been touted as imparting age-defying antioxidant benefits when added to skin cream.  And there are some studies that seem to support these claims.  But even if such claimed benefits turn out to be true, this is by no means the end of the story.  Read More »

Posted in Nanotechnology | Tagged , | Comments closed

A. Length, B. Metals, C. Oxygen, D. Surface, or E. All of the Above?

John BalbusCal Baier-Anderson, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

The manufacture of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) is a very complicated business.  Different production processes leave behind different kinds of metal catalysts, which yield differences in physical and chemical – as well as toxicological – properties of the CNTs.  Read More »

Posted in Health Science, Nanotechnology | Tagged , | Comments closed
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