EDF Health

Re-visioning TSCA: Address the cumulative impacts of chemical exposures

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

Part 4 of a 4-part series see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here

This series of blog posts is looking ahead toward opportunities to advance a more robust and holistic vision for implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as reformed in 2016.

We discussed in the preceding installments of this series the importance of ensuring that combined exposures to a chemical from multiple sources and the greater exposures and susceptibilities of certain groups are accounted for.  But it is critical to also recognize that many other factors influence the impacts chemical exposures have on our health.  This final installment in our series will discuss how TSCA can and should take into account all of these factors – that is, account for cumulative impacts.

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Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Health Science, TSCA Reform / Tagged | Comments are closed

Chemicals in hair products, making rent as a grad student, and more: A conversation with Dr. Tamarra James-Todd

Dr. Tamarra James-Todd’s interest in human health dates back to her childhood, when she would go into work with her mom, who was a microbiologist, on the odd weekend at the Kansas City VA Hospital. Now an epidemiologist at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, Dr. James-Todd has focused her career on understanding the impacts of toxic chemicals on women’s reproductive and long-term health in order to improve overall health.

Dr. Tamarra James-Todd

Through her research, she has found that 50% of hair care products marketed to Black women contain hormone disrupting chemicals, compared to only 7% advertised to white women based on product label information. Further, the use of these products, such as hair oils and chemical straighteners, can put girls and women at higher risk of health impacts including earlier age at puberty—a risk factor for breast cancer. In addition to assessing racial and ethnic differences in chemical exposure, Dr. James-Todd’s research also includes identifying how pregnancy and complications that occur during this period can impact a woman’s risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

I recently chatted with Dr. James-Todd about her work, how she got into the women’s environmental reproductive health field, and how COVID-19 has impacted her many research initiatives.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Markets and Retail, Public Health / Comments are closed

Re-visioning TSCA: Better protect those at greater risk

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

Part 3 of a 4-part series see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4 here

This series of blog posts is looking ahead toward opportunities to advance a more robust and holistic vision for implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as reformed in 2016.

In the preceding installment in this series, we discussed TSCA’s mandate for EPA to conduct comprehensive chemical evaluations.  The Trump EPA’s failure to do so especially detrimental to those groups at greater risk because they are more likely to face the precise exposures and susceptibilities that the Trump EPA excluded.  In this installment of our series, we will address how TSCA can and must be used to better protect those at greater risk from chemical exposures.

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Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Health Science, TSCA Reform / Tagged | Comments are closed

Better data is critical to address health disparities in air pollution’s impacts

This post originally appeared on the EDF Global Clean Air Blog.

Ananya Roy, Senior Health Scientist, and Maria Harris, Environmental Epidemiologist 

The last several months have seen a wave of momentum in policies seeking toward advance environmental justice and equity through better data collection and mapping. In his first week in office, President Biden signed an executive order to initiate the development of a screening and mapping tool to identify disadvantaged communities with the goal of informing equitable decision making. And legislation introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate would launch a similar effort. This focus on data and mapping is critical.  

At EDF, we’ve worked with community and research partners to map air pollution at the block-by-block level, and found that hyperlocal data can reveal pollution hotspots and variability within cities and neighborhoods that would otherwise be missed. Building on this research, our latest work shows how the health impacts from air pollution can vary at a hyperlocal level and how using local level data can greatly improve our ability to identify health disparities and target action. Our findings illustrate why it is important to incorporate health information into such decision-making, as both pollution exposure and health vulnerability influence the health impacts of air pollution.

These insights have relevance not only for actions at the federal level, but also for cities and states across the country that are seeking to reduce air pollution and address health inequities.

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Re-visioning TSCA: Comprehensively assess and mitigate chemicals’ risks

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

Part 2 of a 4-part series see Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4 here

After our look back in Part 1 of this series at the damage done over the past four years, the remainder of the series will look ahead and explore opportunities to advance a more robust and holistic vision for implementing the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as reformed in 2016.

In this installment, we will discuss why legal and effective TSCA implementation demands that EPA undertake comprehensive assessments of chemical risks that supersede the media-specific limitations of other environmental laws. Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Health Science, TSCA Reform / Tagged | Comments are closed

Re-visioning TSCA after the Trump years: A series

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

Part 1 of a 4-part series – see Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 here

It wasn’t that long ago, June 2016, when there was hope that our nation was at last embarking on the enormous task of reinvigorating and greatly strengthening our chemical safety system, 40 years after original passage of the moribund Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Passage of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act by huge bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress seemed to bode well for robust implementation of the law by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Even the affected industry had accepted the reforms as essential to restoring public confidence in our federal system (hoping thereby also to stem the rising tide of actions by state governments, retailers, and others to fill the void left by EPA’s inability to ensure the safety of chemicals and products).

We have an opportunity to rethink how the law could and should be used to advance a broader vision of greater health and environmental protection for all people.

Labor and health and environmental public interest communities saw an opportunity to use the new TSCA to drive more thorough assessments of chemicals’ risks.  The failure of our risk assessment-based regulatory system to address the multiple sources of exposure to a chemical affecting many different groups of people had long been viewed as a fundamental flaw of the old law.  Fixing that flaw isn’t, unfortunately, how the last four years have gone.

As we look to the future, there is a pressing need to course-correct on TSCA implementation.  But there is also an opportunity to rethink how the law could and should be used to advance a broader vision of greater health and environmental protection for all people.  This series of blog posts will explore that potential.

But we must start with a brief look back at the damage done.  Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Health Science, TSCA Reform / Tagged | Comments are closed