Selected tags: flame retardants

Flame retardants impair normal brain development: Even more evidence, still no action

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

Today a new study was published linking fetal exposure to certain flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) with cognitive and behavioral effects that develop later in childhood.  While the specific findings in this study are new, the link between these types of neurodevelopmental effects and exposure to PBDEs is not. 

Numerous scientific studies and governmental bodies across the globe have flagged the health effects of PBDEs.  At the same time, current proposals by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to better understand the hazards and sources of certain PBDEs remain in limbo.  Read on to learn more about today’s new study on PBDEs and the stalling of EPA initiatives to help protect us from exposure to them.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, Health Science, Regulation| Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

No more just California Dreamin’: First three priority products proposed

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

Today the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced its first three draft priority products—the next major milestone in the implementation of its Safer Consumer Product (SCP) regulations to address chemicals of concern in the marketplace.  While we’re still at the start of a long process, today’s announcement is the clearest indicator to date of the impact these regulations may have on consumer products.

The release of the draft priority products follows DTSC’s release last September of its candidate chemicals list and from within this list, the subset initial candidate chemicals list.  Together with the initial candidate chemical list, the identification of the draft priority products now defines the possible set of chemical-product combinations that may head toward alternatives assessment.  Read on for a description of the chemicals and products and of the next phase of regulatory actions.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, States| Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Unnerving developments in the state of the evidence on developmental neurotoxicity

Rachel Shaffer is a research assistant.

Seven years ago, leading children’s environmental health experts Philippe Grandjean and Philip Landrigan published a groundbreaking review that identified five chemicals prevalent in the environment—lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, and toluene—as developmental neurotoxicants. In their follow-up review released last week, they have added six more chemicals—manganese, fluoride, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), chlorpyrifos, DDT, and tetrachloroethylene (PERC)—to this list. The implications of early-life exposures to these common compounds, say the authors?  A “global silent pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity.”  Read More »

Posted in Emerging Science, Health Policy, Health Science| Also tagged , , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

21st Century on the horizon for endocrine disruptor screening?

Rachel Shaffer is a research assistant. Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist.

BPA, DDT, PCBs, PBDEs, phthalates, PFOA … Forgive the alphabet soup, but chances are you’ve heard of at least some of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which have been the subject of a lot of public and media attention in the last several years. Research has begun to uncover the ways in which these chemicals can interact with the body’s hormone – or endocrine – system to disrupt various natural biological processes, including metabolism, the reproductive system, and development of the brain and nervous systems.

While the endocrine-disrupting properties of the chemicals named above have been confirmed, scientists suspect there may be many more such chemicals in our environment, in the products we use, and in our bodies.  How can we identify them?

Legislation enacted in 1996 required the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a screening program to identify potential EDCs.  More than 10 years later, EPA finally launched the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP).  Testing is being conducted in two phases, or “tiers.”  In “Tier 1,” a screening battery of validated in vivo and in vitro assays is used to identify chemicals with potential to interfere with the endocrine system. Chemicals flagged in the first tier of testing are then subject to “Tier 2” testing intended to determine the specific effect and the lowest dose at which it occurs. (We should note this program is very controversial and the subject of ongoing debate, but that is not the subject of this post.)

EPA has identified an estimated 9,700 chemicals to be screened – a very daunting task given the time- and resource-intensive nature of the testing battery EPA has established.  Might there be a way to expedite the identification and testing of the more problematic chemicals? A study published earlier this year in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) investigates a possible approach: using in vitro high-throughput (HT) assays developed through EPA’s ToxCast and Tox21 programs to target and prioritize chemicals for further testing under the EDSP. While use of these assays poses its own challenges, might it at least help in determining an appropriate testing sequence?  Read More »

Posted in Emerging Testing Methods, Health Science| Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

ECHA raises its sights: Several recent additions to the REACH Candidate List set precedents

Alissa Sasso is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.

The European Union is maintaining a steady pace as it works to address chemicals of concern: Last month, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) added 54 Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) to the Candidate List for Authorisation under its REACH Regulation, bringing the total number of substances on the list to 138. ECHA posted a press release listing the new SVHCs and describing some of the more interesting additions, which we’ve highlighted below.

For 23 of the additions, REACH’s Member State Committee (MSC) reviewed public comments during the comment period on draft SVHC proposals before voting unanimously to add all of them onto the Candidate List. The other 31 new additions were not challenged during the public comment period, and hence moved directly onto the candidate list without MSC consultation.

The majority of the new SVHCs, like most substances already on the list, are classified as carcinogen, mutagenic and/or toxic to reproduction (CMRs).  But it’s with the other new listings that it gets really interesting.  Read More »

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States act while Congress fiddles

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

Lest anyone thought that efforts by state legislators to protect their citizens from toxic chemical exposures would slacken despite Congress’ inability to take such action, this week’s announcement that legislators in at least 26 states are introducing such bills should dispel that notion.

Safer States, a national coalition of state-based environmental health organizations, notes that “between 2003 and 2011, 19 states adopted 93 chemical safety policies. The majority of legislation passed with healthy bipartisan support – 99% of Democratic legislators and 75% of Republican legislators voted in favor of bills, and both Republican and Democratic governors signed them into law.”

That trend shows no signs of abating in 2013, based on a list of state legislative activities underway, compiled by Safer States (more detail here):  At least 26 states are each to consider multiple legislation and policy changes this year that will:

  • restrict or label the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in receipts, children's products and food packaging;
  • require removal of certain toxic flame retardants from children's products, home furniture or building materials;
  • change disclosure rules so that concerned consumers will have a way to identify toxic chemicals in products;
  • encourage manufacturers to remove identified toxic chemicals in favor of safer alternatives.
  • ban cadmium, a dangerous, persistent metal that is often found in inexpensive children's jewelry;
  • ban formaldehyde from cosmetics and children's products; and
  • promote green cleaning products in schools.

The chemical industry frequently argues it just can’t live with a “patchwork” of requirements that vary from state to state.  But that’s just what it’s creating by dragging its feet on reform of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which has never been amended since its adoption nearly four decades ago. 

State legislators, like nature, abhor a vacuum.

 

 

Posted in Health Policy, States, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Still looking for a moment of truth from ACC

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

We’ve blogged here recently about how the American Chemistry Council (ACC) is seeking to hide the truth about the major changes made to the Safe Chemicals Act.  And about its efforts to suppress the truth about chemicals linked to cancer.  But its tenuous relationship with the truth doesn’t end there.  Read More »

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , , | 1 Response, comments now closed

Doing its best under a flawed law: 35 groups file comments supporting EPA efforts to reduce exposure to toxic flame retardants

Jennifer McPartland, Ph.D., is a Health Scientist. Richard Denison, Ph.D., is a Senior Scientist.

Today Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice, joined by 33 other health and environmental groups, filed comments that urge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to swiftly move forward with two proposed actions to regulate a group of toxic flame retardants called PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers). 

The first proposed rule would require anyone intending to begin production, processing or import of any PBDE, or a product containing one, to notify EPA before doing so.  This would give the agency an opportunity to evaluate the risks of the proposed activity and if necessary take action to restrict or prohibit it.  The second proposed rule would require anyone who continues after 2013 to produce, process or import any PBDE, or a product containing one, to conduct extensive tests needed to allow EPA to determine the risks posed by those ongoing activities.   Read More »

Posted in EPA, Health Policy, Regulation| Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Resources for today's historic markup of the Safe Chemicals Act

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

Today's the day:  At or about 10 am EDT this morning, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will take up a major amendment offered by Senator Lautenberg to his Safe Chemicals Act, which would for the first time overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

[UPDATE Wednesday afternoon:  The EPW Committee voted 10-8 to pass the amended Safe Chemicals Act!!]

Here are some things that should help you to make sense of it all.

I hope these links help you to tune in or otherwise follow today's events.

 

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , | Comments closed

A pivotal moment for TSCA reform

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

We have reached a pivotal moment in the quest for meaningful reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):  On Wednesday the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will mark up a new and improved version of the Safe Chemicals Act.  To my knowledge, this will be the first time a vote has been taken in the U.S. Congress to amend the basic provisions of TSCA since its passage in 1976.

The markup will come after today’s oversight hearing in the same committee spurred by a set of events that couldn’t provide a better poster child for why this law needs so badly to be overhauled:  An exposé published in the Chicago Tribune on the massive use in everyday household items of a set of flame retardant chemicals that were grandfathered in under TSCA 36 years ago along with more than 60,000 others.  Their safety was never required to be determined, let alone established – yet we now know these toxic chemicals not only do not serve their claimed purpose, but are so persistent in the environment and build up in people such that every American – including newborn babies – carries them in our bodies.

While we still have quite a ways to go to achieve real and lasting TSCA reform, the new language represents real progress toward the “sweet spot” – striking the right balance between the dual needs of ensuring vital public health protections, sustaining the economic health of the chemical industry and spurring it to innovate toward safer chemicals.  Any objective reader of the new language will see, for example, that it better tailors and paces information requirements, ensures speed to market for new chemicals, and enhances protection of companies’ proprietary interests in chemicals they develop.

The changes reflect the sustained efforts of a group of diverse stakeholders who dedicated themselves over the last many months to seek out common ground and to provide substantive input on the legislation, often in the face of considerable opposition.  Relative to the introduced version of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, major sections have been completely rewritten to address key concerns heard from all stakeholders, including those not willing to come to the table.

While further progress is needed, the changes being made to the legislation are direct and tangible evidence of the fact that when stakeholders positively engage in the legislative process, the result is an improved bill.

EDF and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families coalition stand committed to continuing to work after Wednesday’s markup with all parties willing to engage with us in good faith toward finding more common ground.  This week in particular, it is vital that those who have sought out such common ground stand behind the progress made to date and make clear they are committed to taking this forward.

 

Posted in Health Policy, TSCA Reform| Also tagged , , , | Comments closed
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