EDF Health

Unveiling EDF’s Chemical Exposure Action Map

U.S. map showing chemical facilities across the nationWhat’s New

Today, we are excited to introduce the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) latest initiative—the Chemical Exposure Action Map. This tool is designed to spur the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to transform the assessment of risks posed by toxic chemicals in our communities.

Our map focuses on multiple high-priority chemicals—making visible the urgent and long-overdue need to assess the risks of chemicals together as they exist in the real-world. Unlike many current methods that look at risks one chemical at a time, our map offers a comprehensive view, highlighting the potential for cumulative risks from multiple high-priority chemicals.

Why It Matters

In a world where industrial facilities expose communities to multiple harmful chemicals daily, many have long called for a cumulative approach to assessing the risks from these chemicals. It is crucial that we wait no longer to reassess how we evaluate the health risks they pose.

Pregnant Latine woman gazing lovingly at young daughter who is hugging her belly.

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Also posted in Adverse health effects, Carcinogenic, Chemical exposure, Chemical regulation, Cumulative impact, Cumulative risk assessment, Developmental toxicity, Health hazards, Health policy, Public health, Regulation, Risk assessment, Risk evaluation, TSCA / Tagged , , , , , , | Authors: , / Comments are closed

Why are four notorious carcinogens approved by FDA for food?

By Liora Fiksel, Project Manager, Healthy Communities, and Lisa Lefferts, Environmental Health Consultant

Pregnant woman rests a cup of coffee on her belly.

While exposure data are scant, people who are choosing decaf coffee during pregnancy or for other health reasons may not realize that some popular brands contain methylene chloride.

What’s Happening?

On December 21, 2023, FDA filed a food-additive petition and a color-additive petition submitted by EDF and partners that asks FDA to revoke its approval for four carcinogenic chemicals approved for use in food.

There is broad agreement that benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), methylene chloride, and ethylene dichloride are carcinogenic,1 and federal law2 is clear: additives that cause cancer in humans or animals are not considered “safe.” All the chemicals have been identified as causing cancer in humans or animals since the 1970s and 1980s.3 Read More »

Also posted in Adverse health effects, Carcinogenic, Chemical exposure, Chemical regulation, FDA, Food, Health hazards, Public health / Tagged , , , , , , | Authors: / Read 9 Responses

FDA’s latest study reaffirms short-chain PFAS biopersist. Now it must act.

By Maricel Maffini, PhD, Consultant, and Tom Neltner, JD

Female rat nursing multiple pups

FDA study found biopersistent PFAS in female rats and their pups,

What Happened

In December 2023, FDA’s scientists published a new study showing that when pregnant rats ingest a form of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substance (PFAS) called 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (6:2 FTOH) their bodies break it down into other PFAS that reach the fetuses and biopersist in the mother and the pups.

The study also showed that the body of a non-pregnant animal produces different breakdown products that also biopersist. This study is the latest evidence that the assumptions made about the safety of short-chain PFAS (chemicals with fewer than 8 carbons) have been wrong. Read More »

Also posted in Adverse health effects, Chemical regulation, Emerging science, FDA, Health science, Industry influence, Public health, Rules/Regulations / Tagged , , , , , , , , | Authors: / Comments are closed

Now’s the Time—How EPA can use TSCA to turn off the PFAS tap

Faucet with the word PFAS flowing out of it

In the face of mounting evidence about the dangers posed by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), one thing is clear: EPA needs to take urgent action to turn off the tap of these “forever chemicals” that have long-term consequences for our health and the environment.

As we discussed in a previous blog, it is imperative that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) use the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to regulate PFAS chemicals comprehensively—both those newly entering the market and those that have been in circulation for decades.

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Also posted in Chemical exposure, Chemical regulation, Cumulative impact, Cumulative risk assessment, Drinking water, Emerging science, Health policy, Public health, Regulation, Risk assessment, Risk evaluation, TSCA, TSCA reform, Worker safety / Tagged , , , | Authors: / Read 2 Responses

New guidelines to inform EPA’s approach to cumulative risk

What’s New?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released and solicited public comments on its draft Cumulative Risk Assessment (CRA) Guidelines for Planning and Problem Formulation. The purpose of a CRA is to determine the combined health and/or environmental risks from multiple stressors and chemicals that can cause the same harms. These guidelines, intended to be applied to all of EPA’s programs and regions, describe how the agency will determine when to use CRAs and the steps it will take to plan them.

Why It Matters

Currently, many EPA programs assess the health and environmental risks of single chemicals, without considering the multiple chemicals that cause the same harms and non-chemical stressors we are exposed to every day. Assessing risks cumulatively, and making regulatory decisions based on this, represents real-world exposures more accurately than single-chemical stressor risk assessments. Read More »

Also posted in Chemical exposure, Cumulative impact, Cumulative risk assessment, Health policy, Public health, TSCA / Tagged , , | Authors: / Comments are closed

FDA says “Cookware that exhibits any level of leachable lead upon testing is prohibited.”

What’s New?

For the first time, FDA has provided guidance on how to evaluate whether metal cookware is prohibited due to lead leaching into food.

As part of an investigation to find the source of elevated blood lead levels in some refugee children, the Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County, Washington [1] encountered high lead levels in certain imported [2] aluminum cookware, including pressure cookers and pots & pans. The program attempted to bring this to FDA’s attention in late 2019, and submitted a formal product report to FDA in October 2021, after several attempts to contact an FDA representative directly.

In May 2022, the Program published a journal article about its findings; a year later, staff emailed FDA again seeking guidance. On June 1, 2023, FDA responded with a letter [PDF, 166KB] providing a method (see below) to evaluate lead in metal cookware. The agency also said:

  • “The marketing in interstate commerce, including importation, of cookware that exhibits any level of leachable lead upon testing is prohibited.”
  • “Neither lead nor lead-containing materials (e.g., metals, solder) are permitted under FDA regulations for use in contact with food.”
  • The Program should “feel free to share this letter or any of its contents with Amazon.com, Inc.,[3] and any other firms involved in the marketing or sale of cookware.”[4]

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Also posted in FDA, Health hazards, Lead, Risk evaluation / Tagged , , | Authors: / Comments are closed