EDF Health

Selected tag(s): flame retardants

ACC missing in action this week, no doubt feeling burned

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

Every day in my email I get the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC’s) “SmartBrief,” a digest of the day’s news related to the chemical industry.  Here’s its self-description:

Designed specifically for American chemistry professionals, ACC SmartBrief is a FREE, daily e-mail news briefing. It provides the latest news and information on the American chemistry industry.

As I noted in my last blog post, all this week the Chicago Tribune has been running one of the biggest stories relating to the chemical industry published in a long, long time.  Titled “Playing with Fire,” it documents in meticulous detail the campaign of deception that producers of chemical flame retardants have foisted on the American public for decades.

One might expect, therefore, that ACC’s SmartBrief this week would be directing its readers – who sign up to keep up with what they need to know that affects the chemical industry – to the Tribune’s series.  One would be wrong.  Nary a mention of this blockbuster story managed to find its way into SmartBrief this week.

It appears that only certain news relevant to SmartBrief’s audience of American chemistry professionals is deemed essential enough to make the cut over at ACC.  SmartBrief readers might need to look elsewhere if they want to know what’s really affecting their industry.

In fact, the only response to be found anywhere on ACC’s website to this week’s major news is this highly oblique press release posted there yesterday.  It makes no mention of the Tribune series, but does affirm the industry’s commitment to safety as a general matter.  And it includes this tidbit:

ACC always strives to conduct its advocacy work in an open and transparent manner.

Oh really?

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The truth will out: Chemical industry’s deceptive tactics are eventually exposed

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

It’s hard not to get cynical in Washington, DC these days.  Just this past week, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) hosted an ice cream social on Capitol Hill – I kid you not.  ACC’s beckoning slogan:  “Join and learn about the benefits of chlorine chemistry and enjoy a tasty treat.”  I’m told hundreds of House staffers partook of this propaganda fest, at least the tasty treat part.  My initial reaction?  How can health and environmental advocates hope to compete?  Especially if one can successfully curry favor merely by offering a scoop of a staffer’s favorite flavor.

But just as I began to despair, Part I of a major exposé on a far more serious campaign of deception by the chemical industry ran on the front page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.  (Actually, the article occupies virtually the entire front page of today’s edition.)   Read More »

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A new power couple: The combined impact of the microbiome and chemical exposures on disease susceptibility (Part 1 of 2)

Allison Tracy is a Chemicals Policy Fellow.  EDF Health Scientist Dr. Jennifer McPartland and Senior Scientist Dr. Richard Denison contributed to this post.

When you’re standing at the kitchen counter this holiday season wrestling with the nebulous world of weight gain, think about synthetic chemicals.  A good number of them are in you.  And studies show that some of them are pretty busy in there, interacting with various biological systems – including your metabolism.

But they’re not the only show in town.  Microbes are busy in your gut doing important things like digesting food and degrading harmful compounds.  But could they also influence the size of your love handles?  New science suggests that these microbes—in concert with certain chemicals—may have just this effect.

It is becoming increasingly clear that it’s not just your genes and your self control that determine your risk for obesity and related complications like diabetes.  Environmental factors are a big part of the equation, and those factors just might extend to synthetic chemicals to which you’re exposed, such as the flame retardants in your furniture and the plasticizers in food can linings.  Read More »

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The States we’re in on chemical policy reform in 2011: 30 and counting

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

Today, legislators in 30 states and the District of Columbia introduced or announced plans to introduce bills aimed at reducing the impact of chemicals on public health.  These actions send a strong signal that states will to continue to respond to the mounting public concern over unsafe, under-regulated and inadequately tested chemicals — in the face of continued inaction by the U.S. Congress to do so.

The bills differ in scope and content, but all of them address chemicals, products or policy needs that have fallen through the cracks in the 35 years since the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted.

With strong, bipartisan majorities of Americans embracing the need for stronger chemical laws, these latest actions make clear that states will continue to act until there is a strong federal system in place that restores confidence in our government’s ability to assure the safety of all chemicals we use and encounter in our daily lives.  Read More »

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New study demands far more than a pregnant pause: Expectant women carry dozens of toxic chemicals in their bodies

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

A long-awaited study documenting the presence of multiple toxic chemicals in the bodies of pregnant women was published today in Environmental Health Perspectives.  The study, conducted by researchers at Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California, San Francisco, analyzed the most recent comprehensive biomonitoring data collected by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as part of its national human biomonitoring program.

The new study found widespread exposure of pregnant women to a large fraction of the chemicals for which biomonitoring is conducted, including chemicals that are currently in widespread use, such as brominated flame retardants (known as PBDEs) used in furniture foam and plastics, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) used in everything from packaging to textiles, and a pervasive environmental contaminant used in rocket fuel (perchlorate).

In particular the study noted:  “Certain PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, PFCs, phenols, PBDEs, phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate were detected in 99 to 100% of pregnant women.” (emphasis added)  Read More »

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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 »

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