Senator Frank Lautenberg, United States Senator from New Jersey, passed away early on the morning of June 3rd. Lautenberg (pictured at a 2012 Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals, behind the child holding the "moms 4 sfty" sign) was a proponent and champion of public health and environmental protection and his leadership will be sorely missed. As head of the Senate Environment and Public works subcommittee on environmental health, as well as chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, Senator Lautenberg fought for the communities and the well being of the citizens that he represented. He will be remembered for his commitment to enacting smarter laws and advocating for the protection of people’s health.Read more...
Whether they know it or not, American families are exposed to toxic substances like lead, mercury, and formaldehyde everyday in their own homes. Our country’s system for regulating toxic chemicals is broken, allowing toxic chemicals to find their way into common household items like laundry detergent, couches, and even baby shampoo.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is the only law our nation has guiding regulation of toxic chemicals—it has not been updated since 1976. Since that time, hundreds of new chemicals have entered the market and our homes without being tested for safety. Meanwhile, the rates of chronic illnesses like asthma, cancer, and reproductive and developmental have continued to rise.
February is the month for sweethearts to fan the flames of love, and this year for those in the trenches of toxic chemical phase out it's been the month of new news on flame retardants.
Today, Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow helped to release Naptime Nightmares, a new study on Chlorinated Tris in nap mats used in day care centers. Chlorinated Tris may not exactly be a common household name, but it is a resident in many of our homes as it is used as a flame retardant in furniture and many other products. It may also ring a bell as the chemical that was banned from children's pajamas in the 1970s because of its health impacts--Chlorinated Tris is linked to cancer and may cause genetic damage as well. Unfortunately, in a case of "regrettable substitution," it has been been making a resurgence in recent years as a replacement for the flame retardants known as PBDEs that the industry has been phasing out due to consumer pressure and laws passed in some states.
We all know someone living with cancer, asthma, learning disabilities, birth defects, or another devastating health problem linked to toxic chemicals. Massachusetts can protect the health of citizens and save in health care costs by passing legislation that would replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives wherever feasible.Thankfully, such legislation has been filed in the State House: the Healthy Families and Businesses Act.
An Act for Healthy Families and Businesses (H.235/S.354) was filed by Rep. Jay Kaufman and Sen. Kenneth Donnelly. It is a new version of the Safer Alternatives Bill, which AHT supported in previous years.Read more...
Have you ever walked into a dry cleaner and been bothered by the smell? Your nose knows: that unpleasant aroma could actually be toxic.
For the last fifty years, dry cleaners have used perchloroethylene (perc) as their most common cleaning product. Perc is a probable human carcinogen that can cause nervous system, liver, and kidney damage. Dry cleaning workers are at most risk, but when we take dry cleaned clothes home, we expose our families to this toxic chemical as well. Perc also can pollute the soil and groundwater around dry cleaning shops when improperly managed.
Circles represent number of surveyed garment cleaners in that area.
View Garment Cleaners in Massachusetts in a full screen map.
The good news is there are several alternatives to perc. The bad news is that each may have their own health and safety concerns, and it can be tough to figure out which is the best choice. A process called wet cleaning is the safest known method of professional garment cleaning, but many companies that make other dry cleaning products advertise themselves as green or environmentally friendly, even when they’re not. This is a practice known as “greenwashing.” There are steps you can take to avoid greenwashed cleaners and keep your family and yourself healthy.Read more...
When Lori Alper, a mom and activist from Bedford, was getting her kids ready to go back to school, she was horrified to discover that some school supplies featuring favorite Disney characters might be releasing “toxic dust” linked to serious health problems, including asthma, ADHD, and diabetes.
Lori started a petition to get Disney to make its children's products safer, and we're pitching in to help gather signatures. Sign the petition and tell Disney to stop using dangerous phthalates in its products now.
Want to do more? Join Lori and AHT as we deilver the petition to The Disney Store!Read more...
The numbers are in, and the chemical lobby has spent millions in this election to back candidates for Senate. We need your help to fight back and make sure Senator Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren know that you care about increased oversight on toxic chemicals!
Will you join Americans across the country to contact Brown and Warren and ask them to support the platform of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, our national partners in updating the country's chemical laws?
See our sample letter to candidates below.Read more...
The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) and Empire State Consumer Project recently tested 20 back-to-school items for phthalates – harmful chemical additives used to make PVC (aka vinyl) plastic products soft and flexible. Can you guess what they found?
a) None! The industry has completely eliminated phthalates from all children’s products.
b) A few, but nothing to be concerned about.
c) Elevated levels of phthalates in almost every product.
From our friends at Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families:
The first vote on overhauling our outdated chemical policies in 36 years is now scheduled for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this Wednesday. The stakes for the vote are very high and what happens around it may determine whether we have reform anytime soon.
Will you ask Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry to do everything they can to see that the Safe Chemicals Act passes? Senator Brown has not co-sponsored the bill, and doing so now would be an important show of support. Senator Kerry has co-sponsored the bill, and we would like to thank him for doing so and ask him to work with his colleagues on passing it.
The committee held an oversight hearing yesterday about toxic flame retardant chemicals, an issue brought to light by the incredible reporting of the Chicago Tribune. It’s worth reading the story if you haven’t, but here it is in a nutshell: three major chemical companies ran a campaign for years that distorted the science in order to win government regulations that require the use of their chemicals in furniture and other products in the name of fire safety. The campaign was successful and as a result nearly every home in North America has these chemicals, called PBDEs, which are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic.Read more...
"Any event that starts with juice boxes has to be a good event," said Senator Katherine Clark, the lead sponsor of the Safer Alternatives Bill, as she addressed the stroller brigaders on the Boston Common.
The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and many Massachusetts moms and kids came together on June 28th for a Stroller Brigade to support safer chemicals. Kids wore superhero capes and decorated cards to give to Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Stephen Brewer and Senate President Therese Murray, asking them to "be our hero" and bring the Safer Alternatives Bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
The groups represented at the rally were Clean Water Action, Coalition for Social Justice/Coalition Against Poverty (pictured above), Massachusetts Teachers Association, Health Care Without Harm, and Medfield Green.Read more...
Members of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow traveled from Massachusetts all the way to Washington DC to join mothers from across the country in a Stroller Brigade march in support of the Safe Chemicals Act.
The July 31st deadline for the end of the legislative session is rapidly approaching and the Safer Alternatives Bill is still sitting in the Senate Committee on Ways & Means. We need some heroes in the Massachusetts Senate to get this job done.
Please join us at noon on June 28th in Boston for a "Stroller Brigade" for Safe Chemicals to ask Massachusetts Senators to be our heroes and protect our health from toxic chemicals.
12:00 PM - Meet at Boston Common near corner of Beacon & Park Streets (map). Decorate letters for state senators, hand out superhero capes for kids, lunch provided.
12: 45 PM - Walk to Senate Chambers (go through security) & greet Senators as they enter formal session
1:30 PM - Visit Senators offices (we will help you set up meetings with your Senators)
This article was provided by Safer States.
This month, the Chicago Tribune wrote an investigative series uncovering dirty tactics by the chemical industry that insiders have known for some time.
The series focuses on toxic flame retardants, and the methods used by industry to keep pumping millions of pounds of them into our household goods each year despite health risks and questionable effectiveness.
Flame retardants are found in all manner of household goods, including couches and other furniture, carpets and electronics.
Among other things, the Tribune investigation uncovered:
- Completely fabricated stories used during testimony told in order to garner sympathy about threats to children from fire.
- Grossly distorted findings about the effectiveness of flame retardants when it comes to retarding fire. "The fire just laughs at it," said the lead author of a study that is often cited as proof that fire retardants save lives.
- Direct connections between the chemical industry lobby and the tobacco lobby.
- A concerted effort by industry to knock down state laws one-by-one, as it is known that states are exercising more power than the federal government when it comes to banning toxic chemicals.
With chants of "People have a right to know! Toxic chemicals have to go!" and "Chems in kids, that's the worst, time to put the people first!" Approximately 200 moms, nurses, cancer survivors and other passionate citizens from across the United States gathered in Washington DC on May 22nd for a Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals organized by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.
The Stroller Brigade participants sent a strong message to Congress: Our families are sick and struggling and we are tired of unawarely bringing toxic chemicals into our homes and exposing our children and ourselves because the United States has inadequate chemical safety laws. It's unacceptable that the only law we have is the broken, ineffective and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA). We can do better and we must in order to protect our health and lower health care costs in this country.
Laura Henze Russell is a member of the Massachusetts delegation to the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families' Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals in Washington DC.
Laura grew up on Long Island, New York. The horror of cancer hit home early for Laura when one of her friends lost her mother to the disease in high school. Unfortunately it didn't stop there. Over time, the the majority of her friends from the neighborhood, and their mothers, have contracted breast cancer.
Cancer hit her family too. Laura's mother got non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in her 60s, her father--who was not a smoker--was diagnosed with lung cancer in his 80s, and Laura herself had breast cancer in her 40s and got fibromyalgia 20 years ago.Read more...
Gail MCCormick is a member of the Massachusetts delegation to the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families' Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals in Washington DC.
Gail is a mother of two, a grandmother of three, and a dedicated activist. Though she's lived in 12 different states in her lifetime, she's lived in Massachusetts for 17 years and currently calls Arlington home.
When her children were young, Gail's family went through a harrowing experience of toxic chemical exposure that opened her eyes to the need for change. She says:
"About 30 years ago, when my son, Braydon, was 9 and my daughter, Sabrina, was 7, we were living in Georgia and our house had a problem of powderpost beetles in the stuctural beams. We hired an extermination company who came in and sprayed the beams with chloridane. Chloridane was banned at that time, but the two old guys who worked for the company had been using it for years and didn't see any reason why they should quit, even if it was banned. They sprayed it everywhere. After they left, I wiped down the walls to try to get rid of it. Soon after that my hands went numb and I started to feel sick.Read more...
State Representative Sean Garballey and State Senator Pat Jehlen want what's best for their district. They care about local businesses, the health of residents, and the local environment. That's why they will be available to meet with residents this Friday to hear your concerns about environmental health, local businesses, or anything else on your mind.
Meet Rep. Garballey and Sen. Jehlen
Where: Best Neighborhood Cleaner, 570 High Street, Medford, MA
When: Friday, May 18th, 11 am
Best Neighborhood Cleaner uses a process called wet cleaning, a nontoxic alternative to dry cleaning that can clean virtually everything just as well. The High Street business switched to this safe, healthy method from perchlorethylene (perc), a solvent, and probable carcinogen, used by many dry cleaners. For more information about wet cleaning and perc, visit the AHT website.
If you want to meet your state legislators or learn about a local business that's improving the health of your neighborhood, this is your chance!
From day one, labor organizations have been at the core of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow's coalition and protecting the health of workers have been a primary objective of our mission. Below is an article written by our friends at Safer States which celebrates the involvement of the labor movement in the fight for safer chemicals and highlights the contributions of Massachusetts labor partners in particular.
Nearly each day, four million people in the United States go to work as janitors, cleaners, maids, housekeepers, landscaping and groundskeeping workers, pesticide handlers and other maintenance occupations. Over 3% of the workforce is employed in these jobs, which are among the lowest paying jobs in the country.1 But the below-average wages aren't the worst thing about the job: these people are exposed to toxic chemicals in their workplace on a daily basis.
According to workers' compensation data, six out of every 100 custodians have a lost-time injury every year due to chemical exposure.2 The majority of injuries involve eye irritation and burns, skin irritation and burns, or breathing chemical fumes. And these are just the short-term effects.Read more...
Spring is here, summer is just around the corner, and perhaps that means that your attention is turning to your vegetable garden, flower beds, or lawn; or that visions of children running through the sprinklers sqealing with glee are dancing in your head. As you drag those garden hoses, work gloves and tools out of the garage or basement, fresh air, moist soil and sunshine are probably on your mind, not toxic chemicals--especially if you keep a pesticide free yard.
Unfortunately, in this as in so many other corners of our homes, we might need to think twice about what toxic chemicals are lurking. Our friends at HealthyStuff.org have released a new study which found lead, cadmium, phthalates and hazardous flame retardants in gardening products, as part of their ongoing research of hazardous substances in common consumer items.Read more...
By Cindy Luppi, New England Director, Clean Water Action
April is here and for many, the top thing on our minds is the early days of spring--whether we can shelve our winter coats, maybe how close we are to Opening Day. For me, April always reminds me of my grandmother, Aubine. She was born in early April, over 100 years ago in a small town in northern Maine. When I think of her, I think of the popcorn balls she would make for the holidays...of the walks we took together...of being on drying duty as she washed the dishes after a family dinner. She taught my sisters and I many things over the years, but the single over-riding lesson was crystal clear: you take on the hard jobs, and you don't shy away from the things that most need doing. That's how she lived her life, from start to finish--including working as a young girl with her family to carve a fishing camp out of the Maine wilderness.
That lesson reinforces my commitment to keep on pressing for the updates to our laws that will protect us all from exposure to toxic chemicals. This campaign has been tough at times.
For the last fifty years, dry cleaners have used the chemical perchloroethylene (perc) as their most common cleaning solvent. There are more than 550 dry cleaning facilities that use perc in Massachusetts.
The map on the right shows every dry cleaner that uses perc in Massachusetts. Search for your home, workplace, and child's school to see whether a facility that uses perc is nearby.
View Perc Dry Cleaners in Massachusetts in a full screen map
When we go into a store and purchase a product, especially a product for children, we would like to believe that someone has made sure that it is safe. Unfortunately, as many parents have come to realize, that is not the case all too often.
In the latest round of product testing to highlight this lack of regulation, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and the Ecology Center have released new research on toxic chemicals in low-cost children’s and adult jewelry. Researchers tested for chemicals -- including lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine and chlorine (PVC) –- which have been linked in animal and some human studies to acute allergies and to long-term health impacts such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer. They found a lot of hazardous chemicals and the results are online at HealthyStuff.org.Read more...
Toxic chemicals linked to the rising rates of endocrine disruption related disease on the rise were found in a broad array of consumer products and reported in a peer reviewed article in Environmental Health Perspectives today. The Newton based Silent Spring Institute tested 213 consumer products, including cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreens, shower curtains, air fresheners, drier sheets, and other household goods made by Colgate, Unilever, S.C. Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Seventh Generation, and Ecover among other manufacturers.
Silent Spring tested 66 different chemicals, finding 55 of them in the products. All of the 42 conventional product samples contained at least 2 and as many as 22 of the tested toxic chemicals. Of the 43 alternative products tested, 32 contained at least one toxic chemical.
Kristi has just published a book, Little Changes, detailing her journey through breast cancer, motherhood, and environmental health activism, and has generously decided to use her success to support our work. For the entire month of March, Kristi will be donating $3 from every book sold to support the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow. For your purchase to support our work, go to the Choose Wiser website, enter "AHT/CWF" into the coupon code field*, and purchase your copy of Little Changes today.Read more...
Senator Katherine Clark is a mother, Senator Sal DiDomenico is a father, Senator Ken Donnelly is a former firefighter, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz is concerned about the damaging effects that toxic chemicals can have on low-income communities in her district. These senators have very personal reasons to support the Safer Alternatives Bill. They all want to vote for it.
The problem is they may never get that chance because many bills never get voted on. During the past few weeks, Senators had the opportunity to make it known that they want to vote for the Safer Alternatives Bill and more than half of them did.
The Safer Alternatives Bill is currently before the Senate Ways and Means Committee (W&M). Senator Mark Pacheco wrote a letter to W&M Chairman, Senator Stephen Brewer, to ask him to give the bill a "favorable report," and invited other senators to sign the letter with him. AHT supporters helped by calling their Senators and asking them to sign on, with great results. 22 Senators signed that letter and/or wrote their own letters to Senator Brewer.Read more...
(Boston, MA) - In 2012, Massachusetts and 27 other state legislatures will consider bills that address concerns over toxic chemicals in consumer products, according to a new analysis by Safer States, a national coalition of state-based environmental organizations. Bills to be introduced this year will cover a broad list of topics, including safer alternatives to toxic chemicals to bans on toxic chlorinated Tris flame retardants and cadmium, and requirements that makers of consumer products publicly disclose chemicals in products.
“As a mother, I want to know that children and families are safe from toxic hazards,” said Senator Katherine Clark (D), Massachusetts state senator and mother of 3. “We can and must do a better job of protecting our children and the whole family from chemicals linked to cancer and other health effects. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Massachusetts and around the country to pass legislation that moves us towards a safer society.”
Popular baby products, including nursing pillows and car seats purchased in Massachusetts, contain toxic flame retardants linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and other health effects, according to a new report released today by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States. Children and families are exposed to the compounds, called tris chemicals, when they escape from household items and contaminate house dust and indoor air.
In Massachusetts, the proposed Safer Alternatives Bill (S-2079) would replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives wherever that's feasible. The program to be created by the bill would focus on toxic chemicals used in ways that result in exposure to children or workers.Read more...
From all of us at the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, Happy New Year! The legislative session resumes today, and protection from toxic chemicals should be a top priority for senators in 2012.
Please call your state senator and ask him or her to make a New Year's Resolution to pass the Safer Alternatives Bill.
Step 1: Find out who your state senator is if you don't know already.
Step 2: Place your calls. Use the State House Switchboard: 617-722-2000 or find their direct office numbers. When you reach your senator, or one of their staff members, tell them your name and where you live, and urge them to:Read more...
The primary US law aimed at protecting our health from toxic chemicals is the Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. TSCA was passed in 1976 and has not been updated since then.
In 1976, Gerald Ford was president, The Washington DC Metro ran its first train, Elvis Presley was still performing, no one had heard of the internet yet and rotary phones were still the norm. We've come a long way since 1976, but unfortunately, our nation's chemical law has not.
TSCA was a poorly written law when it was passed. The EPA was not even able to use it to regulate the known carcinogen asbestos in the 1980s. Even if it had been an effective law then, it would need updating. We have learned so much about toxic chemicals and our use of them has changed so much since 1976.
Enter the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011. In April, Senators Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer, Amy Klobuchar, Charles Schumer and others introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 to upgrade America's outdated system for managing chemical safety and to protect families from toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems.
In August, moms and kids dressed as superheros and paid visits to the Boston offices of Massachusetts Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry to ask them to be heroes and co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act. Watch the video of their day of action to see some young superheros with a powerful message:Read more...
Today parents, nurses, doctors, college students, and people like you are calling their Senators to ask for common sense limits on toxic chemicals. Join the fun, it only takes two minutes!
What You Can Do:
Massachusetts residents, call Senator Scott Brown and Senator John Kerry's Washington DC Offices. A friendly staff member will answer the phone, or you’ll be asked to leave a message. Please ask our Massachusetts Senators to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act and let them know what city or town you live in. Then report your call to us so that we can keep track.
Senator Brown: (202) 224-4543
Senator Kerry: (202) 224-2742
In Massachusetts those seeking to protect themselves and their families from toxic chemicals linked to cancer, asthma, reproductive disorders, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, learning disabilities and more have been waiting (and advocating) for a long time for passage of a law to help with that task. The Safer Alternatives Bill, which will require companies using toxic chemicals to use safer alternatives when they're available is in its 9th year before the state legislature.
This week that bill has cleared the first hurdle in it's journey towards becoming a law in the 2011-2012 legislative session: the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture released the bill on Tuesday.Read more...
There may be an unwelcome guest at your Thanksgiving table this year: toxic bisphenol-A. A new report by the Breast Cancer Fund has found this endocrine disrupting chemical in canned foods used to prepare a typical Thanksgiving dinner.
BPA in Thanksgiving Canned Food shows the results from testing four cans each of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup; Campbell’s Turkey Gravy; Carnation Evaporated Milk (by Nestle); Del Monte Fresh Cut Sweet Corn, Cream Style; Green Giant Cut Green Beans (by General Mills); Libby’s Pumpkin (by Nestle); and Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce. One set of cans was purchased in Massachusetts. Single servings of almost half of the products tested had levels of BPA comparable to levels that laboratory studies have shown may cause health problems.Read more...
More than two years after leading health and parents' groups asked Johnson & Johnson to reformulate its flagship baby shampoo to remove a cancer-causing chemical, the company is still using formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in Johnson's Baby Shampoo in some countries (including the U.S.), while formulas sold in other countries are free of these chemicals, according to an analysis released today by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (of which the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is a founding member).
Why the double standard? Don't all babies deserve to be protected from unnecessary exposures to carcinogens? The Campaign in this release called on Johnson & Johnson to stand up and make a commitment to remove formaldehyde from all its baby products in all the markets it serves.
In response to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, Baby's Tub is Still Toxic, Johnson & Johnson has released a statement saying it is phasing out formaldehyde-releasing chemicals from its baby products worldwide. See statement.
"My grandfather passed away from cancer using similar products that we use [in our autobody shop] on a daily basis."
"My younger sister has Aspergers."
"Shifting the chemical industry onto a safer path actually helps the entire US economy and you'll see jobs being created."
"My dad was recently diagnosed with emphysema and he worked next to an asbestos landfill and was a mechanic for a very long time. He worked with lots of toxic chemicals."
"It's priceless the cost of your life. You can't put a dollar on life and health."
These are just a few of the motivations that brought advocates, business owners, health care providers and economic experts together at the Massachusetts State House on a July morning this summer. This powerful team came together to testify in support of the Safer Alternatives Bill which will create a program to replace toxic chemicals in our products, workplaces, and communities with safer alternatives. We captured their stories in a powerful video.
Watch the video to hear from some of these people about why they have joined the effort to pass the Safer Alternatives Bill and protect our health from toxic chemicals, then share it with your friends, family, colleagues...and your legislators.
As Kelly Johnson said, "It's time to do the right thing."
Share this video with your Massachusetts state legislators today. Encourage them to watch the video and to heed its message.
Then use one of the buttons at the top of this page to share the video with your friends.
The event that this group came together for was a public hearing on the Safer Alternatives Bill held by the Massachusetts legislature's Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Read more about the hearing.
Yesterday the Massachusetts Senate took a stand for our health by urging Congress to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.
At the urging of Senator Steven Tolman (D-Brighton), the Senate adopted a resolution, "Memorializing the Congress of United States to support legislation that reforms the federal Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976." California and Illinois passed similar resolutions earlier this year.
The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), passed in 1976 under President Gerald Ford, is our nation’s main law aimed at regulating chemicals used in everyday products. It is out of date and ineffective at protecting the public from chemicals that have been linked to cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, reproductive problems, and other serious diseases.Read more...
"Who says politics has to be dull?" asks Kristi Marsh of Easton, who came with her 3 children to yesterday's "stroller brigade for safer chemicals" in Boston. All four Marshes, along with about 30 other moms and kids, donned superhero capes and visted the offices of Senators Brown and Kerry to urge them to be heros by co-sponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act.
The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S.847), introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (NJ) would increase chemical safety, inform consumers and the marketplace on chemical hazardous and protect vulnerable populations like pregnant women and children. Yesterday's event was one of 17 around the country.Read more...
The case for safer alternatives to toxic chemicals certainly ruled the day at the Massachusetts Legislature's Environment Committee hearing on Tuesday. And what a team effort it was that made that happen.
The team of 19 experts and advocates giving testimony in support of the Safer Alternatives Bill did a phenomenal job and covered a wide range of topics. Starting off the day was Tiffany Skogstrom of the Boston Public Health Commission talking about the Commission's successful program to support auto body shops in the city to replace certain toxic chemicals with safer alternatives. She was followed by Bobby Haynes, President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO who, in no uncertain terms, debunked the industry-lobbyist-promoted myth that this bill will lose jobs in the state. Tedd Saunders, co-owner of the Saunders Hotel Group which owns and operates hotels up and down the eastern seabord backed that up by talking about his company's successful efforts to bring safer alternatives into their hotels.Read more...
On July 12th the Environment Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature will hold a public hearing on the Safer Alternatives Bill. This is the Alliance's opportunity to show the huge support for the bill that exists among academic experts, medical professionals, labor unions, advocacy groups, and the general public. We are working to put together a line up of people to testify who can represent that diversity of support and articulate the positive impacts that this bill will have on health, the environment, and the economy in Massachusetts.
Another group of supporters who are needed to help make the case for the bill at the hearing are legislators. Massachusetts residents, that's where you come in! There are 78 state legislators who co-sponsored the bill this session and even more who support it. But co-sponsoring is just the beginning. If legislators don't keep advocating for the bill throughout the session, it will never be brought to a vote (so far it's been over 8 years that this bill has been pending). This hearing is one opportunity for them to actively support the bill, and they might need a nudge from you to make it happen.Read more...
by Margo Simon Golden, MPH
We have all been touched by cancer. I was in my thirties, married for nine months, and diagnosed with breast cancer. Four years later, now ten years ago, my breast cancer metastasized to my lungs. I am grateful and thankful to all the dedicated men and women, past and present, in all capacities, who helped to develop treatment options and hope that I never run out of options. I also support the common sense approach of preventing cancer before it starts. True prevention of breast cancer is eliminating carcinogens. Prevention is the cure.
Since being diagnosed, not many things shock me anymore. Yet, at a Silent Spring Institute forum and in a recent interview, Margaret Kripke, Ph.D., a co-author of the April 2010 President’s Cancer Panel report, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now, did just that.
By Katherine Friedrich, Based on an interview with Pat Smith
Pat Smith had over 30 years of experience as a registered nurse. She’d been working in the same office for five years. She was used to her routine at work and at home. Since she believed products had to smell good to be clean, she used perfumed lotions, scented shampoo, dryer sheets and commercial detergent.
When Pat noticed a musty smell in the carpet near her desk at work one day, she thought one of her coworkers had spilled something. But the smell didn’t go away. Over the next few weeks, Pat developed a chronic headache. At first, she was able to keep it at bay by taking Advil. Once she began forgetting everyday tasks, feeling dizzy, having double vision, and walking into office furniture, she realized she had a serious health problem. Her coworkers were also feeling ill - especially after they sat at her desk.
Pat discovered the carpet had been sprayed with a pyrethroid insecticide.
Actress, activist, and mother Jessica Alba made a trip to Washington DC this week to lend her influential voice to the effort to protect our health from toxic chemicals. Alba, who is pregnant with her second child, joined the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families campaign and moms from around the country in meeting with Key members of congress to ask them to co-sponsor the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), recently introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
Among her stops was a meeting with Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts, where she was joined by Massachusetts mom and cancer survivor, Erin Boles, of the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition. (Pictured here from left to right are Boles, Brown, Alba and Lindsay Dahl of the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families campaign.)Read more...
We didn't really need another reason to pass the Safer Alternatives Bill so that we can start to transition away from toxic chemicals and to safer alternatives, but this week we got one anyway.
A study of products designed for newborns, babies, and toddlers – including car seats, breast feeding pillows, changing pads, crib wedges, bassinet mattresses and other items made with polyurethane foam – found that 80% of products tested contained chemical flame retardants that are considered toxic, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology Journal. Other retardants discovered had so little health and safety data on them it is not possible to know their effects at this time. The same flame retardants found in some of the products are also found in children’s bodies and widely dispersed throughout the environment and in food.Read more...
In March the Newton, Massachusetts based Silent Spring Institute published a new study that is the first to show that food packaging is the major source of people’s exposure to the hormone disruptors BPA and DEHP, and that a fresh food diet reduces levels in adults and children by half, after just three days. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives on March 30.
BPA and DEHP are hormone disruptors—chemicals that may affect breast and other hormonal cancers, reproduction, and development. DEHP and two other phthalates measured in this study were recently banned under Europe’s REACH regulation because of concerns about reproductive toxicity.
The good news is that this study provides clear evidence that can guide solutions. The findings show that replacing these chemicals with safer alternatives would significantly reduce exposures for most people. It's a clear guideline for individuals working to protect themselves and their families from toxic chemicals.
The problem, is that it's not a guideline that everyone can to follow.Read more...
On Saturday, March 25th, 1911, 146 garment industry workers – mostly young Jewish and Italian women – died during the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The safety flaws that led to this tragedy - locked stairwells and exits, unsafe fire escapes, lack of communication systems between floors - seem nearly unthinkable today. Yet the employer resistance to health and safety improvements that cost these women their lives 100 years ago sounds disturbingly similar to arguments that we hear today from industry trade groups opposing safer chemicals policies.
After the fire, New York Governor John Alden Dix created a commission to investigate health and safety in New York factories. The commission visited over 3000 factories in 20 industries. As a result the state created its first workplace safety requirements, a set of 25 different laws passed over the objections from business owners and industry representatives. 100 years later, although some companies are adopting responsible practices, industry groups still use very similar objections to obstruct modern health and safety legislation.
Here's what they were saying then and today:Read more...
This Earth Day, let your legislators know you want the Safer Alternatives Bill to pass. Take that extra step to keep toxic chemicals out of your home, workplace, and community: join us at the State House for an Earth Day celebration and lobby day.
- When: April 21, 2011 - 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
- Where: The Great Hall (2nd floor), The State House, Boston
- RSVP here! Please put "AHT" in the Affiliated Organization box.
The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is teaming up with environmental groups in Massachusetts this Earth Day. Every person that comes will be asked to visit their legislators and urge them to support funding in the state budget for environmental programs and the pro-environment bill(s) of their choice. Please come and ask your legislators to support The Safer Alternatives Bill (H-1136 & S-397) to protect our health from toxic chemicals in our workplaces, consumer products, homes and communities.
Sign up now!
Recently, Wal-Mart announced to its suppliers a ban on toxic flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and that it will begin testing products to ensure that they don't contain PBDEs starting in June 2011. The December 2010 announcement names seven states which have passed laws restricting the sale of consumer products containing these chemicals. Many other states are considering following suit.
Customers bring flame retardants home by buying furniture and electronics. These chemicals don’t stay inside our TVs, though. They escape into house dust and end up on our dinner plates. Studies have shown PBDEs in fish, meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and infant formula. Research on animals shows PBDEs can cause thyroid problems, learning deficits, memory loss and possibly birth defects. (Read more about PBDEs)
Last May, the Presidential Cancer Panel presented President Obama with its annual report which confirmed that toxic chemicals are a grossly underestimated risk factor for cancer. The Panel urged President Obama to “most strongly use the power of your office” to eliminate human exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
So far, nothing has changed. Of over 80,000 chemicals on the market today, only a few hundred of them have been tested for safety. Exposure to actual and potential cancer-causing chemicals is widespread. Toxic chemicals that cause cancer are in products like clothing, furniture, cleaning products, and plastics used by children, women, and men on a daily basis. The chemical industry continues to exploit regulatory weakness by introducing chemicals into the environment that have not been proven to be safe. Pregnant women have been found to carry toxic chemicals in their bodies, which leads to babies being born with a burden of chemicals over which they had no control. The majority of Americans are unaware of the dangers of chemical exposure in their daily lives.
You are not alone. Take comfort (and discomfort) in the fact that you share this problem with the vast majority of Americans. We're not talking about your passive aggressive sister-in-law, or the charming so-and-so who swept you off your feet and then left town with your life savings. We are are referring to the fresh-smelling, easy-going, and utterly irresistible toxic products we spend our time with at home, at work, and everywhere we go.
Bobbi Chase Wilding, from New York, struck a nerve with an article that she posted on the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families blog, Caught in a Toxic Trap where she admitted to her inability to let go of her toxic flame retardant-stuffed yet wonderful rocking-reclining love seat. Bobbi makes a great point: Even if it’s your job to know about which toxic chemicals lurk in what products, it can be hard to kick them to the curb. Our marketplace is set up so that products with harmful chemicals in them are almost always the more convenient, affordable, and seductive choice.Read more...
Thanks to phone calls, emails and office visits from dozens of you, 78 Massachusetts State Legislators signed on as co-sponsors of the Safer Alternatives Bill by last Friday's deadline.
For those of you who like numbers, of those 78:
- 58 are Representatives
- 20 are Senators
- 63 were co-sponsors last session
- 6 are new legislators this session
- 9 are returning legislators who have not co-sponsored before
Get the full list of co-sponsors here.
One highlight is that Senator Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) is among the co-sponsors this year. He is the new Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture where the bill will next be assigned, and thus is in an influential position to help it move forward.
Last week, in response to continued public concern over the presence of dangerous chemicals in common household products and Congressional inaction on the matter, legislators in Massachusetts and twenty-nine other states announced legislation aimed at protecting children, families and workers from harmful chemicals. Despite well-funded opposition from the chemical industry, 18 state legislatures have already passed 71 chemical safety laws in the last eight years by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin – with more to come this year.
Massachusetts legislators are filing the Safer Alternatives Bill that would replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives in every day products, and introducing a resolution calling on Congress to overhaul the main federal chemical safety law, the Toxics Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA).Read more...