As we kick off the 2015-2016 legislative session in Massachusetts, we have some new opportunities to make real progress towards protecting our health from toxic chemicals. Here are 5 bills that will move that goal forward:
- An Act relating to disclosure of toxic chemicals in consumer products
- An Act to protect children and families from harmful flame retardants
- An Act to require environmentally safe alternatives to harmful cleaning products
- An Act requiring disclosure of solvents used in dry cleaning
- An Act for healthy families and businesses
Kids shouldn't have to miss out on Halloween fun in order to protect their health.
An alarming new study has found hidden dangerous toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes and party supplies. The study was released by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested 106 types of Halloween gear—purchased at national retailers such as CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens—for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. Advocates and parents in Massachusetts expressed outrage and dismay about the findings and called for legislators and retailers to act to ensure that consumer products are made safely.
Are the chemials in your couch toxic?
Toxic Hot Seat, an HBO documentary, brings to light the deadly consequences of well-intentioned safety regulations. CineSource Magazine describes Toxic Hot Seat as, “environmental filmmaking at its pinnacle-revealing, horrifying, infuriating, compelling, and hopeful.”
When: Friday, November 7, 2014 6:00pm-8:30pm
Where:The John D. O’Bryant African American Institute
40 Leon Street, West Village
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
RSVP: Amanda Sebert 617-338-8131 x 202.
Panel discussion will follow the film. Light refreshments will be served.Read more...
Let’s skip the cologne and after-shave this year, and give Dad the gift of health.
A recent European study tested 100 chemicals, a third of which were found to negatively affect male reproductive cells. In fact, these chemicals can obstruct sperm’s mobility and efficiency when searching for the female egg. Other chemicals were discovered to make the sperm cells less sensitive to female hormones, further hindering fertility. These findings are crucial as male fertility issues occur in almost 50% of cases involving couples finding it difficult to conceive.
Many of these same chemicals can increase a man’s risk of suffering from diseases like prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s.Read more...
This past February, U.S. Representative John Shimkus (R-IL), Chairman of the Environment and Economy Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a problematic draft bill titled the “Chemicals in Commerce Act”, which would replace the already limited toxic regulation currently existing under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
In late April, the subcommittee held a hearing of the revised bill, at which (not surprisingly) industry witnesses hailed it as making effective reforms, while advocates called it out for doing more damage than good in protecting public health.
As of late May, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to hold a bill mark-up session very soon.
This bill thinly disguises itself as a measure to protect public health, but in reality disregards years of work by scientists, environmental and health advocates, and state legislators to push for reform against the urgent toxic chemical crisis. “In essence, this draft bill has the potential to make a bad situation even worse”, reads a statement from the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund.Read more...
On April 16th, AHT supporters gathered outside ten Walgreens locations across Massachusetts to urge the major retailer to phase out toxic products from their shelves. Concerned parents, student activists, health professionals, and leaders of environmental organizations visited Walgreens stores in downtown Boston, Dorchester, Lexington, Medway, the North Shore, Revere, and Yarmouth, as part of the national Mind the Store campaign. Nearly 50 events were held across the country on April 16th to call on Walgreens, the largest drugstore chain in the states.
Check out this video that features events organized at the downtown Boston flagship store and Dorchester locations. At the Boston location, students from Suffolk University were joined by representatives from the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the Environmental League of Massachusetts, and Clean Water Action. In Dorchester, Rev. Bill Loesch led a group of B.O.L.D. (Breath of Life Dorchester) Teens, a youth group focused on environmental and social justice.
You can still join the action - add your voice to theirs by signing a petition to Walgreens.
This week, as part of the national Mind the Store campaign’s day of action, concerned parents, youth activists, and health professionals gathered at Walgreens locations to call for stronger store policies regarding toxic products sold on their shelves. As the country’s largest drugstore chain, Walgreens has the responsibility to protect the health of their customers. However, it has been unresponsive to previous campaign efforts, having undertaken no major initiatives to address toxic chemicals in their supply chain and ignoring requests for meetings from environmental health organizations. Therefore, on April 16th, customers across the nation took it in their own hands to make their voices heard.Read more...
Firefighters risk their lives every day on the job, but flames aren’t the only danger they face. They are especially vulnerable to toxic chemical exposure, one of the main causes of chronic diseases like cancer and reproductive disabilities. You may be surprised to learn, for example, that the breast cancer rate in San Francisco female firefighters age 40-50 is six times the national average.
Here in Boston, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts, and the Boston Firefighters Union are teaming up to host a powerful event on Thursday, March 27th, 2014 as part of the nation-wide Give Toxics the Boot campaign.
Toxic Hot Seat Film Screening and panel discussion
When: 7:00 - 9:30 PM
With great market power comes great responsibility. Retailers hold the power to choose which products are available to consumers, and what ingredients go into store brand items. With a lack of federal regulation over toxic chemicals in consumer products, retailers have the potential to step in and screen their inventory, and by doing so have a large impact on improving public health and the environment. In support of pressuring retailers to take action, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition is excited to join other environmental and health organizations in joining the efforts of Mind the Store this spring.Read more...
"Dear Retail Stores, Listen up!" urges 11-year-old Sophie Alcindor. After learning about the dangers of toxic ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products at her after school program, Sophie decided to take action. In a letter addressed to major retailers, she expressed her desire for change:
"We all get it that you want to make money, but are [sic] this neck to neck competition really worth it. Can customers walk in and feel safe without having to feast valuable hours just to find good and safe products....Stop having dangerous products in your stores. If you would listen to the scientists or chemists telling you they are bad then maybe you would have more customers. Create a safe environment for the customers."Read more...
Did you know that retinol, the vitamin A supplement added to many anti-aging creams, is actually listed as a developmental toxin? Or that methyleugenol, commonly used for fragrance in a variety of personal care items such as lotions and shampoos, is a known carcinogen?
Earlier this month, the California Safe Cosmetics Program launched a searchable online database listing cosmetic products containing ingredients that are known to pose risks of cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. This database is a result of the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, which requires that companies self-report a list of all products sold in California that are known or suspected to contain ingredients with the aforementioned health risks.
Autism rates have been rising exponentially, with a 600 percent increase over the past two decades. Today 1 in 50 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the U.S. every year. Research compiled by The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy explores recent reports that there may be more at play here than better diagnosis and genetics. There is growing evidence that there might be a correlation between environmental exposures to toxins, dietary factors and increased Autism rates, especially with prenatal and early life exposure.
ASD was previously considered purely a developmental disorder impairing communication and social interactions. It is now shown to cause physical factors such as intestinal problems, immune disorders and seizures. The increase in ASD and other developmental disorders are a huge cost to our society. The U.S. spends an average of $126 billion dollars each year on educational and medical services for people with Autism, which does not even include out of pocket expenses of families. Most of the resources devoted to ASD are being used for services and genetic research, and very few are dedicated to prevention through environmental and dietary factors.Read more...
BOSTON—Independent testing commissioned by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), with support of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, has released a report on harmful flame retardant chemicals found in children’s chairs, couches and other kids’ furniture purchased from major retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada. A children’s chair purchased from Target in Kingston, Massachusetts was found to contain the toxic flame retardant TCPP. In response, advocates and parents are calling for the Massachusetts legislature to require that companies make safer products.
The products that were found to contain flame retardants were specifically marketed to children with colorful designs and popular children’s characters such as Dora the Explorer and Spiderman. It is well established by fire safety scientists that these chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, infertility and other health problems do not actually prevent fires.
Would you be surprised to learn that feminine care products--like tampons, pads, douches, wipes, and sprays—can contain hazardous ingredients? And these toxic chemicals are coming into contact with some of the most absorptive tissue on women’s bodies!
Our partners at Women’s Voices for the Earth just released a new report, Chem Fatale: Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products, which examines unregulated toxic chemicals in feminine care products that may result in serious health problems, like increased risk of breast cancer, reproductive problems, asthma, and allergic reactions. Chemicals of concern commonly used in feminine care products include carcinogens, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, and allergens.Read more...
Come join us on November 21st to see the new groundbreaking documentary Unacceptable Levels play at UMass Lowell! There will be a reception at 5:30 followed by the movie at 6pm. After the film, we'll get to hear from a panel including two local heroes who are featured in the film:
- Dr. Joel Tickner, Associate Professor of Community Health & Sustainability at UMass Lowell;
- Dr. Richard Clapp, Adjunct Professor at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production and retired Boston University Professor of Public Health; and
- Amy Canon, Co-Founder of Beyond Benign;
- Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director of Clean Water Action
Tuesday October 29th was a huge day for the fight against toxic chemicals. Hundreds of women, men and children from all over the country came together in Washington D.C. for the second National Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals. Many mothers with their young children and babies in tow traveled from as far as Alaska to raise awareness and lobby against weak toxic chemical policies in congress. The event was organized by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families a coalition of over 11 million individuals and hundreds of diverse groups from across the nation all coming together to express their concerns about the toxic chemicals we’re exposed to in our environment. The message of the Stroller Brigade was clear; we need Congress to pass a strong, meaningful law that protects the public from the thousands of toxic chemicals we are exposed to every day.
A dynamic team of 4 women and one child (pictured on the right) traveled from Massachusetts to join the stroller brigade. Eugenia Gibbons who leads a strong mom network for Boston and lives in Revere came with her adorable 15 month old Sylvie. Lori Alper, a nationally recognized mom blogger; active Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaigner and mother of four came from Medford. We were also joined by Cheryl Durr Patry a mother of four who leads Medfield Green Moms and Madeleine Doggett a Northeastern University student and Clean Water Action intern currently living in Boston. These women, greatly concerned about environmental exposures to toxic chemicals especially in children and other particularly vulnerable communities took Washington by storm. They visited the offices of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Edward Markey, Representative Michael Capuano and Representative Joe Kennedy to express their concerns about our chemical laws.Read more...
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. in her lifetime—that is 250,000 women each year. Every year 40,000 women die from breast cancer in the U.S. Breast cancer is an epidemic and the disease needs to be stopped before it starts. October is national breast cancer awareness month, which means pink ribbons as far as the eye can see, but how much are these pink ribbons really helping the cause? Since the national pink ribbon campaign began, have breast cancer rates decreased at all?
The first breast cancer ribbon was peach, not pink, made by a woman named Charlotte Haley to campaign for the National Cancer Institute to increase funding for breast cancer prevention research. Haley was approached by Estée Lauder to use the peach ribbon to market cosmetic products, but Haley refused, fearing that the ribbon would be used for profit. That is when Estée Lauder changed the color to pink and the national marketing campaign began. You can now find the pink ribbon on an array of products, but consumers should be aware that there is no regulation of which products can advertise with a pink ribbon. In fact, many corporations are selling pink ribbon products which themselves contain chemicals linked to cancer, a marketing ploy referred to by some as “pinkwashing.” There are 80,000 chemicals produced in the U.S. every year, of which only 200 have been properly tested for human safety
Walmart has been in the spotlight this fall in the campaign to remove toxic chemicals from consumer products. On September 17th, in response to a national Mind the Store campaign--coordinated by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families--the retail giant took a huge step in the right direction by announcing a plan to phase out ten toxic chemicals from its cleaning, personal care and cosmetic products by 2015. Just twelve days before, the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) released a report on jewelry sold at Walmart that was found to contain high amounts of lead.
The WTC study, Walmart Get the Lead Out, found high levels of lead in 25% of the jewelry tested. Eight out of 34 products tested contained lead ranging from 7,748 parts per million (ppm) to 357,790 ppm. For example, the horseshoe necklace pictured above tested at 35.8% lead! A toxic chemical phase out by one of the top retailers in the country truly exemplifies the power of the consumer to influence the products they are being sold, which is why we need to continue to pressure Walmart and other retailers to take these lead filled products out of their stores immediately.Read more...
If you are reading this website you are probably concerned about reducing toxic exposure and finding the safest products for yourself and your family. A new website is just about to make that job easier: www.SafeMarkets.org combines the best resources to help consumers and retailers quickly identify toxic chemicals and safer alternatives in food, baby products, toys, furniture, building materials and other consumer goods.
The new site is by the Workgroup for Safe Markets, a collaborative of over two dozen leading health, environmental, business and consumer groups that are working to shift the US economy to safer products and practices.Read more...
For many of us, cancer feels like it surrounds us – so many friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors seem to be carrying this health burden in neighborhoods throughout our state, and throughout the nation. In Massachusetts, one hundred people on average are diagnosed with cancer every day. Since the mid 1980s cancer rates have risen 14% among men and 19% among women. The good news: due to a landmark law passed here in 1989, we’re making real progress in stemming this tide.
In 1989, Massachusetts passed the Toxic Use Reduction Act (TURA) to protect public health and the environment while helping industries maintain and improve their competitiveness. This law has been an undisputed success. According to a new report by the Toxic Use Reduction Institute (TURI), Trends in the Use and Release of Carcinogens in Massachusetts, by 2010 the use of carcinogens in Massachusetts facilities had declined by 32% and release had declined by 93% from 1989 levels. According to the World Health Organization the most cost efficient way to fight cancer is through primary prevention strategies, such as toxics use reduction, so laws like TURA are key health protecting and cost saving measures.
The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is united in our efforts to prevent harm to health from toxic chemicals that are contributing to the largest health epidemics of our times -- cancer, asthma, learning disabilities and many more. Our major national chemical safety policy, the Toxics Substances Control Act of 1976, is widely viewed as outdated and deeply flawed, resulting in hazardous chemicals being found in everyday household and workplace products that expose our families to hidden health threats.
Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow has worked for many years, as part of the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and SAFER States coalitions, to build momentum for reforms that would better protect our health and stimulate green chemistry innovations. This summer, the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced a new bill, the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA), in the U.S. Senate that signals bi-partisan interest in finally moving beyond our failed policies of the past. The bill needs significant amendments to effectively advance the new protections we believe are vital to safer chemicals and 21st century innovations. Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow member groups have developed a set of recommondations to improve the bill and meet our goals. We are also continuing to press for reforms at the state level in Massachusetts so that safer alternatives replace toxic chemicals locally. The bill’s federal preemption provisions are too broad, which limit state actions on certain chemicals falling into the low or high prioritized categories. The improvements and recommendations put forward by Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow would greatly enhance the effectiveness of this bill and only if these amendments are made, will the bill have our support.Read more...
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...
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.
"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.
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.
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...
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...
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...