Massachusetts Senate passes bill to protect children, families, firefighters from toxic flame retardants
Elizabeth Saunders, Clean Water Action
Melissa Hurley, Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts
BOSTON, Mass.—The Massachusetts Senate voted favorably today to ban eleven toxic flame retardants from children’s products and upholstered furniture sold or manufactured in the commonwealth. The vote was hailed by firefighters, legislators and public heath advocates as a significant victory for public health and the environment who also called on the House to pass the bill swiftly.
"The value of flame retardants is certainly doubtful and given the extremely high cancer rates of firefighters the more toxic chemicals we can get out of our environment the less exposure we will have,” said Ed Kelly, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. “This bill will ensure the health and safety not only of firefighters, but our children and all citizens of Massachusetts."Read more...
HADLEY, MA- A new report released today by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and several national organizations that tested nearly 200 food can linings for the toxic chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA) found that two out of three cans tested have the chemical in the lining. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that negatively impacts our hormonal systems. Evidence suggests it may contribute to a host of harmful health effects including breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and attention deficit disorder. Other studies have demonstrated the capacity of BPA to migrate into food and then into people, raising concerns about exposures to low, but biologically relevant levels of BPA. Local results were startling: five out of six cans tested from the Walmart in Hadley were found to contain BPA.
For the first time ever, this report also identified the replacement materials for BPA in can linings, and to what extent - if any - their safety has been studied.
Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA & Regrettable Substitutes in the Linings of Canned Food (#BPA #ToxicFoodCans) was conceived and authored by the Breast Cancer Fund; Campaign for Healthier Solutions; Clean Production Action; Ecology Center; Environmental Defence (Canada); and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign.Read more...
New bill protects public from exposure to toxic chemicals, reflecting growing demand nationwide for flame retardant-free furniture.
BOSTON, Mass. (Wednesday, March 23, 2016)—Boston City Councilors passed a bill today to amend the city’s Fire Prevention Code, allowing hospitals, schools, colleges, and other public buildings with sprinkler systems to use furniture free of toxic flame retardant chemicals.
“This bill protects people from needless exposure to harmful flame retardants, creating a safer and healthier environment for all those who live, work, serve, and learn in our great city,” says Josh Zakim, City Councilor representing district 8, who sponsored the bill. The bill also brings Boston in line with the Massachusetts Fire Code’s regulation for upholstered furniture, as well as other major cities across the country that have taken steps to reduce the use of these toxic chemicals.Read more...
This week, two bills that would protect our children, families, and firefighters from harmful flame retardants moved one step
closer to becoming Massachusetts laws.
The Children and Firefighters Protection Act (H.2119) and An Act to protect children and families from harmful flame retardants (S.1132) were reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee and the Joint Committee on Public Health, respectively.
There are a multitude of reasons to eradicate flame retardants from our everyday lives, and protect the well-being of firefighters who put their lives on the line for us every day. This is an important step towards significant change.
We have an opportunity this year to fight against an invisible health threat that pervades our environment, our homes, and our bodies: flame retardant chemicals! For years, these toxins have been added to consumer items like upholstered furniture and children's products, based largely on misguided policy decisions from the 1970s. We now know that flame retardants are a threat to our health and do not provide a meaningful increase to fire safety. It is time for them to go!
Here are the 5 top reasons why flame retardants should be a thing of the past:
1) Flame retardants just don't stay put...
They migrate easily out of the products we use every day and into our homes and bodies, where they build up and persist for years!
2) Health impacts can be dangerous...
Far from saving lives, these toxic chemicals have been linked to cancer, neurological disorders, reproductive issues and a host of other significant health problems.
Great News! Last week, two of the Massachusetts bills endorsed by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow took a major step forward in the process of becoming law!
H.697, an Act Relative to the Disclosure of Toxic Chemicals in Children's Products, was reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and now moves on to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing!Read more...
Toxic flame retardants are linked to cancer, nervous system damage, decreased fertility and other health problems, and they are found everywhere. They are in items such as furniture (including baby furniture), children’s products like toys or car seats, carpet pads, electronic equipment and many more common household products. Worse, these flame retardants are ineffective at stopping fires! We are affected by flame retardants every day, have been from the time we were born, and will continue to be unless we take action.
The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is supporting two bills in the Massachusetts state legislature that would ban the sale of children’s products and household furniture containing toxic flame retardants. Legislators need to hear from you. Take action now and let your state legislators know that you want Massachusetts to join the other states that have already banned toxic flame retardants and have taken initiative to protect our most vulnerable.Read more...
It was an unseasonably warm November day when I sat down in my political ecology class at Northeastern University. My professor, Danny Faber, an environmental justice champion in the Boston area, was showing us a film called “Toxic Hot Seat.” The topic seemed mundane: flame-retardants. But after sitting through the compelling and borderline shocking documentary, I was outraged. I had just watched a step-by-step breakdown about how flame-retardants, chemicals that are supposed to protect us from essentially bursting into flames, were nothing more than a tool in an industry ploy buried in a maze of misinformation. I am living in buildings and on furniture that are covered in toxic chemicals, and I didn’t even know about it. In addition, flame-retardants are being found all over the earth and are even accumulating in breast milk. I learned that firefighters are dying at incredibly high rates due to cancer and other diseases. Yet, similar to most situations like this, big industry was winning. They were denying the science, and putting profits over people’s health. The difference in this case was there was an actual tangible opportunity to make a difference.Read more...
At City Council hearing, Boston considers updating its Fire Prevention Code to better protect health and safety.
BOSTON, Mass. (November 5, 2015)—During a hearing held by the Boston City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, health care leaders, firefighters, moms, scientists, students, advocates, and others called on the City of Boston to update its fire code to allow schools, hospitals, libraries, and other institutions to furnish their buildings with flame retardant-free furniture when automatic fire sprinklers are present.
The flammability standard required for upholstered furniture in public spaces by the Boston Fire Prevention Code can only be met by adding large amounts of flame retardant chemicals to the furniture. Commonly used flame retardants can pose a threat to human health and the environment. Flame retardants can cause cancer, disrupt thyroid hormones, and affect brain development, including lower IQ and problems with motor skills and attention.Read more...
Just hours before a nationwide Mind-the-Store Campaign Day of Action on October 21 2015 was to call attention to the Macys’ sale of furniture containing toxic flame retardant chemicals, the retailer announced it would end the practice.
Macy’s responded to Mind the Store yesterday, saying in part, “We expect that our suppliers (the manufacturers of furniture sold at Macy’s) are no longer using the chemicals in question, and we believe a majority are already in compliance… We will be instructing any remaining suppliers who are using these chemicals to cease doing so…If we do identify a vendor that is still applying the old flame retardants, we will be requiring them to cease doing so immediately.”
The national Mind the Store campaign, a project of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, focuses on challenging major U.S. retailers to adopt policies to identify, restrict, and safely substitute the Hazardous 100+ chemicals in common consumer products. Mind the Store been working tirelessly to get the large retailer to stop selling furniture with toxic flame retardants and this victory was a direct result!Read more...
Toxic Hot Seat, an HBO documentary released in 2013, brings to light the deadly consequences of well-intentioned fire safety regulations. The film follows a courageous group of firefighters and mothers, journalists and scientists, politicians and activists as they fight to expose the chemical industry’s role in backing flammability standards that require toxic flame retardant use in our homes.
Please join the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow for a screening of this powerful film:
When: Sunday, October 18th, 2015 - Film starts at 6:30
Where: Amherst College, Stirn Auditorium, 41 Quadrangle Drive Amherst, MA 01002 (Directions)
RSVP: Sara Moffett - email - 413-584-9830 x1
What: Film screening followed by panel discussion. Light refreshments will be served.
The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is pleased to announce the release of a new book Chemicals without Harm: Policies for a Sustainable World authored by Massachusetts' own Ken Geiser.
Please join us for a reception to launch this important new book:
Thursday, September 17, 2015
4:00 pm-6:00 pm
Conservation Law Foundation
62 Summer Street, Boston, MA
Thousands of synthetic chemicals are used to make our clothing, cosmetics, household products and electronic devices. However, many of these chemicals are hazardous and potentially dangerous to our health and the environment. For fifty years, the conventional approach to hazardous chemicals has focused on regulation, barriers, and control. Today, there is a growing international interest in going beyond a singular focus on toxic and hazardous chemicals and developing broader policies for managing all chemicals.Read more...
The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and partners at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are launching a new research project to find out what youth leaders (age 14-24) think about cosmetics and personal care products. How many products do you typically use each day? What are some of your favorite products? What do you know about and do you have any concerns about the safety of these products or product ingredients?
We’d really like to hear from you because we want to be responsive to your voice and your perspective. Ultimately, we’d like to make sure that the campaign we run includes youth leadership and focuses on the issues that concern young adults as a unique population that needs more representation on issues like this one.
For Immediate Release: Thursday June 18, 2015
(Boston, MA) At a public hearing before the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security today, Massachusetts firefighters, citizens, scientists, health professionals, workers, and educators seeking preventive action on toxic hazards called for swift passage of a bill that would help to protect firefighters and children from toxic flame retardants. The legislation, H. 2119, The Children and Firefighters Protection Act would ban the use of hazardous flame retardants in children’s products and upholstered furniture.
“Fire fighters have cancer rates three times higher than the general public,” said Edward Kelly, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts (pictured testifying at right). “When we enter a home fire we breathe in gasses and toxins from flame retardants that put us at a higher risk. We're calling on the legislature for swift passage of this bill as it will no doubt save lives.
An Act Requiring Disclosure of Solvents used in Dry Cleaning
Sponsor: Representative Frank Smizik
Assigned to the Joint Committee on Public Health
Over 80% of U.S. dry cleaners use the cleaning agent perchloroethylene, or perc. Perc has been linked to cancer, nervous system problems, liver and kidney damage, immune system problems, and other negative health impacts. Unfortunately, many of the alternatives to perc that are currently in use, including some that are marketed as “green” or “eco-friendly”, have also been linked to health and environmental damage. Some garment cleaning businesses in Massachusetts have shifted to the safest method of cleaning called professional wet cleaning. Wet cleaning is a water-based process that uses biodegradable solvents and has no known negative environmental or health effects. This bill will help customers to consider health and safety concerns in their choice of garment cleaner.
Massachusetts legislation to protect children's and firefighters' health from toxic flame retardants
Sponsored by: Senator Cynthia Stone Creem
Assigned to the Joint Committee on Public Health
Sponsored by: Representative Marjorie Decker
Assigned to the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security
*Update: The Flame Retardant Bill S.1132 and Bill H. 2119 were both favorably reported out of the Public Health Committee.
Toxic flame retardants are added to highchairs, car seats, nursing pads, furniture, carpet pads, electronic equipment (including toys), and many more common household products. These chemicals do not stay in products; they get out into the dust in our homes and the air that we breathe, and ultimately into our bodies. Firefighters are exposed to flame retardants when they go into burning buildings. Worse, these flame retardants—which are linked to cancer, nervous system damage, decreased fertility, and other health problems—are ineffective at stopping fires. Because children are still developing, they are much more vulnerable to the health risks associated with flame retardants. Their tendency to touch their faces and mouths add to the danger and put them at even greater risk.
An Act to Require Environmentally Safe Alternatives to Harmful Cleaning Products
Sponsored by: Representative Frank Smizik
Assigned to the Joint Committee on Public Health
Toxic cleaning chemicals threaten the health of the workers who use them and the children and adults who live, work or study in the buildings where they are used. Scientific studies have found that cleaning chemicals have been linked to asthma, certain types of cancers, reproductive problems, stillbirths, and birth defects. Safer cleaning products are already in use in many public buildings and schools, demonstrating that they are effective, available, and feasible. The use of safer cleaning products can be good for the economy. Businesses and institutions using safer products can save on health care costs for workers and Massachusetts businesses that make safer cleaning products can grow their customer base.
Toxic Hot Seat Film Screenings this April
Downtown and Cape Cod screenings
Toxic Hot Seat is a powerful new film on the toxic dangers in our homes. It is an HBO documentary that brings to light the deadly consequences of well-intentioned safety regulations. The film follows a courageous group of firefighters and mothers, journalists and scientists, politicians and activists as they fight to expose the chemical industry’s role in backing flammability standards that require toxic flame retardant use in our homes.
Join us for two showings this April!
April 9th - Suffolk University
April 21st - The Barnstable Senior CenterRead more...
Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow Calls On Other Major Retailers and Massachusetts to Follow Suit
Boston, MA – Several of the nation’s largest retailers confirmed late last week that they are phasing out furniture with toxic flame retardants chemicals, which have been linked to cancer and learning and developmental disabilities in children. However the pace of the phase-outs and disclosure of the contents of the furniture remains a muddle according to public health advocates in Massachusetts, and they are urging the nation’s biggest furniture retailers to provide better disclosure.Read more...
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...
Safer Cleaning Products Bill: An Act to Require Environmentally Safe Alternatives to Harmful Cleaning Products
The Bill: Toxic cleaning chemicals threaten the health of the workers who use them and the children and adults who live, work or study in the buildings where they are used. Cleaning chemicals have been linked to asthma, certain types of cancers, reproductive problems, stillbirths, and birth defects.
The Safer Cleaning Products bill would reduce asthma and other health threats by requiring that only cleaning products approved by the Department of Public Health be used in schools, day care centers, public buildings, or common areas of public housing in Massachusetts.
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...
An Act for Healthy Families and Businesses (previously the Safer Alternatives Bill)
H.235 / S.354
The Bill: The Healthy Families and Businesses Act (Safer Alternatives Bill) will establish a pragmatic, gradual approach to reducing health impacts from many toxic chemicals we are exposed to in everyday life. This approach targets the worst toxic chemicals in Massachusetts—chemicals that are currently replaceable with safer alternatives for many uses. The bill mandates a careful process to evaluate alternatives and replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives where feasible. It also stimulates research and development on new technologies and solutions when a safer option is not currently workable.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...
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.