June 2nd, 2011
By: Mary West
Are efforts to protect babies from fire exposing them to chemicals that could harm their health? A study published in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal, examined flame retardant chemicals found in dozens of baby products containing polyurethane foam: such as car seats, nursing pillows and changing pads. The findings showed that 80% of the products tested contained toxic chemicals: Bangor Daily News reports.
Researchers analyzed flame retardants from 102 samples, representing a broad spectrum of baby products from various locations around the country. The lead researcher, Dr. Heather Stapleton of Duke University, was surprised and concerned at the findings.
Four of the tested products contained a chemical PENTA, a neurotoxin banned in 12 U.S. states and 172 countries. Twenty-nine had chlorinated tris, a possible carcinogen which was banned from children’s pajamas due to health concerns in the 1970s. Animal studies have linked this chemical with cancers of the liver, kidney and brain. Sixteen products contained flame retardants. The Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concerns regarding the toxicity of these substances.
Part of the problem is that flame retardant chemicals are emitted from the polyurethane foam into the air. This means that a baby lying on a foam pad will be exposed through the skin, as well as through the act of breathing.
Concern over the findings is being expressed not only from the study’s authors, but from other quarters as well. Arlene Blum, Ph.D., a coauthor of the study, states that these chemicals are related to lower IQ, endocrine and thyroid disorders, and child development impairments. Dr. Linda Birnbaum, head of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, refers to the study as a wake up call. She explains that in addition to the cancer issue, the chemicals can also cause reproductive and neurological effects.
Some members of the business and industry community affected by the study have issued a response. One baby product manufacturer states that they use the chemicals to meet federal and state imposed flammability requirements. Chemical manufactures say the flame retardants are needed for fire safety benefits. This industry contends the study does not prove harm to babies because it fails to address exposure or risk.
Dr. Birnbaum concurs the investigation does not prove harm. She feels, however, that the focal issue should be to question why these chemicals are needed in baby products at all.
In the process of weighing fire safety against chemical exposure, Dr. Stapleton considers chemicals as the greater risk. According to Consumer Reports, Stapleton hopes that politicians and regulatory agencies will consider using alternative fillings or fabrics to provide fire resistant products without relying on these chemicals.
Today, Kevin exposes the politics behind winning an Academy Award and what it takes to be successful in Hollywood.
Ferrari Developing Mind Reading Car
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February 28th, 2011
The New York Times
By: Julie Scelfo
For about a decade, scientists have known that most Americans have minute quantities of flame retardants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers, PBDEs, in their bodies, but they were not sure how they got there.
Now a study has found what the authors say is the first documented case of serious PBDE contamination of food in the United States. The authors of the study, in the February issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, bought packages of 10 brands of butter at grocery stores in Dallas and shipped frozen samples to a laboratory in Germany. Sophisticated tests there found trace amounts of PBDEs in each sample, with one having 2,000 times more than the others.
“It’s very startling,” said Dr. Arnold Schecter, professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at the University of Texas School of Public Health at Dallas and an adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency. “It was so much higher than we had ever seen before, and this just stood out like a sore thumb.”
After further testing, the researchers, who include the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, concluded the butter with the highest level of PBDEs was probably contaminated by chemicals in its wrapper.
The Environmental Protection Agency says PBDEs, which are widely used in furniture foam, consumer electronics and small appliances, accumulate in the body and may damage the liver and thyroid and cause neurodevelopmental problems. But Dr. Schecter and other scientists are quick to insist the findings should not cause anyone to stop eating butter. (According to two scientists who were not involved with the study, the average adult would have to consume more than 28 pounds of the highly contaminated butter each day before the quantity would reach levels the Environmental Protection Agency considers risky.)
The research is further evidence of why the Food and Drug Administration “should do a better job of studying how food is contaminated with PBDEs and other chemical pollutants,” Dr. Schecter said. “Just as lead and dioxins and PCBs have been lowered in the environment and in food, government action can reduce the amount of PBDEs in the environment.”
While the recently passed Food Safety Modernization Act gives the agency greater authority over the nation’s food supply, Douglas Karas, an F.D.A. spokesman, said there were no plans to require manufacturers to test specifically for PBDEs.
February 12, 2010
By Organic Consumer Association
Fifteen years ago, CMD’s book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You! first exposed the hidden government and industry PR campaign greenwashing toxic sewage sludge as “biosolids,” an invented PR euphemism used to cynically re-brand toxic waste as “fertilizer” given free to farmers. Today, unfortunately, the biosolids scam is bigger than ever. The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) reports that “San Francisco has come up with an ingenious plot to trick city residents into taking their toxic sewage sludge back and disposing of it in their own gardens. San Francisco is having Synagro, the corporate giant of the toxic sludge industry, ‘compost’ some of the toxic sewage sludge. Then they give it away to San Francisco’s gardeners telling us it’s ‘high-quality, nutrient-rich, organic Biosolids Compost.’ ” OCA has launched a grassroots campaign calling on San Francisco’s mayor to stop the practice, noting “municipal sewage sludge routinely contains thousands of dangerous pathogens, toxic heavy metals, flame retardants, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, pharmaceutical drugs and other hazardous chemicals coming from residential drains, storm water runoff, hospitals, and industrial plants.”