Toxic Chemicals All Around Us: The Fight for Real Reform

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Toxic chemicals can be found in ALL of our homes – in things like our couches, on our clothes, and in food and personal care products like shampoo. These chemicals make their way into our bodies and have long term health impacts (cancer, infertility, learning disabilities in children, etc).

Right now there is a bill in Congress which would takes us backwards in our federal regulation of toxic chemicals. It is called the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA). CICA includes sweeping state preemption language which would overturn some of our important legislative progress in Ohio. The bill is unanimously opposed by the environmental and public health community.

In Ohio, we have the opportunity to be an important player as we have two US Representatives, Congressman Bill Johnson and Congressman Bob Latta on the subcommittee that will be voting on this bill.

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Toxic Chemicals All Around Us: The Fight for Real Reform

  1. 1. Toxic Chemicals in Our Homes and All Around Us: The Fight for Real Reform June 19, 2014 Thank you for joining us. We will begin in a moment. Please check your speakers/phone connection. If you experience any problems, please let us know by typing in the chat box. Follow the OEC on Twitter: @OhioEnviro. The hashtag for this webinar is #OECwebinar
  2. 2. Andy Igrejas National Campaign Director Toxic Chemicals in Our Homes and All Around Us: The Fight for Real Reform Melanie Houston Director of Water Policy & Environmental Health
  3. 3. Ohio Environmental Council The OEC is the Ohio’s most comprehensive, effective and respected environmental advocate for a healthier, more sustainable Ohio. Our experts work daily to restore, protect, and strengthen the quality of life for families and communities—from the air we breathe and the water we drink to the food we eat and natural resources we enjoy. Please join us! OEC members:  Receive great benefits  Become part of the community working to restore, protect, and strengthen the quality of life for families and communities in Ohio. Become a member today at www.theOEC.org.
  4. 4. Problem: Unregulated toxic chemicals Chemicals are found all around us: couches, carpet, baby gear, canned food… Growing evidence pointing to health problems associated with chemicals  Childhood cancer  Early puberty  Infertility  Learning and developmental disabilities
  5. 5. Overview of Today’s Webinar Three common toxic chemicals  Use  Where they are found  Associated health problems  Ways to reduce exposure Current state of federal regulation on toxic chemicals Legislative updates on bills in US House and Senate What you can do to get involved
  6. 6. What is Bisphenol-A (BPA)? Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical Present in many hard plastic bottles and metal- based food and beverage cans (FDA.gov) Primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/) Found in: • water bottles • canned food • infant feeding bottles • medical devices
  7. 7. Health Problems & Bisphenol-A (BPA) Bisphenol A (BPA) use is widespread Can leach into food and water Primary source of exposure to BPA is through diet CDC found: • “Detectable levels of BPA in 93% of Americans 6 years and older” National Toxicology Program has reported: • “some concern” for BPAs effect on brain, behavior, prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children
  8. 8. Ways to Reduce your Exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA) Avoid plastic containers with #7 Avoid microwaving plastic containers Avoid placing plastic containers in dishwasher Eat fresh or frozen food Opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel Look for baby bottles and toys that are labeled “BPA free”
  9. 9. What is Formaldehyde? A colorless, strong-smelling gas (cdc.gov) Purposes: •used to add permanent-press qualities to clothing and draperies • as a component of glues and adhesives •as a preservative (epa.gov) Found in • Household products • Pressed-wood • Cigarette smoke • Clothing & textiles • Foods and personal care products • Even baby products
  10. 10. Health Problems & Formaldehyde Irritation of eyes, nose, throat and skin Allergic contact dermatitis – rashes, blisters, and flaky dry skin More acute exposures can be severe: pulmonary inflammation or death “Probable carcinogen” – US EPA (research demonstrated cancer in animal studies)
  11. 11. Ways to Reduce your exposure to Formaldehyde Avoiding smoking or using unvented heaters indoors Removing formaldehyde sources from your home Sealing unfinished ply board and ventilating if engaging in woodworking Avoiding or washing new “wrinkle free” clothing Limiting/reducing number or personal care products that you use
  12. 12. What are Chemical Flame Retardants? Marketed to public as mechanism of fire protection Use began with CA’s flammability standard: TB 117 Found in: • Furniture • Baby mattresses & products • Car interiors • Electronic devices • Hospital setting • Food (meat & dairy)
  13. 13. Health Problems & Chemical Flame Retardants Americans carry high levels of these chemicals in their bodies Found in blood, breast milk & umbilical cord blood Associated with smaller babies, lower IQs, attention problems, cancer, male infertility, early puberty, obesity etc.
  14. 14. Ways to reduce your exposure to Chemical Flame Retardants Avoid purchase of furniture and products treated with flame retardants Safer products made from wool, polyester, cotton or down filled Washing hands frequently Vacuuming with HEPA vacuum Discard damaged foam products
  15. 15. Failings of Toxic Substances Control Act • Outdated – no change or reform in law since 1976 • Ineffective at the start  62,000 chemicals “grandfathered in” under the law  Testing on only approx. 200 chemicals  Only 5 chemicals have been restricted for some use
  16. 16. Time for Meaningful TSCA Reform  GAO Report  EPA cannot require companies to provide info on toxicity and exposure of chemicals  Court reversal of 1989 asbestos rule  EPA has not been able to challenge companies confidentiality claims
  17. 17. What you Can Do  Contact Senators Brown & Portman – oppose Chemical Safety Improvement Act as drafted  Contact Your US Congressperson (Bill Johnson and Bob Latta are key players) – oppose the Chemicals in Commerce Act  Get involved with the OEC and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families on this issue  www.theOEC.org  www.SaferChemicals.org
  18. 18. Chemical Safety Improvement Act  Senate bill- sponsored by Sen. Vitter (R-LA) and the later Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ)  Sen. Udall (D-NM) now the lead Democrat  25 bi-partisan co-sponsors in Senate (not Portman or Brown).  Opposed by Senator Boxer (D-CA), the Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
  19. 19. Chemicals in Commerce Act  “Discussion Draft” circulated in February by John Shimkus (R-IL), Chair of Environment and Economy Subcommittee.  Revised in April in response to criticism.  Multiple “oversight” hearings on TSCA in 2013, and two “legislative” hearings on discussion draft in 2014.  Democratic proposals for changes rejected.  Reps. Latta and Johnson on subcommittee.
  20. 20. Problems with Both Bills  Both retain legal barriers from current TSCA that prevented action on asbestos.  Neither explicitly requires that pregnant women and children are protected from all known exposures.  Both allow chemicals to be set aside without a full safety review.  Both have sweeping pre-emption (nullification) of state chemicals rules.

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