Science & Policy Blog

Aerial fire retardants: It’s raining red

A wet winter followed by record heat this summer have contributed to one of California’s worst-ever fire seasons. In the month of October alone, thousands of structures have been destroyed in fires in Northern California as more than ten separate wildfires have burned across the state. Firefighters have literally worked around the clock; and over the course of just five days, more than two million gallons of fire retardant were dropped in California in an effort to control the blazes.…

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The Obesity Epidemic: What’s To Blame?

About one in three adults is obese in the United States. Another one in three adults is overweight. Altogether, almost 228 million Americans are struggling with their weight. Although many factors contribute to the obesity epidemic, one recent discovery stands out: environmental toxics.…

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Horrors of the Deep: Our Toxic Legacy Still Haunts Us

Lulu was found on the rocky shores of Scotland tangled in fishing line. An autopsy revealed high levels of human-made toxics called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were banned almost two decades before Lulu was born. Yet, they seeped out of landfills, contaminated the choppy seas, and collected in her fatty tissue…

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Thank you Dr. Needleman

With over 80,000 chemicals on the market, we live in an increasingly synthetic chemical world. So it’s easy to forget the handful of toxic naturally occurring chemicals; particularly elemental chemicals like lead. Nestled into the earth’s crust, sequestered away as life took shape, and eventually discovered by ever-innovative humans.…

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A Day in the Life at GSP: Veronica Chin

As Program Associate, Veronica Chin leads GSP’s role in the Foam Furniture Replacement Study. The “Dust Study,” as we call it, replaces old furniture containing flame retardants with new furniture without those chemicals for low-income families in the Bay Area. In collaboration with UC Davis and Biomonitoring California, we are testing the old furniture for chemical content, and measuring levels of flame retardants in house dust over time.…

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Forty years later TSCA gets an overhaul

In June, President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (TSCA reform, hereafter), a revision to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, or TSCA. The amended law removes several roadblocks that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) faced when trying to determine the safety of chemicals in household products. There are significant improvements and some drawbacks concerning the revisions…

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Monitoring chemicals in our environment with wristbands

Whether to show support for a cause or track daily activity, wristbands and tracking bracelets have become a trendy modern accessory. Silicone strips can also be useful chemical monitoring devices. They have long chainlike structures that create channels similar in size to the pores in human cell membranes…

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A Perfect Storm

The phrase “a perfect storm” has gone from wildly popular to wildly unpopular. Detractors say it should be banned due to overuse. But it’s not banned yet. A perfect storm is “a critical or disastrous situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors.” It’s just the “right” factors leading to just the wrong outcome. High rates of exposure to organohalogen flame retardants can be seen as a perfect storm that’s hitting all of us, but especially children.…

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