Science & Policy Blog

Textbook of Children’s Environmental Health brings issue into clear focus

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Children’s environmental health is my passion and the reason I work at the Green Science Policy Institute. Much of the Institute’s work is aimed at protecting children from exposure to harmful flame retardants and other toxic chemicals, and I am grateful to be a part of this effort. Although I am unsure if I will ever have my own children, I believe that all people have the right to undisrupted development and the environmental means to a high level of…

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A broken fluorescent bulb? What now?

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Energy analyst John Rogers of the Union of Concerned Scientists put it best, “don’t panic” but do clean it up safely. When a fluorescent bulb, or CFL, breaks, a small amount of mercury is released as mercury vapor. To minimize exposure to mercury vapor follow the steps outlined below. Should I just stick with incandescent bulbs? The answer is NO. CFLs and LEDs are preferable to incandescents. The EPA states that despite small emissions from broken or improperly disposed of…

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Walmart tackles its “top ten”

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In September 2013, Walmart announced a plan to phase out ten hazardous chemicals found in many of the products it sells. Now, Walmart has notified its suppliers they will have to move toward safer formulations for household cleaning, personal care, beauty and cosmetic products. This follows recent news that manufacturing giants like Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble, and retail powerhouses like Target have announced similar initiatives. Arlene Blum, Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute and a…

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Industry funded website obscures flame retardant issues

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As recent changes in regulations and increased media coverage bring deserved attention to the issue of flame retardant chemicals in consumer products, the chemical industry has gone on the defensive. The American Chemistry Council (ACC), a trade organization representing Chemtura, Abermarle, and ICL (the three major producers of flame retardants), has responded by hosting a creatively misleading website called flameretardantfacts.com. Front and center on this industry-funded site is the assertion that “Consumers don’t have to choose between chemical safety and…

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Why can’t I buy flame retardant-free furniture in California yet?

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Perhaps you, too, were waiting for that clock to strike midnight on January 1, 2014 to buy a new sofa. In that one second, a regulation that led to the use of toxic flame retardants in furniture and baby products for 38 years finally changed. And perhaps, full of excitement, you rushed to the store that very day, looking forward to buying a flame retardant-free couch or chair. Unfortunately, things have proved to be a bit more complicated. Under the…

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Getting the most out of our redesigned website

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One month ago, Green Science Policy Institute launched our redesigned website for 2014. We reimagined the structure and layout from the ground up to help us achieve our mission of getting important information to the consumers, retailers, manufacturers and decision-makers who need it most. The redesign begins with the homepage. A regularly updated visual grid highlights our most active topics and exhibits “featured” items such as major new findings, policy decisions, or upcoming events.  From there, our updated About Us…

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A new year, with promising new regulations

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2013 was a productive year for fire safety and for environmental health! Two important regulatory changes that take effect this year have the power to reduce the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals in consumer products while continuing a high standard of fire safety. First, California’s Technical Bulletin 117 (TB117) received a much-needed update in 2013 and is now in effect across the state. Second, California Assembly Bill 127 (AB127) generated a discussion of the validity of building insulation flammability…

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The greatest danger to gymnasts may lie in their safety pits

When I think of the health problems that a gymnast may suffer from I imagine things like a broken arm or a sprained ankle. However, a new study has shown that gymnasts may be exposed to high levels of harmful flame retardant chemicals from the foam used in the safety pits and other equipment in their gym. It is more than a little ironic that the very measures undertaken to protect a gymnast’s health may ultimately lead to long-term health…

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