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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“Remove the Handle” – Calling on the CPSC to Turn Off the Toxic Pump

Kim Harley, PhD, is an environmental epidemiologist at the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health, University of California, Berkeley. Through her research, she tracks the sources and causes of disease. She studies how often diseases occur in different groups of people and why, then applies this knowledge to the prevention of further harm, especially to pregnant women and children.…

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Backfire: Unintended Consequences of Flame Retardants

Combustion scientist, Donald Lucas, started his career doing research at temperatures near absolute zero (−430°F) before working in combustion, where temperatures can exceed 4,500°F. As he says, you can get “burned” by both the very cold and the very hot.

Dr. Lucas received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from UC Berkeley, and is a retired scientist in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His principal areas of research are combustion generated air pollutants, experimental chemical kinetics, and combustion chemistry. I’ll resist the urge to call him “The Boy Who Played with Fire.”…

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The Nature of the Beast

Miriam Diamond is a professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Toronto, and holds a PhD. in Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry. At her lab, researchers study environmental chemicals, particularly semi-volatile organic compounds, or SVOCs. They ask:

• What are the sources of these chemicals?
• What are their pathways?
• How are humans and ecosystems exposed?…

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The Proof is in the Sewage: Can Harmful Chemicals Move from Sofas to the Environment and Our Bodies?

Rolf Halden is a professor at Arizona State University, adjunct faculty at John Hopkins, and an expert on the environmental impacts of industrial chemicals.

According to Dr. Halden, chemicals in the same family are similar in composition and structure, and thus also have similar adverse effects. Because of this, he strongly believes that hazardous chemicals should be regulated as classes, rather than continuing the common practice of replacing toxic chemicals with other chemicals in the same class.…

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Introducing Our Blog Series “Scientist Spotlight: The Scientists Behind our Consumer Products Petition”

Imagine you are reclining on your couch and turning on a horror movie. Did you know that the flame retardants in your couch may be scarier than the monster on the screen? The dangers of these chemicals led a coalition of medical, firefighter, consumer, and science groups to submit a petition to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) asking for a ban on four categories of household products that contain any halogenated flame retardants. The petition targets children’s products, mattresses,…

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HBCD is on the way out – but use of questionable alternatives will persist

This week, the United States celebrates Thanksgiving. But internationally, countries that have signed the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants have a different reason to give thanks: the amendment adding HBCD (hexabromocyclododecane) to Annex A (Elimination) takes effect today. Under Annex A of the Convention, countries have up to five years to eliminate uses of HBCD in plastic foam building insulation, and any insulation materials containing HBCD during that phase-out period will need to be labeled. HBCD is a persistent,…

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