One example is our new research project studying young children’s exposures to PFAS from pre-school carpeting. Can you help us find pre-schools or early childhood education centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond to join our study? If you have children in a pre-school or know school personnel who would be interested in participating, please do let me know and/or contact Alexa Reynoso at [email protected].
PFAS are harmful “forever chemicals” that never break down in the environment. They can migrate from products such as carpets to dust and air from which people-especially infants and toddlers-can be exposed.
According to the US EPA, “hand-to-mouth transfer from surfaces treated with stain protectors, such as carpets, is thought to be the most significant source of exposure for infants and toddlers.”
We are collecting carpet and rug samples, dust, and air from San Francisco Bay Area pre-schools. After testing for PFAS, we will model children’s exposure. We plan to publish our findings in a peer-reviewed journal and then share our conclusions with pre-schools and parents. Our research should encourage the purchase of carpeting and rugs without PFAS, thereby reducing children’s exposure. It should also motivate companies to manufacture more lines of carpets without PFAS and support our overarching goal of limiting PFAS in consumer products to essential uses.
Thanks in advance for your possible connections to pre-schools.uses.
And some very good news: Lowe’s announced that by the end of the year they are globally phasing out the deadly solvents methylene chloride and NMP used as paint strippers. This is a huge victory for public health, with many thanks to the Mind the Store campaign.
Arlene and the Green Science Policy Team
States stepping up to look for PFAS in drinking water
Unfortunately, the EPA is no longer gathering national data on PFAS in drinking water. Because PFAS are not regulated contaminants under the Safe Drinking Water Act, water utilities are not required to monitor for them. The EPA did announce last week that it will begin a process to determine the need for enforceable drinking water regulations for PFOA and PFOS, which would require national monitoring. However, this process could take years, and PFOA and PFOS are only two of thousands of PFAS chemicals.
Does your coffee stirrer need to be flame retarded?
A recent study from the University of Plymouth in England measured brominated flame retardants in 1000 consumer products. Flame retardant chemicals were found in nearly half, and half of those were at concentrations much lower than would be used to provide flame retardancy. These chemicals most likely came from recycled plastic containing flame retardants. Bromine was found in a worrying 12% of food-contact items, including water bottles, cutlery, thermos cup lids, a coffee stirrer, and also in lunch boxes. Jewelry, Christmas decorations, a child’s puzzle, a picture frame, and clothes hangers made of plastic also contained bromine.
Chemicals Creeping Out of Your Cabinets?
PCB contamination has been a major public health concern in communities across the globe since the 1930s. One of the most contaminated communities in the United States is Anniston, Alabama where, in the 1960s, a Monsanto factory dumped vast quantities of PCBs into open pits, local creeks and ecosystems. As a result, residents of Anniston have experienced a sharp increase in rates of cancer, diabetes, developmental defects, and other illnesses. The recent Iowa study is a good reminder that, even if PCBs are no longer manufactured as their own product, they still may be inadvertently present in consumer products and in our environment.
And sadly, PCBs are very similar in structure and health harm to PBDE flame retardants which may also continue to exert their toxic impacts for decades to come. When will we ever learn?
Unfortunately, chemical manufacturers replaced harmful PBDE chemicals with organophosphate Tris flame retardants such as TCEP, TDCP, and TCPP, which have similar health effects-a classic regrettable substitution.
Two of these chemicals, TCEP and TDCP, are no longer in use in the US, but TCPP is still one of the most common flame retardants found in products and in people around the world.
Recently, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) recommended an EU-wide restriction on all three Tris flame retardants (TCPP, TCEP, and TDCP) in foams used in children’s products and upholstered furniture. One reason was their finding that baby mattresses containing these organophosphates posed the highest cancer risk to infants. Although TCPP lacks the health data that is found for TCEP and TDCP, ECHA concluded it was necessary to group these chemicals, citing similarities in their uses, chemical structures, and toxic effects. This is an excellent example of the class concept in action.
Welcome to Arianne Lakra, our new Administrative Specialist
Green Science Policy Institute welcomes Arianne Lakra as our new Administrative Specialist. She will be supporting our team by coordinating meetings, projects, events, and other administrative operations. Arianne graduated last year from Reed College in Oregon, with a degree in Philosophy, and then went on to work as a staff assistant for Senator Jeff Merkley. As someone with a longstanding interest in environmental policy, she is looking forward to using her skills to help promote policies that will lead to a healthier planet. We’re delighted to have her join our team!
And we want to thank our current Administrative Specialist Raphael Tingley for his excellent work and for always being so thoughtful and calm. We wish him the best as he heads off to Indiana University Bloomington to obtain a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs.