February 2019: A New Canary in the Coal Mine?

The last month has seen much activity around the chemical classes of flame retardants and highly fluorinated chemicals or PFAS. At our February 15 Flame Retardant Dilemma and Beyond Symposium at UC Berkeley, we were inspired by speakers such as Robert Bilott, the lawyer who successfully represents communities with PFAS-contaminated drinking water, and Pam Miller who helps Arctic peoples who have some of the world’s highest levels of these toxics in their bodies.…

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A Huge Success for Healthier Buildings

On January 16, the California Building Standards Commission voted unanimously to update the state’s building codes to allow below-grade use of foam plastic building insulation without flame retardants. Building insulation–where there is no fire safety benefit–is one of the largest uses of toxic flame retardants.…

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Bigger Not Always Better for Toxic Chemicals: Study finds “Green” Flame Retardant Breaks Down into Possibly Harmful Products

January 9, 2019

It’s not easy being green. Kermit the Frog probably didn’t have chemistry in mind when he sang that line, but according to researchers from Germany, the phrase rings true for a purportedly “green” flame retardant. Many everyday products contain flame retardant chemicals which are often found to be toxic to humans and ecosystems. A new peer-reviewed study published today in Environmental Science & Technology, found that heat and ultraviolet light can break down a flame retardant marketed as eco-friendly into smaller, potentially harmful chemicals.…

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Contaminated Groundwater, a Toxic Legacy of Georgia’s Air Bases

January 3, 2019

For decades, the United States Air Force used a toxic firefighting foam that contaminated water near bases and exposed communities to chemicals linked to cancer and a variety of other health problems.
Commercial airports are currently required to follow standards outlined in military specifications, which call for fluorinated foams to be used.

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