Keep our water safe from toxic fracking chemicals

Keep our water safe from toxic fracking chemicals

Stop the rush to frack in New York without review of the health impacts!

Demand Toxic-Free Baby Products!

Demand Toxic-Free Baby Products!

Tell Target's CEO: Get Flame Retardant Chemicals Out of Baby Nap Mats!

Tell Congress: Pass the Safe Chemicals Act!

Tell Congress: Pass the Safe Chemicals Act!

Urge your Senators to support safer chemicals

Stop Organic Greenwashing!

Stop Organic Greenwashing!

Tell Hain CEO: Stop Mislabeling Personal Care Products

Our Kitchenware, Ourselves

Our Kitchenware, Ourselves

Keep your kitchen and food safer from toxic chemicals

Toxic Chemicals Come Alive at The Toxies!


What if the nastiest chemicals found in your cleaning products, makeup, and even pesticide-laden foods came to life?  Well, they do, in this year’s 4th Annual Toxies web series. Not only do the most loathsome chemicals that wreak the most havoc come alive as wacky characters before your eyes, a journalist is there to find out more about them and give you the details! The Toxies: Exposed is a satirical 7-part web series that follows a daring investigative journalist as he chases down toxic chemicals and pollutants, raising awareness about toxins in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities.

Failed chemical policies are leading to unwanted chemicals in our bodies, and every week, studies link chemicals in our environment to rising rates of disease. That’s why the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) is promoting a fun and informative campaign to protect communities from toxic chemicals and pollutants. We are a part of Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE)—a coalition of environmental health, policy, labor, environmental justice, interfaith, and other organizations who are working to create a better system for regulating toxic chemicals in California. more »

Truth to Power on Chemical Safety: Update

Yesterday was a big day in chemical safety law reform. A Senate Committee held the first hearing on the Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA). For the first time in years, Congress is seriously discussing a proposal to reform our country’s outdated chemical safety rules.

The hearing was well attended by Senators and staffers from across the country. The Senators heard from CEH loud and clear: Eastern States Director Ansje Miller and Board Member Cecil Corbin-Mark were called to testify as experts on the bill’s effects on the health of children, pregnant women, low-income communities of color, and other vulnerable groups.

At the end of her remarks (start at 04:59:00 to see testimony), Ansje warned the legislators, “If the current version of CSIA with its many deficiencies is adopted, Congress will be putting millions of American children and families at risk.” 

Committee members expressed support for amending the bill in ways expected to improve it dramatically. CEH will remain vigilant through this process to ensure that only a true chemical safety bill is adopted.

Public support will remain critical in this fight. Stay tuned for more– it’s going to be a wild ride, but CEH will be there to keep you informed and equipped to push for children’s health!

For those of you who missed it, here is a snapshot of CEH’s fight in the EPW hearing, as depicted through tweets!


The Secret Cost of Eating Cheap

Being a college student, I probably know best how draining a trip to the grocery store can be on the wallet. Between trying to buy organic and avoiding junk food, the cost of just two weeks’ worth of groceries can reach triple digits. Sometimes it’s tempting to fall back to the “college student diet” and just buy 12-packs of ramen in the interest of saving money. But eating cheap won’t save me from harmful chemical contaminants in many common foods.

 This is the lesson from a recent study by researchers at the University of California, summarized here, who found that many foods contain harmful chemical contaminants. The study, the first to the first to collectively look at exposures to multiple food contaminants in children, noted that the diets of preschoolers and school-age children contain a large number of these food contaminants, and that children are therefore at greater risk of exposure to levels of chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other health problems. more »

Help Minnesota Mom Get Pesticide Spray Out of Her City’s Parks!

Stop pesticide spray in city parks!

Stop pesticide spray in city parks!

In cities and towns across the country pesticide-free parks provide healthy and good-looking places for families, kids, and pets to play. There are almost 100 parks without pesticide spray in the Pacific Northwest and there are many more in other parts of the country.

You can help Andrea Stish, in Rochester, Minnesota, to get pesticide free parks started in Rochester. You don’t need to live in Rochester in order to sign her petition – she welcomes support from anyone because it will help her City Council see how important this issue is.

Why are pesticide-free parks healthier for all of us? Most importantly, pesticides are toxic chemicals that are designed to kill or harm living things. It’s not surprising that they cause problems for people and pets. Take glyphosate (often marketed as Roundup), for example. It’s one of the most commonly used pesticides in parks. Recent research shows that its use is so widespread that it’s probably in most of our bodies – in Europe a recent study found glyphosate in almost half of the people tested. Another recent study found that glyphosate causes breast cancer cells to grow. This from a pesticide that, according to its manufacturer, “holds an elite position among honored technologies.

Thanks for your support! Click here to help Andrea.

I Won the Cancer “Lottery” and How it Changed My Life

By CEH Intern Lawrence Tsai

How did you live your life during your early 20s?  What were your focuses?  Your significant other? School? Job? Figuring out ways to beat the beer chugging record at the local bar?  How about health?

Like many young adults, health was hardly a priority for me.  I almost routinely ate hotdogs for lunch, I stayed up until the morning hours, and the activity that came closest being an exercise involved clicking several hundred times a day on a computer mouse.  Health wasn’t a concern to me, meh, that was an issue for later on.

All that changed when I was diagnosed with Stage I Testicular cancer at age 23.  Initially I didn’t believe it –I thought, isn’t cancer for old people?  Sure, young people can get cancer, but that’s rare, nope, can’t be me!  A few hours after being told I “won” the cancer lottery, I came to realization and accepted the fact.  Being a nerdy guy, I searched the internet universe for answers as to why I contracted cancer, but it’s very likely I will never know the cause.

more »

A Master Class on Fracking (and earn CME credits)

pseYou have probably heard a lot over the past couple years about fracking and natural gas. Proponents of fracking say:

• The natural gas boom will make the US energy independent.

• Natural gas is the bridge fuel that will help us stop climate change and fracking helps us get there faster.

• Fracking is so safe and clean that you can drink the fracking fluids.

Health advocates, environmentalists and community groups reply:

• Fracking is dangerous and must be stopped.

• The methane releases from fracking are speeding up climate change.

• Fracking makes your water catch on fire.

• Ever since fracking started in my community, my daughter’s nose keeps bleeding and I have been having trouble breathing.

With all of these conflicting statements, how do you know what’s true? Now you can take a master class from expert geologists, toxicologists, and physicians to give you all the information you need to understand this hot topic and make your own decisions. As a bonus, if you are a physician, you can earn Continuing Medical Education credits through the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY).

The nonprofit Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) has gathered the nation’s leading experts from institutions including  Cornell and Stanford Universities to present the information about this issue in an easy to understand 7-part series that you can watch on YouTube. Divided into three modules, the series starts with an introductory course on geology and fracking and takes you all the way through to how it can affect human and animal health.

Once you have taken the course, tell all your friends, and then tell us. Then take action to keep New York safe from fracking.

Amy Brenneman, Actress and Mom, Takes on BPA Labeling

AmyBIs BPA (bisphenol A) just one more acronym in the alphabet soup of chemical names that we all hear about from time to time?

Well, yes it is. But it’s also one of the scarier parts of the alphabet soup. For starters, it’s one of the most widely used chemicals in the world – two billion pounds used every year in the U.S. And it has enough health and safety problems that parents forced companies to stop using it to make baby bottles and sippy cups.

But BPA is still used to make lots of things that all of us are likely to use. CEH has recently found big on-line retailers selling plastic wine glasses, plastic tumblers, plastic pitchers, and plastic 5-gallon water jugs made from plastic that contains BPA. BPA is also used to make linings for food cans, cash register receipts, electronics, DVDs, and flame retardants.

California recently proposed to identify BPA as a chemical known to cause developmental problems. Developmental problems are health problems in kids that result from exposure before birth – exposure moms receive during pregnancy. If it’s listed, products that can expose consumers to BPA would have to carry warning labels. But the state proposal doesn’t go far enough – scientists say that tiny amounts of BPA can harm us, so the state should lower the proposed threshold that would trigger labeling.

You can support this call for stronger BPA labeling, but we have just until 5pm tomorrow to take action! Join actress and mom Amy Brenneman in this petition calling for a stronger rule on BPA labeling!

more »

Dodgers, Angels May Contain High Levels of Flame Retardant Chemicals

April 1, 2013

Oakland, CA – According to a recent study, players on both Los Angeles Major League Baseball teams, the Dodgers and the Angels may contain high levels of toxic flame retardant chemicals usually found in furniture, including most couches in American homes.

“We fear for the health and safety of the LA ball club players, who spent the entire month of October sitting on their couches watching the San Francisco Giants,  the Oakland Athletics, and other teams in the playoffs,” said Matt Nevins, Research Assistant at CEH.  “As fans of the game, we want to nurture rivalries of fairness – not ones in which our competitors have reduced baseball IQ due to increased exposure to harmful chemicals.”

When approached for comment, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, “This is a problem that, fortunately, we have the monetary resources to buy ourselves out of. We intend to import high-end upholstery and make Dodger couches stuffed with dollar bills, which as we know contain no chemicals other than some green ink I think.”

A 1975 California flammability standard called Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117) has prompted decades of widespread use of flame retardant chemicals. But a recent analysis by the Office of the Commissioner has found that the state’s focus on chemical flame retardants does not protect people from fires and that non-chemical methods are better suited to achieve fire safety benefits.

“It presents an unfair playing field issue,” said Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, upon hearing news of the study.  “Teams without the resources to compete at the highest level are left to wallow on their killer couches throughout the month of October.  We urge the State of California to adopt the updated TB117-2013 standard, resulting in better fire safety without the use of harmful chemical flame retardants.”

The Houston Astros, who lost 107 games last year and apparently had players spending much of their time on couches during and after the season had no comment on the recent findings.


Happy April Fool’s & Opening Day!

Michael Green Talks Flame Retardants on “On the Green Front”

flame retardants

Michael Green talks flame retardants

CEH Executive Director Michael Green was recently a guest on the radio talk show “On the Green Front” hosted by eco-pioneer Betsy Rosenberg. In the interview, Michael discusses the “toxic shell game”–in which the chemical industry conducts unplanned science experiments on consumers by replacing toxic chemicals in consumer products with other untested chemicals that have similar or worse health effects. One example of the “toxic shell game” is displayed in a recent CEH study. CEH’s study found alarmingly high levels of toxic flame retardant chemicals in children’s nap mats. Tris, the flame retardant chemical used in nap mats was banned from children’s pajamas in the 1970s, but is now showing up in children’s nap mats and household furniture. Tris has been linked to a wide array of health problems including cancer, obesity, reduced fertility, hormone disruption, and allergies. Government studies and fire experts have found that flame retardants are ineffective as they are used in furniture and products like nap mats. Michael discusses the steps CEH is taking to protect families from harmful chemicals like Tris and end the “toxic shell game” for good.  Michael also informs consumers about easy steps they can take such to avoid chemical exposures and how they can become involved in supporting the end of this harmful experiment. Listen to the complete interview here.




Firefighters and Flame-Retardant Chemicals

Crossposted from Huffington Post

Tony Stefani is an American hero. Not just because of his 28 years of service as a captain with the San Francisco Fire Department. Not just because he’s a cancer survivor who started a non-profit to prevent cancer among firefighters. All of that would make him hero enough, but not enough for Tony.

For years Tony has been a tireless advocate for better fire safety standards without harmful flame-retardant chemicals. His battle against these risky chemicals began after he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that his doctor said was usually only seen in chemical industry workers. Then he learned that two other firefighters from his station developed a more common version of the same cancer.

We are all exposed to risky flame-retardant chemicals every day. Most of the furniture sold in the U.S. is doused with these toxic chemicals — in some cases as much as two pounds of flame retardants are used in a single couch. In our recent work, CEH found flame retardants in baby products and nap mats used in daycares nationwide. Some flame retardants are known to causecancer, and others can interfere with hormones, reproductive systems, thyroid and metabolic function, and neurological development in infants and children, among other health hazards.

But firefighters face a double burden. In addition to these everyday exposures, firefighters can be dosed with massive amounts of these chemicals, and the cancer-causing dioxins and furans that are produced when the chemicals burn, when they work in and around burning buildings. A recent study found that the levels of a common flame retardant in the blood of 12 firefighters studied was 2-3 times higher than the levels found in the general population. One firefighter in the study had 11 times more of this flame retardant in his blood than average. Women firefighters face particular risks: A recent survey found that 10 of 117 women firefighters in San Francisco between ages 40 and 50 had developed breast cancer, nearly six times higher than the rate for women of that age in the general population. more »