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3 posts from September 2011

09/26/2011

On the TRAIN to weaker health protections?

Congress_250Public health protections in the U.S. took a hit late last week with the house passage of an act that would make health concerns secondary to business impacts in assessing EPA regulations.

The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation (TRAIN) Act of 2011 recently  passed the U.S. House. This bill requires the President to establish the Committee for the Cumulative Analysis of Regulations that Impact Energy and Manufacturing in the United States to analyze and report on the cumulative impacts of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules and actions concerning air, waste, water, and climate change.

Sounds sensible, right? Wrong!

This bill delays or scraps an array of current regulatory actions, turning back decades of progress on addressing environmental health protections. This bill attacks the Clean Air Act by rolling back EPA regulations on ozone, fine particulates and hazardous pollutants like mercury. The bill requires consideration of the effects of regulation on business growth, while effects on public health are secondary. Thousands more deaths and hundreds of thousands more childhood asthma attacks will occur each year as a result of failure to reduce air pollution.

Attacks like this on environmental protections not only undermine the crucial work of the EPA, but the basic principle of government’s role in protecting public health from environmental threats. Rep. Henry Waxman (CA) calls the current U.S. House “the most anti-environment House in history. The House has voted to block action to address climate change, to stop actions to prevent air and water pollution, to undermine protections for public lands and coastal areas, and to weaken the protection of the environment in dozens of other ways."

This bill is based on the assumption that environmental regulations are bad for business. We must challenge this assumption. Regulatory certainty, improved quality of our environment and reduced health care costs all support a healthy business climate.

Unfortunately, Minnesota Representatives Paulsen, Cravaack, Kline and Peterson voted for the bill.

The good news is that representatives Ellison, Walz and McCollum all voted against TRAIN. Rep. McCollum’s amendment to protect the Great Lakes from toxic air and water pollution was defeated. Rep McCollum argued, "The TRAIN Act will make the enforcement of many environmental protections uncertain and will create confusion in the EPA about which public health efforts they can pursue.”

Please thank Rep. Tim Walz, Rep. Betty McCollum and Rep. Keith Ellison for putting public health first and voting against this bill and urge Senators Klobuchar and Franken to help defeat TRAIN in the Senate. Help send this TRAIN back to the station!

Find contact information for your representative and senators.

09/23/2011

Canned Foods Marketed to Kids Contain BPA

IStock_000003484852XSmallA new study just released by Breast Cancer Fund tested six different types of canned food for the  presence of BPA. Every sample tested contained the hormone-disrupting chemical, with Campbell's Disney Princess and Toy Story soups testing the highest.

A previous study by Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute published in Environmental Health Perspectives earlier this year found that levels of BPA in the body can be dramatically reduced by eliminating canned foods from the diet.

Despite the growing body of science that BPA is linked to several harmful health effects like early onset puberty and breast cancer, most companies have not phased this harmful chemical out of the linings of food cans.

Act Now!

Tell Campbell Soup Company, Con Agra (maker of Chef Boyardee), Annie’s Homegrown and Hain Celestial (maker of Earth's Best) to stop marketing BPA to kids. Early-life exposures to toxic chemicals are critical to later-life breast cancer risk, so let's protect kids now!

09/14/2011

New Study Finds Increased Levels of Toxic Flame Retardant in Fish

A new study recently accepted for publication in the journal Environmental Science and Technology has found that the concentration of the flame retardant chemical HBCD to have increased in recent years in tested fish in Virginia and North Carolina.

The rise in HBCD levels over this time seems to coincide with the elimination of penta-DBE, another toxic flame retardant that was phased out of use in 2004.

While HBCD has been less studied than other halogenated flame retardants, the science regarding the health effects linked with HBCD (like learning and developmental problems) was enough to land it on Minnesota's Priority Chemicals list, which includes nine toxic chemicals that are harmful to children's health.

You can take a look at the study here. You can also get tips on avoiding HBCD and the other chemicals on the priority chemicals list here.

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