Red carpet events are common enough, but none are quite like “The Toxies.” Costumed characters, dressed up to personify common toxic chemicals found in consumer products, accepted awards on Thursday evening for their prevalence in our daily lives and their linkages to harmful health effects.
In Minnesota, we recognized four of the chemicals nominated at the national level that are also on the Minnesota priority chemicals list. The nine chemicals on this list are found in children’s products and are linked to harmful health effects. They are: Formaldehyde, Lead, Bisphenol A and decaBDE (representing the Halogenated Flame Retardants, a whole class of chemicals).
While all of the toxic, bad actor nominees deserve our attention, they couldn't all win an award. Here's the breakdown on who took home the trophies:
- Most Annoying Priority Chemical of 2011: decaBDE. Minnesota has banned the use of penta and octa BDE, but a close relative of those chemicals, decaBDE is still in use, landing it a spot on the “priority chemicals” list. DecaBDE is a chemical flame retardant and is part of a larger group of halogenated flame retardant chemicals that are persistent in the environment and are linked to several negative health problems like cancer, thyroid hormone disruption, and adverse impacts on learning and development.
- MN People’s Choice Award for Worst Performance of the Year: Bisphenol A (BPA). Minnesota was the first state in the nation to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, a step which has contributed to manufacturers removing those products from the shelves across the country. However, other exposures to bisphenol A remain through products like the linings of food and infant formula cans, receipt paper, dental sealants and more. BPA is linked to serious health effects including early onset of puberty, certain types of cancers, obesity and diabetes.
You can watch their acceptance speeches here.
We also had the great fortune to honor Representative Kate Knuth with the "Best Performance in a Legislative Session" for her work on the Toxic Free Kids act in 2009, which culminated in the Minnesota Department of Health creating the "priority chemicals" list earlier this year. Rep. Knuth has been a champion on this issue and continues to work for policies that will protect children's health from toxics. Take a look at the presentation of her award!