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10 posts categorized "Phthalates"


Toxic phthalates in back-to-school supplies

Last week the Center for Healthy, Environment and Justice and the Empire State Consumer Project released findings from a report that found elevated levels of phthalates in common back to school products like backpacks, lunchboxes, three-ring binders and more. Many of the products contained high levels of phthalates that are not allowed in children's toys.

Are you headed to the store for some last-minute shopping? Be sure to take a look at this coverage from KARE 11 on what to look for at the store--and check out CHEJ's helpful PVC-free back to school guide for more helpful tips.


New Study Finds Toxic Chemicals in Gardening Products

By Kim LaBo, Healthy Legacy Organizer at Clean Water Action Minnesota.

Chemicals in Hoses Leach into Water, Study Finds

image from salsa.democracyinaction.orgHigh amounts of lead, phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA ) were found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days, according to a report co-released today by the Minnesota based Healthy Legacy Coalition and Healthy Stuff. Results are available online today at

Nearly 200 hoses, gloves, kneeling pads and tools were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC); phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA).  Such chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems. 

“During the summer, many children drink from garden hoses, run through sprinklers and wade in kiddie pools that contain water contaminated with toxic chemicals,” stated Deanna White, Clean Water Action state director and Healthy Legacy Coalition co-director. “Children’s health is being put at risk yet again because current laws do not ensure products are safe.” 

Testing Highlights

  1. screened 179 common garden products, including garden hoses (90); garden gloves (53); kneeling pads (13) and garden tools (23). Two-thirds (70.4%) of these products had chemical levels of “high concern.”
  2. 30% of all products contained over 100 ppm lead in one or more component.  100 ppm is the Consumer Product Safety Commission Standard (CPSC) for lead in children’ products.
  3. 100% of the garden hoses sampled for phthalates contained four phthalate plasticizers which are currently banned in children’s products.
  4. Two water hoses contained the hazardous flame retardant 2,3,4,5-tetrabromo-bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (TBPH).

Harmful Chemicals End Up in Water

  1. Water sampled from one hose contained 0.280 mg/l (ppm) lead.  This is 18-times higher than the federal drinking water standard of 0.015 mg/l. 
  2. BPA levels of 2.3 ppm were found in the hose water.  This level is 20-times higher than the 0.100 ppm safe drinking water level used by NSF to verify that consumers are not being exposed to levels of a chemical that exceed regulated levels. 
  3. The phthalate DEHP was found at 0.025 ppm in the hose water. This level is 4-times higher than federal drinking water standards.  EPA and FDA regulate DEHP in water at 0.006 mg/l (ppm).

What You Can Do

  1. Read the labels: Avoid hoses with a California Prop 65 warning that says “this product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects and other reproductive harm.”  Buy hoses that are “drinking water safe” and “lead-free”.
  2. Let it run: Always let your hose run for a few seconds before using, since the water that’s been sitting in the hose will have the highest levels of chemicals.
  3. Avoid the sun: Store your hose in the shade. The heat from the sun can increase the leaching of chemicals from the PVC into the water.
  4. Don't drink water from a hose: Unless you know for sure that your hose is drinking water safe, don’t drink from it.  Even low levels of lead may cause health problems.
  5. Buy a PVC-free hose: Polyurethane or natural rubber hoses are better choices.  Visit for sample products.
  6. Support passage of the Safe Chemicals Act: Harmful chemicals are ending up in consumer products because the Toxic Substances Control Act, passed into law over 35 years ago, is outdated and ineffective.

“Even if you are an organic gardener, doing everything you can to avoid pesticides and fertilizers, you still may be introducing hazardous substances into your soil by using these products,” said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center.


Everyday Products contain chemicals linked to hormone disruption and asthma

 By Kathleen Schuler, MPH, Co-Director Healthy Legacy and Senior Policy Analyst at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

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Yet another study has found dangerous chemicals in products we and our children use every day. A peer-reviewed study, published last week in Environmental Health Perspectives, detailed testing by the Silent Spring Institute of 213 consumer products, including cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreens, air fresheners, shower curtains and more, to detect the presence of harmful chemicals. 

 Previous studies have found a variety of harmful chemicals in household dust. The current study helps to identify some of the potential sources of the chemicals showing up there. Unfortunately, incomplete labeling makes this research more difficult. The study found that many of the chemicals detected were not on the product label. 

Researchers found 55 compounds, including the following and many more:

  1. Phthalates in perfumes, car air fresheners, vinyl pillow protectors and shower curtains, dryer sheets, car wax and interior cleaners, tub and tile cleaner, bar soap, shaving cream and lipstick- all unlabeled!
  2. Bisphenol A in vinyl pillow protectors and shower curtains, dish and laundry detergent, tub and tile cleaner, soaps, lotions, shampoo, conditioner and sunscreen - all unlabeled!
  3. Synthetic fragrances in facial cleansers, floor cleaner, sunscreen, perfume, dryer sheets, home and car air fresheners- in 12 of 34 products unlabeled!

Even if consumers read the label, they can’t avoid these “hidden” chemicals.  Consumers need better labeling so they can make safer product choices. But we also need to take steps to remove these harmful chemicals from every day consumer products.

Take action!

This study found unlabeled phthalates and bisphenol A in a variety of products. Both of these chemicals are on the Minnesota Priority Chemicals list, which identifies harmful chemicals that children are most likely to be exposed to. That’s why we need to pass HF2543/SF1766, which requires manufacturers to report if they have a product containing a “priority chemical.” This information will help us inform parents about which products to avoid.

Write to your state senator and representative today, asking them to support the Priority Chemical Reporting Bill!



Trouble in Toyland Report Finds Lead and Phthalates

By Meredith Salmi-Bydalek, The Arc Greater Twin Cities

Trouble-in-toyland_20111122152529_320_240Shopping during the holiday season can definitely be stressful, and nowadays parents are often left with the challenge of not only finding the perfect gift, but also navigating through a sea of unregulated toxic toys to get there.

Unfortunately, a recent report by the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) Education Fund reiterates that we still need to be extra cautious when picking out toys off the shelf.

The annual Trouble in Toyland report investigates safety of toys currently on the market. Researchers visited national toy stores, malls and dollar stores looking for toys that could pose a potential risk to young children, from exposure to toxic chemicals to choking hazards. Despite recent efforts to limit the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products, what researchers found might surprise you.

What did they find?

Though banned since 1978 in products marketed to children, lead, a known neurotoxin affecting children’s development, can still be found in imported toys. From October 2010 through November 2011, almost 200,000 toys were recalled in the United States due to lead content that exceeded federal limits. Researchers found that a handful of toys investigated exceeded current federal limits and several others exceeded standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Phthalates were also found to be used in alarming rates in toys. Phthalates are additives used to improve the flexibility of products including toys. Exposure to phthalates in the womb or during development has been linked to reproductive harm. The current federal standards sets the maximum amount of three different phthalates at 1,000 parts per million (ppm). Researchers found toys that had 42,000 ppm and 77,000 ppm of various phthalates.

How you can avoid troublesome toys:

Even though dangerous chemicals still exist in some children’s toys, your holiday season doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. The report also releases these tips so that you can be a discerning consumer.

Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to completely avoid toxics in consumer products until Congress passes the Safe Chemicals Act, legislation that will require chemical manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are safe before they end up on store shelves. So give the gift that keeps on giving and take action to support the Safe Chemicals Act today!


The Dirt on Cleaning Products

Dirty-Secrets-240x300Today Women's Voices for the Earth released a new report detailing test results of the secret ingredients contained in cleaning products manufactured by five major companies: Clorox, Proctor & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Sunshine Makers, and SC Johnson and Son.

The results? That all-purpose cleaner might have all sorts of harmful chemicals in it. Here's a summary of what WVE found:

  1. Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk.
  2. Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.
  3. Allergens were found in products marketed as fragrance-free.
  4. None of these chemicals were listed on the product’s label.

Consumers have a right to know about what chemicals are in the products they buy, especially if they have been linked with harmful health effects. And what's more, we should have laws in place that protect us from these exposures by ensuring that products are safe before they hit the shelves.

You can read the full report and you can also take action now by heading to the WVE website and asking your representative to support the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act.

    Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk.

    Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.

    Allergens were found in products marketed as fragrance-free.

    None of these chemicals were listed on the product’s label.
    Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk.

    Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.

    Allergens were found in products marketed as fragrance-free.

    None of these chemicals were listed on the product’s label.


Ready, Set...Stroller Brigade!

Today, moms and kids across the country are taking to the streets with their strollers and demanding that their senators support the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill introduced by Senator Lautenberg that will reform the broken and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.

 Comprehensive chemical policy reform will benefit us all, and these Minnesotans are letting us in on just a few of the many reasons we need to get toxic chemicals out of our lives!

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families will be live all-day on Facebook, dishing out non-toxic living tips and we'll be there to join in the fun. Join us!

You can also track the stroller brigades on twitter by searching #StrollerBrigade.


Cross toxic PVC off your back-to-school list

As parents are getting ready to send the kids back to school, there will undoubtedly be those back-to-school trips to the store. There will be backpacks, notebooks, lunch boxes and pencil cases galore. This video from KARE 11 news gives some quick tips to find products made without PVC plastic, which can contain harmful additives like phthalates, lead and cadmium. What's even better? PVC-free alternatives often cost the same as their PVC-filled counterparts.

Get the handy guide for finding PVC-free products here!


Go PVC-free this Back to School Season!

BTSminislider You’ve gotten rid of BPA from baby bottles and out of water bottles, but did you know another unnecessary toxic plastic may be hiding in your children’s school supplies? 

Your child’s innocent-looking lunch box or binder could contain chemicals linked to learning disabilities, obesity, and asthma. That’s because many school supplies are manufactured using polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the most hazardous plastic for our health and environment.

This plastic can contain a toxic stew of phthalates, lead, cadmium, and organotins—making it a recipe for disaster. As a result, some of these chemicals, like phthalates, are building up in our bodies.  To the developing body of a child, even a small exposure to these toxic chemicals can be dangerous.  A new 2011 study found PVC is the most widely used hazardous plastic in the world. This toxic plastic is being used in more forms than ever for your kids, from lunchboxes to 3-ring binders. From its manufacture to disposal, PVC releases hazardous chemicals like dioxins and phthalates that are harmful to your children’s health.

The good news is there are safer and cost-effective alternatives. The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) has just released their fourth-annual 2011 Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies.

The guide features a listing of the most common school supplies made out of PVC and safer PVC-free alternatives in over 35 product categories, from laptops and lunchboxes to backpacks and 3- ring binders. Parents around the country will find this useful for safer, healthier alternatives to PVC for their children.

Buying a PVC-free product also means that you are exerting your consumer buying-power in the right direction, towards companies that manufacture products safer for our kids’ health.

Find Safer Products for Your Kids. Download the new Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies.

Download the guide here.
Download the wallet-sized version here.


Report Back from the Toxic Red Carpet

DSC04150Red 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!



Food packaging major exposure route for BPA

A new peer-reviewed study published today in Environmental Health Perspectives has found evidence suggesting that food packaging is a major source of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA).

Breast-cancer-fund The study, conducted by the Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute, recruited five  families (each with two parents and two children, for a total of 20 people) and tested them for levels of BPA and certain phthalates in their urine while feeding them a diet of freshly prepared foods. 

41791_133587755319_960_nBPA is a known endocrine disrupting chemical and has been linked to numerous health effects, including behavioral changes,  early onset puberty, reproductive harm, diabetes and even cancer. Due to its dubious reputation, it was also recently named on the Minnesota Priority Chemicals list, which includes toxins that are harmful to children and are present in products kids are exposed to. Phthalates are no treat either, having been linked to poor sperm quality, obesity, and cancer.

What did the study do?

On the first two days of the study, participants ate as they normally do. On the following three days they were provided with freshly prepared organic meals--no canned food, and no plastic storage containers. After that they went back to their normal diets.

The levels of BPA and a particular phthalate called DEHP (used in food packaging) dropped substantially (an average of 60% for the BPA, and 50% for DEHP) during the three days when participants were only eating the freshly prepared foods.

Reduce your BPA exposure

Bpa_topten_media These findings suggest that food packaging (canned food, grease resistant wrappers and polycarbonate bottles, for example) is a major exposure route for BPA and that removing it from food packaging would lead to an immediate and significant drop in BPA levels for the general population.

One recommendation from the authors is to cut out consumption of pre-packaged foods and to  cook from fresh as much as possible. They've even created this handy chart which shows the top ten canned foods that leach the most BPA, so start by avoiding those if you can.

BPA and phthalates have both been linked to certain types of cancer. You can act now by asking President Obama to take a strong stand on getting these cancer causing chemicals out of our products!

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