Watch videos of our workshop presentations:
Watch videos of our workshop presentations:
Following last week’s implosion of the chemical industry front group “Citizens for Fire Safety,” the American Chemistry Council (ACC) made its public debut representing the only opposition to banning a cancer-causing chemical in children’s products. ACC’s Stephen Rosario and North American Flame Retardant Alliance’s Jackson Morrill were the first speakers at yesterday’s Assembly hearing on flame retardant chemicals in children’s products. Not only were they the only speakers present to fail to submit written testimony, they appeared to be profoundly unprepared.
They opened their statement by disavowing Citizens for Fire Safety (CFFS), even though the CEO of Albemarle (one of the three CFFS co-founding chemical makers) is on ACC’s board of directors. They also said they would not talk about the recent Chicago Tribune series that exposed CFFS as an industry front group that distorted science, gave misleading testimony, and exaggerated the effectiveness of their products.
Parents, Advocates Tell the NYS Senate: Don't Duck Toxics Reform!
"Betty the Be Safe Duck" Tour of New York State comes to Rochester's Public Market
Parents, health advocates and allies are invited to join a Stroller Brigade to call for Child-Safe Products, urging the Senate to introduce and pass a strong new law to require children's product makers to disclose use of dangerous chemicals and ultimately phase them out. The Assembly has already passed such legislation. Attendees will be signing oversized cards to area Senators urging them to protect children's health.
Where: Rochester Public Market, 280 North Union Street
When: Saturday, June 9th, 2012
Duck will be set up 11 am - 1 pm
Media availability at noon
Photo opportunities: Giant "Betty the BeSafe Duck," parents and children, signs.
We will be there rain or shine!
In the wake of the May 22nd National Stroller Brigade for Safe Chemicals, parents, toddlers, and advocates gathered in front of a 25' Rubber Ducky and urged the New York State Senate to protect children from toxic chemicals. They called on the Senate to introduce and pass legislation that would identify chemicals of high concern, select priority chemicals from the high concern list, require children's product makers to report their use, and ultimately phase them out.
Concerns have been raised within the scientific community about the role of synthetic chemicals in the rise of many common diseases and illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, learning disabilities, inability to have children (including both female infertility and damage to sperm), hormone disruption, obesity and diabetes, to name a few. A number of these chemicals are used in products children touch every day. Yet product makers don't disclose the chemicals in their products, and the scientific information is complex.
“As the mom of an adult with autism and developmental disabilities, I can’t help but wonder what she was exposed to in her crib and what toxic toys we might have bought her,” said Julia Walter, who is trained as a special education teacher. “People think of children with autism – they forget this is a lifelong condition.”
“At this point, I feel like I would have to be a toxicologist with a full chemistry lab in my basement just to understand what's in my children's toys, furniture and car seats,” said Sarah Howard, mother of two. “Parents have enough on their plates – they shouldn't have to worry about whether their baby's nursing pillow is leaching dangerous chemicals.”
The last few weeks have seen startling revelations about the tactics some chemical companies have used to keep toxic chemicals in common children's products and other household furnishings. The Chicago Tribune revealed in a four-day, front-page series that makers of “flame retardants” - including those used in nursing pillows, car seats, strollers, changing pads, couches and more – have used “Big Tobacco” tactics to keep their chemicals in use. The series documents the failure of these chemicals in household products to prevent fires, and illuminated the health problems posed by many of them. The three chemical makers – Albemarle, Chemtura, and ICL – have used a front-group called Citizens for Fire Safety Institute to distort both fire science and toxicological studies.
In a bipartisan victory for children's health, the New York State Assembly passed A. 9045, which expands the Tris-free Children and Babies Act to include the form of tris (TDCPP) that was removed from children's sleepwear in 1979 because it can mutate DNA. Studies have since shown that TDCPP can harm the developing brain, disrupt hormones, and cause cancer. The State of California’s Carcinogen Identification Council has determined it is a carcinogen. The diverse collaboration of health-affected organizations, environmental justice groups, teachers, nurses, business leaders and environmental health organizations, known as the JustGreen Partnership, praised the bill's passage, and urged the New York Senate to follow suit.
“I am proud to have accomplished one of my legislative priorities with the strong bi-partisan passage of the expanded Tris-free Children and Babies Act,” said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair and bill sponsor. “New York must continue its leadership on this important issue and ensure babies and children no longer suffer continual exposure to TDCPP.”
Senator Mark Grisanti sponsors matching legislation in the Senate, after championing the Tris-free Children and Babies Act through its passage in that house last year. New York is the first in the nation to address the problem of Tris chemicals being used in children's products. Several other states, including Washington, Maryland and Connecticut, are following suit this year with tris phaseout legislation.
“In 2011, I proudly sponsored the law that banned TCEP in children's products from being sold in New York,” said Senator Mark Grisanti, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair. “As I said at that time, we need to do more in the area of protecting our children from harmful chemicals. I am delighted to see bi-partisan support from my colleagues in the Assembly in the ban on TDCPP in products for infants and children. I hope to see that same bipartisanship in the Senate with support for the passage of matching legislation I sponsor. Removing TDCPP from baby products will help make babies' home environments healthier.”
“This is one step closer to NYS recognizing that we can support our business leaders’ ability to innovate and provide the safer and healthier products that consumers are demanding. This is a win for our businesses and our NYS economy,” said David Levine, CEO, American Sustainable Business Council, representing through its members over 100,000 businesses.
TDCPP is widely used in polyurethane foam used in children's products. A study from Duke University found TDCPP in 36% of baby products. A report released earlier this year by the Washington Toxics Coalition found TDCPP in 80% of the products tested.
TDCPP is added in order to meet an antiquated, and ultimately ineffectual, California-only regulation known as “Technical Bulletin 117.” In fact, despite being marketed as a flame retardant, TDCPP as used in foam-containing infant and children's products provides no fire safety benefit – and when it burns, it releases chlorine gas, which quickly converts to lethal hydrochloric acid in the lungs. It also releases more carbon monoxide and soot in fires than products that don't contain these chemicals.
“It’s hard to believe that the same chlorinated Tris flame retardant that our research helped remove from baby pajamas in 1977 is back in use in children's products.” said Arlene Blum, PhD, a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley Chemistry Department and Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. “These children's products do not pose a fire hazard and the Tris increases the toxicity of a fire if they were to burn.”
“Infant and children’s product makers’ insistence on complying everywhere to a useless, outdated California-only standard has put New York’s babies and children in a lose-lose situation: they lose by being exposed to a toxic chemical day in and day out, and they lose because they’re accruing no actual fire safety benefit. By banning TDCPP in babies’ and children's products, the Assembly has taken an important step toward a much healthier, safer environment for our kids,” said Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York.
“The International Association of Fire Fighters supported the phase-out of pentaBDE because of the harm it posed to fire fighters and building occupants alike, with a call for less-toxic fire safety methods. Now it appears companies simply switched from one dangerous chemical to another,” said Dennis Sweeney, Health and Safety Training Coordinator for the New York State Professional Fire Fighters Association. “Protecting fire fighters and building occupants from fire is critical, and we can and must do it without exposing babies and children to chemicals that harm their health. Companies can and must make safe products without cancer-causing chemicals that release toxic gases when they burn.”
“Children of color and those in low-income communities are subjected to health threats from many environmental factors,” said Cecil Corbin-Mark, Deputy Director of WEACT for Environmental Justice, based in Harlem. “Adding the insult of daily indoor exposure to cancer-causing chemicals makes no sense. Then factor in the increased difficulty of exiting a large building during a fire, when the smoke becomes more lethal, and the picture is clear: TDCPP has no place in products for our kids. We thank the Assembly for their action, and urge the Senate to act with all due haste.”
"The dirty little secret is that toxic flame retardants like TRIS don't provide additional fire safety, increase environmental hazards for fire fighters and expose children to toxic chemicals. The only beneficiaries appear to be the chemical manufacturers," said Russ Haven, Legislative Counsel for NYPIRG. "The Assembly has done its job, now it's up to the Senate to protect New York's children from this toxic exposure."
Albany, NY –In Tuesday’s NYS Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, children’s health advocates awaited a debate on legislation that would expand last year’s law banning a chemical known as TCEP from children’s products. The new legislation would include an additional toxic chemical, TDCPP, in the ban. Both chemicals are commonly called “chlorinated tris” chemicals. What they saw surprised and encouraged them: unanimous, bipartisan advancement of the legislation through the committee.
“The New York State Legislature led the way in 2011 by passing a bill I sponsored, the Tris-Free Children and Babies Act, the first of its kind in the nation. Although this was an important first step in protecting children from TCEP, one form of toxic Tris, it's clear that there is more work to be done to protect children from carcinogenic TDCPP, which is widely used and harmful,” said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, Environmental Conservation Committee Chair. "Why would we allow a chemical banned from children's sleepwear because of its toxicity to be used in other nursery items? This legislation is one of my priorities for 2012," Sweeney added.
In 2012, at least 28 state legislatures will consider legislation to address concerns over toxic chemicals in consumer products, according to a new analysis by Safer States, a national coalition of state-based environmental organizations. Bills to be introduced this year will cover a broad list of topics, including bans on toxic chlorinated Tris flame retardants and cadmium, and requirements that makers of consumer products publicly disclose chemicals in products.
Popular baby products, including nursing pillows and car seats, contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and other health effects, according to a new report authored by the Washington Toxics Coalition and released today by Clean and Healthy New York. Children and families are exposed to these Tris chemicals when they escape from products and contaminate house dust and indoor air.
“Appallingly, this is just one study in a long line documenting toxic chemicals in the products families rely upon. No parent would deliberately expose their baby in this way. Product makers need to stop simply darting from one toxic chemical as it is banned to another,” said Bobbi Chase Wilding, contributor to the study and Deputy Director for Clean and Healthy New York. “Further state action is needed to end this toxic shell game. ”
On December 6th & 7th the Legislative Office Building was abuzz with talk of building New York's Healthy Economy and Environment. Led by Clean and Healthy New York, this two-day conference highlighted successes in making financial sound, and environmentally- and health- protective changes in academia, schools, businesses and the public sector. The 8th annual NYS Environmental Excellence Awards were presented as part of the conference.
The Keynote address was given by David Calligeros, Founder of Remains Lighting, which has developed an innovative factory in Brooklyn, NY. A former Environmental Excellence Award winner, David focused on the simple decisions his company made that saved money from the start - shades and fans instead of an HVAC system for a company that uses heat-producing machinery.
He highlighted some choices that have longer-term payoffs: A roof that's green - both because of the plants that reduce storm water run-off and because of the solar panels that provide the factory's electricity needs. Though the pay-off term was fairly long, David said, "I basically paid for nine years of electricity up front." After that, the system will provide electricity with minimal cost.
A report from Clean and Healthy New York finds a significant portion of the crib mattresses in the U.S. market contain one or more chemicals of concern. The report titled The Mattress Matters: Protecting Babies While They Sleep, also finds that a number of mattress makers have made significant strides in reducing chemicals of concern.
Specifically, the report found:
52% of mattress models surveyed were made with conventional materials, including chemicals of concern.