October 2016 Newsletter
CEH Taking on a Notorious Chemical Polluter
Dow Chemical is one of the oldest and largest chemical companies in the world, and one of the most egregious corporate polluters. Our recent lawsuit against Dow targets the companies’ polluting pesticide Telone, a cancer-causing chemical that puts thousands of children and families throughout California at risk from toxic air pollution.
Telone is a soil fumigant used on strawberries, in almond groves, and on many crops throughout California. Farmers use Telone to ward off soil borne diseases, but recent studies (described here and here) show that there are safer alternatives without the chemical cancer risk.
Rural families in majority Latino areas of California are most at risk from Dow’s polluting pesticide. A 2014 report by the California Department of Health found that Latino schoolchildren are 91% more likely than white students to be exposed to the highest levels of hazardous pesticides. Speaking on our legal case against Dow, Valerie Gorospe, a Community Organizer from the environmental justice group the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment said, “Our communities deserve protection from Dow’s toxic pollution, but for years the state has ignored the health threat their fumigant poses to our children and families. We support the CEH lawsuit and we demand an end to the toxic uses of these dangerous fumigant pesticides.”
Read more about the history of Telone use in California and the effects on rural communities from The Center for Investigative Reporting/Reveal.
Canning Toxins in Food
You may recall that the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) has been eliminated from most baby bottles and sippy cups, but it is still used in many other products, including in the linings of many canned foods. A California state science panel unanimously agreed that BPA poses serious threats to women’s reproductive health, and studies have linked BPA exposure to breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other serious diseases.
Last year, California told canned food makers that they would need to start warning consumers about BPA in their products by May 2016. But just weeks before that deadline, the state released an “emergency” rule with limited public notice, that allows canned food companies to continue selling BPA-tainted products without adequately warning consumers.
The market has shown that companies can move away from BPA in their cans. In fact, the organic food maker Eden Foods stopped using BPA in some of their canned foods as far back as 1999.
Despite this, the state now wants to extend the rule allowing canned food companies to continue putting our children and families at risk. CEH has joined with business leaders and other advocacy groups in calling on the state to withdraw this dangerous proposal and put our health first! You can hear more on the CEH podcast and take action to urge state regulators to withdraw this proposal via the CEH website.
Oranges, Avocados and… Toxic Oil Wastewater?
CEH and many other health, environmental and consumer groups recently delivered 350,000 petition signatures urging California Governor Jerry Brown to stop the potentially dangerous practice of using wastewater from oil drilling to irrigate California’s crops. Now a new report is shedding light on the risks to food and wildlife from oil and gas wastewater that is used for crop irrigation.
The report, by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of the Pacific and the nonprofit PSE Healthy Energy, found that among the chemicals used in California oil operations are numerous compounds known to cause cancer, reproductive health problems, air pollution and/or other serious health or environmental threats.
Previous tests have found that oil wastewater may contain dangerous levels of benzene, chromium-6 and toluene – chemicals that are all linked to cancer and reproductive health problems. CEH’s Sue Chiang recently testified in Sacramento about these concerns (you can hear a brief excerpt from her remarks on KPFA radio). You can learn more and take action here.
CEH also recently won a legal agreement in the first-ever lawsuit to clean up polluting oil and gas waste water pits in California. That’s another way we’re addressing the oil companies’ toxic operations.
As CEH’s Michael Green noted recently in the Huffington Post, the oil and gas industries pose health threats nationwide, especially in poor communities and communities of color. Pollution and the health effects of climate change are both results of the industry’s toxic production. CEH’s Healthy Energy program is working to put our children’s health at the forefront of our national energy policy. Learn more on the CEH website.
Safer Products, Without Harmful Chemicals
Our free shopping guide gives parents a brand-name resource for safer baby products. We have also created a guide to finding nap mats made without chemical flame retardants [link].
You can also view our recent webinar [link] for childcare educators, resource and referral networks, and parents on toxic chemicals found in furniture and children’s products. In California, researchers have found harmful flame retardant chemicals in 100% of childcare settings tested. Our webinar gives you the information you need to avoid and reduce exposure to flame retardants and other harmful chemicals.
Our flame retardant work has also attracted major companies and institutions like Facebook, Autodesk, Harvard University and many other businesses that want safer furniture for their facilities. See how CEH is leveraging $1 billion of purchasing power for safer products made without these toxic chemicals.
CEH Three Year Strategic Plan
Since its founding in 1996, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has established itself as a leader in the effort to protect people from toxic chemicals. Over the past few months, CEH embarked on a strategic planning process to clarify our work over the next three years. Our strategic plan focuses CEH’s resources at the intersection of what the world needs and what CEH is uniquely qualified to provide.
We have chosen powerful programs that will protect people from petrochemicals and toxic chemicals.
Eliminating a silent health threat: endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s). Every day our water, food, and consumer products expose us to chemicals that act like hormones in our body, contributing to cancer, diabetes, obesity, and infertility – for generations. At CEH, we’ve created a smart, audacious, long-term plan to eliminate these chemicals, just like we got lead out of children’s products nationwide.
Developing, distributing, and burning fossil fuels are the major, unspoken health threats of our day. It’s time to protect our climate and our health from the most powerful and dangerous industries in human history.
Ending Illegal Toxic Exposures
Today there are brain-damaging, cancer-causing substances in our air, water, food, and consumer products. Wherever possible, we enforce laws that put an end to this reckless experiment on your family’s health.