July 2017 Newsletter
BPA found in 95% of cans from these grocery stores
In May, CEH testing of more than 250 canned foods purchased nationwide from major supermarkets including Kroger, Albertsons, Safeway and others found that nearly 40% of the products tested contain the toxic chemical BPA. BPA is known to cause serious reproductive health problems and is linked to breast cancer and other serious illnesses. Our report, Kicking the Can, demonstrates that millions of Americans are still at risk of exposure to BPA when we eat canned food.
Following this report, we decided to test canned foods from certain ethnic grocery stores for BPA, and the results were shocking. Nearly 95% of the cans tested positive for BPA. Canned foods from grocery stores that market to the Asian Pacific Islander community are often the only source shoppers have for their favorite dishes, but consumers have no way to know when canned foods from these stores contain BPA. CEH is calling on officials to take immediate action to protect our right to know when canned foods contain BPA.
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An asbestos survivor speaks out!
Heather Von St. James was diagnosed with mesothelioma, the cancer caused by asbestos exposure, when she was pregnant with her daughter. Doctors told Heather she was likely to die before her daughter turned 2. Remarkably, eleven years later Heather is alive and healthy — and now she is working with CEH to bring awareness to the tragic consequences from chemical exposures.
CEH and Heather are taking aim at Nancy Beck, President Trump’s pick to lead chemical safety reviews at EPA. Beck comes to EPA directly from her last job as a lobbyist for chemical companies, including companies that make asbestos. She also has a history of manipulating science to favor the chemical industry, at the expense of urgent health protections for our children and families. You can sign Heather’s petition calling for an ethics investigation into Nancy Beck to push back against Trump’s attempts to derail health protections at the EPA.
CEH’s award-winning work for safer furniture
In May, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) granted CEH its “Market Transformation” award for our work to move the furniture industry towards safer products, made without toxic flame retardant chemicals. Our work has helped change the practices of virtually the entire office furniture industry, by mobilizing major companies such as Facebook, Autodesk, Yahoo! and others through their clear demand to suppliers to provide furniture made without flame retardant chemicals.
CEH is now expanding our work, to move furniture makers away from a “Hazardous Handful” of toxic chemicals that are often found in their products. Our guide for companies looking for safer furniture provides resources and tips for avoiding these five classes of harmful chemicals, including flame retardants, fluorinated stain and water resistant chemicals, antimicrobials, VOCs such as formaldehyde, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl). Already major companies including LinkedIn, Genentech, Kaiser Permanente and others have signed the CEH Pledge. For more information on how your company can take the Pledge, contact Judy Levin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labels for chemicals in salon and cleaning products
CEH is working hard in Sacramento in support of two state bills that may have national repercussions for protecting our health from chemicals in many common products. On June 1, the California Assembly passed a bill (AB 1575) to give salon workers the right-to-know about harmful chemicals in the hair care , nail care, and other products they use at work every day. This bill is critical for protecting workers, primarily women, from dangerous chemicals that have been linked to breathing difficulties, higher rates of miscarriage, birth defects, and cancer.
CEH is also working on a bill calling for labels on chemicals in cleaning products. Under this law, companies would be required to have detailed ingredient labels and use pictograms to display the potential health hazards associated with chemicals in their products. Pictograms are especially important for those with limited English-language proficiency such as domestic workers and others who use these products regularly and therefore have a much higher risk from hazardous chemicals in the products.
Our experience at CEH has shown that when California creates rules like these, companies often change their labels nationwide. CEH will continue to push state and federal lawmakers to protect our right to know about harmful chemicals in everyday products.
Our Food at Risk from Toxic Oil and Gas Wastewater
California produces the majority of the nation’s fruits and vegetables, so it is especially troubling to learn that many crops are being watered with toxic wastewater from the state’s oil and gas industry. Despite warnings from independent scientists, state regulators have failed to adopt rules to insure that our food from fields irrigated with wastewater is safe to eat.
CEH has been working to protect our safe food from the industry’s toxic wastewater, and we are urging Governor Brown to take immediate action to stop this practice. We are also monitoring the state’s Food Safety Panel, a group empaneled to study the health threats from oil and gas wastewater and develop solutions for safe food. But recently we discovered some disturbing conflicts of interest that should disqualify two of the Panel’s members. Mark Jones is identified in Panel documents as coming from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, but in fact immediately prior to joining the panel, Jones worked as an oil industry consultant. Another Panel member, Dr. Barbara Petersen, did not initially disclose that her work on the panel was originally funded by Chevron and is now funded by an oil and gas industry front group called CalFLOWS.
CEH has organized a letter calling for these two members to be removed from the Food Safety Panel. We will continue to pressure the Panel and the Governor to insure that our food is not used as the oil and gas industry’s dumping ground.
A 20 Year Celebration to Claim Our Healthy Future
On May 4, more than 300 CEH supporters came together to celebrate our 20th anniversary and to recommit to our work to “Claim Our Healthy Future.” With riveting keynote speeches from California Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León and Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., the President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, our gala event galvanized the crowd for our work to protect children and families, in the face of multiple threats from the chemical industry and their political cronies.
The anniversary gala reminded us why we do the work we do, that we must love and celebrate each other, and that we have an incredible community that will catapult this organization into the next 20 years. To see videos, photos and more from the gala, check out the CEH website.
Thank you for supporting us! If you were unable to attend the Gala, and would like to support CEH, you can make a donation here.Tags: asbestos, environmental health, gala, News, newsletter, survivor