Spring Cleaning: CEH Wipes Out More Toxic Products!

Flame Retardants Up in Smoke


A stunning four-part Chicago Tribune investigation has exposed what CEH staff have long known: the flame retardant industry uses dirty tricks, lies, deception and distorted science to peddle unnecessary and harmful products found in furniture, baby products, and hundreds of other everyday items in our homes, offices and even schools. The Tribune found that one “expert” for the flame retardant industry repeatedly lied to state regulators in public testimony on the “benefits” of the toxic chemicals, and outlined how flame retardant companies use phony “citizens” groups and the tactics of the tobacco industry to maintain profits at the expense of our children’s and families’ health.

CEH has long worked to end outdated government policies that promote the use of harmful flame retardants, and the Tribune series shows that our public health work on this issue is more important than ever. Read CEH Executive Director Michael Green’s Huffington Post article and our Pollution Prevention program Coordinator Judy Levin’s take on Generation Green.


Turf Project Makes Film Debut!

Turf145_paddingIf you or your children play on artificial turf fields, you’ll want to know if those fields contain lead. Although most turf makers have phased out the use of lead pigments, some older fields still contain lead. Athletes and parents should know about these fields.

The Center for Environmental Health has screened samples from over 500 California artificial turf fields and found that about 10% of them have turf made with lead-containing pigments*. Our website www.ceh.org/turf, has a map of the fields we have screened, with test results and links to a video explaining how athletes, parents, and school and child care center administrators can reduce exposure to lead in artificial turf.

Please visit www.ceh.org/turf and see if your local turf field is listed. If it is not, our website also has instructions and a video showing how you can have CEH screen artificial turf for free!

And after you visit the website, take a moment to email the link to your friends, family, and any contacts at your local schools and child care centers, and share it on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Thanks for your help, and play safe!

*Follow up testing was done on some of these fields, and it showed that the lead levels were not high enough that replacing the turf was legally required. Children should still take simple and effective precautions, like washing their hands, after playing on old fields that may have lead-pigments.


Methyl Iodide Victory!

Methyl_Iodide_Victory_145_paddingRemember methyl iodide? As of March 20, it’s one toxic chemical that you don’t have to worry about.

Methyl iodide, sold in California as Midas®, is the fumigant pesticide that was approved for use in California’s strawberry fields (and elsewhere) as Governor Schwarzenegger left office at the end of 2010. On March 20, Arysta LifeScience announced the “immediate suspension of product sales for all formulations of the fumigant MIDAS® in the United States.”

Methyl iodide was approved for use in California over the objections of both state and independent scientists because of its ability to cause miscarriages at low levels of exposure and because it causes cancer.

Since it was approved for use in 2010, tens of thousands of people (including many of you!) asked Governor Brown to reconsider the decision. Over 200,000 people asked the federal government to end its use. Organizations across California worked together to end its use. Local governments in strawberry-growing areas opposed methyl iodide use. Earthjustice represented Californians for Pesticide Reform (a coalition that includes CEH), the United Farmworkers, two farmworkers, and many other organizations in a lawsuit that forced Arysta to stop selling methyl iodide. It was truly a team effort. Congratulations to all!

As is always the case with toxic chemicals, we celebrate one victory knowing there’s lots more work to be done. California strawberry production uses over 10 million pounds of pesticides every year. Over 80 percent of these pesticides are toxic fumigants like methyl iodide. The US Dept. of Agriculture tells us that over 95 percent of strawberries on supermarket shelves have a least one pesticide on them; 4 different pesticides is common. Yet, organic farmers across California are growing over 400,000 acres of delicious berries without these toxic chemicals. Their work shows us where all of agriculture should be heading. Let’s keep these victories coming!


CEH in Recent Media

Newspaper_Computer145x101Check out recent news media articles about CEH and our work:


MOMS Corner – A brief update from the Making Our Milk Safe (MOMS) Program of CEH

Sofia_Gatica145_padding Goldman Environmental Prize Winner for Central & South America, Sofia Gatica, picured at right.

Got a way with words and a story to tell? Consider writing for the MOMS blog! We’re looking for moms (and others) to share their unique perspectives with the SafeMilk.org community. Check out our writer’s guidelines and drop us a line to let us know what you’d like to write about (moms@ceh.org).

Here’s a selection of some of the most recent posts to the MOMS blog:

As an important part of our ongoing effort to support the long-overdue Safe Chemicals Act, we have been collecting signatures on a petition in support of the bill. We intend to deliver the petition to the Senate before a vote anticipated in May, and we will be supporting an in-person stroller brigade in DC on May 22nd. If you’re in the DC area, please consider joining us!


Supporter Spotlight: Dr. Namrata Patel

Nammy_webready_145_paddingLftNamrata Patel has been a strong supporter of CEH over the last several years and shares our resolute drive for a toxic-free world. Namrata Patel runs a green business herself, so we interviewed her to get the full scoop on her Green Dentisry practice and more.

Q. How did you become involved with CEH?

A: My company Green Dentistry is an eco-friendly and sustainable approach to dentistry. Michael Green and I met at a green networking event, and after talking, we found that our beliefs about toxics and environmental health were really aligned. My involvement with CEH unfolded from there.

Q: So you’re a green dentistry pioneer. Can you tell us a little about what that means, and how you were inspired to start this kind of practice?

A: My practice is focused on healthy teeth and gums for life with non-toxic materials, in a LEED-certified office space. We use all BPA-free and mercury-free materials. This provides dentistry with a new edge, because we no longer have to put potentially hazardous substances into our patients’ mouths.

I became interested in pursuing green dentistry because I practice the Jain religion, which is based on honoring ourselves and our environment. Jain emphasizes living simply and not over-using our natural resources, so starting a practice that really honored those values was important to me.

Q: What are the most prominent toxics issues in dentistry that people should be aware of?

BPA—this chemical can cause cancer because it tends to leach from the dental material. Mercury is another big one—it’s used in amalgam material, which we use a lot in dentistry, and can cause birth defects, impotence, pregnancy troubles. It’s also most toxic when it’s being removed, so it’s very important that it’s done safely.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about (or accomplishment of) CEH?

Just seeing how far CEH has come is inspiring. I attended the 15th Anniversary Gala, and learned a lot about CEH’s many accomplishments over those 15 years. From eliminating lead from virtually all children’s toys to helping get BPA banned from baby bottles, I just felt such a sense of pride seeing how far CEH has come since its beginning. It’s such a good feeling to see an organization work so hard to ensure consumer products are safe for kids and families.

Q: What’s your vision of an environmentally ideal, clean & healthy future?

Really my vision is very similar to CEH’s—to see a world where we do not overuse the earth’s natural resources, where materials are non-toxic and can be reused completely. Like a cycle, maybe a cup that could be melted down, reconstructed into a tumbler, then melted down again and used as something else.

To have this sort of cradle to cradle cycle using non-toxic materials would be ideal.

Q: You also serve as an Enviro-mentor for the San Francisco Environment Agency to help small businesses become green. What are you focusing on currently?

A: Yes, I really love being able to help small businesses become green, and to be involved to ensure that it’s done the right way. Sometimes, being truly “eco” can be costly, and finding those small ways to achieve that without the overhead is so rewarding.

We really focus on finding the small changes that a business can make first, and then helping them implement changes on a gradient, so that they’re constantly improving their environmental profile.

Q: Anything else that I haven’t asked you about that you’d like to share?

I really enjoy supporting CEH, and I think the vision is so inspiring. I’ve really felt a great sense of pride seeing it grow over the last several years, and it’s wonderful to see all the accomplishments, the legislation the organization’s staff has helped push through—it’s all really exciting.


Events on the Horizon!


  • Party with the (CEH) Stars in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 23rd! CEH Executive Director Michael Green and CEH Board member and star of ABC’s Private Practice Paul Adelstein will be speaking to CEH supporters about protecting the health of your children and families.  The evening reception will be held at a private home with stunning views of the San Fernando Valley.  We have just a few spots left for this special event – if you’re interested in joining us, please contact Jody Parsons at (510) 655-3900 x 314 or by email at jody@ceh.org.  We’ll also be offering free lead testing at the event for guests who want the chance to screen their every-day household products.
  • Watch the 3rd Annual Toxies, June 24th! The satirical red carpet awards ceremony for toxic chemicals and pollutants is back! Join the fun in Los Angeles or host a viewing party where you live! Check out www.toxies.com for details.
  • Save the Date – Monday, September 10th! Featured guest Paul Hawken will be speaking at CEH’s annual gala at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Please mark your calendars and join us for an evening of exciting conversation, gourmet nibbles, a live auction, and fun! To purchase advance tickets click here.