Your Valentine’s Day Dose of Strawberry Safety, Hallmark Hazards, and Honey!

Honey Love


I love honey. A little honey on a bowl of oatmeal is just about a perfect breakfast as far as I’m concerned. And a little honey on pancakes is just as good. If you’re like me, when you think about honey you think about beehives surrounded by flowers and industrious bees bringing their loads of nectar and pollen back to the hive. You don’t think about lead poisoning, right? Well, keep reading.

Honey, like so many parts of our economy, is no longer a local business. Lots of the honey sold in the US comes from Asia, South America, Europe, and elsewhere. When we read some reports last fall that some of this honey is shipped in big metal drums that have been constructed with lead-containing solder, we knew we had to check and see if some of that lead ends up in our honey.

Our research is just beginning, but we wanted to let you know what we’ve found so far. We’ve found lead problems in honey at Wal-Mart, Ralph’s, and Grocery Outlet. Since you and your kids are eating the honey, that lead ends up inside of you. The amount of lead we found exceeds the safety levels set by California’s Proposition 65. We’re starting litigation with those companies and we’re going to get the lead out. No one should have to worry about lead when they’re buying a jar of honey.

In the meantime, here’s our recommendation: Try to buy honey at your farmer’s market. Or buy it from a store that sells local honey. And enjoy that honey and it’s golden goodness.


Why Your Singing Valentine’s Day Card is Illegal to Throw Away in California

Hallmark_Valentine_145paddingIf you’re planning on giving a card to a loved one this Valentine’s Day, we say go “old-fashioned”. We’ve all seen the rows and rows of “singing” cards at the drug store—cards that play songs, cards that coo something sweet or funny when you open them. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re not so cute when you consider that that electronic magic embedded in them actually creates a whole bunch of trouble.

Singing cards contain batteries and electronic circuit boards that are classified as Universal Waste (U-Waste) in California, meaning it is illegal for them to be disposed of into sanitary landfills. The tiny button batteries contain lithium that if ingested can cause serious health problems like vocal paralysis, hearing loss and nasal deformity. The circuit board also contain metials that are toxic to aquatic animals. Watch our animated video for more details, and Tell Hallmark: Trash Your E-Waste Cards Now!


“Just Say No” to Cancer-Causing Methyl Iodide

brown-strawberriesNWSLTRThank you! Last week, almost 500 of you signed our petition to California’s Governor Brown and Director Leahy, newly appointed by the governor to head up California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation. The reason we asked you to take action is that Leahy’s appointment gives us a great opportunity to correct a short-sighted decision made by the previous administration.

You might remember that just as the Schwarzenegger administration was leaving office at the end of 2010, California approved the use of methyl iodide. Methyl iodide is a cancer- and miscarriage- causing pesticide whose most significant use will be on strawberry fields. When Governor Brown took office last year he said he would revisit the decision, but has not yet done that. With a new pesticide chief, one that has been an organic farmer, we knew we needed to send a strong message to both Brown and Leahy that now is the time.

Last week, we asked our California readers to take action. If you missed that chance, it’s not too late. Use our easy action tool to Tell Governor Brown and his new pesticide chief: “Just Say No” to Methyl Iodide! Don’t live in California? You can still sign the petition. It’s likely that most of your strawberries come from California so the decision is important no matter where you live.



Make Some Art, Do Some Good

Kids_Art_Contest145paddingMomentum is building in the movement for safer chemicals.

This month brings exciting news: California Senator Feinstein agreed to cosponsor Safe Chemicals Act!

We let our California members know about this last week, but everyone had a part in advocating for this remarkable victory. We hope it inspires all our supporters nationwide to keep the pressure on and encourage other Senators to sign on in support of the Safe Chemicals Act.

That’s why we’d like to announce a great opportunity to get your whole family involved: The Safer Chemicals Art Contest!

Our coalition partners, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, are hosting an art contest to see what kids and youth see when they envision a healthy future for people and the environment.

Get the full scoop on our blog: Fight Toxic Chemicals: Make Some Art!


Supporter Spotlight: Daniel Solomon

Daniel_Solomon145padding(Pictured at right after his role as one of 41 people, including DC Mayor Vincent Gray, who were arrested following their protest calling for DC federal representation.)

Daniel Solomon has been a longtime supporter of CEH and is a tenacious supporter of countless causes, including many in his home city of Washington D.C. The concept of CEH was actually created around Daniel Solomon’s living room table, so we interviewed Daniel to get the scoop on how it came to be and his adventures in civil disobendience.

Q: How did you and CEH’s Executive Director, Michael Green meet?

A: We met in the Conservation and Resource Studies program at UC Berkeley. We were both student organizers active in protesting expansion of US nuclear weapons programs, we had this small affinity group that did all sorts of activism, including getting arrested during non-violent civil disobedience. We protested the link between UC Berkeley and Lawrence National laboratories (one of the only locations in the US where nuclear missiles weapons are made), and in 1983 protested Reagan’s proposed Strategic Defense Initiative.

Q: We heard the concept of CEH was crafted around your living room table—could you tell us the story behind that?

A: My place was on Q street, downtown DC, at the time. Mike told me about this idea to go start an organization in California centered on using Proposition 65 to get chemicals out of the consumer market. It was a group of us sitting around the dining room table—Michael and his mentor from the U.S. EPA, and a handful of other non-profit leaders and activists.

I thought it was a great idea, but we were concerned about Michael’s skills as a manager—he just seemed too nice a guy to be an effective manager. But what’s impressed me about Michael is how he’s grown over the years to become this new kind of “zen” manager—he’s a great leader yet he’s not threatened by others on staff being more knowledgeable than him about certain issues or offering their ideas for the organization.

Q: You’ve seen CEH grow from a one-man org to the major national group it is today. What’s it been like seeing the changes?

I’m really proud of Mike and CEH and what it’s accomplished. I think it’s one of the very best investments I’ve made as a philanthropist.

Q: How did you become interested in Environmental Health?

Well, my background at UC Berkeley in conservation and resources really got me interested in environmental issues and looking at them from a holistic perspective. EH and EJ are issues that need to be addressed from many perspectives. What I appreciate about CEH is that the organization uses a multi-pronged strategy to combat environmental issues—litigation, activism, and community organizing. But the organization is also willing to negotiate and partner with business where it makes sense.

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

One where chemicals are tested and proven safe before they are released into the environment. A future that implements the precautionary principle to protect all of us.

Q: You’ve also been very active in local DC politics through your organization, DC Vote. What are you focusing on now?

A: Well, I am a resident of Washington DC, and DC residents fulfill all the same responsibilities of an American citizen—we pay full federal taxes, we’ve fought and died in every American war, served on juries, yet we are denied the right to vote for the people who write the laws under which we must live.

That’s why a group of us founded DC Vote in 1998. We focus on grassroots lobbying and advocacy for DC citizen voting rights. We’re fighting for our democratic birthright.

I don’t want to die without ever having voted for a US Senator. And now, as a parent, I think, I don’t want my kids to die without ever having voted for a US Senator.


Mountain Dew Madness: What’s That Flame Retardant Doing in My Soda?

ShockedWoman_soda150x150paddingWe all know that sodas are full of sugar, buy you may be surprised (and grossed out) to find that a chemical called brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a patented flame retardant, has also been added to approximately 10% of sodas for decades in North America. No need to worry about your soda catching on fire!

You might think that the health effects of an ingredient that’s used in a common food would be well studied. In the case of BVOs, that’s not so. There are remarkably few published research studies. But what do those few studies tell us about BVO’s health effects? Reduced fertility, behavioral problems and transfer in breast milk from moms to babies. Enough that I don’t want to be drinking these chemicals!

There have also been a few cases of people needing medical attention after soda binges for skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders which are all documented symptoms of overexposure to bromine. BVO’s are even more problematic for children (who have lower body mass) and for teens—groups with the highest soda consumption.

Environmental Health News (EHN) reported that BVOs are found mostly in citrus flavored sodas and beverages to keep the fruit flavoring suspended in the drink; that is why the drink looks “cloudy.” Drinks containing BVOs include:

Read the rest on Generation Green.