Archives for the day of: November 7, 2010

Chemical & Engineering News: “Eco-friendly,” touts the tag hanging from an insulated lunch tote.

“Environment-friendly,” reads the label on a household cleaner. Yet exactly what these green marketing claims mean isn’t clear to consumers, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Now, FTC, the federal agency tasked with ferreting out unfair or deceptive advertising, is putting pressure on companies to drop overly broad environmental claims. This includes such phrases as environmentally friendly and eco-friendly.“Such claims are likely to suggest that the product has specific and far-reaching environmental benefits,” says an FTC proposal issued earlier this month. “Very few products, if any, have all the attributes consumers seem to perceive from such claims, making these claims nearly impossible to substantiate.” More . . .

New Haven Register: Eco group finds outdoor furnaces a major hazard in Conn.

Environment and Human Health Inc.’s latest study claims that outdoor wood furnaces are unsafe, and are filling the lungs of neighbors with the same toxins as cigarette smoke, including the carcinogens benzene and formaldehyde. * * * The study showed that a house 100 feet from an outdoor wood furnace had 14 times the levels of particulate matter as houses not near an outdoor wood furnace and nine times the levels of the federal Environmental Protection Agency air standards. A house as far away as 850 feet from an outdoor wood furnace had six times the levels of particulate matter as the houses not near an outdoor wood furnace and four times EPA air standards. People who have described their symptoms to EHHI say they wake up at night with coughing, headaches, inability to catch their breath, continual sore throats, bronchitis and colds. Levels of particulate matter that exceed the EPA standards are associated with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease attacks and hospitalizations, and are also associated with increased risk of cardiac attacks, Brown said. “We are particularly concerned about wood boilers because of the carcinogens and fine particulate matter much like tobacco smoke, that lodges deep into the lungs,” said Dawn Mays-Hardy, director of health promotion for the American Lung Association, New England. “We think the risks are such that such devices should not be allowed,” said David R. Brown, a public health toxicologist from Westport. More . . .

USA Today: High levels of BPA cause sperm problems, study finds.

For the first time, a study in humans suggests that a controversial, estrogen-like chemical in plastic may be related to conditions that reduce men’s fertility. Men with higher levels of BPA, or bisphenol A, were two to four times more likely than others to have problems with sperm quality and quantity, the study shows. . . . [M]en with high levels of BPA in urine and semen were more likely to have fewer sperm overall, fewer live sperm and poor semen quality. Their sperm also had more problems swimming, according to a study of 514 Chinese workers . . . . More . . .

A CNN article, “ Senate panel examining how chemicals in daily life affect kids’ health,” summarizes some of the research by UPSTREAM expert Frederica Perera.  Here is a sample.

A growing number of studies are finding hundreds of toxic chemicals in the bodies of mothers, and subsequently, in their babies after birth. While there is no science that demonstrates a conclusive cause-and-effect relationship between chemicals children are born with and particular health problems, studies are finding associations between elevated levels of chemicals in a baby’s body and their development.

Tuesday’s hearing, called by Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, will take place at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. Lautenberg has called for updating the federal regulations to require manufacturers to show chemicals are safe before introducing them on the market. Other planned witnesses include . . . Dr. Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health.

Perera’s center has been following hundreds of pregnant women over the past 12 years to measure chemicals entering the womb during pregnancy.

The women trudge through New York City for 48 hours wearing special backpacks, each with a long tube that is slung over the shoulder. The tube, resting inches below the pregnant mom’s mouth, sucks air into a special filter, giving an approximate measurement of the air that she is breathing.

The backpack is designed to measure ambient toxics spewed by vehicles and pesticides, along with chemicals from common household products.

“It surprised me when we analyzed the air samples [from the backpacks] and found 100 percent of them had detectable levels of at least one pesticide and the air pollutants we were interested in,” Perera, who also is a professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, told CNN earlier this year. “Every single one.”

So far, the toxics measured in the backpacks match what scientists are finding in the cord blood of the babies once they are born.

* * *

Perera and her colleagues are following the children in their study from the uterus, through birth, and up to their first several years of life. They recently published a study in the journal Pediatrics demonstrating an association between the chemicals they found in babies’ cord blood and later problems on intelligence tests and development.

“Fifteen percent of children [in our study] have at least one developmental problem,” Perera said.

The amount of chemicals measured in the cord blood of the babies seems to matter. The higher the concentration, the more the IQ among children seems to dip. The study is also being conducted among pregnant women in Poland and China, and finding similar results.

More . . .


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