Good Chemistry: Green Tips for Better Health, from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

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Chemicals below Le Roy High School?

Environmental star Erin Brockovich has another issue on her hands, and Julia Roberts is nowhere in sight. Erin was contacted by parents of students who attend Le Roy High School in Western New York and the story goes much like the script did: solving a chemical cover up.

The students at Le Roy High School were experiencing symptoms indicative of “conversion disorder” which effects neurological skills and basic motor functions. Many of these students that have been mysteriously afflicted have been girls, with only one boy coming forward with the symptoms. A UVM psychologist has commented on these symptoms, and many other medical professionals have grown more aware of the strange cases and site the environment as the main culprit. While some people are saying that this is purely a psychological issue that has been perpetuated by the media frenzy, other parents and students aren't too convinced.

Although tests were done within the school, and they were found to be inconclusive, Brockovich has ventured outside-and has found scary results. Her research has uncovered that the school was built close to a train accident that spilled both cyanide and trichloroethene, which has seeped into the ground and possibly into surrounding water sources. These chemicals can produce similar effects seen in the students, and the EPA has full documentation showing chemicals were spilled there in the 1970s. After testing the soil around the school, Brockovich’s representatives were escorted off the premises, and the local legislature refuses to make more comments on the developing case.

Brockovich intends to get to the bottom of this, and many concerned parents hope she does. These chemicals are seriously harmful, and the effects are already being seen in a few young girls, many other students may also be accumulating the toxins without any physical manifestations. Some psychologists say that this is an "emotional" disorder, but for many students the effects are real and degenerative. Brockovich cites the toxic spill as the main culprit, and aims to debunk the idea that this is anything but an environmental, toxin-inducing disease.  While more research is needed, this is an issue that needs to be addressed quickly, efficiently, and with experience.

Posted by on February 13th, 2012 No Comments

Vermont’s New Green Cleaning Bill

Governor Shumlin recently signed S.92, a green-cleaning bill that has made it mandatory that the cleaning products used in schools around Vermont be environmentally friendly and safe. With so many cleaning products affecting the physical, and reproductive health, of students and faculty alike, this bill is a giant step in the right direction. It protects people and the environment with equal commitment and fervor.

The bill extends to many different types of cleaners, some of which are more obvious than others. Air fresheners and pesticides are banned, as well as “cleaning products” and all the chemicals that typical products entail within their composition.

The state places an emphasis on green cleaning products that are preferred to the typical products the schools use, and the EPA guidelines for preferred products are to be outlined, implemented, regulated, and researched by the state. Staff will be trained to understand the importance of these products as well, and schools will have to report their progress with adherence to the guidelines. A website will outline potential risks of non-safe cleaning products, and will explain the benefits of using safer products, and how to integrate them into schools and beyond.

Vermont is at the forefront of many green movements, and this bill is not exception. It makes Vermont the one of the first states to pass a mandate for schools to maintain better and safer cleaning practices. There are only 5 other states in the U.S. that have similar mandates.  

Along with keeping students, teachers, and faculty safe and more eco-friendly, safer cleaning products also means better reproductive health. The most harmful ingredients in these products are the carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors. For women, these can cause different types of cancers, harmful birth defects, and can also affect reproductive and hormone health. For mothers and fathers, the threat is even worse-as their children are exposed to these chemicals, they accumulate in the body and often affect them at a greater rate because children are smaller, and have weaker immune systems. Many parents have questions about green cleaning, but the emerging research and answers outline that it is effective and a better alternative to toxic chemicals in schools.

This bill is a paramount success for Vermont. It has ensured the safety of our environment, and the health of the people that go to and work within Vermont state schools every day. It will lessen issues with reproductive health for many of the young girls and boys in Vermont schools, and will give mothers and fathers the satisfaction that they are sending their kids to an environmentally friendly, non-toxic place to learn and absorb knowledge-not chemicals.


Posted by on January 30th, 2012 No Comments