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

Posts Tagged ‘chemical reform’

Reform our broken federal chemical safety laws!

ACHM Plane Picture


Help send Mainers to Washington to demand safe toxic-free products! Send your message with them by signing the petition below.

To My Senators and Representatives,

No child should be exposed to chemicals linked to cancer, obesity, or reproductive problems. But children's health is threatened every day by dangerous chemicals in their homes.

Our nation’s chemical safety system is badly broken. The Chemical Safety Improvement Act (CSIA) is a good start but needs to be strengthened. Please help strengthen the CSIA to achieve real reform that protects our families from toxic chemicals.

Posted by on October 14th, 2013 No Comments

Flouride: Healthful or Harmful?

I was scanning through a breastfeeding support forum and came across something kind of scary. As you can imagine, most breastfeeding moms who would visit such a forum are pretty down on formula. I started reading an article and then I started reading the comments. I don’t normally do this as they tend to rile me up, but I found an interesting comment from a woman in Ireland.

Ireland is one of the few countries in Europe that fluoridates their water.  The mom on the forum was upset about the fact that formula is made even more inferior to breastmilk by mixing it with fluoridated water. She didn’t get into details, so I looked into it myself.

There is an interesting website about fluoride called the Fluoride Action Network (FAN).  I like this website. They cite everything.

Apparently, fluoride is not as harmful when applied topically, like with toothpaste or as a mouth rinse. Drinking it is bad for you. It does nearly nothing to save your teeth as it spends so little time in contact with the surfaces of your teeth. Internally, it decalcifies bones and teeth, causes problems with livers and kidneys, and damages sperm. In nearly all animal trials, it reduced fertility in both male and female subjects.  I guess the warning about swallowing your toothpaste isn’t unwarranted. Actually, it’s more serious than that: if a kid under the age of about 9 ate an entire tube of standard fluoride toothpaste, the fluoride could kill them. Hence the warning, mandated by the FDA, on your toothpaste:  "WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately."

All that said, I’m going to send you the CDC’s website where you can see if your community fluoridates its water. Despite the warnings about consuming fluoride from the FDA and all the studies that FAN cites, the CDC is still down with the fluoride in your drinking water.

The EPA has a webpage on fluoride and it has two recommendations for removing fluoride from your tap water: distillation and reverse-osmosis.

I feel like we’re getting mixed signals from our government. CDC thinks fluoride is neater than sliced bread, but the FDA and the EPA have warnings about it. Personally: when in doubt, leave it out (or in this case, get myself a filter to take it out).

Posted by on October 3rd, 2012 2 Comments

Johnson & Johnson to Stop Using Harmful Chemical – Victory or Not?

As a mom (who was once a kid), I’m kind of rejoicing; as an American woman, I’m kind of ticked off.

Formaldehyde is a common ingredient in Johnson & Johnson's baby shampoo. Now they're pledging to eliminate it (at least some of the time) from their products

Johnson & Johnson has promised to stop using harmful – possibly carcinogenic – ingredients in all their lines by 2015. Yay! That means that they’ve been paying attention to the threats from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and their allies. It means that J&J is waking up to the fact that American women really don’t want to slather themselves in toxic chemicals, nor do we want those chemicals anywhere near our kids.  It almost feels like a victory.

But is it?

 Johnson & Johnson has been carcinogen-free in countries all over the world for years. And according to their press release, they will still use chemicals that release formaldehyde "when no safe alternative will work .” But there must already be safer alternatives to these chemicals  if Johnson & Johnson products are on the shelves in places with stricter rules like the Europen Union and Japan.  

Their promises seem reassuring, though and this news make me want to support them. They are one of the few big companies actually changing policy and formulas because of consumer demand. A lot of that has to do with their huge line of baby products (moms are a very vocal group) and the problems they’ve had with public image in the wake of recalls on their pharmaceuticals – but it’s a step in the right direction that should be applauded.

What we really need to do is shake up the other cosmetic companies! Just because we aren’t the diaper and crayon set doesn’t mean we deserve toxic, carcinogenic, or hormone disrupting chemicals in our products: personal or beauty. L’Oreal (Maybelline, Garnier, Kiehl’s, The Body Shop, Softsheen-Carson), Procter & Gamble (CoverGirl, Pantene, Secret, Old Spice), Estee Lauder (Clinique, MAC, Prescriptives), Avon, and Unilever (Dove, Ponds, St. Ives, Axe) all need to be held to higher standards than the ones the FDA holds them to.  

I urge you to check out Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Get Involved page. Sign a petition, send an email, make your own lip gloss – Do something healthy and pretty!

Posted by on August 23rd, 2012 No Comments

Ask your Maine Senators to support The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011

Maine heroes have stepped up to the plate to defend our kids from toxic chemicals linked to serious health problems, from cancer and learning disabilities to diabetes and asthma.  In 2008, Mainers came together to pass the common-sense Kid Safe Products Act to help phase-out toxic chemicals that pose a danger to our children.  But all over Maine, too many parents still worry about buying products that are safe for their kids.  Too many families suffer from health problems linked to chemical exposure.  And too many businesses are plagued by high healthcare costs. 

Maine can't go it alone!

80,000 chemicals are currently in use--and only 200 of them have been tested for safety. It's time for reform!

We need a hero in Congress who can build on Maine's common-sense laws by fixing our national chemical safety policies, which are badly broken.  For 35 years the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)of 1976 has not protected the health and safety of our kids, allowing thousands of untested chemicals onto shelves and into our homes.  Out of 80,000 chemicals in our products, barely 200 have been tested under TSCA – clearly, it’s time for reform. 

We have a unique opportunity to fix this broken system.

The Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, will immediately phase out chemicals that we already know are dangerous.  It will also require safety testing for chemicals before they end up in our products, and provide a lot more information to consumers.  Plus, this law would also reward innovative companies who are creating safer technologies. 

We just learned that the Safe Chemicals Act is on-track for a Committee vote this fall!

We need the Senators' support now - TAKE ACTION!

It could be a matter of weeks before the Safe Chemicals Act makes its way out of committee.  Now is the time for Senators Snowe and Collins to be our heroes by co-sponsoring the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011.  Maine has already led the way passing state laws to phase out toxic chemicals like lead, mercury, and BPA from every-day products.  Now we need Maine's Senators lead the way to sensible chemical safety reform.  Urge your Senators to act now!

Posted by on October 10th, 2011 2 Comments

Maine Passes Deca Amendment

Earlier this week, the Maine Senate unanimously voted to amend a ban on the flame retardant Deca. The bill, LD 930, now gives greater flexibility for manufacturers to find safer, approved alternatives.

Deca is part of a series of PBDE (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) chemicals that are used as flame retardants in furniture, electronics, and other consumer products.  They are known reproductive and developmental toxicants that have made their way into the environment and into our bodies.  PBDE levels in breast milk, blood and tissues have increased by a factor of 100 in the past 30 years, doubling about every five years. This is alarming--studies link PBDEs to reproductive and developmental problems, including delayed puberty. The Environmental Health Strategy Center has more information about the impacts of Deca on the health of women and children.

Last year, Maine banned Deca from shipping pellets and prohibited manufacturers from replacing Deca with other brominated and chlorinated flame retardants.  The amendment passed this week requires any alternatives to be approved by Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection.  We applaud LD 930 because it allows manufacturers flexibility in finding alternatives, which is important as full non-halogenated alternatives to brominated or chlorinated flame retardants don’t exist, yet. 

Developing laws that protect human health from toxic products, and creating safer alternatives should be a top priority. That’s PPNNE is working with the Alliance for Clean and Healthy Maine to advance comprehensive chemical policy reform with the passage of the Safer Chemicals Act of 2011. The policy is a long-overdue modernization of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) that provides greater consumer and worker information about toxic exposure, strengthens the Environmental Protection Agency’s oversight on harmful chemicals, and promotes innovation for safer alternatives.  

Ask Maine Senators Snowe and Collins to co-sponsor the Safer Chemicals Act of 2011 and to continue Maine’s leadership on chemical policy reform.

Posted by on May 26th, 2011 No Comments

Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law Strengthened

Last week, environmental health advocates won key provisions to protect the health of women and children in Maine.  In a stunning show of bipartisan cooperation, the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee of the Maine State Legislature unanimously voted in favor of strengthening and clarifying the existing Kid-Safe Products Law.  This effort was the result of collaboration between Maine’s business community and environmental health advocates who sought common ground for a solution to protect children’s health and find a workable process for businesses to phase out harmful chemicals in their products. 

PPNNE opposed the original version of  the bill, LD 1129, because it was industry-backed and rendered the Kid-Safe Product Act ineffective.  With great testimony from a broad range of advocates, small business owners, scientists, mothers, and young women at the public hearing, we demonstrated strong public pressure to protect the health of women and children from chemical harm.

Click here to read a more detailed description of this environmental victory and what it means for Maine women and families--written by our allies at Environmental Health Strategy Center.

Posted by on May 17th, 2011 No Comments

BPA Phase-Out Becomes Maine Law

We are excited to share the Maine Bisphenol A (BPA) bill has become law! The new law will phase out BPA in baby bottles and reusable food and beverage containers to further protect Mainers from the harmful chemical.

The bill became law without Governor LePage’s signature, who said the worst BPA could do is give some women “little beards.”  BPA exposure has been linked to a significant number of health problems, including learning disabilities, behavior problems, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive damage, diabetes, and obesity. The BPA phase out is a common-sense approach to protecting the health and safety of Maine families.

Maine bans BPA from baby bottles and other resusable food containers

Statement from the Environmental Health Strategy Center, April 22, 2011

BPA Phase-Out to Become New Maine Law Today

Governor LePage Decides Not to Sign or Veto Bill Enacted by the Legislature 

Use of the chemical BPA (bisphenol A) in baby bottles, sippy cups and other reusable food and beverage containers will no longer be legal in Maine effective January 1, 2012.  The Maine Legislature approved the BPA bill April 12th and the measure was sent to Governor LePage for his signature.  The Governor had ten days to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without signature.  The deadline for the Governor’s action is the end of the day today and, according to a spokesperson for the Governor, he has decided neither to sign nor veto it so it will become law at the end of the day.

Mike Belliveau, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a Maine-based public health organization that has spearheaded a campaign in support of the BPA phase-out law issued the following statement regarding enactment of the new law:

"It's great for Maine kids and families that the BPA phase-out has been finalized. It's also sad that the Governor didn't listen to the overwhelming scientific, Legislative and public support and actually sign the phase-out himself.

This phase-out of BPA was the common sense thing to do. The scientific evidence of harm from BPA and the availability of safer alternatives was overwhelming. It's a fight that was really over before the Governor ever picked it.

The major source of BPA exposure for babies and children right now is infant formula and baby food packaging. The Governor may get another chance to decide if he stands with Maine families or with the chemical industry if a phase out of BPA for those sources comes to his desk in the next few years."

BPA was identified as Maine’s first priority chemical under the Kid-Safe Products Act. State and federal scientists have linked BPA exposure to harmful effects on brain development, behavior and the prostate gland among other health concerns. Governor LePage identified overturning the BPA rule as part of his environmental rollback proposal released in January and made national news when he wrongly stated that the worst BPA could do is give some women “little beards”.  The new law received overwhelming bipartisan support with a vote of 35-0 in the Senate and 145-3 in the House of Representatives.

Posted by on April 25th, 2011 No Comments

Power of the Onesie Lobby Day!

Feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with all the talk of toxins in our bodies? Unsure of how to make a positive difference? Come to The Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Vermont's Lobby Day!!

When: Thursday, February 24th; 9:30 am –2:00pm
Where: Vermont State House --115 State Street, Montpelier.
Who: Students, Families and kids of all ages
What: A day to speak to your elected officials

Tell our legislators that more needs to be done to protect Vermonters from toxic chemicals in schools, homes, and products.  This lobby day is hosted by VPIRG, Toxics Action Center, River Network, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Mama Says, VT Public Health Association, and Voices for Vermont’s Children, and Informed Green Solutions. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Charity Carbine at charity@vpirg.orgor 223-8421 x 4108


Posted by on February 10th, 2011 No Comments

VIDEO: Toxic Chemical Lobby-Exclusive Leaked Footage

There’s nothing funny about infertility, miscarriage, lowered sperm counts, early onset puberty, or any other reproductive health problem. Unfortunately, chemicals in everyday products have been linked to all of these diseases and more. Congress has the opportunity to change this by supporting the Safe Chemical Act of 2010. You can help, too, by watching this video from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and urging Congress to make sure the products we reach for, sleep on, and eat from every day aren’t loaded with toxic chemicals.

Chemicals aren’t sitting still and neither should you. Take action today.

Posted by on July 20th, 2010 No Comments

Are you washing with green products or is it all just a greenwash?

sevens-sins-of-greenwashingIt is easy to fall into the trap of greenwashing since “being green” is the latest craze these days. What exactly is “greenwashing?”  It’s defined as “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service,” according to TerraChoice Environmental Marketing.

As you’ve hopefully learned by now, there are little industry standards and regulations when it comes to chemicals in this country. This means companies could define their product as “natural” or “eco-friendly” and not be held to any sort of accountability.   Most products on the market contain “trade secrets” or fragrances.  Even a company like SC Johnson, which is entering the green market with its Nature’s Source cleaning products, labels their products on the bottles and on their websites, but fails to list what is actually in their “fragrances.”

To arm yourself and fight greenwashing, check out TerraChoice’s 2009 report - 7 Sins of Greenwashing.  It will not only help companies from committing these sins, but will help consumers look for these sins so they are not stuck with a less than green product.  You can be aware of greenwashing as long as you are equipped with the right information and these helpful hints from

Posted by on March 16th, 2010 No Comments