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

Posts Tagged ‘Deca’

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

Body Burden Study: Toxic chemicals found in the bodies of Vermonters

chartThe Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Vermont, an organization in which Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is a member of, released the first Body Burden study to be done in Vermont.  Body Burden studies test to find what chemicals we have in our bodies.

The report, Toxic Exposures in the Green Mountain State, tested the bodies of six Vermonters for a variety of common chemicals found in the environment and consumer products.  These chemicals - including bisphenol A (BPA), mercury, organochlorine pesticides, and flame retardants known as Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) – have all been linked to harmful health impacts ranging from cancer to neurological damage to birth defects.

The amount of each chemical found in the bodies of participants varied widely.  According to the study:

  • BPA was found in every participant and levels of the chemical in three of the participants exceeded the national norm;
  • Levels of mercury were found in four participants, each time equaling or exceeding the national norm;
  • Seven types of organochlorine pesticides were found in the blood of all participants, and DDT – banned in 1972 – was found in the bodies of five of the six Vermonters; and
  • Twenty different types of flame retardants were present in all of the participants, and Deca was found in all but one of the Vermonters.

“We participated in this study because as one of the largest providers of reproductive health care in our region, we believe it’s our responsibility to help our patients and communities understand the link between their health and the products they put in and on their bodies.   It is part of our role as health care providers to educate our patients about how to reduce their exposure to harmful contaminants,” said Ellen Starr, V.P. of PPNNE Health Center Operations. (more…)

Posted by on February 11th, 2010 No Comments

Energizing the Chemical Reform Debate

CB002069The more we learn about the 80,000-100,000 unregulated chemicals out there, the more we realize how dangerous some are to our health.  There is growing evidence linking chemical exposure to infertility, pregnancy loss, adverse birth outcomes, various cancers and other health issues. Can you believe that the steepest rise in infertility in past 13 years—an increase of 41%—has been for women 25 and under? It’s time to clean up these chemicals.

State by state, environmental health advocates are pushing for chemical reform and now Vermont has joined that effort. Representative Willem Jewett is sponsoring bill H.484, an act relating to the regulation of toxic substances.  This bill is a common-sense first step to removing toxic chemicals from everyday products, getting important chemical information into the hands of consumers and retailers, and engaging market forces to encourage innovation and safer technology.

PPNNE’s Senior Public Affairs Director, Chris Quint, testified in support of this bill today.  Here’s an excerpt from his testimony:

“It is becoming increasingly clear to those of us who work for reproductive justice — who have long fought for a woman’s right to control her reproductive destiny — that we must begin to turn our attention to the environmental toxins that are affecting the ability of couples to become pregnant, have a healthy pregnancy, and give birth to a healthy child.  PPNNE believes that it is our responsibility as a health care organization to help our patients make the link between human health and the products we put in our bodies, on our bodies, and in our homes.  We also believe that it is appropriate and responsible for our government to do its part as well by working to prioritize the worst of the worst chemicals and require manufacturers to disclose the use of those chemicals in the products that Vermont women and families use every day.  For these reasons, PPNNE is proud to support H.484 and would urge the committee to join us.
This bill establishes a common-sense framework based on credible scientific evidence for promoting safer alternatives to known harmful chemicals that place kids’ health at risk from contact with everyday products.  The bill takes a first step toward fixing our broken chemical safety system.  It establishes a workable process, market incentives and new state policy tools.  Implementation of the bill can begin with existing state resources.  Vermont has already cost-effectively replaced toxics like mercury, arsenic and deca with safer alternatives.”
In order to pass this critical legislation though, we all need to voice our concern. I bet you are going to ask what you can do to help, right?  Call your local represenative and let them know you support Representative Jewett’s bill for comprehensive chemical reform and they should, too! You can also follow our live tweets from the testimony.

Posted by on January 27th, 2010 1 Comment

Maine Identifies Toxic Chemicals

Protecting our ChildrenIn 2008, Maine’s Governor John Baldacci signed into law an Act to Protect Children's Health and the Environment from Toxic Chemicals in Toys and Children's Products. This law is aimed at protecting children’s health from unnecessary and dangerous chemicals in everyday consumer products. It is also an important step toward protecting Maine’s natural environment, as well as women of childbearing age, from the toxic effects of chemicals.

The law requires Maine to adopt a list of priority chemicals of high concern, forces manufacturers to disclose the toxic chemicals they add to products, and authorizes the state to require safer alternatives whenever they are available.  This point is so critical because it finally places the responsibility on the manufacturer, not the consumer.


The first list of chemicals has been released and is available on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s website.  Reporter Meg Haskell with the Bangor Daily News recently wrote about the list.


 “At 83 pages, the list includes many compounds whose names would be unfamiliar to most people. But some, such as lead, mercury and formaldehyde, are widely recognized for their toxic effects on babies and young children.


Others, such as phthalates, bisphenol-A and deca, have become more familiar in recent years as public health and environmental groups have sounded the alarm about their presence in household goods.


Infant formula, plastic shower curtains, toys, cosmetics, furniture and home electronics are among the products that can contain and emit the toxic chemicals.”


This list reinforces the concern and need for national reform, don’t you think?


Posted by on July 24th, 2009 No Comments

Deca Bill Update

The bill to ban Deca passed the House Thursday as part of the health care bill.  Keeping a toxic chemical linked to developmental and reproductive problems out of our mattresses sounds like  a no-brainer, but the bill was not without controversy.  Citizens for Fire Safety (CFS), a faux grassroots group, bombarded Vermonters with robo-calls falsely implying the end of Deca would be the end of flame retardants.  Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the bill is on it's way to the Governor's desk.

What does this mean for your mattress? Not much.  As for your future mattresses, it means plenty:  you'll know they don't contain Deca.  After July 1st, 2010 it will be illegal to manufacture or sell mattresses & upholstered furniture containing Deca in Vermont.  After July 1st, 2012 the same will hold true for computers and televisions, though retailers will be able to sell inventory purchased before July 1st 2009.  The bill also includes safeguards against Deca being replaced with equally toxic alternatives.

Kudos to all the legislators who made this possible, including Representative Weston who spoke in favor of the ban.

Thank you also to VPIRG, the Professional Firefighters of Vermont, and the rest of the Alliance For A Clean & Healthy VT for your work on this important effort.


Posted by on May 9th, 2009 No Comments

Toxic Flame Retardants In Your Bed? That’s Bad Chemistry.

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England is working with The Alliance For a Clean and Healthy Vermont on a bill to keep Deca, a toxic flame retardant, out of mattresses, electronics and upholstered furniture. The bill passed the Vermont Senate and is now being considered in the House.  


Help by calling your representative to urge them to support the Deca ban bill.

Deca, Penta & Octa are PBDE type chemicals currently used as flame retardants in furniture and electronics.  They are known reproductive and developmental toxicants and make their way from products  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. Fire fighting does not have to have toxic consequences: safer alternative flame retardants exist. 

Please call your representatives to ask them to support the Deca ban bill.  Not sure who to call or what to say? More info after the jump.


Posted by on April 23rd, 2009 1 Comment