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

Posts Tagged ‘green healthcare’

VT BPA Update: Bill Passes Senate, Headed for House Human Services Committee

Great news! Last week the Vermont Senate passed S.247, An Act Relating to Bisphenol A (BPA)--a  bill that would phase out BPA in reusable food and beverage containers and in infant formula or baby food that is stored in a plastic container, jar or can in favor of safer alternatives.

S.247 is an important step in providing much needed information about which products contain the harmful chemical BPA, so that all men and women have the ability to plan a safe and healthy pregnancy and family.

Chamber of the Vermont Senate. Photographed by Jim Hood, August 2007.

Chamber of the Vermont Senate. Photographed by Jim Hood, August 2007.

An amendment that would have weakened S.247 was proposed, but luckily it was defeated by a bipartisan vote of 16-14.  Here’s the list of Senators who voted against weakening the bill: Ashe of Chittenden, Ayer of Addison, Brock of Franklin, Carris of Rutland, Choate of Caledonia, Cummings of Washington, Doyle of Washington, Flanagan of Chittenden, Giard of Addison, Illuzzi of Essex-Orleans, Kitchel of Caledonia, Lyons of Chittenden, MacDonald of Orange, McCormack of Windsor, Racine of Chittenden, and Snelling of Chittenden. Special shout out to Senator Ginny Lyons who is the lead sponsor of this bill and has been working really hard to keep the momentum going.

The next stop for the S.247 is the House Human Services Committee.  PPNNE will be working hard to keep this bill moving along with our coalition partner the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Vermont. If you want to learn more or get involved, email

Posted by on April 12th, 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

Better to Be Safe than Sorry

Why do we wear seatbelts? Why do we bring a surplus of diapers and multiple changes of clothes when we take our babies on a single outing?  Why do we wear helmets while biking and skiing? Why – because by golly, we’re smart kids and we have learned to intrinsically employ the precautionary principle…now if only our law and policy makers could do the same.


According to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, “there are 82,000 chemicals available for use in the U.S. yet only about 200 chemicals have been assessed for safety.  Only 5 chemicals have been removed from use based on health and safety concerns.”  Currently, in the United Sates, law makers require strong, and in many cases, conclusive evidence that a contaminant has adverse human health effects before preventative actions are taken.  In other words, the burden is on people to prove a chemical is unsafe before lawmakers will take action. The problem with this policy, however, is “serous, evident effects such as endocrine disruption, climate change, [and] cancer…can seldom be linked to a single cause.  Scientific standards of certainty may be impossible to attain when causes and outcomes are multiple; latent periods are long; timing of exposure is crucial; unexposed, “control” populations do not exist; or cofounding factors are unidentified ( ). 

So, if definitively linking specific contaminants to specific adverse health outcomes is sometimes a nearly impossible task, how could our government better protect us?  The U.S. should borrow a page from the European Union’s playbook and begin to adopt the Precautionary Principle – that’s how.  (more…)

Posted by on July 11th, 2009 No Comments

Some Good News about the Environment…For a Change

Ever since Al Gore started promoting his film “An Inconvenient Truth,” much of what we’ve seen or heard about the environment has been bad news. Whether it’s environmental links to cancer, widespread drought, or rising sea levels and melting polar ice caps, all this information can make you feel pretty hopeless. While there is plenty to be aware of -- and concerned about -- there's no need to despair.


On my way home from work the other day, I was lucky enough to catch an NPR story about the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, OH.


For those of you who don’t know, an oil slick and debris in the Cuyahoga River caught fire on June 22, 1969, drawing national attention to environmental problems in that state. Now, forty years later, the river is making a comeback and has gone from “fire to fish-friendly,” proving that when we set our minds to it, we CAN make a difference. 


Want to know more about what YOU can do? Register for PPNNE's “Critical Link” conference on September 10, where a panel of experts will address how all of us can protect ourselves and our families and exercise greater power as consumers and citizens in a discussion titled, “We ARE Part of the Solution.”



Posted by on June 25th, 2009 No Comments

Did you know that…

...doctors' offices can be toxic environments? There are many hidden toxins in what is a basic health care facility.

In an attempt to provide a greener health care environment for our patients, we have launched an internal green health care audit across our three states (VT, NH, ME) and our 27 health centers. Our Portland, ME, site is the first of our sites to meet the criteria.  We:

  • cut down on bio hazardous waste so that only items that truly need to be burned are being burned
  • cut down on mercury in the health center (using low merc light bulbs and blood pressure  equipment without mercury)
  • use a green cleaning system
  • eliminated latex gloves

Ask your physician about toxins in his/her practice.

Posted by on March 30th, 2009 No Comments