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

Posts Tagged ‘mercury’

LePage’s Devastating Environmental Proposals

Maine has come a long way to ensure our health and environment is protected for families and children.  In the last thirty years, we’ve cleaned up our heavily polluted rivers, increased protections for inland fisheries and wildlife, and passed protections to ensure the everyday products we buy are safe from toxic harm. 

In January, Governor Paul Le Page sent the Maine Legislature a sweeping package of roll backs of Maine’s environmental protections.  If passed, the changes would increase air pollution, expose Mainers to mercury, lead, and other toxic chemicals, threaten wildlife, weaken policies that hold companies accountable for breaking the law, and abolish the Board of Environmental Protection--a citizen board that gives Maine people a voice in environmental policymaking, among other things. 

In the next couple of weeks, Maine legislators will decide whether they will stand for out-of-state interest or the interests of Maine people.   Send a message to lawmakers saying you are outraged by LePage's proposals. You can also attend the upcoming hearing on Monday, February 14th at the Statehouse to voice your opinion in person.  

Maine women deserve the right to live in a clean environment and know that the products we buy won’t harm our health or our families.  We are committed to ensuring the preservation of Maine’s progress in environmental health. 

Maine is already a national leader for advancing environmental protections in the realm of public health, especially the health of our children through the landmark 2008 Kid-Safe Products Act.  LePage’s proposals would take move Maine backwards.  Take action to preserve Maine’s progress for generations to come.

Posted by on February 11th, 2011 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


It is unneighborly to ship toxic e-waste to developing nations, to say the least. Used electronics contain lead, mercury, barium, arsenic...none of it good. Our waste impacts the poorest of the poor, in the of ugliest ways. See this quick synopsis:

The good news is that there are ways to convert some of our e-waste into humanitarian outreach. A wonderful company, named HopePhones
makes our converts our used phones into tools for medical outreach in impoverished and remote areas.

When a cell phone is sent to the HopePhones recycling center (detailed information is offered on their site), a value is assigned to the recycled phone, which is put toward purchase of a HopePhone.  These phones are distributed to community health workers at medical clinics in developing nations to connect them to distant patients.

"a $10 cell phone will give 50 families access to emergency medical care, health information, transportation services and clinic resources."

The average recycled phone enables the purchase of 2-3 HopePhones. According the their site, 1700 phones have been donated to date.

Should other opportunities present themselves to spin gold from straw, or to turn e-waste into life-changing technology, we will let you know.

Should you have any resources on this, please contact us so we can help spread the word.

Posted by on October 30th, 2009 No Comments

Plastics on My Brain

At work, we recently developed some beautiful materials educating people about various toxins hiding in everyday items. The card about plastic keeps me up at night.

Plastics are labeled with numbers surrounded by triangles (stamped underneath the item).  For years, I thought it had to do with recycling. Turns out, these numbers signify my exposure to toxins: 09-plastic-spectrum-image1

Some yucky plastic facts:

  • #7 is the plastic we highlighted in a recent post. (Bisphenol A-known as BPA.) I won't repeat the gory details here, but will say that all Nalgene has left the building at my house.
  • #3 is PVC (vinyl).  This is lovingly referred to as "the poison plastic" because it contains mercury (linked to cancer), dioxin (carcinogen linked to birth defects, sperm damage and asthma) and phthalates (increased estrogen).

After a thorough inspection of my house, I found #7 = baby bottles, sippy cups and the 5 gallon water cooler commonly found in offices. #3 was my shower curtain, some of my son's toys, plastic food wrap (!!!) and some food storage containers. It was the take-out soup container for my favorite restaurant!

Take a look around your house.  Choose safer plastics like #1, #2, #4 or #5.

There are some great resources available for smarter choices around food and plastics, a plastic container buying guide, and a little bedside reading about the harmful effects of plastics on kids and your reproductive health that will keep you up at night.

Posted by on April 28th, 2009 2 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