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

Posts Tagged ‘PBDE chemicals’

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

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

A Crucial Catch: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Last weekend, I went the Pittsburgh Steelers football game and, in lieu of my terrible towel, I got a pink towel.  The pink towel reads: A Crucial Catch, Annual Screening Saves Lives.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and PPNNE is encouraging women to make breast exams a priority. According to the Breast Cancer Fund, breast cancer strikes more women in the world than any other type of cancer, except skin cancer. 

Last month at PPNNE’s conference, A Critical Link: The Environment and Women’s Health, Dr. Janet Gray spoke about the growing body of scientific evidence linking chemicals and radiation in our environment to the current high rates of breast cancer. There is a ton of information out there on what chemicals can cause cancer; reading Dr. Gray’s report is a great place to start.
The Breast Cancer Fund, with the help of Dr. Gray and the Daily Green, is posting prevention tips on their
Facebook page each weekday for Breast Cancer Awareness Month-check it out.   
Here are some of their tips:
 -Choose a bisphenol A (BPA)-free water or baby bottle
 -Drink safe water (not in a plastic bottle)
 -Choose truly “microwave-safe” containers – no plastic or plastic wrap

What’s the old saying?  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In addition to these tips, remember that getting a yearly breast exam is crucial.



Posted by on October 9th, 2009 No Comments

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

Summer Reading

Do you want in depth information on the links between human health & the environment? Are you  just looking for a good book to read on the beach?  Do you doubt the existence of one book that fits both of these criteria? Please, allow Dr. Sandra Steingraber to prove you wrong!

Steingraber is a scientist and a storyteller. She weaves biographical information, history, and scientific data into a coherent picture of how “Lifestyle and environment are not independent categories that can be untwisted from each other: to talk about one is to talk about the other” (Steingraber, 1997).


Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment examines the link between chemicals and cancer, challenging the heavy emphasis we place on genetics and lifestyle as causes for cancer.  Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood discusses the ecology of pregnancy. Both books are a strong argument for the precautionary principle: that chemicals should not be released into the environment until we know they are “almost certainly not going to hurt anyone” and that least toxic alternatives should always be used (Steingraber, 1997).

Dr. Steingraber is the key note speaker at PPNNE’s upcoming Critical Link conference. She is as compelling a speaker as she is a writer. We hope you will come see her in person.

Read any good environmental health books lately? Let me know. I am looking for more summer reading.

Posted by on June 15th, 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