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

Posts Tagged ‘plastic’

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

Ana Soto to Speak at UVM (2011)

Update: This event occurred in 2011. For more information about Ana Soto, please visit the Tufts website


Ana Soto to Speak at UVM
Thursday March, 31st,  2011 @ 4pm
Carpenter Auditorium, UVM Campus
Given Building E131

We’ve been sharing a lot of information with you on environmental health recently. Well here is your opportunity to hear it FIRST hand, from one of the leading researchers in the field, Dr. Ana Soto, an amazing woman and a pioneer in the field.

Ana Soto, M.D., is Professor of Cell Biology at Tufts University School of Medicine and Professor of Cancer Development at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, U.K. Dr. Soto was one of the earliest investigators of endocrine disruption and its role in the development of cancer, and was one of twenty scientists at the 1991 Wingspread Conference who developed the term "endocrine disruptors.” Her research interests include the mechanisms of steroid hormone action, control of cell proliferation, breast and prostate neoplasias, and endocrine disruptors, including Bisphenol-A (BPA). She is now using animal models, 3D tissue cultures, and mathematical modeling to study the role of stroma-epithelium interactions in carcinogenesis and in tumor regression


Posted by on March 30th, 2011 No Comments

Looking Great and Staying Green with Jelly Shoes

Remember Jelly shoes from the late 80’s/early 90’s?  I sure do! I loved them and wore them throughout my childhood.  So you can imagine how excited I was when I found these—the new and improved jellies! 

Original jellies were made out of PVC (the notorious “poison plastic”). But these new kicks by Melissa Plastic Dreams have an environmentally-friendly twist. 

Melissa Plastic Dreams uses sustainable development in order to provide these retro, plastic fashions to current plastic shoe connoisseurs everywhere without compromising the needs of inevitable future generations.   They are all made out of mono plastics that can be dismantled, recycled, and reused.  Even the processes with which these shoes are made involve treating and recycling every solid, liquid, and gas within the factory in order to reduce waste. 

Now you no longer have to sacrifice your desire to stay green when fulfilling your passion for plastic fashion! Find these new jellies at Shopstyle.  Also, check out MindBodyGreen and their list of “3 Fierce Green Shoes” for more fashionable and environmentally friendly shoes. 

Additional green fashion tip: Read Summer Rayne Oakes’ best selling book Style, Naturally, which provides easy, and affordable options for staying green and looking great!  I will definitely be checking out this book as part of my continual process to be greener and more environmentally friendly.  What better way to start this somewhat overwhelming and daunting change in your life than by starting with your summer wardrobe!

Posted by on May 18th, 2010 No Comments

Kicking the Bottle…Again

SIGG is offering a free Bottle exchange before October 31st.

SIGG is offering a free bottle exchange, before October 31st.

You know those shiny metal water bottles you replaced your old NalgeneTM ones with? (Yeah, the ones you practically maxed out your credit cards to buy…) Well, it turns out that some of them – most notably those made by so-called eco-friendly manufacturers SIGG and Gaiam – may be lined with a material that leaches bisphenol A (a.k.a. BPA), the nasty endocrine-disrupting, cancer-causing chemical you were trying to avoid in the first place! (Scroll down to read one of our older blog posts or visit to learn more about BPA and how you can reduce your exposures.)

The “good” news is that SIGG is offering a voluntary exchange program if you have a SIGG bottle that was made prior to August 2008. (Here’s how to tell whether or not you have one of the bottles in question.) You may also be able to return your bottle to any major retailer, such as EMS, in exchange for a new BPA-free version. Either way, make sure you act fast! The program ends on October 31st.

If, like me, all this information makes your head swim and leaves you thirsty for some unbiased suggestions about what kind of bottle you should (or shouldn’t) buy, The ZRecs 2009 BPA-Free Water Bottle Showdown” includes reviews for nearly 40 alternatives.

Posted by on October 16th, 2009 No Comments

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

Bagging a Bad Habit


I have a confession to make. I’m addicted to single-use plastic bags…


I’ve tried to quit. I’ve tried substituting paper for plastic. And of course I own a bunch of Chicobags and a plethora of other reuseable shopping bags. But as a busy working mom who lives 30-minutes from the nearest supermarket, I often shop when I can. Which means I don’t always have bags with me when I head to the store. I know, it’s shameful. But awareness is the first step toward making change, right?


Perhaps because of my pervasive plastic habit, I was struck by a recent news story about Yvonne Benedict, a so-called “bag lady” in northern, VT, whom the reporter described as “an unlikely environmental superhero.” Hey, if an 86-year-old woman can find a way to help the environment, I can too. Have a look at what Yvonne is doing to keep plastic bags out of local landfills. 


Still wondering about that age-old question: Paper or plastic?
In addition to contributing to environmental devastation, studies show that the inks and colorants used on some plastic bags contain  lead, proven to damage the brain, kidneys, and reproductive system, and cause birth defects, slow growth, and  hearing problems. 


They say admitting your addition is the first step in kicking the habit. Now that my secret is, well, no longer secret, I'm committed to redoubling my efforts to bagging my bag habit. I'll keep you posted.

Posted by on August 20th, 2009 No Comments

Go to the Head of the Class With Smart School Supplies

Aaahhh…September is right around the corner.  September signals summer slowly winding to an end, and for many adults, signals a renewed sense of purpose.  I think many of us “grown-ups” regard September as a kind of “New Year” as we are so used to associating this month with the start of a new school year.  So, in the spirit of my pseudo holiday, I have decided to take on a September New Year’s Resolution - I hereby resolve to send my sons back to school with PVC-free school supplies.


PVC, polyvinyl chloride, has been notoriously deemed the “poison plastic” for good reason.  Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is unique among plastics because it contains dangerous chemical additives used to soften or stabilize it. These harmful chemicals include phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins. One could argue that no other plastic contributes to the release of as many reproductive health toxicants than PVC.  PVC’s lifecycle is one of the largest sources of dioxins in our environment.  Exposure to dioxin has been linked with birth defects, decreased fertility, inability to carry pregnancies to term, lowered testosterone levels, decreased sperm counts, and decreased testis size.  Furthermore, several studies have detected measureable amounts of dioxin in women's breastmilk.

Additionally, PVC is responsible for the consumption of over 90% of all phthalates worldwide.  Phthalates must be added to PVC in large quantities – and can make up to 60% of the final product by weight.  Over 5 million tons of phthalates are used in vinyl every year, and more than 80 million tons of phthalates are estimated to be contained in the stock of PVC products now in use in buildings and other applications.  Exposure to phthalates has been linked to reproductive problems including shorter pregnancy duration, premature breast development in females and sperm damage and impaired reproductive development in males.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Yes, PVC is bad, but what on earth does PVC have to do with school supplies?”  Parents across the country are getting ready to stock up on binders and lunchboxes, and while it’s easy to know the healthiest foods to pack in those lunchboxes, many parents are not aware of the toxic plastic used to make them.  In fact, the average child’s character-themed backpack is filled with supplies and materials made from toxic PVC. Lunchboxes, binders, vinyl backpacks, and even art supplies are frequently made out of PVC.  (more…)

Posted by on August 5th, 2009 1 Comment

Hop on the BPA Ban Bandwagon

This session, PPNNE worked on bills to reduce our exposure to environmental contaminants  at the state level in the Maine & Vermont . Now state legislatures are wrapping up for the summer,  and we're watching the US Congress.

Remember Bishpenol-A (aka BPA)? Yes, that BPA-- the ubiquitous chemical linked to reproductive health problems including breast cancer, low sperm counts and early puberty.

Is Bisphenol-A lurking in this can?

Is Bisphenol-A lurking in this can?

It's time to make BPA a thing of the past! Senator Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Markey (D-MA)  introduced the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2009, a bill that bans BPA from food and beverage containers.  Over 90% of us harbor detectable levels of BPA in our bodies and food contamination is the primary culprit, so this is a common sense way to reduce exposure.

You can help speed up BPA's departure from our beverages and our bodies by  asking your elected officials to support this bill. Take action now!

Thanks to the Breast Cancer Fund and VPIRG for their work on this important issue.

Posted by on June 1st, 2009 No Comments

Intoxicating Toxins


Not so long ago, I used to LOVE that new shower curtain smell. You know the one I mean. I remember inhaling so deeply, that I’d sometimes get a bit dizzy. Now I know that the intoxicating smell I once enjoyed was actually TOXIC – and perhaps reaping havoc with my health and reproductive system. In fact, according to the Center for Health, Environment and Justice new laboratory testing found that those innocuous-looking vinyl shower curtains can release over 100 chemicals into the air, some of which can damage the respiratory and reproductive systems, and even cause cancer. (And I thought mold and mildew were the culprits!) The good news is that safer PVC-free curtains are widely available. So, if it’s time to replace that grungy old shower curtain or liner but you’re worried about bringing toxic chemicals into your home, check out this FREE resource: Pass Up the Poison Plastic - The PVC-Free Guide for Your Family & Home. In addition to providing some alternatives to PVC-based products, this comprehensive guide includes info about other plastics to avoid (such as polycarbonate and polystyrene) and tips for what you can do to shop smarter.


Five Easy Steps to Begin Going PVC-Free in Your Home


1. When remodeling your home, use PVC-free building materials.

2. Buy PVC-free baby products and toys for your children, grandchildren, and relatives.

3. Replace your PVC shower curtain.

4. Shop for PVC-free electronics.

5. Don’t buy products that are packaged in PVC.


Just remember: bad news comes in threes, don’t buy PVC.



From Pass Up the Poison Plastic - The PVC-Free Guide for Your Family & Home


Posted by on May 13th, 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