Toxics Linked to Hormone Disruption and Asthma Found in Many Consumer Products

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 13, 2012

CONTACT: Anne Hulick · 860-302-4861 · ahulick@cleanwater.org

TOXICS LINKED TO HORMONE DISRUPTION AND ASTHMA FOUND IN MANY CONSUMER PRODUCTS

Connecticut Coalition leaders point to study as further proof of needed reform – Senate Bill 274

HARTFORD – Pointing to a study recently released by the Silent Spring Institute that tested 213 consumer products for toxic chemicals associated with the rising rates of endocrine disruption related disease, Anne Hulick RN, JD, Coalition for a Safe and Healthy Connecticut Coordinator said that the need for Connecticut lawmakers to act on comprehensive toxic chemical reform legislation is now more important than ever. The results were reported in a peer reviewed article in Environmental Health Perspectives on March 8th.

“This study highlights that consumer products are not always as “natural” or as “safe” as they’re advertised and consumers shouldn’t need a degree in chemistry when shopping for their families,” said Hulick. “Unfortunately, this is yet one more reason why Connecticut families need lawmakers to support legislation before the General Assembly to protect consumers – specifically children – from exposure to these chemicals.”

Hulick was referring to legislation raised by the Legislature’s Public Health Committee, Senate Bill 274 — AAC Chemicals of High Concern to Children. The bill would create a Green Ribbon Science Panel of experts in the fields of science and green chemistry whose members will advise the Departments of Public Health (DPH) and Energy and Environment (DEEP) on which chemicals currently being used in commerce (for example in children’s toys and common household objects) pose the biggest health threat to children and pregnant women. Every two years the state agencies and the panel will report back to the Legislature and recommend policies to reduce the public’s exposure to toxic chemicals.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that we need a systematic, scientifically-based methodology for prioritizing chemicals that cause harm to people, particularly children and young adults,” State Rep. Betsy Ritter, Chair of the Public Health Committee said. “We must focus our attention according to the harm a chemical does – especially those with physical effects that children carry from the of point exposure through the rest of their lives.”

The Silent Spring Institute tested a variety of consumer products, including cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreens, shower curtains, air fresheners, drier sheets, and other household goods made by Colgate, Unilever, S.C. Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Seventh Generation, and Ecover among other manufacturers.

Environmental health advocates across the nation see this new study as confirmation that ubiquitous chemical exposure is playing a factor in adverse health impacts.

“The Toxic Substances Control Act, created in 1976 with the intention of allowing the EPA to monitor and regulate chemical substances, has proven to be a failure,” said Mark Mitchell, MD, MPH, of Mitchell Environmental Health Associates and the Environmental Health Task Force at the National Medical Association. “Under TSCA, the EPA has only been able to ban or limit the use of five types of chemicals out of the 20,000 introduced since 1976. With reform stalled at the federal level, individual states have taken on the task of protecting their citizens from the health dangers linked to toxic chemical exposure. Connecticut lawmakers have shown themselves to be leaders and the health and wellbeing of Connecticut residents depends on them continuing to do so.”

Dr. Mitchell, who also founded the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice added that as the number of chemicals used in the United States has increased, so have the incidence rates for different types of cancers (brain, breast, bladder, liver and many more.) The incidence rates of environmentally related childhood illnesses, such as asthma and childhood cancers, have also been steadily rising over the past 25 to 30 years.

“This new study found PVC products, including a pillow protector and shower curtain, contained high levels of the toxic phthalate DEHP,” explains Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. “Phthalates have been banned in toys, but are widespread in many PVC products children come in contact with in schools and even at home. Phthalates have been linked to asthma, adverse impacts on brain development, and reproductive health problems in baby boys. Thankfully, there are safer cost-effective alternatives to phthalate-laden PVC products for our schools and homes.”

The products were tested in 2008, and the study authors acknowledge that product samples can vary and that some formulations may have changed.

Download the press release.