Home > Toxics & Our Health

We want to live flame retardant free!

Posted on Jul 21, 2016

There’s something in your couch and it’s not just foam. “7 out of 10 of us (firefighters) are going to get cancer at some point in our lives” - Jay Colbert from the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts spoke at the MA lobby day a few weeks ago along with Representative Decker, Senator Creem, and Tolle Graham from Mass COSH. 

 

Here’s what you can do to support passage of the flame retardants bill this session:

1. Call and/or write your State Representative!

2. Watch and share this video of Massachusetts activists calling for flame retardant free life!

3. Share and re-tweet the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow’s posts on Facebook and Twitter  and be sure to tag House Speaker DeLeo on Facebook: @HouseSpeakerRobertADeleo and Twitter: @speakerdeleo

For more info on S. 2302, An Act to protect children, firefighters and families from harmful flame retardants, (or the nearly identical H.4241), click here

Pick up the Phone for Kids and Firefighters

Posted on Jun 14, 2016

FR campaignTake action from your desk or your couch: join Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow for a call-in day to protect children and firefighters from toxic flame retardants. 

What: On June 15th, call your State Representative and ask them to do all that they can to pass S.2302 and H.4241 before July 31st. 

Why: Flame retardants chemicals in our homes have been linked to cancer, learning and developmental disabilities in children and many more health issues. The Massachusetts Senate has passed a bill to ban toxic flame retardants in children’s products and household furniture and the House has until this July 31st to do the same. Our strategy is clear: light a fire under the House of Representatives.

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MA S.2293 flame retardant bill passes the senate!

Posted on May 19, 2016


Massachusetts Senate passes bill to protect children, families, firefighters from toxic flame retardants


S.2293 Press ReleaseChemicals linked to cancer, infertility, thyroid problems regularly used in couches, nursing pillows, highchairs, other children’s products

 

Contact:

Elizabeth Saunders, Clean Water Action

617-869-3937, esaunders@cleanwater.org

Melissa Hurley, Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts

781-799-4406, melissa@pffm.org

 

BOSTON, Mass.—The Massachusetts Senate voted favorably today to ban eleven toxic flame retardants from children’s products and upholstered furniture sold or manufactured in the commonwealth. The vote was hailed by firefighters, legislators and public heath advocates as a significant victory for public health and the environment who also called on the House to pass the bill swiftly.

"The value of flame retardants is certainly doubtful and given the extremely high cancer rates of firefighters the more toxic chemicals we can get out of our environment the less exposure we will have,” said Ed Kelly, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. “This bill will ensure the health and safety not only of firefighters, but our children and all citizens of Massachusetts."

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Two Out of Three Food Cans Tested Have Toxic BPA in the Linings, New Report Says

Posted on Mar 30, 2016

7 out of 10 cans contain BPA

HADLEY, MA- A new report released today by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and several national organizations that tested nearly 200 food can linings for the toxic chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA) found that two out of three cans tested have the chemical in the lining. BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that negatively impacts our hormonal systems. Evidence suggests it may contribute to a host of harmful health effects including breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and attention deficit disorder. Other studies have demonstrated the capacity of BPA to migrate into food and then into people, raising concerns about exposures to low, but biologically relevant levels of BPA. Local results were startling: five out of six cans tested from the Walmart in Hadley were found to contain BPA.

For the first time ever, this report also identified the replacement materials for BPA in can linings, and to what extent - if any - their safety has been studied. 

Buyer Beware: Toxic BPA & Regrettable Substitutes in the Linings of Canned Food (#BPA #ToxicFoodCans) was conceived and authored by the Breast Cancer Fund; Campaign for Healthier Solutions; Clean Production Action; Ecology Center; Environmental Defence (Canada); and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ Mind the Store campaign

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Boston changes fire code to allow furniture free of flame retardants in public spaces

Posted on Mar 23, 2016

New bill protects public from exposure to toxic chemicals, reflecting growing demand nationwide for flame retardant-free furniture.

 

IMAG2918BOSTON, Mass. (Wednesday, March 23, 2016)—Boston City Councilors passed a bill today to amend the city’s Fire Prevention Code, allowing hospitals, schools, colleges, and other public buildings with sprinkler systems to use furniture free of toxic flame retardant chemicals.

“This bill protects people from needless exposure to harmful flame retardants, creating a safer and healthier environment for all those who live, work, serve, and learn in our great city,” says Josh Zakim, City Councilor representing district 8, who sponsored the bill. The bill also brings Boston in line with the Massachusetts Fire Code’s regulation for upholstered furniture, as well as other major cities across the country that have taken steps to reduce the use of these toxic chemicals.

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News: State Toxic Bills Advance Through the House

Posted on Mar 8, 2016

MAstate_houseGreat News! Last week, two of the Massachusetts bills endorsed by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow took a major step forward in the process of becoming law!

H.697, an Act Relative to the Disclosure of Toxic Chemicals in Children's Products, was reported favorably out of the Joint Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and now moves on to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing!

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New Database Reveals Toxic Ingredients in Cosmetics

Posted on Jan 29, 2014

Cosmetics ShopperDid you know that retinol, the vitamin A supplement added to many anti-aging creams, is actually listed as a developmental toxin?  Or that methyleugenol, commonly used for fragrance in a variety of personal care items such as lotions and shampoos, is a known carcinogen?

Earlier this month, the California Safe Cosmetics Program launched a searchable online database listing cosmetic products containing ingredients that are known to pose risks of cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. This database is a result of the California Safe Cosmetics Act of 2005, which requires that companies self-report a list of all products sold in California that are known or suspected to contain ingredients with the aforementioned health risks.  

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Autism and toxic chemicals: evidence of a link

Posted on Dec 13, 2013

AutismAutism rates have been rising exponentially, with a 600 percent increase over the past two decades. Today 1 in 50 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the U.S. every year. Research compiled by The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy explores recent reports that there may be more at play here than better diagnosis and genetics.  There is growing evidence that there might be a correlation between environmental exposures to toxins, dietary factors and increased Autism rates, especially with prenatal and early life exposure.

ASD was previously considered purely a developmental disorder impairing communication and social interactions. It is now shown to cause physical factors such as intestinal problems, immune disorders and seizures. The increase in ASD and other developmental disorders are a huge cost to our society. The U.S. spends an average of $126 billion dollars each year on educational and medical services for people with Autism, which does not even include out of pocket expenses of families. Most of the resources devoted to ASD are being used for services and genetic research, and very few are dedicated to prevention through environmental and dietary factors.

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Pink ribbon mania: Can we shop our way out of breast cancer?

Posted on Oct 17, 2013

 

Pink ribbon productsOne in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. in her lifetime—that is 250,000 women each year. Every year 40,000 women die from breast cancer in the U.S. Breast cancer is an epidemic and the disease needs to be stopped before it starts. October is national breast cancer awareness month, which means pink ribbons as far as the eye can see, but how much are these pink ribbons really helping the cause? Since the national pink ribbon campaign began, have breast cancer rates decreased at all?   

The first breast cancer ribbon was peach, not pink, made by a woman named Charlotte Haley to campaign for the National Cancer Institute to increase funding for breast cancer prevention research. Haley was approached by Estée Lauder to use the peach ribbon to market cosmetic products, but Haley refused, fearing that the ribbon would be used for profit. That is when Estée Lauder changed the color to pink and the national marketing campaign began. You can now find the pink ribbon on an array of products, but consumers should be aware that there is no regulation of which products can advertise with a pink ribbon. In fact, many corporations are selling pink ribbon products which themselves contain chemicals linked to cancer, a marketing ploy referred to by some as “pinkwashing.” There are 80,000 chemicals produced in the U.S. every year, of which only 200 have been properly tested for human safety

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Are your clothes being greenwashed?

Posted on Nov 29, 2012

Have you ever walked into a dry cleaner and been bothered by the smell? Your nose knows: that unpleasant aroma could actually be toxic.

For the last fifty years, dry cleaners have used perchloroethylene (perc) as their most common cleaning product. Perc is a probable human carcinogen that can cause nervous system, liver, and kidney damage. Dry cleaning workers are at most risk, but when we take dry cleaned clothes home, we expose our families to this toxic chemical as well. Perc also can pollute the soil and groundwater around dry cleaning shops when improperly managed.

Circles represent number of surveyed garment cleaners in that area.
View Garment Cleaners in Massachusetts in a full screen map.

The good news is there are several alternatives to perc. The bad news is that each may have their own health and safety concerns, and it can be tough to figure out which is the best choice. A process called wet cleaning is the safest known method of professional garment cleaning, but many companies that make other dry cleaning products advertise themselves as green or environmentally friendly, even when they’re not. This is a practice known as “greenwashing.” There are steps you can take to avoid greenwashed cleaners and keep your family and yourself healthy.

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Hidden hazards inside children’s school supplies

Posted on Aug 26, 2012

Parent's guide to safer school suppliesThe Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) and Empire State Consumer Project recently tested 20 back-to-school items for phthalates –  harmful chemical additives used to make PVC (aka vinyl) plastic products soft and flexible. Can you guess what they found?

a) None! The industry has completely eliminated phthalates from all children’s products.
b) A few, but nothing to be concerned about.
c) Elevated levels of phthalates in almost every product.

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Chicago Tribune covers the chemical industry's dirty tricks

Posted on May 31, 2012

This article was provided by Safer States.

Flame retardants are found in carpets, furniture, and electronics in the homeThis month, the Chicago Tribune wrote an investigative series uncovering dirty tactics by the chemical industry that insiders have known for some time.

The series focuses on toxic flame retardants, and the methods used by industry to keep pumping millions of pounds of them into our household goods each year despite health risks and questionable effectiveness.

Flame retardants are found in all manner of household goods, including couches and other furniture, carpets and electronics.

Among other things, the Tribune investigation uncovered:

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Toxic chemicals in the workplace: Putting millions of workers at risk

Posted on May 14, 2012

From day one, labor organizations have been at the core of the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow's coalition and protecting the health of workers have been a primary objective of our mission.  Below is an article written by our friends at Safer States which celebrates the involvement of the labor movement in the fight for safer chemicals and highlights the contributions of Massachusetts labor partners in particular.

Toxic Chemicals in the WorkplaceNearly each day, four million people in the United States go to work as janitors, cleaners, maids, housekeepers, landscaping and groundskeeping workers, pesticide handlers and other maintenance occupations. Over 3% of the workforce is employed in these jobs, which are among the lowest paying jobs in the country.1 But the below-average wages aren't the worst thing about the job: these people are exposed to toxic chemicals in their workplace on a daily basis.

According to workers' compensation data, six out of every 100 custodians have a lost-time injury every year due to chemical exposure.2 The majority of injuries involve eye irritation and burns, skin irritation and burns, or breathing chemical fumes. And these are just the short-term effects.

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Are There Toxic Chemicals in Your Garden Hose Water?

Posted on May 3, 2012

Boy_drinking_from_hose_250Spring is here, summer is just around the corner, and perhaps that means that your attention is turning to your vegetable garden, flower beds, or lawn; or that visions of children running through the sprinklers sqealing with glee are dancing in your head.  As you drag those garden hoses, work gloves and tools out of the garage or basement, fresh air, moist soil and sunshine are probably on your mind, not toxic chemicals--especially if you keep a pesticide free yard.

Unfortunately, in this as in so many other corners of our homes, we might need to think twice about what toxic chemicals are lurking.  Our friends at HealthyStuff.org have released a new study which found lead, cadmium, phthalates and hazardous flame retardants in gardening products, as part of their ongoing research of hazardous substances in common consumer items.

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How Dry Cleaning is Affecting Your Health and Neighborhood

Posted on Apr 5, 2012

For the last fifty years, dry cleaners have used the chemical perchloroethylene (perc) as their most common cleaning solvent. There are more than 550 dry cleaning facilities that use perc in Massachusetts.

Perc is a probable human carcinogen. It can cause nervous system, liver and kidney damage. Dry cleaning workers are at most risk, but when we take dry cleaned clothes home, perc evaporates into the air in our homes.  Perc also can pollute the soil and groundwater around dry cleaning stores.

The map on the right shows every dry cleaner that uses perc in Massachusetts. Search for your home, workplace, and child's school to see whether a facility that uses perc is nearby.

View Perc Dry Cleaners in Massachusetts in a full screen map

 
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Hidden hazards in the nursery: flame retardants

Posted on Jan 11, 2012

Are there toxic flame retardants in this car seat?Popular baby products, including nursing pillows and car seats purchased in Massachusetts, contain toxic flame retardants linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and other health effects, according to a new report released today by the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States. Children and families are exposed to the compounds, called tris chemicals, when they escape from household items and contaminate house dust and indoor air. 

In Massachusetts, the proposed Safer Alternatives Bill (S-2079) would replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives wherever that's feasible.  The program to be created by the bill would focus on toxic chemicals used in ways that result in exposure to children or workers.

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Baby's Tub Is Still Toxic; J & J announces toxics phase out

Posted on Nov 1, 2011

Baby's Tub is Still ToxicMore than two years after leading health and parents' groups asked Johnson & Johnson to reformulate its flagship baby shampoo to remove a cancer-causing chemical, the company is still using formaldehyde-releasing preservatives in Johnson's Baby Shampoo in some countries (including the U.S.), while formulas sold in other countries are free of these chemicals, according to an analysis released today by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (of which the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is a founding member).

Why the double standard? Don't all babies deserve to be protected from unnecessary exposures to carcinogens?  The Campaign in this release called on Johnson & Johnson to stand up and make a commitment to remove formaldehyde from all its baby products in all the markets it serves.

In response to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, Baby's Tub is Still Toxic, Johnson & Johnson has released a statement saying it is phasing out formaldehyde-releasing chemicals from its baby products worldwide. See statement.

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Toxic flame retardants found in baby products

Posted on May 19, 2011

Baby's bed can be hazardous We didn't really need another reason to pass the Safer Alternatives Bill so that we can start to transition away from toxic chemicals and to safer alternatives, but this week we got one anyway. 

A study of products designed for newborns, babies, and toddlers – including car seats, breast feeding pillows, changing pads, crib wedges, bassinet mattresses and other items made with polyurethane foam – found that 80% of products tested contained chemical flame retardants that are considered toxic, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology Journal.  Other retardants discovered had so little health and safety data on them it is not possible to know their effects at this time. The same flame retardants found in some of the products are also found in children’s bodies and widely dispersed throughout the environment and in food.

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Food packaging as a source of BPA & DEHP exposure

Posted on Apr 13, 2011

Fresh Food In March the Newton, Massachusetts based Silent Spring Institute published a new study that is the first to show that food packaging is the major source of people’s exposure to the hormone disruptors BPA and DEHP, and that a fresh food diet reduces levels in adults and children by half, after just three days.  The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives on March 30.

BPA and DEHP are hormone disruptors—chemicals that may affect breast and other hormonal cancers, reproduction, and development. DEHP and two other phthalates measured in this study were recently banned under Europe’s REACH regulation because of concerns about reproductive toxicity.

The good news is that this study provides clear evidence that can guide solutions.  The findings show that replacing these chemicals with safer alternatives would significantly reduce exposures for most people.  It's a clear guideline for individuals working to protect themselves and their families from toxic chemicals. 

The problem, is that it's not a guideline that everyone can to follow. 

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Wallpaper, vinyl flooring are another source of toxics in our homes

Posted on Oct 19, 2010

Toxics in home improvement products Largest-Ever Study of Chemicals in Home Improvement Products Finds Lead, Phthalates, Cadmium, Organotins and Other Harmful Ingredients

Calling it yet another wake up call to Massachusetts residents that toxic chemicals are a silent but serious threat to us all, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow pointed to the results of a study released today by HealthyStuff.org that found harmful chemicals including lead, phthalates, cadmium, and organotins in a number of home improvement products including flooring and wallpaper.   HealthyStuff.org is a research organization widely known for exposing toxic chemicals in children’s toys and other every day products used in homes and workplaces.

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Toxic Chemicals found in bodies of Mass Nurse and Doctor

Posted on Oct 8, 2009

PSR-HazardChemicalsInHealthCare_250 Earlier this year, Mimi Pomerleau and Sean Palfrey did a bold thing: they had their blood and urine tested for the presence of toxic chemicals.

Mimi is a OB nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant Clinical Professor at Lawrence Memorial Regis College.  Sean is professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston University School of Medicine, and medical director of Boston's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. Both participated in the Hazardous Chemicals in Health Care bio monitoring project conducted by Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Each of 20 doctors and nurses around the country were tested FOR 62 distinct chemicals in six categories: bisphenol A, mercury, perflourinated compounds, phthalates, polybrominated dipheynl ethers, and triclosan.  These chemicals are used in products common to the health care setting, from baby bottles, hand sanitizer, and medical gauges, to industrial paints, IV bags and tubes and stain-resistant clothing.

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BPA: The Bottle Toxin

Posted on Jan 9, 2009

Baby BottleWhy all the recent press on BPA (Bisphenol A)?

#1. Health Canada has announced that BPA is a dangerous substance.

#2. The U.S. National Toxicology Program has stated in their report on BPA that there is "some concern for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposure."

Where do you find BPA?

BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic, which is widely used for a number of consumer products.

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Toxic Chemicals in Cars and Children's Car Seats

Posted on Jul 28, 2008

10 Least and Most Toxic CarsMost Toxic Cars: Mitsubishi Eclipse, Suzuki Reno, BMW 128i

Most Toxic Car Seats: Alpha Sport Vantage Booster, Britax Marathon Onyx

Today the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow & the Ecology Center released the 2nd Annual Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars and Children’s Car Seats. Over 200 of the most popular 2008- and 2009-model vehicles and over 60 children’s car seats were tested for chemicals that off-gas from parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests, seats, and carpeting.

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Milk contaminated with rGBH

Posted on Jun 23, 2008

Dairy Cow An open letter from Judy Norsigian (Our Bodies Ourselves); Deborah Shields (Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition); Rita Arditti and Margo Simon Golden (Women's Community Cancer Project); Amy Agigian (Center for Women's Health and Human Rights at Suffolk University); and Ellie Goldberg (Healthy Kids: The Key to Basics) April, 2008

Dear Friends and Colleagues.

As health and food safety advocates, we are concerned about the use of rBGH (recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone) in dairy products in Massachusetts.

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Fundamental Flaws

Posted on Mar 26, 2008

Workers spraying pesticide on crop seed.The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow seeks to correct fundamental flaws in government policies that allow damage to our health and environment.

The result of these current policies is that toxic substances end up in our bodies without our knowledge or consent. We have seen that ignoring early warning signs can result in serious illness.

The tragic histories of lead and mercury, for example, demonstrate the harm caused when government and industry do not take action to protect public health. We have also seen that acting on early warnings can prevent widespread harm, as in the case of the drug thalidomide.

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Toxics Found In Massachusetts Residents

Posted on Nov 15, 2007

Toxics Found in MA Residents Toxins are all around us. A new report issued today found that five Massachusetts residents who participated in a nationwide bio-monitoring project had all three types of toxic chemicals for which they were tested in their system.

The report, entitled “Is it In Us: Toxic Trespass, Regulatory Failure and Opportunities for Action,” found Phthalates, Bisphenol A and Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in all of its 35 subjects hailing from seven states. These chemicals are commonly found in everyday products, including baby bottles, shower curtains, cosmetics and personal care products, couch cushions, computers, and toys.

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