Toxic Chemical and Product Safety News for Investors

Headline stories are selected by IEHN staff from environmentalhealthnews.com's "Above the Fold" daily news service. IEHN releases annotated versions several times monthly. Headlines listed here are linked to their original sources and are subject to those sources' archiving policies.

October 2, 2009

SIGG water bottles comes clean on the presence of BPA in their 'BPA-Free" water bottles, and loses deal with Patagonia. The weed killer Atrazine is a ubiquitous contaminant in drinking water, and new research indicates its toxic effects on sensitive populations like fetuses. More water concerns arise from the practice of hydraulic fracturing. The EPA has found the toxic chemical 2-Butoxyethanol (or 2-BE), which is used in fracking, in water wells close to fracking sites. Communities are blaming health problems on exposure to these chemicals. Trace amounts of the chemical 1,4-dioxane found in children's shampoo are not toxic, according to Health Canada. The Ecology Center finds lead and arsenic in handbags and backpacks, and groups continue to advocate for a reduction of the health impact of mercury amalgam dental fillings, brominated flame retardants, and various detergents and household cleaners.

Chemicals fuel ailment debate
Denver Post
September 19, 2009

Meggan Smoler is crippled, she says, by encounters with routine chemicals such as pesticides, perfume, paint, air fresheners and car exhaust. She is joined by as much as 16 percent of the U.S. population who describe ailments that remain a medical mystery.

Wyoming fracking contamination case eerily similar to Colorado's Divide Creek
Colorado Independent
September 19, 2009

Louis Meeks says he witnessed shoddy hydraulic fracturing practices on his ranch near Pavillion, Wyo. The EPA last spring found the presence of the toxic chemical 2-Butoxyethanol (or 2-BE) in Meeks’ water wells.

Washington compiling top 50 chemicals toxic to kids
Associated Press
September 18, 2009

In 2008, Washington became the first state in the nation to pass a law requiring manufacturers to report whether certain products contain chemicals toxic to children.

Fight grows over labels on household cleaners
New York Times
September 17, 2009

Manufacturers of detergents, household cleansers and furniture polish are under pressure from consumers to come clean about the chemicals in their products. Some have been associated with asthma, birth defects and fertility problems in higher doses.

Lead, arsenic found in products from handbags to car seats
USA Today
September 17, 2009

A consumer watchdog group has found lead, arsenic and other potentially harmful chemicals in an array of everyday products, from handbags to pet supplies to car seats and backpacks. The Michigan-based Ecology Center tested more than 5,000 products for its new database, healthystuff.org. Two-thirds of all handbags tested had lead levels above 300 parts per million, the new safety standard for children's products.

Debate over silver fillings still alive
Cleveland Plain Dealer
September 8, 2009

In 2005 alone, dentists in the U.S. plugged 52 million holes in our teeth with "silver"-- which is mostly mercury. Scientists know that vigorous chewing releases small amounts of mercury vapor from amalgam fillings. But can long-term exposure to these low levels of mercury lead to health problems?

In China, quality control is still a work in progress
Globe Investor
September 7, 2009

As China's manufacturing industry comes of age, the country's government has pledged to crack down on dangerous goods, with the high-profile executions of officials linked to last year's melamine-milk scandal to accentuate the point.But for the vast majority of Western companies sourcing products out of this industrial powerhouse, it is still very much buyer beware, as factory owners continue to put the cost and speed of manufacturing above the reliability of what's produced.

Water bottle controversy sinks co-branding partnership
Canwest News Service
September 7, 2009

Trouble continues for the metal water bottle maker SIGG, Inc. with outdoor gear company Patagonia announcing Tuesday an end to a co-branding partnership that brought together two iconic companies linking health-conscious consumerism with environmentalism. "They told us there was no BPA in the liner of the bottle, notice the key word there,'' Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia's vice-president of environmental initiatives, said in an interview.

Wyoming community blames fracking for water woes
Associated Press
September 6, 2009

Residents of a small, rural farming community blame their water woes — and what they perceive to be the unusual health problems in their midst — on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," a common technique used in drilling new oil and gas wells.

Chemical found in baby shampoos not toxic
Canwest News Service
September 5, 2009

Health Canada on Friday concluded that a chemical considered a possible carcinogen and commonly found in trace amounts in baby shampoo, bubble bath and liquid soap should not be listed as toxic to human health. Manufacturers in Canada are not permitted to add 1,4-dioxane as an ingredient in cosmetics and personal-care products, but the chemical is found in trace amounts in many items as a byproduct of the manufacturing process.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists 1,4-dioxane as "possibly carcinogenic to humans." The state of California considers the compound as a chemical known to cause cancer. After reviewing the scientific evidence, Health Canada concluded that the dosages found in personal-care products do not pose any health risk.

Playing with fire
Sacramento News and Review
September 3, 2009

The cheapest way for manufacturers to comply with California's strict standards for fire safety is to pour toxic, “halogenated” chemicals that act as fire retardants into all upholstered furniture. The fire retardants go by a variety of technical names, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. Senate Bill 772 would exempt certain children’s furniture from provisions of California’s fire code, giving manufacturers the option of forgoing toxic fire retardants. But lobbying efforts by the chemical industry last week extinguished the bill—at least for the rest of this year. The companies producing the fire retardants include such multinational corporations as Albemarle, Chemtura and ICL Industrial Containers.

The nonprofit front "Citizens for Fire Safety" is just one of the extraordinary efforts of the chemical companies to stop bills of this nature. The chemical companies spent between $6 million and $9 million on lobbyists and efforts to derail a similar bill last year. This is the largest amount spent by a consumer-interest group in lobbying efforts.

Spate of gas drilling leaks raises Marcellus concerns
Environmental Science & Technology
September 3, 2009

As Pennsylvania and other eastern states prepare for a rush of new drilling associated with the Marcellus Shale , gas leaks are prompting questions about whether these states are prepared.

Debating how much weed killer is safe in your water glass
New York Times
August 23, 2009

New research suggests that atrazine may be dangerous at lower concentrations than previously thought—particularly for fetuses. Atrazine is just one example of what critics say are regulatory weaknesses in the protections of America’s drinking water.

BPA industry fights back
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 23, 2009

Faced with the prospects of tighter government regulation of bisphenol A, the industry has launched an unprecedented public relations blitz that uses many of the same tactics - and people - the tobacco industry used in its decades-long fight against regulation.