Mamas on Bedrest: Pediatricians call for stricter laws on toxic chemicals

April 26th, 2011

In a policy statement issued on April 25, 2011, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) declared that the U.S. needs to do a better job protecting children and pregnant women from toxic chemicals.

The group says children’s developing brains and bodies are far more vulnerable than adults’ to toxins and is requesting that the Toxic Substance Control Act, first penned in 1976, be updated .The pediatrics group is the latest of a growing number of medical organizations — including the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association and American Public Health Association— to call for changes in the way that the government regulates dangerous chemicals.

As currently set up, the Toxic Substance Control Act relies on chemical manufacturers to raise concerns about their products and to test for product safety.

“That law treats chemicals as “innocent until proven guilty,” which puts the burden on the government to prove something is harmful,”  says pediatrician Harvey Karp, a longtime environmental advocate who was not involved in the new policy. And unlike the system for guaranteeing the safety of pharmaceutical drugs or substances added to food, the Toxic Substance Control Act limits federal officials from ordering testing or banning industrial chemicals. Although companies are required to notify the EPA about new chemicals, they aren’t require to test chemicals for safety. Only about 15% of these notifications include health or safety test data, according to the Government Accountability Office.

The AAP is requesting that before chemicals are allowed to be sold, they should be tested to consider how they can affect children and pregnant women.

Among the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations:

— The consequences of chemical use on children and their families should be “a core component” of the new chemical policy.

— Chemicals should meet standards similar to those required for new drugs or pesticides.

— Decisions to ban chemicals should be based on reasonable levels of concern, rather than demonstrated harm.

— The health effects of chemicals should be monitored after they are on the market, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should have the authority to remove a chemical from the market if it’s deemed dangerous.

Many children’s advocates say they’re concerned that toxic exposures could be fueling the recent rise in early puberty in girls and a variety of chronic diseases, such as autism, allergies, asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., has introduced legislation to update the regulation of toxic chemicals four times. His most recent effort, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, was introduced this month. Some children’s advocates say they are more hopeful this time, because the chemical industry now supports changing the law.

Here is a short list of toxic chemicals particularly hazardous to children.

BPA – Bisphenol A. BPA is a building block of a lightweight, clear, heat-resistant and almost unbreakable plastic called polycarbonate. It’s also used in epoxy resins. It is found in water bottles, baby bottles, reusable food containers, plastic tableware, infant feeding cups, linings of infant formula cans and other cans, jar lids, CDs, electrical and electronic equipment, dental sealants.

Phthalates– This family of chemicals softens plastics. They also are used to bind chemicals together. They are found in Shampoos, conditioners, body sprays, hair sprays, perfumes, colognes, soap, nail polish, shower curtains, medical tubing, IV bags, vinyl flooring and wall coverings, food packaging and coatings on time-release pharmaceuticals and are absorbed through the skin.

PFOA — Perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C8). PFOA is used to make Teflon and thousands of other nonstick and stain- and water-repellent products.  PFOA is present in Teflon and other nonstick or stain- and water-repellent coatings as a trace impurity. These coatings are used on cookware, waterproof breathable clothing, furniture and carpets and in a myriad of industrial applications. PFOA can also be produced by the breakdown of these products.

Formaldehyde – Formaldehyde is an ingredient in resins that act as a glue in the manufacture of pressed wood products. formaldehyde can be found in pressed wood products such as particle board, plywood, paneling and fiberboard; also, glues and adhesives and durable press fabrics like drapes. A carcinogen.

Asbestos. Linked to lung cancers and lung disease. Still found in many products, from brake pads to some kinds of cement.

Hexane. Linked to nerve damage. A solvent in craft paints, spray glues, stain removers.

Hexavalent chromium. Linked to several kinds of cancers. Found in soil, water.

Methylene chloride. Can cause poisonings and death. Found in wood-floor cleaners, water repellents, spray shoe polish.

Flame retardants. Linked to altered brain development resulting in loss of IQ points; some linked to cancer. Used in polyurethane foam in couches, nursing pillows and strollers. Flame retardants used to be used in children’s pajamas. If you have older or “hand me downs” check for flame retardants on the fabrics.

Tricholoroethylene. Linked to cancer in animals and birth defects. Used in rug cleaners and spot removers.

Vinyl chloride. Linked to liver disease in animals. Used in polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, and in flooring, car interiors and children’s toys.

This list is in no way exhaustive, but merely shows what in our normal, everyday life we are being exposed to. If you want to know how you can reduce your exposure, we highly recommend reading The Healthy Home by Dr. Myron Wentz and Dave Wentz. If you would like a free copy of the book, simply post a comment to this blog stating how toxins have affected you or your family and/or how you are making changes to live in a less toxic environment.

If you want to discuss how you can make your home less toxic, sign up for a Complimentary 30 minute Bedrest Breakthrough Session. In this session we’ll focus on how you can take simple steps to have a healthier, less toxic home.

Sources:

The Chicago Tribune

CNN

USA Today

One response to “Mamas on Bedrest: Pediatricians call for stricter laws on toxic chemicals”

  1. Sara says:

    Hi There — I applaud the idea of creating a safer home, and because there’s so much misinformation out there about the Teflon® brand, I’m not surprised that you are concerned. I’m a representative of DuPont though, and hope you’ll let me share some information with you and your readers so that everyone can make truly informed decisions.

    Regulatory agencies, consumer groups and health associations all have taken a close look at the Teflon® brand. This article highlights what they found — the bottom line is that you can use Teflon® non-stick without worry.

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/kitchen/cookware-bakeware-cutlery/nonstick-pans-6-07/overview/0607_pans_ov_1.htm

    I’d truly be glad to share additional information about it if you are interested, and appreciate your consideration of this comment. Cheers, Sara.

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