Study Toxic chemicals 'even follow us into the outdoors'

August 8, 2013

New Study of Picnic Supplies Finds Lead, Phthalates, Hazardous Flame Retardants, Organotins and Other Harmful Ingredients

Mind the Store Calls on Top Ten Retailers to Phase Out Toxics

(Ann Arbor, MI) -- Researchers released a new study of chemical hazards in picnic products sold at top ten national retailers, finding most have one or more hazardous chemicals linked to serious health problems. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested 58 common outdoor picnic products for substances that have been linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. Products tested included tablecloths, placemats, picnic baskets, coolers, water toys, folding chairs and umbrellas purchased from 8 of the top 10 national retailers: Lowes, Home Depot, Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart, Kroger and Costco. The results were released today on the easy-to-use consumer website - www.HealthyStuff.org - which also includes prior research on toys, car seats, pet products, cars, women’s handbags, back-to-school products and children’s car seats.

Alternative Choices for Your Next Picnic

Toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes

August 6, 2013

If you live in the Great Lakes region or if you've spent some time here you know how beautiful the rolling sand dunes are, how vast the water is, and how delightful it is that our "inland sea" is sweet and not salty.

Through our research at HealthyStuff.org, we've learned that the chemicals that are in our products end up in our homes and then in the environment. That's one reason we've partnered with the Mind the Store campaign to craft this mini-report that highlights some of the new science around toxic chemical pollutants in the Great Lakes, including the nasty “PBT” chemicals that stay in the environment, to “emerging contaminants” like Triclosan, which are rapidly rising as Great Lakes pollutants.

Toxic chemicals have a variety of routes they travel: some are released directly from manufacturing sites or creep their way out of landfills into the ground water, rivers and lakes, while others are the result of legacy pollution from days past. So we mapped out where the Hazardous 100+ chemicals have been found in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern to illustrate this legacy of pollution.

Hazardous Chemicals found in Gardening Water Hoses

May 7, 2013

Hoses Can Leach Phthalates and BPA into Water, Study Finds

Retailers Called on to Stop Selling Products

High levels of hazardous chemicals, many of which have been banned in children’s products, were found in garden hoses for the second year in row. Phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days, according to researchers at the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, which has just completed a study of toxic chemicals in garden hoses.

The study is a follow-up to a 2012 study that tested 90 garden water hoses. This year, 21 garden hoses were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC); phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). These chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems. Results were released today at www.HealthyStuff.org.

Clearing the shelves: Join us in asking retailers to mind the store!

April 11, 2013

We were thrilled when the Safe Chemicals Act was introduced in Congress earlier this week. The proposed legislation would restrict the usage of hazardous chemicals and hold chemical companies responsible for ensuring the safety of new chemicals.

Now, we are proud to announce that, as reported inUSA Today, we are part of a coalition of groups that launched a campaign this week asking major retailers to phase out potentially toxic chemicals from their shelves (we're calling it the "Mind the Store" campaign). You can join us by taking action here.

We are frustrated with the EPA’s current lack of power to collect data and regulate toxics. To help retailers Mind the Store, the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition has created a list of priority chemicals that we're urging them to phase out. The list focuses on chemicals widely used in consumer products, with strong evidence of their toxicity, and an emphasis on chemicals that have the potential to disrupt the health of our families - known carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxicants and endocrine disruptors.

Join us: Urge Walmart, Target, Costco, Kroger, Walgreens, Home Depot, CVS Caremark, Lowe's, Best Buy and Safeway to develop plans within one year to phase out some of the most toxic chemicals used in thousands of everyday products, including wrinkle-free clothes, vinyl flooring, shampoos, sofa cushions and food packaging.

New Study Finds Women Exposed to Hazardous Chemicals at Work Are 42% More Likely to Develop Breast Cancer

November 19, 2012

Today HealthyStuff.org and the National Network on the Environments and Women's Health (Canada) are jointly distributing the results of a new study on breast cancer and occupations.

The study released today in the journal Environmental Health found a statistically significant association between the increased risk of breast cancer among women who work in jobs where they are exposed to a "toxic soup" of chemicals. Researchers were from Canada, USA and UK, including four from the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group (OEHRG) at the University of Stirling in Scotland.

The case control study, involving 1005 women with breast cancer and 1147 without the disease, revealed that women who worked in jobs classified as highly exposed for 10 years increased their breast cancer risk by 42%.

iPhone 5 Ranks Higher than Galaxy S III in New Study on Toxic Chemicals in Mobile Phones

October 3, 2012

For the first time the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center teamed up with technology gurus at ifixit.com to research toxic chemicals in 36 different cell phones, including the recently released iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III. The results were released today at www.HealthyStuff.org and www.ifixit.com.

The Motorola Citrus ranked the least toxic phone followed by the iPhone 4 S and the LG Remarq. The new iPhone 5 ranked 5th, versus its primary competitor, Samsung Galaxy S III, which ranked 9th. The most toxic phone tested was the iPhone 2G. The full list of rankings can be found at HealthyStuff.org.

Every phone sampled in this study contained at least one of following hazardous chemicals: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium. These hazardous substances can pollute throughout a product’s life cycle, including when the minerals are extracted; when they are processed; during phone manufacturing; and at the end of the phone’s useful life. Emissions during disposal and recycling of phones as electronic waste, or “e-waste,” are particularly problematic. The mining of some tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold used in mobile phones has been linked to conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A 2004 study found that three-quarters of all cell phones leach lead at levels that would qualify them as hazardous waste. While tracking e-waste is difficult, it is estimated that 50-80% is exported to countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Phillipines, where there is a labor-intensive, informal recycling infrastrucure that often lacks environmental and human health safeguards.

Learn more about responsible electronics recycling from the Electronic TakeBack Coalition

Suggested mobile phone recyclers: Go to e-stewards to find a responsible recycler. The companies below have signed the e-stewards pledge to not export e-waste to developing countries:

Capstone Wireless – Use their website to request a free UPS shipping label. They have a buy back program, so you may get money back for your old phone.

Call2Recycle – The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp also accepts old cell phones for free recycling. They have drop off sites in many cities (usually in stores). Use their location finder to enter your zip code to find the closest.

Graco Bans Hazardous Flame Retardants

July 16, 2012

Today HealthyStuff.org, Healthy Child Healthy World and the Ecology Center applaud Graco Children’s Products, Inc. for committing to ban the use of four of the most toxic chemical flame retardants from all of their products. Graco is one of the nation's largest children's product manufacturers, selling nearly 1 out of every 3 baby-gear products purchased in the U.S.

Over the last few months, nearly 4,000 parents signed a petition started by Sara Snow (green lifestyle expert, author of Sara Snow’s Fresh Living and Healthy Child, Healthy World Parent Ambassador) asking Graco to eliminate its use of hazardous flame retardants in their children’s products.

In response, Graco has committed to ban and monitor four Tris and related chemicals, specifically:

  • “Tris,” chemicals including TDCPP (Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate) and TCEP (Tris (2-chloroethyl) phosphate),
  • TCPP (Tris (1-chloro-2-propyl) phosphate), which is structurally similar to the “Tris” compounds,
  • All three Tris chemicals are either carcinogens or suspected carcinogens, and
  • Firemaster 550, a chemical mixture containing ingredients that have been targeted for review by EPA due to widespread exposure and potential health risk, is also on Graco’s ban list.

While recognizing that eliminating these toxic flame-retardant chemicals puts Graco ahead of most other children’s product makers, advocates also urged the company to take additional steps to ensure their products no longer contain any hazardous chemicals. Specifically, Graco is being asked to disclose chemicals contained in their products and develop an alternatives assessment system to ensure chemicals are inherently safer and lower hazard.

Download Graco Hazardous Flame Retardant Ban Statement

You can take action today by sending Graco a thank you message!

Check out some of HealthyStuff.org's 2011 car seat test results.

New Study Finds Lead, Cadmium, BPA, Phthalates & Hazardous Flame Retardants in Gardening Products

May 3, 2012

High amounts of lead, phthalates and the toxic chemical BPA were all found in the water of a new hose after sitting outside in the sun for just a few days, according to researchers at the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, who just completed a large study of toxic chemicals in gardening products.

Nearly 200 hoses, gloves, kneeling pads and tools were tested for lead, cadmium, bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC); phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA). Such chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems.

The good news news is that there are things you can do. Click here for more information and to download our Lawn & Garden Shopping Guide. Our list of PVC-free garden hoses is available here.

Low-Cost Jewelry Ranks HIGH for Toxic Chemicals

March 13, 2012

Researchers tested low-cost children’s and adult jewelry for chemicals -- including lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, bromine and chlorine (PVC) – which have been linked (in animal and some human studies) to acute allergies and to long-term health impacts such as birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.

Over half (59%) of the products tested had a “high” level of concern due to the presence of one or more hazardous chemicals detected at high levels. Four products contained over 10% cadmium, a known carcinogen. Fifty percent contained lead, with over half of these containing more than 100 ppm of lead in one or more components, exceeding the Consumer Product Safety Commission limit of lead in children’s products.

New Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars Helps Consumers Avoid "New Car Smell" As Major Source of Indoor Air Pollution

February 15, 2012

On February 15, 2012, HealthyStuff.org published its fourth consumer guide to toxic chemicals in car, finding the Honda Civic at the top of this year’s list, and the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport at the bottom. Over 200 of the most popular 2011- and 2012-model vehicles were tested for chemicals that off-gas from parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats. These chemicals contribute to “new car smell” and a variety of acute and long-term health concerns. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in a car every day, toxic chemical exposure inside vehicles can be a major source of indoor air pollution. Download the 2011/2012 Guide to New Vehicles

Poison in Paint, Toxics in Toys

December 13, 2011

On December 13, our colleagues at the Environmental Health Strategy Center released an exclusive new report, Poison in Paint, Toxics in Toys, on two groups of hormone disrupting chemicals in common household products.

For the first time, more than 650 brand name household products that contain one of two toxic chemicals of high concern, NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates) and BPA (bisphenol A), have been publicly identified. Twenty-five manufacturers reported their use of NPEs and BPA in consumer products sold in Maine under a 2008 state law on chemical safety.

Heavy metals found in Halloween makeup

October 26, 2011

HealthyStuff.org found one or more toxic heavy metals in 100 percent of the 31 Halloween make-up products tested. More than half (16 of 31) of the products tested contained detectable levels of cadmium, a reproductive and neural toxicant and carcinogen. This study comes on the heels of a bill introduced in the Michigan legislature last week to ban cadmium and mercury in certain children's products.

Hazardous flame retardants found in majority of 2011 child car seats

August 3, 2011

The latest research on toxic chemicals in children's car seats was released today by the nonprofit Ecology Center at the consumer-friendly site, www.HealthyStuff.org. While some seats were found to be virtually free of the most dangerous chemicals, over half (60%) contained at least one of the chemicals tested for.

New Research Finds 4 out of 5 Sets of Christmas and Holiday String Lights Contain Lead

December 8, 2010

According to researchers at HealthyStuff.org, who have tested more than 7,000 consumer products over the past four years, a significant percentage of holiday lights contain lead and other chemical hazards. The tests showed that 4 out of 5 light sets contained detectable lead and that 28% contained lead at levels which make the product illegal to sell in Europe (greater than 1,000 parts per million). "Some manufacturers manage to make lights without lead.  So why are we allowing any lead in these products? We have known for decades that lead can poison brains, but manufacturers are still using this compound," said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center’s Research Director. "The last thing families want to be worrying about during the holidays is whether they are exposing their children to toxic chemicals by decorating their tree.  Both manufacturers and the government should be doing a better job of policing chemicals in products."  

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

October 19, 2010

HealthyStuff.org tested over 3,300 home improvement products. 1,016 samples of flooring and 2,312 samples of wallpaper were tested for this research. The test data represents the largest publicly available database of toxic chemicals in home improvement products.

Currently, there is no regulation of chemical hazards in the products tested. Our testing is not necessarily representative of all flooring and wallpaper on the market. In addition, the presence of a chemical in a product does not necessarily mean there is exposure.

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NOTICE: HealthyStuff.org ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual product, or any individual element or related chemical. HealthyStuff.org ratings provide only a relative measure of high, medium, and low concentrations of several hazardous chemicals or chemical elements in an individual product in comparison to criteria established in the site methodology.

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