EWG Report: Your Tap Water is Contaminated with Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

Here’s something you may not know: tens of millions of people in the United States have been drinking toxic tap water contaminated with unregulated fluoridated chemicals – chemicals which have been linked to cancer, liver and kidney toxicity, hormone disruption, and more.

In early 2018, the Environmental Working Group released a report revealing that up to 16 million Americans could be exposed to water contaminated with perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a class of toxic chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The report showed that there is known PFAS pollution from ’94 sites in 22 states, including industrial plants and dumps, military air bases, civilian airports and fire training sites’ – including the tap water pollution for 16 million people across 33 states and Puerto Rico.

 

Interestingly, that report was just the start of it. Soon, that 16 million figured got bumped up to 110 million! That’s right, 110 million people could be exposed via more than 1,500 drinking water systems throughout the United States.

Now, a new extensive report from the EWG goes into depth on the true nature of this widespread water contamination.

Current data suggests that PFAS are present in tap water in 44 locations spanning 31 states and Washington D.C. These stats are miles ahead of previous findings, showing that any reporting of PFAS contamination has been drastically underestimated, both by the Environmental Working Group’s previous reports and even reports generated by official government bodies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Actually, the EWG’s research surpasses that of the EPA, finding more widespread contamination that even exceeds ‘safe’ levels set by the EPA. In 2016, the EPA released a non-enforceable ‘lifetime health advisory’ in drinking water of 70 parts per trillion (PPT), indicating that levels below 70 PPT were safe. However, by both EWG and other independent study standards, ‘safe’ levels for PFAS in drinking water should be more like 1 PPT – markedly lower than 70 PPT.

This soft, non-enforced rule has caused some states, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Vermont, and New Jersey to set their own standards. This is what states have to do when the EPA, knowing about this contamination issue since 2001, takes little action on addressing it.

Why You Should Avoid These Chemicals Whenever Possible

Unlike other chemicals PFAS never actually break down once released into the environment, leading them to be dubbed ‘forever chemicals.’ As mentioned earlier, exposure to these chemicals may cause a host of health issues, including (but not limited to):

  • Cancer
  • Immune system suppression
  • Thyroid issues and other hormone disruptions
  • Infant developmental issues
  • Liver damage

What Products Contain PFAS?

Many products are made with these compounds. They are most known for being used in the product of non-stick cookware (yikes), but are also used to make stain-resistant sofas and carpets, waterproof clothing and mattresses, and could even be in food packaging. What’s more, due to their ability to help reduce friction, other industries including aerospace, automotive, building and construction, and electronics use these chemicals.

Here is a quick list of where you might find PFAS:

  • Non-stick cookware
  • Food packaging, such as microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers
  • Stain resistant carpets and furniture
  • Waterproof clothing
  • Waterproof mattresses
  • Outdoor gear with a “durable water repellent” coating

How to Reduce Exposure to PFAS

While others may say differently and it’s great to avoid toxins whenever possible, I wouldn’t go as far to live in a bubble or overly stress about this. If you did, you might literally go insane. With that said, here are some steps to take if you want to reduce exposure to PFAS:

  • Most clear and simple in my book – don’t use non-stick cookware. If you choose to continue using non-stick cookware, be careful not to let it heat to above 450ºF
  • Stay away from fast food packaging (a good all-around tip) and microwaved popcorn
  • Avoid stain-resistance carpets or furniture – and don’t use anything yourself that would make it stain resistant!
  • Avoid other stain-resistant products such as treated shoes, luggage, and camping and sporting equipment
  • Avoid personal-care products made with Teflon™ or containing ingredients that include the words “fluoro” or “perfluoro.” You might find this in floss or cosmetics

EWG Report: Your Tap Water is Contaminated with Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

Here’s something you may not know: tens of millions of people in the United States have been drinking toxic tap water contaminated with unregulated fluoridated chemicals – chemicals which have been linked to cancer, liver and kidney toxicity, hormone disruption, and more.

In early 2018, the Environmental Working Group released a report revealing that up to 16 million Americans could be exposed to water contaminated with perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a class of toxic chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The report showed that there is known PFAS pollution from ’94 sites in 22 states, including industrial plants and dumps, military air bases, civilian airports and fire training sites’ – including the tap water pollution for 16 million people across 33 states and Puerto Rico.

 

Interestingly, that report was just the start of it. Soon, that 16 million figured got bumped up to 110 million! That’s right, 110 million people could be exposed via more than 1,500 drinking water systems throughout the United States.

Now, a new extensive report from the EWG goes into depth on the true nature of this widespread water contamination.

Current data suggests that PFAS are present in tap water in 44 locations spanning 31 states and Washington D.C. These stats are miles ahead of previous findings, showing that any reporting of PFAS contamination has been drastically underestimated, both by the Environmental Working Group’s previous reports and even reports generated by official government bodies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Actually, the EWG’s research surpasses that of the EPA, finding more widespread contamination that even exceeds ‘safe’ levels set by the EPA. In 2016, the EPA released a non-enforceable ‘lifetime health advisory’ in drinking water of 70 parts per trillion (PPT), indicating that levels below 70 PPT were safe. However, by both EWG and other independent study standards, ‘safe’ levels for PFAS in drinking water should be more like 1 PPT – markedly lower than 70 PPT.

This soft, non-enforced rule has caused some states, including California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Vermont, and New Jersey to set their own standards. This is what states have to do when the EPA, knowing about this contamination issue since 2001, takes little action on addressing it.

Why You Should Avoid These Chemicals Whenever Possible

Unlike other chemicals PFAS never actually break down once released into the environment, leading them to be dubbed ‘forever chemicals.’ As mentioned earlier, exposure to these chemicals may cause a host of health issues, including (but not limited to):

  • Cancer
  • Immune system suppression
  • Thyroid issues and other hormone disruptions
  • Infant developmental issues
  • Liver damage

What Products Contain PFAS?

Many products are made with these compounds. They are most known for being used in the product of non-stick cookware (yikes), but are also used to make stain-resistant sofas and carpets, waterproof clothing and mattresses, and could even be in food packaging. What’s more, due to their ability to help reduce friction, other industries including aerospace, automotive, building and construction, and electronics use these chemicals.

Here is a quick list of where you might find PFAS:

  • Non-stick cookware
  • Food packaging, such as microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers
  • Stain resistant carpets and furniture
  • Waterproof clothing
  • Waterproof mattresses
  • Outdoor gear with a “durable water repellent” coating

How to Reduce Exposure to PFAS

While others may say differently and it’s great to avoid toxins whenever possible, I wouldn’t go as far to live in a bubble or overly stress about this. If you did, you might literally go insane. With that said, here are some steps to take if you want to reduce exposure to PFAS:

  • Most clear and simple in my book – don’t use non-stick cookware. If you choose to continue using non-stick cookware, be careful not to let it heat to above 450ºF
  • Stay away from fast food packaging (a good all-around tip) and microwaved popcorn
  • Avoid stain-resistance carpets or furniture – and don’t use anything yourself that would make it stain resistant!
  • Avoid other stain-resistant products such as treated shoes, luggage, and camping and sporting equipment
  • Avoid personal-care products made with Teflon™ or containing ingredients that include the words “fluoro” or “perfluoro.” You might find this in floss or cosmetics

These Common Household Toxins are Poisoning Children

People relax on sofas and walk across their kitchen floors without giving it a second thought, but a study shows that toxic chemicals used in furniture and vinyl flooring to make them fire-resistant could be poisoning children. [1]

The problem is most prevalent in public housing where scientists say children have toxin levels in their blood and urine up to 15 times higher than those who aren’t exposed.

The flame-retardant chemicals, called PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), are linked to neurodevelopmental delays, obesity, endocrine and thyroid disruption, cancer, and other diseases.

Flame Retardants: 5 Dangerous Facts About These Toxins

Despite efforts to reduce the prevalence of PBDEs, they continue to persist, said Dr. Heather Stapleton of Duke University.

The full scope of the dangers posed by polybrominated diphenyl ethers is unknown because few studies have investigated how or if the chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstreams of children who are exposed to them.

Stapleton said:

“There are concerns that these chemicals could affect the developing brain.

In homes with flame retardants, particularly for children who spend most of their time indoors, they have widespread exposure, for example in household dust.”

PBDEs fall under the umbrella term semi-volatile organic compounds. They are found in electronics, furniture, and building materials. In pieces of furniture like sofas, they are found in the foam inside of the cushions.

In the past, PBDEs were used in most couches, rugs, and TVs. Research shows these chemicals can stunt the development of the brain and reproductive system. Phthalates, used in vinyl flooring and carpets, as well as food packaging, have been linked to obesity because the chemicals change the way the body stores fat.

Source: Environmental Working Group
Source: Environmental Working Group

Improvements are Being Made, But…

In the United States, great strides have been made to reduce the prevalence of PBDEs. When Stapleton first tested consumer products for the fire-retardants, 80% contained PBDEs. Her most recent tests showed about 20% of consumer products contained the toxins.

But U.S. regulators have stopped short of banning PBDEs and they continue to persist in the environment, particularly in public housing, where older flooring, furniture, and other products have not been swapped out for safer ones.

What’s more, the toxins keep showing up in unexpected places, including in farmed fish, even though both the U.S. and European Union (EU) have placed restrictions on PBDEs in fish-farming waters.

The Study

For the study, which began in 2014, Stapleton and her colleagues analyzed indoor dust and air from inside the homes of 190 families and 203 children, along with foam from inside furniture. They collected blood and urine samples from the children to test for the prevalence of PBDEs. [2]

Stapleton said:

“We quantified 44 biomarkers of exposure to phthalates, organophosphate esters, brominated flame retardants, parabens, phenols, antibacterial agents, and perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).”

Children from homes with vinyl flooring had levels of benzyl butyl phthalate metabolite – a chemical linked to respiratory and skin conditions, multiple myeloma, and other health problems – in their urine that were 15 times higher compared with children who were not exposed. [1]

Children who lived in homes that had a sofa in the main living area that had PBDEs in the foam had a 6-fold higher concentration of PBDEs in their blood.

PBDEs are still so prevalent that they have even shown up in marine organisms in the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean. The toxins can linger for years and bind to other particles in the water that can carry them throughout the ocean. Studies have found that PBDEs and other organic pollutants are prevalent in fish worldwide.

Children may suffer the ill effects of PBDEs even if they haven’t been directly exposed to it. A study published in 2017 found that prenatal exposure to the chemicals may lead to lower IQ scores in children.

Reducing Exposure to Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers

Like anything else, know that we’re always bombarded with toxins from various sources; it isn’t great, but in some respect, it’s simply part of our lives and society – unless you want to live in a bubble. So while I wouldn’t overly stress about this, it’s good to know that these toxins do exist, and there are some simple things you can do to reduce exposure without stressing yourself into a jumbled ball of yarn.

Source: Environmental Working Group

Sources:

[1] Daily Mail

[2] Earth

Images Source:

Environmental Working Group

Toxic Pesticides Have Been Showing up in People’s Urine

A study published in the journal JAMA showed once again that levels of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the popular herbicide Roundup, in human urine have increased dramatically among Californians in the past 20 years. [1]

For the study, urine samples were collected from 100 Southern California residents over the age of 50 from 1993-1996, to 2014-2016.

Paul Mills, professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego, and a team of researchers found that the percentage of people who tested positive for glyphosate skyrocketed 500% during that period. The levels of glyphosate also spiked 1,208% during those years.

During the early phase of the study, Mills said “there were very low levels – and they were only detectable in 12 out of 100 people.” [2]

He explained:

“Then over the next 22 years, we found about a 1,000% increase in the levels found in the 100 people, on average.”

Prenatal glyphosate exposure has been linked to shorter gestation times and lower birth weights in babies. Some research suggests, too, that the chemical may be generating deadly antibiotic-resistance.

But glyphosate most often makes headlines for its potential link to cancer. Multiple studies have found that the Roundup ingredient could be carcinogenic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) wing of the World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate a probable human carcinogen in 2015.

The group said in 2016, however, that “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.”

Yet Mills believes the levels in human urine increased primarily from people eating foods sprayed with the chemical.

He said:

“It’s unlikely that all these folks are spraying that much Roundup in their yards every day, to get the levels we observed. Our research is showing that a lot of us across the US likely have fairly significant levels of these compounds, unless we take up an organic diet”

To follow up on his findings, Mills plans to measure factors that track liver disease, to ascertain whether the levels of glyphosate detected in the study are associated with a greater risk of liver problems in humans.

A study from the UK, in which rats were fed low levels of glyphosate throughout their lives, found that the chemical increased the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in the rodents. According to Mills, the levels of glyphosate found in the people in his study were 100-fold greater than those in the rats, though they were still very low. [1]

Specifically, Mills wants to find out how much people are exposed to glyphosate through breathing in particles that have been sprayed into the air, especially in agricultural areas.

Read: Most of the Glyphosate Sprayed in CA Is Applied in Poor Areas

Glyphosate use is on the rise in the US., and it is the most widely used herbicide chemical in the world. Roundup was developed to eliminate weeds from corn, soy, and other genetically modified crops, however, many weeds have grown resistant to the herbicide. This means that farmers must spray even more of it, potentially increasing the health ramifications of being exposed to the weed-killer.

Mills says:

“From my perspective it’s remarkable that we have been ingesting a lot of this chemical of the last couple of decades. But the biomedical literature hasn’t said much about its effects on people. That’s a gap that we endeavored to address and bring more awareness to with this study.”

Sources:

[1] Time

[2] HealthDay

Study Finds Prenatal, Infant Exposure to Pesticides Increases Autism Risk

There are several theories about what causes autism; one of those revolves around exposure to pesticides. A recent study adds weight to that particular theory, as researchers discovered that children whose mothers were exposed to the most commonly used pesticides were more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Ondine von Ehrenstein, associate professor in the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a team of colleagues analyzed autism registry data in California along with pesticide spraying in the state for the study.

Findings from the Research

The study included nearly 38,000 people, including 2,961 cases of autism.

Read: Autism Diagnoses Increased by Banned Pesticides, Even 10 Years After Exposure

Women who were pregnant and who lived within a 2,000-meter radius of an area where pesticides were heavily applied were found to be between 10-16% more likely to have a child diagnosed with ASD, compared to women who lived in areas farther away from sprayed areas.

The team looked at 11 different pesticides, including glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, permethrin, and others (often used to control ticks). They discovered that children who were exposed in-utero were 30% more likely to be dually diagnosed with autism and intellectual disabilities. Exposure in the first year of life increased the risk of autism by as much as 50%, compared to those not exposed to certain pesticides.

The Pesticides Studied Have Caused Damage in the Past

The 11 pesticides chosen for the study were selected because past research has linked them to potentially harmful effects on development and brain development, including on animals still in the womb, Von Ehrenstein said. Human studies have also linked the pesticides to harm, but much of that research relied on smaller groups than the cohort in the current study.

Read: Scientists Find Chemical Toxins in Utero Unmistakably Linked to Autism

Von Ehrenstein said the study shows that babies are particularly vulnerable to pesticide exposure at 2 key points in their development: while in utero and after birth. The researchers controlled for the effect of prenatal exposure after birth when they calculated the risk for exposure while the mothers were pregnant.

The findings suggest that children who are exposed to pesticides during the first year of life may have a greater risk of developing both autism and intellectual disabilities.

Von Ehrenstein said:

“Both prenatal and postnatal periods are vulnerable periods. And it doesn’t stop at birth.”

It’s possible that other environmental factors besides pesticide spraying played a role in the development of autism in those diagnosed with the disorder. However, the researchers adjusted for other factors, including air pollution, whether the mothers lived in rural or urban areas, and their socioeconomic status. The link remained robust after all of these factors were accounted for.

Amanda Bakian, co-author of an editorial that accompanied the study and an assistant professor in the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Utah, said: [2]

“Pesticide exposure alone is not the whole story. Other factors are clearly at play that makes some children more vulnerable to this exposure than others. And at this point, we don’t know what those are.”

When Possible, Go Organic

Von Ehrenstein notes that, unlike smoking or drinking alcohol, most people have no control over when and where pesticides are applied, and pregnant women may not realize they are being exposed. What’s more, people may be further exposed to pesticides by eating fruit and vegetables that have been treated by the chemicals. In that case, it’s possible to lower one’s exposure by choosing organic over traditionally-grown produce. [1]

In the end, Von Ehrenstein and her team hope their findings will lead to greater public awareness and policy changes regarding pest control that benefit human health.

“I would hope that these findings would make some policymakers think about effective public health policy measures to protect populations who may be vulnerable and living in areas that could put them at higher risk. Raising awareness in the public may be the way to eventually change practices and agricultural policies.”

The Autism Society of America also hopes the study will lead to more research. Executive director and CEO Scott Badesch commented:

“These types of studies are so important to help us understand the underlying mechanisms that may lead to autism spectrum disorders. We also urge further research like this that might lead to specific public health actions and interventions for individuals and families.”

Sources:

[1] Time

[2] HealthDay

Commonly-Used Household Chemicals Damage Sperm in Men, Dogs

The couch you sit on, the carpets you walk on, and even some of your kids’ toys may pose health risks due to the chemicals they are made with. In some of the latest research, it was found that a commonly-used household chemical known as DEHP may be harming fertility not only for men – but also for dogs.

The chemical DEHP – used in carpets, flooring, upholstery, clothes, wires and toys – and the industrial chemical polychlorinated biphenyl 153 (PCB153), may harm male fertility in humans and dogs, researchers from the University of Nottingham found. And even though PCB153 is banned worldwide, it remains widely detectable in the environment. In fact, both chemicals have been found in commercially-available dog food. [2]

Laboratory tests with sperm taken from male humans and dogs showed levels of the 2 chemicals consistent with environmental exposure reduced sperm motility and increased fragmentation of DNA in both species.

Scientists have established that poor human sperm motility leads to increased DNA fragmentation in both men and dogs, which increases the likelihood of male infertility.

The findings are especially concerning in light of previous studies that show a 50% decline in human sperm quality worldwide in the past 8 decades. Another study by the same group of researchers showed a similar decline in dogs, which suggests that household chemicals are at least partly to blame. [1]

Study leader Richard Lea said in a university news release:

“This new study supports our theory that the domestic dog is indeed a ‘sentinel’ or mirror for human male reproductive decline, and our findings suggest that man-made chemicals that have been widely used in the home and working environment may be responsible for the fall in sperm quality reported in both man and dog that share the same environment.”

Lea added:

“Our previous study in dogs showed that the chemical pollutants found in the sperm of adult dogs, and in some pet foods, had a detrimental effect on sperm function at the concentrations previously found in the male reproductive tract.”

The new study is the first to test the effect of DEHP and PCB153 on both human and dog sperm in the lab, in real-world concentrations.

The scientists think there is a good chance that location determines the extent to which males are affected by the chemicals. This is because the chemicals are a large part of Western industries. Previous studies have been unable to find the same sperm decline in men and dogs living in Asia, Africa, or South America, which suggests the problem is a predominantly Western one. [2]

As well, other factors may be involved in the declining sperm quality of men and pups, such as air pollution and obesity. Still, it’s reasonable to conclude that since men and dogs are exposed to household contaminants at the same levels, those contaminants are likely affecting their sperm.

Lea said:

“Demonstrating such effects of chemicals at environmental concentrations raises awareness of these pollutants, and my hope is this will lead to steps in our personal lives to reduce or at least limit further exposures.”

The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.

Source:

[1] HealthDay

[2] Inverse

Study: Smokers Often Unaware of Chemical-Cocktail in Cigarettes

Do you have any idea what ‘ingredients’ go into making cigarettes? You would be surprised to hear what things people inhale with each puff of a cigarette – besides nicotine, I mean.

tobacco-2
Source: ThinkProgress

There are about 4,800 chemicals in a cigarette, many of which are carcinogenic; but researchers from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that the majority of smokers don’t know what they’re inhaling.

Marcella Boynton, lead author of the study, said in a press release:

“The majority of the [United States] public wants easy access to information about chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products. Surprisingly, our results reveal that groups one might presume to be the least psychologically motivated to look for this information, young adults and smokers, were more likely to say that they had previously looked for this information.”

For the study, data was analyzed from 5,014 American adults over age 18 who were contacted in a national telephone survey. The survey focused mainly on low-income areas, which are more likely to include people who use tobacco and suffer smoking-related health problems – the impoverished, the lesser educated, and sexual minorities.

Read: 7 Huge Detrimental Effects of Smoking

The team found that 27.5% of the respondents had sought information about the chemicals in tobacco smoke that can cause cancer and other adverse health effects.

Of the participants who had searched for information, 37.2% were between the ages of 18 and 25 – the largest percentage – and 34.3% of them were smokers. Some 26% of those who were non-smokers also said they had looked for information on cigarette smoke.

The biggest finding was that most of the participants didn’t know what’s contained in cigarette smoke, and half of them said they’d like to see that information printed on cigarette packages.

Cigarette smoke contains arsenic, ammonia, acetaldehyde, coumarin, and various other substances, most of which are known to be toxic when inhaled or ingested. The FDA lists the known toxins on the agency’s website.

However, none of this information is available to the average person who buys a pack of cigarettes. Instead, the Surgeon General provides rather vague warnings on cigarette packs about the dangers of smoking.

And since there’s such a vast number of chemicals in cigarette smoke, it’s impossible to gauge just how many health problems are caused by smoking, or how serious they are. [1]

smoking_can_damage_every_part_of_the_body
Source: IFinallyQuit.com

Read: What are the Immediate and Long-Term Benefits of Quitting Smoking?

Boynton said:

“By making tobacco chemical information available to the public and tobacco industry practice more transparent, those seeking this information may be less likely to start smoking and more likely to quit…”

The researchers found a nugget of good news, however; more than 80% of smokers interviewed for the survey expressed a desire to kick the habit. [2]

The study was published in BMC Public Health.

Sources:

[1] Medical Daily

[2] NHVoice

ThinkProgress

IFinallyQuit.com

Jury Finds Roundup Weedkiller Caused Man’s Cancer

Bayer was dealt a huge blow on March 19 when a San Francisco federal jury unanimously agreed that Roundup weed-killer caused a man’s cancer. [1]

It is the second time a jury decided in favor of a plaintiff who had alleged that the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

It took the jury 5 days of deliberation to reach the conclusion that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing non-Hodgkin lymphoma in Edwin Hardeman, 70, who hails from Sonoma County, California. The plaintiff was diagnosed with the disease in 2015. [1] [2]

In August, another San Francisco jury determined that Roundup caused cancer in DeWayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper who had been exposed to high levels of Roundup on the job. In that case, the jury awarded Johnson $289 million. However, that amount was later reduced to $78 million. [1]

Johnson’s condition has been described as “terminal,” however, Hardeman’s cancer is in remission. He testified that he sprayed Roundup for nearly 3 decades to kill poison oak on his 56-acre tract in Forestville, often getting the weedkiller on his hands or inhaling it. [2]

Lawyers for Hardeman and other plaintiffs accuse Monsanto of hiding evidence of the carcinogenic nature of glyphosate from its users and of “ghost-writing” some of the purported favorable study results.

Read: Judge OK’s Controversial Evidence in Roundup-Herbicide Trials

Hardeman’s lawyers, Aimee Wagstaff and Jennifer Moore, said in a statement after the verdict:

“Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup.

Instead, it is clear from Monsanto’s actions that it does not particularly care whether its product is, in fact, giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue.”

Monsanto, the maker of Roundup at the time both Hardeman and Johnson were exposed, was acquired by Bayer in June 2018. [1]

Hardeman’s case is 1 of 3 “bellwether” trials scheduled before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria. The case could set a precedent that helps lay out the framework for the sizes of settlements in future cases. [2]

Bayer said in a statement March 19 that it is disappointed with the verdict, “but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer.”

The statement goes on to say:

“We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer.”

The jury’s next step will be to decide how much Hardeman should be awarded in liability and damages.

About 10,000 Roundup lawsuits are awaiting trial, including more than 750 that have been consolidated in San Francisco’s federal court. [1][2]

Sources:

[1] NPR

[2] San Francisco Chronicle

EPA Bans Household Use of Paint Stripper, but Not Commercial Use

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday banned retail sales of methylene chloride, a popular but highly dangerous paint-stripping chemical, but opted to leave it on the market for commercial use – a decision that angered some health advocates.

The agency banned methylene chloride due to “acute fatalities that have resulted from exposure to the chemical.” The agency said that the substance poses “unreasonable health risks.”

Methylene chloride exposure is tied to at least 64 deaths, according to the advocacy group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, which had advocated against the chemical.

Exposure to the paint stripper ingredient can cause fluid to build up in a person’s lungs, along with headaches, dizziness, and difficulty walking, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns. Serious or repeated exposures can lead to brain damage, and high levels of exposure can cause “fainting and even death,” according to the agency.

Alexandra Dunn, the assistant administrator for chemical safety, said that if the agency determines that “the risks to users of this chemical for paint and coating removal in the workplace cannot be managed, then EPA would make a legal finding again under the statute and make the appropriate risk management decision, which could be banning it or restricting its use in some way.”

The ban is expected to go into effect sometime in November.

Some retailers have already taken products containing methylene chloride off of store shelves, including Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, and Lowe’s.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) doesn’t believe the ban goes far enough and criticized the Trump administration for making “a significant retreat” and not extending the ban for commercial use, with one EWG attorney accusing the administration of “catering to the wishes of the chemical industry.”

Environmental groups said that prior to the March 15 ban, they had been unable to think of more than 1 instance in which the Trump administration tightened, rather than loosened, environmental or public health protections. [2]

The ban had also been championed by the families of individuals who died after being exposed to methylene chloride, including the family of 21-year-old Kevin Hartley, who had been trained on how to properly use the chemical, and the family of 31-year-old Drew Wynne, who used methylene chloride to clean the floor of his start-up coffee company. Both men died in 2017.

Relatives of the deceased men met with then-EPA Commissioner Scott Pruitt and with lawmakers in 2018 to discuss the matter and encourage a ban.

Sources:

[1] CNN

[2] Associated Press