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Phthalates/Bisphenol A

  • Wal-Mart, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us phasing out, San Francisco, California, Europe, and Canada have banned phthalates; Australia phasing out use in baby bottles
    • 9 states, Chicago, Multnomah County (Portland), OR, and Suffolk County, NY have banned BPA in baby bottles and sipper cups
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission reforms of 2008 eliminate lead and phthalates from toys and children’s products
  • Sugar-derived epoxy lining could replace BPA in cans

Phthalates/Bisphenol A

  • 2009: Ban Poisonous Additives Act (to ban use of BPA in food and beverage containers and items used by young children) submitted in U.S. House and Senate
  • 2009: BPA-Free Kids Act (to ban BPA in food and beverage containers and utensils marketed for children aged 3 or younger) introduced into U.S. Senate


  • 2012: EPA bans BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, but not food packaging
    • EU has also banned BPA in baby bottles
  • 90% of government-funded studies found adverse health effects
    • vs. 0% of industry-funded studies
  • Substitutes (e.g., polystyrene [Styrofoam] and biphenol sulfonate [BPS]) also estrogen-like endocrine disruptors


  • Associated with:
    • Demasculinization and alterations in genitalia in male infants
    • Prematurity and low birth weight
    • Lower testosterone levels
    • Early menarche (12-13 now, down from baseline 16-17)
    • PCOS in women
    • Early menopause


  • Associated with:
    • Infertility
    • Miscarriages
    • lower sperm counts in adults; impaired sperm function
    • male sexual dysfunction; decreased libido in women
    • Decreased effectiveness of IVF


  • Associated with:
    • Childhood behavioral, emotional, and conduct problems, including depression and inattention
    • Obesity
    • Destruction of tooth enamel
    • Asthma
    • Childhood HTN
    • Heart disease


  • Associated with:
    • diabetes
    • breast cancer
    • prostate cancer
    • elevated liver enzymes
    • Meningiomas
    • Weaker teeth/poor enamel growth

Feminine Care Products

  • Fragranced products contain phthalates
  • Tampons contain dioxins (byproducts of bleaching process)

Phthalates/PVCs and Medical Devices

  • EPA regulations weak, based on 50-year old study
  • FDA has advised healthcare providers to use alternatives to DEHP-containing PVC medical devices, esp. in neonatal units
  • Banned by EU, CA, and WA
  • Federal legislation bans use in children’s products


  • Pesticide used as an antimicrobial in many soaps and hand sanitizers, including those commonly used in hospitals
  • Also found in toothpastes, deodorants, colognes
  • Linked to reproductive, endocrine, and developmental damage, and cancer in animals


  • FDA: Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than regular soap and water in fighting infection; banned from soaps (2016), but still found in toothpastes
  • AMA: It may be prudent to avoid the use of antimicrobial agents in consumer products
  • Use restricted in EU, Canada, Japan

Food Dyes

  • None of the 9 artificial food dyes approved for use in the U.S. has been proven safe
  • E.U. warning labels required for six food dyes: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”
  • Animal studies suggest some may be carcinogenic

Teflon (PFOA – perfluorooctanate)

  • Non-stick material made by Dupont and other companies until 2013, when they agreed on a voluntary phase-out (although substitutes no safer)
  • Chemicals released under high heat and when cookware damaged
  • Exposure linked with cancer, birth defects, gestational hypertension, heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, liver damage, and early menarche
  • Dupont hit with largest-ever civil penalty ($10.25 million) in 2006 for concealing health consequences and transmission from mother to fetus

Flame Retardants

  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) found in furniture produced before 2004 ban
    • Endocrine disruptors
    • Associated with behavior and cognition difficulties; thyroid dysfunction in women
    • Provide no meaningful protection from fire; actually increase smolder propensity

Flame Retardants

  • Newer brominated and chlorinated flame retardants
    • Slow spread of flames, but release carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide when burned (these compounds account for 60-80% of fire-related deaths)
    • Also endocrine disruptors, damage DNA

Pepper Spray

  • Contains TCE (trichloroethylene) and PCE (tetrachloroethylene)
  • Both can cause liver and kidney cancer, lymphoma, and other illnesses

Toxins in Apparel

  • Formaldehyde – permanent press
  • Phthalates, PVC – softeners, decorative printing
  • PCBs - ink
  • Nanosilver- antimicrobial agent to inhibit odor-causing bacteria

Toxic Pollutants – Economic Costs

  • Chemical brain drain – value of lost IQ points in children worldwide estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars
  • Americans pay more than $55 billion annually for direct medical expenses plus special schooling and long-term care for pediatric diseases caused by lead
  • This excludes the greatest toxic pollutant - tobacco


  • Present at “actionable levels” in nearly 20% of water systems in U.S. (e.g., Flint, other cities, as well as many schools and child care facilities)
  • Found in car batteries, paint (pigment and drying agent), gasoline (anti-knocking additive), second-hand tobacco smoke, and some cosmetics

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