Southern California environment news and trends

Study: Toxic chemicals found in water hoses, gardening tools

Talk about a summer bummer. As reported by the Huffington Post, a new study by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, MI, has found that the water from general garden hoses is often toxic and potentially dangerous. The study, which also tested gloves, kneepads and other gardening tools, discovered a host of chemicals, including cadmium, BPA and lead at levels considered of “high concern” in over two-thirds of the products. All of the hoses tested positive for phthalates, a plasticizer that’s been connected to hormone disruption, genital birth defects in boys and breast cancer, among other illnesses.

“Even if you are an organic gardener, doing everything you can to avoid pesticides and fertilizers, you still may be introducing hazardous substances into your soil by using these products,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center in a press release. “The good news is that healthier choices are out there. Polyurethane or natural rubber water hoses, and non-PVC tools and work gloves, are all better choices.”

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FDA nixes proposed ban on food packaging chemical

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klearchos/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has denied a petition to ban a plastic-hardening chemical common to food and drink packaging such as bottles and cans.

The FDA has decided that there is not enough evidence proving that the chemical known as bisphenol A (AKA BPA) is hazardous to human health, and would need to see the data from federal studies currently being conducted before considering such a ban.

“The information provided in your petition was not sufficient to persuade FDA, at this time, to initiate rulemaking to prohibit the use of BPA in human food and food packaging,” David H. Horsey, an acting associate FDA commissioner, said in a letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council as reported in Bloomberg.

Health advocates have been swift to criticize the FDA’s decision.

"We believe FDA made the wrong call," Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement to the Huffington Post. "The agency has failed to protect our health and safety ­-- in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures."

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California Senate approves BPA ban for babies, but what about adults?

This week, the California Senate voted to ban plastics chemic bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles and sippy cups sold in the state. The Toxin-Free Infants and Toddlers Act (AB 1319) is now heading for the state Assembly for a final vote. The ban would prohibit BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula and baby food made or sold after July 1, 2013. Further, manufacturers will be required use the least toxic alternative substance for any substitutions. 

California is the eighth state to enact this ban, even after the “unprecedented” $5 million the chemical industry spent to defeat it.

So why the ban? BPA is used to make a polycarbonate plastic and some resins. It has been found to mimic estrogen in the body. This can result in breast and prostate cancers, as well as the altered growth of reproductive organs during development. Studies on animals have shown links between fetal exposure to BPA and damage to reproductive organs in males as well as early puberty in females. It’s believed that people are exposed to BPA through food and drinking vessels; therefore, the passage of this bill is a clear step forward for healthier children.

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