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Little did I know what was in store in January 1973, when I walked into OEC’s SW Water Street office. Judie (Neilson) Hansen was efficiently managing in a small area full of mis-matched furniture. I explained that Oregon Environmental Council sounded like a good place to volunteer because “environmental” was part of its name. I went away from that first encounter with a copy of Senate Bill 100, which I read that night in a toy-cluttered NE Portland living room after my preschoolers were tucked in.
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You are here: Home Resources Media Room Recent News Releases New database on toxic chemicals in everyday products reveals lead, arsenic, PVC, and hazardous flame retardants in school supplies, cars, pet products, and more

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New database on toxic chemicals in everyday products reveals lead, arsenic, PVC, and hazardous flame retardants in school supplies, cars, pet products, and more

Largest database yet of independent tests of toxic chemicals in consumer goods

Sep 16, 2009

A nonprofit environmental research organization today released results on over 900 common products tested for toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, mercury, bromine, chlorine (PVC) and arsenic. Using an XRF analyzer, researchers at the Ecology Center analyzed the ingredients of pet products, cars, women’s handbags, children's car seats and more, creating the largest database yet of independent tests of toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

The results can be found at: www.HealthyStuff.org. Visitors can look up products by manufacturer, brand, or product type and easily generate lists of highly rated and poorly rated products.

HealthyStuff.org tested for chemicals based on their toxicity, persistence and tendency to build up in people and the environment. Such chemicals have been linked to reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, liver toxicity and cancer.

"This analysis of every day household products confirms that we need comprehensive chemical policy reform both here in Oregon  and on the national level," said Renee Hackenmiller-Paradis MPH, PhD, program director for environmental health at the Oregon Environmental Council. "Toxic chemicals are widespread in our products. Manufacturers and legislators must take the lead and replace these dangerous substances with safe alternatives."

For the past several years the Ecology Center has spearheaded groundbreaking research on toxic chemicals in toys, cars and children's car seats at HealthyToys.org and HealthyCar.org. HealthyStuff.org is a compilation of all of these findings and more.

New Key Findings from HealthyStuff.org:

Automobiles – HealthyStuff.org tested nearly 700 new and used vehicles, from 1980 to 2010 model year vehicles. The US-made Pontiac G5 and Chevy Cobalt rated best overall 2009 vehicles. Levels of some chemicals found in vehicles are 5-10 times higher than in homes or offices. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in their car every day, this can be a major source of toxic chemical exposure.

Children's Car Seats – Infant and child car seats contain chemical additives that can have adverse health effects on babies and young children. Over half (58 percent) of car seats contain one or more hazardous chemicals, including PVC, BFRs and heavy metals. Three examples of car seats that had none of the chemicals tested for are: Baby Trend Flex-Loc; the Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 Car Seat; and the Graco Turbo Booster. Despite the toxic chemicals, it is vital to use a car seat for your child because they do save lives.

Back-to-School Products – HealthyStuff.org screened over 60 common back-to-school supplies, including backpacks, pencil cases, binders and lunchboxes. Far too many of these supplies are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and 22 percent contained detectable levels of lead. Overall nearly 90 percent of back-to-school supplies contained one or more chemicals of concern.

Women's Handbags – HealthyStuff.org tested over 100 women's handbags and detected lead in over 75 percent of the bags analyzed. Sixty-four percent (64 percent) of the bags contained lead over 300 ppm – the CPSC limit for lead in children's products. Over half of the handbags contain more than 1,000 ppm lead.

Pet Products – HealthyStuff.org tested over 400 pet products, including beds, chew toys, collars and leashes. Since there are no government standards for hazardous chemicals in pet products, it is not surprising that alarming levels of toxic chemicals were found. One quarter of all pet products had detectable levels of lead, including seven percent with levels higher than 300 ppm – the current Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standard for lead in children's products.

Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act

In response to increasing consumer demand for safer products, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) are expected to introduce a new bill this Congressional session to reform the outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the current federal law for regulating chemicals.  These reforms would phase out the most dangerous chemicals from the manufacturing process; require industry to take responsibility for the safety of their products; and use the best science to protect vulnerable groups. To date the EPA has required testing on only about 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals that have been on the market since the law was passed 33 years ago.

About the Oregon Environmental Council

The Oregon Environmental Council safeguards what Oregonians love about Oregon – clean air and water, an unpolluted landscape and healthy food produced by local farmers. For 40 years we've been a champion for solutions to protect the health of every Oregonian and the health of the place we call home. Our vision for Oregon includes solving global warming, protecting kids from toxics, cleaning up our rivers, building sustainable economies, and ensuring healthy food and local farms. Find out more at www.oeconline.org.


For More Information:

Oregon Environmental Council
Jeremy Graybill, Communications Director
503-222-1963 ext. 111
jeremyg@oeconline.org

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