Toxic Chemicals


This project focused on three groups of industrial chemicals that have been linked to harmful health effects in laboratory studies or in humans:

Phthalates: Used in soft PVC (vinyl) toys, shower curtains, flooring, and medical equipment; also binds scents and color in cosmetics and air fresheners.  Research links phthalates to feminized genitals in baby boys, prompting bans in California and Europe. (more info)

Bisphenol A (BPA): Used in some plastic water and baby bottles, dental sealants, and the resin linings of metal food cans.  Developed originally as a synthetic estrogen hormone, human and animal studies link BPA to reduced sperm counts and other reproductive impacts, cancer, obesity, and miscarriages. (more info)

PBDEs: Flame-retardants added to the plastic cases of televisions and home electronics, automobile components, foam cushions, upholstered furniture and other textiles in home and workplace. Studies link PBDE exposure to impaired memory, learning, and behavior in laboratory animals. (more info)

While our project focused on bisphenol A, phthalates, and PBDEs, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found over a hundred industrial chemicals contaminating the blood and urine of Americans of all ages and races. The toxic chemicals within us are our “body burden,” and many of them are known toxics or have had no safety testing."

Industry Interference with Chemical Regulatory Process: In 2008, several Congressional investigations were launched into issues regarding industry interference with chemical policy on bisphenol A alone. Led by then chair Congressman John Dingell (D-MI), the House Energy and Commerce Committee looked into the Weinberg Group, a communications firm hired by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), that may have deliberately misled the pubic about bisphenol A. Another inquiry to the ACC head at the time, Jack Gerard (now with the Petroleum Institute), demanded letters sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency regulating BPA. A third inquiry is looking into the FDA's reliance on ICF, a consulting firm with ties to BPA manufacturers, when evaluating BPA. (more info)