Harmful toxins are
present in many everyday products. To protect ourselves and our
families, we should all be aware of these toxins, and the safer
alternatives that exist. The Neighborhood Network is committed
to informing Long Islanders about these alternatives, and to promoting
healthier choices for Long Island families.
Both Nassau and Suffolk
Counties have recently adopted policies to choose safer, non-toxic
products for cleaning and maintenance operations.
Non-Toxic Purchasing Law Passes 18-0
County to use non-toxic cleaners in County buildings.
you know that its not a good idea to microwave food or your
morning coffee in a soft plastic container or styrofoam? Or that
it may be harmful to allow your infant to chew on soft plastic
toys? The reason why is that certain plastics contain carcinogens,
and/or endocrine disruptors. Chemicals that can interfere with
your hormonal system which controls many functions in the body,
To be safe, it is better
to avoid plastics and always store and heat food in glass, ceramic,
stoneware or metal containers. They do not leach any questionable
chemicals when in contact with food. Use ceramic mugs to heat
beverages in the microwave. Containers made from stainless steel
are an environmentally friendly choice because steel is 100% recyclable,
and also because stainless steel is easy to clean without any
heating food in plastic containers. A "microwave-safe"
or "microwavable" label on plastic containers only means
that they should not melt, crack or fall apart when used in the
microwave, the label is no guarantee that containers don't leach
chemicals into foods when heated.
chloride (V or PVC, recyling number 3) -- Most cling-wrapped
foods sold in delis are wrapped in PVC. To soften PVC plastic
into its flexible form, manufacturers add "plasticizers"
during production. Traces of these chemicals, known as adipates
and phthalates, can leak out of PVC when it comes in contact with
foods. According to a National Institutes of Health report, di-2-ehtylhexyl
phthalate (DEHP), commonly found in PVC plastics, is reasonably
anticipated to be a human carcinogen. While DEHP is not expected
to cause harmful health effects in humans at the levels found
in the environment, reproductive problems, birth defects and damaged
sperm did occur in animals with prolonged exposure.
(PS, recycling number 6) -- usually found in styrofoam containers,
cups and plastic cutlery. PS may leach styrene, which is considered
a possible human carcinogen by the World Health Organization's
International Agency for Research on Cancer, and may also disrupt
(included in recycling number 7 with other plastics) -- Polycarbonate
bottles are made with bisphenol-A, which many studies have evaluated
as a hormone disruptor which can leach into food in cans or from
polycarbonate bottles as they age. A 1998 study in Environmental
Health Perspectives found that bisphenol-A simulates the action
of estrogen when tested in human breast cancer cells. Polycarbonate
is usually found in baby bottles, 5-gallon water bottles (such
as office water dispensers), microwave ovenware, and lining in
food cans. About 95% of all baby bottles currently on the market
are made of polycarbonate. Its a good idea to call the manufacturer
and ask if bisphenol-A is in your plastic product.
Fact Sheet pdf
the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, FDA cannot require companies
to do safety testing before marketing, but if the safety of a
cosmetic product has not been determined, the product's label
must read "WARNING: The safety of this product has not been
determined." The FDA can inspect the manufacturing process
of a product, but the only way it can take action against certain
products is through legal action. Reporting of complaints to FDA
is voluntary, and can come directly from consumers or through
the manufacturer, again on a voluntary basis. Meanwhile, a 1997
General Accounting Office (GAO) study identified 125 cosmetic
ingredients suspected of causing cancer and others of causing
Cosmetic claims are
allowed without scientific substantiation, if a cosmetic makes
a medical claim, such as removing dandruff, the product is regulated
as an over-the-counter drug for which scientific studies demonstrating
safety and effectiveness must be submitted to FDA.
It is up to consumers
to be smart about the cosmetics they use.
-- used as preservatives, these are irritants and are associated
with weak endocrine disruption (they mimic estrogen).
-- In March 2003, Newsday reported on the presence of these chemicals
in cosmetics and other products used around the home, saying that
Some researchers say there is evidence that the chemicals
can cause birth defects and damage the male reproductive system.
These chemicals are the subject of national controversy because
they are found so widely in the population, and the federal government
is paying a lot of attention to them. They are found especially
in plastics, but also in cosmetics, and the effects are found
even at low doses. They are used in hair spray, perfume, and nail
polish; they are likely to accumulate in body fat. 6 Environmental
Working Group, working with nottoopretty.org, found them in 52
of 72 name brand cosmetics.
fact sheet (pdf)
a clean home or school is an important way to minimize possible
health problems caused by germs and molds. However, you may not
realize that some of the common household cleaners sold at supermarkets
and institutional cleaners may also contribute to certain health
problems. Many common household products contain alcohols, ammonia,
bleach, and lye. These substances can cause nausea, inflammation
and burning of the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system,
and are linked with neurological, liver and kidney damage, asthma,
and even cancer. According to the Healthy Schools Network, more
children have asthma and allergies than ever before, so reducing
respiratory irritants is important. Some cleaners may also have
environmental impacts when washed down the drain.
-- Chlorine bleach, though a very effective disinfectant, is caustic
and can irritate skin and lungs. When mixed with other compounds
in wastewater, chlorine can combine to form chlorinated organic
compounds, which can be toxic and even carcinogenic.
-- Many cleaners contain petroleum distillates which may irritate
eyes, skin, and lungs. These may cause dermatitis, and even damage
to the central nervous system. Petroleum distillates may contain
benzene, a carcinogen.
(Volatile organic compounds) -- Some cleaning products give off
VOCs, which when airborne, react with other compounds in the air
and form ground level ozone and smog which aggravates respiratory
ailments. According to the Washington Toxics Coalition, some VOCs
that frequently pollute indoor air, such as toluene, styrene,
xylenes, and trichloroethylene can be emitted from cleaners, but
also products such as pesticides, paints, paint thinners, aerosol
products, petroleum distillates, dry-cleaned clothing, laser printers,
photocopiers, adhesives, air fresheners, and perfumes. High levels
of toluene, can put pregnant woman at risk of having babies with
neurological problems, retarded growth, and developmental problems.
Even at low concentrations, however, toluene exposure can cause
headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and fatigue in children
Cleaners fact sheet (pdf)
Non-Toxic Purchasing Law Passes 18-0
Suffolk County Legislature
approved a law championed by environmentalists and breast cancer
action advocates, to eliminate carcinogens and other harmful substances
from products purchased by the County.
Suffolk County Executive
Steve Levy announced on Tuesday (March 6, 2007) that he would
sign the legislation that was sponsored by Legislators Edward
Romaine and Steve Stern. The bill was passed by the Legislature
by an 18 to 0 vote, later that same day.
The law, which was
included in the recommendations made by the County Executive at
his State of the County address, will require an extensive review
of purchasing practices by the many different County agencies.
The new rules will require that toxic substances be avoided when
the county purchases products for fleet services, landscaping,
painting and other maintenance. These new procedures will be added
to existing rules that already restrict the use of chemical pesticides
on County properties and prohibit the purchase of cleaning materials
that contain toxic substances. Additionally, the law will require
paper purchasing by the County meet or exceed the EPA recommendations.
Implementing this initiative will be under the responsibility
of the newly created Suffolk Department of Environment Energy.
Supporting this initiative
and working hard with the County Legislators and County Executive
Levys staff to hammer out the details of the provisions
of the new law were many environmental and breast cancer action
has taken a leading role in adopting this pollution prevention
policy, said Karen Joy Miller of the Huntington Breast Cancer
Action Coalition and Neighborhood Network board member. I
applaud the commitment of our Suffolk county Executive Steve Levy,
Legislators Edward Romaine and Steven Stern for working together
for the common good and taking the lead in going green.
We have already
pursued an aggressive non-toxic policy in the purchase of pest
control, cleaning and maintenance products, and the additional
measures in this legislation will keep us heading in the right
direction by ensuring we are not unnecessarily introducing harmful
products into the environment, said Levy.
We have a responsibility
to our employees and constituents to ensure that the county I
son exposing them to dangerous chemicals, said Legislator
Romaine. It is critical to work to reduce exposure to products
that may cause cancer, which unfortunately, is at epidemic levels
in Suffolk County, Legislator Stern said.
With the passage
of the green procurement bill, Suffolk County is demonstrating
responsible leadership, as this noble effort will undoubtedly
protect public health and our environment currently at risk,
said Laura Weinberg, Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition.
is leading by example, by implementing these rules for the products
it purchases, said Neal Lewis, executive director of the
Neighborhood Network. The actions of the two counties, with
hundreds of buildings maintained and thousands of cases of cleaning
products, paint, paper and other products purchased annually,
will serve to develop a market for non-toxic products. The combined
effect of the two counties impact on the market for these
products will result in making more non-toxic product choices
available on Long Island for homeowners and small businesses.
to use non-toxic cleaners
a recently announced executive order from County Executive Thomas
Suozzi, Nassau County will begin using non-toxic cleaning products
in County Facilities. The program began in the Executive Building
at One West Street, Mineola, and will be expanded to all County
operations in 2007.
In the Executive Building,
Nassau County has been using "Greening the Cleaning"
products developed by the Deirdre
Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology, part
of the not-for-profit Hackensack University Medical Center. All
profits from the sale of "Greening the Cleaning" products
go toward pediatric cancer research, and to studying the environmental
causes of cancer.
|At the press conference announcing Nassau's
new non-toxic cleaners policy, from left to right: Adrienne
Esposito (Citizens Campaign for the Environment), County Executive
Tom Suozzi, Diedre Imus, Neighborhood Network Issues Program
Director Beth Fiteni, and Neighborhood Network Executive Director