Articles Posted in Environmental Contamination

water-bottle-g82d7e38e6_1920-300x241We have all been told about the benefits of drinking water out of a reusable bottle. It’s convenient, better for the environment than single-use bottles, and increases your daily water intake. However, if your reusable water bottle is made out of plastic, it may be more damaging to your health than it is beneficial. In a recent study,  chemists at the University of Copenhagen discovered that tap water that gets stored in reusable plastic bottles contains hundreds and sometimes thousands of chemicals; many that are damaging to human health, and many more that have unknown toxicity.

The chemists tested three different types of popular plastic water bottles, two of which were biodegradable. The researchers stored tap water in both used and new bottles for 24 hours. Some of the bottles had been machine washed, some had not, and some had been rinsed 5 times with tap water. They then tested the water in the bottles for a variety of chemicals.

Shockingly, after just 24 hours, the researchers found hundreds of substances present in the tap water stored in the new bottles—including substances that had never been found in plastic. Worse still, they discovered THOUSANDS of substances in the water stored in bottles that had been through a dishwasher cycle. And even the tap water stored in thoroughly rinsed bottles contained a significant percentage of toxic and unknown substances. More than 400 of the substances were derived from plastic and 3500 from dishwashing soap.

Camp-lejeune-service-members-graduate-college-300x221After years of denials by the government, Camp LeJeune veterans and their families–who were exposed to cancer-causing toxins on the military base–may be on the brink of getting their day in court.

In a long-overdue action, the House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3967, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (Honoring Our PACT Act), a broad bipartisan bill that addresses the needs of veterans subjected to toxic exposure. Yesterday, on June 16, 2022, the Senate passed an amended version of the Act. Importantly for Camp LeJeune veterans, this bill includes the Camp LeJeune Justice Act of 2022.

The Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Contamination

carbonated-water-300x200As environmental lawyers, one of our passions is fighting for clean drinking water for communities affected by contamination. So, it is disappointing that the EPA, under President Biden, has endorsed a Trump administration decision and decided not to regulate perchlorate in drinking water.

What is Perchlorate?

Perchlorate is a contaminant that can be found in groundwater, surface water, and soil. Most perchlorate manufactured in the U.S. is used for rockets and missiles. Perchlorate-based chemicals are also used in safety flares, fireworks, matches, pyrotechnics, explosives, and batteries. Because perchlorates are used in military applications, some countries prefer to keep the amounts they make confidential. So, we do not know the exact amount of perchlorates produced or used in the United States. However, high levels of perchlorates are often found near military bases where the chemicals have been used in rocket fuel. And to no one’s surprise, the Department of Defense and other military contractors oppose limiting perchlorate in drinking water.

Pantene-300x225Procter & Gamble has issued a voluntary product recall of more than 30 aerosol spray dry shampoos and dry conditioners, warning that the products could contain benzene, a cancer-causing chemical linked to leukemia.

Benzene has been classified as a “known human carcinogen” by the EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer based on sufficient evidence that it causes leukemia. It has also been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma.

The recall includes aerosol spray products from Pantene, Herbal Essences, Aussie, and Waterless, in addition to several discontinued aerosol dry shampoo products from Old Spice and Hair Food. The products are being recalled by Procter &Gamble after benzene was detected in some products.

Old-Spice-300x213The Procter & Gamble Company has voluntarily recalled all lots of specific Secret and Old Spice aerosol spray antiperspirants and Old Spice Below Deck aerosol spray products sold in the U.S. The products, which have expiration dates through September 2023, have been recalled due to the detection of benzene.

Benzene is classified as a carcinogen by the EPA and the International Agency for the Research on Cancer. The chemical has been linked in studies to leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

The affected products are antiperspirants and hygiene products packaged in aerosol cans. See the table below for product names and UPC codes:

hamburger-gb0d465128_1920-300x225It’s common knowledge that fast food isn’t the most nutritious dining option, but you should at least be able to expect that the hamburger or chicken nuggets you are devouring are nontoxic. That may not be the case, say researchers at George Washington University. A new study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology has revealed that most of the food items at popular fast-food restaurants are full of chemicals known as phthalates that have been linked to a host of health problems. This is the first study to measure phthalates directly in fast food and contributes to the scientific evidence linking fast food consumption to higher levels of phthalates.

What Chemicals Did the Researchers Find?

Researchers at George Washington University bought 64 popular menu options from Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell and tested them for 8 common phthalates and 3 replacement plasticizers. 10 of the 11 chemicals were present at high levels in nearly all of the samples. 81% of the samples contained DnBP and 70% contained DEHP; both phthalates have been linked to fertility and reproductive issues as well as increased risks of behavioral, learning, and attention disorders in children. 86% of the samples contained DEHT, a plasticizer that is being used as a replacement for phthalates. Overall, samples that contained meat had significantly higher levels of phthalates than vegetarian options; but phthalates were still present in both types of food.

McDonalds--300x293 Eating fast food wrapped in PFAS laden food packaging may be a one-two punch for your prostate. A new study conducted by scientists at the University of Illinois has found that PFAS exposure together with a high-fat diet causes malignant prostate tumors to grow much faster than those without exposure to the chemical.

The scientists in the study performed several experiments. In one they exposed malignant human prostate cells to PFOS and PFBS and compared them to malignant prostate cells that were not exposed.  The cancerous cells replicated three times faster than the control group when exposed to PFOS and 5 times faster when exposed to PFBS.

In a follow-up experiment, they injected mice with the malignant human prostate cells and fed them either a high-fat diet or a control diet. Some of the mice also received doses of PFOS, a common form of PFAS that has previously been linked to cancer. As expected, the mice fed a high-fat diet exhibited faster tumor growth than mice in the control group. The mice exposed to PFOS who ate the control diet had even faster tumor growth than the mice fed a high-fat diet. But the mice who were exposed to PFOS and fed a high-fat diet had the fastest rate of tumor growth of all.

incense-1961430_1920-300x200
Incense is chic again.

You have only to see all the photos of burning incense and crystals on Instagram to know that young people are following this trend. Some companies are even marketing incense as being good for your health. And while it’s true that burning incense can make your house or office smell like a calming spa; is it really a good idea? Not necessarily according to researchers.

Recent studies published in the journal Nature have revealed some surprising health risks linked to burning incense indoors which may make you reconsider using incense to create a calming, patchouli-scented environment. Here are some of the harmful health effects linked to incense burning:

ford-2691853_1920-1-300x209Recent news reports have revealed that a benzene leak at Ford’s Assembly Plant in Flat Rock, Michigan has contaminated the sewers in a 4-square-mile—and possibly larger—area of the city. As a result of the benzene leak, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is recommending that residents who live in the area bounded by I-75 to the east, Gibraltar Road to the north, Cahill Road to the west, and Woodruff Road south, evacuate until further notice. Initially, 10 homes and one school were evacuated, but now, because it is unclear which homes may be at risk, the MDHHS is recommending that the entire neighborhood evacuate.

Why Should Residents Evacuate?

Residents may be at risk of exposure to high levels of benzene, a volatile organic compound (VOC), which can be harmful to human health. Measurements of air in buildings and sewer lines have shown that VOC levels exceed health-protective and explosive levels.

Benzene-in-sunscreensSummer is here, along with beach days, afternoons at the neighborhood pool, tropical vacations, and lathering up in sunscreen. As you head out into the summer sun, however, it might be worth doing some research before grabbing any old bottle of sunscreen off the shelf. A new report has found benzene, a chemical that is known to cause cancer, in 78 sunscreen and after-sun products.

Independent Testing Found Benzene in 27% of Sunscreens

Valisure, a pharmacy that performs its own independent tests on various products, recently tested almost 300 different sunscreens in an effort to find a “clean” sunscreen. Of those 300 sunscreens, 78 (or 27%) tested positive for benzene; some even containing triple the FDA’s limit of 2 parts per million. As a result, Valisure is asking for a recall of the contaminated batches.

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