Ethylene Oxide/Sterigenics Updates

Articles Posted in Environmental Contamination

The greatest enduring threat to the residents of East Palestine is contaminated groundwater. Fast remediation — and not empty political assurances — can solve the problem. 

Aerial_view_Norfolk_Southern_freight_train_derailment_Feb_2023The director of Ohio’s Department of Health sought to assure East Palestine residents of their safety by remarking that the cancer-causing solvents from the derailment now in the town are no cause for concern, because these chemicals are already “a part of our everyday life.”

What a terribly callous, ignorant, thing for a health official to say. Just because there were some carcinogens in East Palestine before the train derailment does not excuse Norfolk Southern  dumping tens of thousands of pounds more of them onto the small town.  Plus—and the director should know this—where it comes to carcinogens, there is no such thing as a safe level.  That means that every bit dumped by Norfolk adds to the town’s danger.

Hair-relaxer-Photo-244x300Hair relaxers are the latest beauty products to come under fire because of their link to potentially dangerous health effects. New scientific evidence has emerged that suggests that the long-term use of hair relaxers is linked to increased rates of uterine cancer. More specifically, a groundbreaking new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shown that women who use chemical hair straightening or relaxing products regularly are at a higher risk for developing uterine cancer than those who do not use these products. This study along with an earlier NIH study linking hair relaxer use to ovarian cancer are the reason women are filing hair relaxer lawsuits.

NIH Study Links Hair Relaxers to Uterine Cancer

 Uterine cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer in women, and Black women are twice as likely as white women to develop uterine cancer during their lifetime. The new study from the NIH may partly explain why. The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in October of 2022, found that women who used hair straightening products in the previous 12 months were more likely to be diagnosed with uterine cancer than women who had never used hair relaxers. And the risk increased with more frequent use. Women who used hair relaxers 4 times in the previous 12 months were more than twice as likely to develop uterine cancer.

emissions-g955e27000_1920-300x214If you spend any time on the websites of the leading defense contractors with the U.S. Department of Defense – Lockheed Martin[1], Boeing[2], Raytheon Technologies[3], General Dynamics[4], Northrop Grumman[5] – you will notice a common theme. Each of the above corporations, and many others receiving contracts from the military budget, have a page outlining their commitment to green initiatives and sustainable environmental practices.

So, a new rule proposed by the Biden administration, the Federal Supplier Risks and Resilience Rule, that would compel defense contractors to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, should not stir up much controversy. After all, it is in line with the stated commitments of these defense corporations themselves. Specifically, the regulation would require:

  • Federal Contractors making between $7.5 million and $50 million (considered Significant Contractors) to report Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

Wichita-300x218I’ve been an environmental lawyer for more than 20 years, working for communities whose homes, air, and water have been polluted by industry’s careless disposal of dangerous chemicals.  I’ve seen government respond aggressively to protect its citizens under these circumstances, but more often not so aggressively.  I’ve even seen government pretend that the contamination is not as bad as it really is to justify not doing anything about it.

But I’ve never seen a state government so matter-of-factly abandon its citizens in need of protection as the State of Kansas did to the residents of more than 1,000 homes in the Historically Black neighborhoods that are located Northeast of downtown Wichita, including the Wichita Independent, Northeast Millair, and Northeast Highgate neighborhoods.

Kansas should be ashamed of itself.  It must immediately reverse course and do its duty to protect its citizens against dangerous chemical contamination.

training-ge36778761_1920-300x199We’re inching closer to that time of year when everyone starts making New Year’s resolutions to hit the gym more. If you’re one of those people, you should make an additional resolution to only buy sports bras and athletic shirts that don’t contain BPA, a dangerous hormone disruptor.

 Recent testing by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has discovered that 14 different brand-name companies are selling sports bras and athletic shirts that contain up to 22 times the safe limit of BPA (also known as bisphenol A). The brands affected include:

  • All in Motion (sports bras)

contaminated-tap-water-300x213Chicago has a lead problem that may rival the contamination in Flint, Michigan, according to The Guardian. The publication analyzed years of Chicago tap water tests (conducted for residents between 2016 – 2021) and discovered that 1 in 20 of the tests performed by the city showed lead levels at or above U.S. government limits. Out of 24,000 tests, 1000 had lead levels exceeding the federal standard of 15 ppb in drinking water. More than 30% of the tests had lead levels exceeding the FDA standard of 5 ppb lead for bottled water. This is extremely concerning because lead exposure is linked to a host of health effects.

Lead is a potent neurotoxin that can cause irreversible damage, which is why many health experts say there is no safe level of lead. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommends lead levels under 1ppb to protect children whose brains are particularly susceptible to the metal. Even low levels of lead have been linked to lower IQ levels, behavioral disorders, and poor reading and math performance in children. In adults, low levels of lead can cause kidney problems and high blood pressure.

The size of the problem is much greater than Chicago’s current water testing shows, however, because most homes with lead service lines in the city have not even been tested yet. In fact, Chicago has an estimated 400,000 lead pipes supplying water to city homes, more than any other city in the country. This is partly because Chicago inexplicably kept a law– requiring lead pipes be used to connect homes to the city’s water system–on the books until 1986, years after most large cities had banned them.

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-300x221Update, July 2022: After being passed in the House and Senate, the Honoring Our PACT Act was expected to go to President Biden’s desk for his signature, but it is currently being blocked in the Senate by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans.

After 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.

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.

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