Doctors’ advice on chemical risks; politics, science and the US EPA; safer flame retardants; and more // Recent news highlights (July 2014)

July 9, 2014 at 10:55 am | Posted in News and Science Bulletins | Leave a comment
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Chemical news: recent
media highlights

Education about chemical risks | Why doctors don’t talk to pregnant women about toxic chemicals. Reducing pregnant women’s exposure to environmental toxins was recently deemed “critical” by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to prevent birth defects and other fetal health problems. But a survey published this week of more than 2,500 physician members of that medical group found that fewer than one in five obstetrician-gynecologists ask their pregnant patients about any exposure they’ve had to unsafe levels of toxic chemicals. (Boston Globe)

Politics and risk assessment | How politics derailed EPA science on arsenic, endangering public health. The EPA has been prepared to say since 2008, based on its review of independent science, that arsenic is 17 times more potent as a carcinogen than the agency now reports. But can it formally complete its assessment of arsenic’s toxicity? No. (Center for Public Integrity).

More politics and risk assessment | Why 28 years have passed since the EPA’s last chemical risk review. The EPA’s in-depth report on trichloroethylene, released after a two-year analysis, shows that long-term exposure to TCE can cause cancer and other health issues, and recommends that workers take serious precautions if they must use TCE. The problem is, this is the first final risk assessment for a chemical issued by the EPA since 1986. (Al Jazeera)

Safer chemicals, flame retardants | Searching for safer chemicals: new EPA flame retardants report highlights the dilemmas. When a widely used chemical is identified as an environmental health hazard and targeted for phase-out and elimination, among the most challenging questions for those involved with using and making such a chemical are: What to use instead? and Will the replacement be safe? The US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) report identifying alternatives to the flame retardant hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) illustrates how difficult those questions can be to answer. (The Pump Handle)

Flame retardants | Kaiser will no longer buy furniture treated with flame-retardant chemicals. The decision applies to all Kaiser facilities across eight states, including Washington and Oregon, and the District of Columbia. “We want manufacturers to shift to new products that don’t contain harmful chemicals,” says Kathy Gerwig, a vice president and environmental stewardship officer for Kaiser. (The Columbian)

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