Chemicals Policy

Category archives for Chemicals Policy

During the years that community health researcher Jill Johnston lived and worked in San Antonio, Texas was experiencing an explosion of fracking. She and the community partners she worked with on environmental health issues had a strong hunch that most of the fracking wastewater wells were being located near communities of color. So, they decided to dig a little deeper and quantify the pattern.

In the U.S., just a tiny fraction of the chemicals used in consumer products have been tested for human health effects. And with the current climate in Congress, it feels unlikely that we’ll see any true reform of the nation’s terribly outdated chemical safety rules anytime soon. In the meantime, scientist Thomas Hartung may have created the next best thing.

Occupational Health News Roundup

State investigations at New York nail salons uncover widespread violations; Oklahoma regulators rule that state law allowing employers to opt out of workers’ compensation is unconstitutional; EPA proposes new safety rules for chemical facilities; and reporters at Reuters investigate labor brokers who recruit and exploit foreign workers.

Manufacturers who market their products as “BPA-free” aren’t just sending consumers a message about chemical composition. The underlying message is about safety — as in, this product is safe or least more safe than products that do contain BPA. However earlier this month, another study found that a common BPA alternative — BPS — may not be safer at all.

Occupational Health News Roundup

Reporters at the Center for Public Integrity investigate the nation’s third wave of asbestos disease; garment workers in Bangladesh continue to fight for safety and dignity in the workplace; Seattle becomes the first U.S. city to allow Uber drivers to organize; and OSHA sends its silica rule to the White House.

In a recent study, Harvard public health researchers decided to test a few dozen types of electronic cigarettes for diacetyl, a flavoring chemical associated with a severe respiratory disease known as “popcorn lung.” The researchers found diacetyl in a majority of the e-cigarettes they tested. News outlets jumped on the findings, with some announcing that e-cigarettes could cause the often-debilitating respiratory disease.

Take a quick look around your home and chances are you’ll find at least one product with an ingredient simply described as “fragrance.” But what exactly does that mean and is there anything harmful in the ubiquitous chemical cocktails we refer to as fragrance? Maybe. But the real answer is that it’s hard to know for sure — and that, say advocates, is bad for public health.

Flame retardants aren’t just found in your furniture. It’s likely you also have detectable amounts of the chemical in your body too, which is pretty worrisome considering the growing amount of research connecting flame retardants to serious health risks. Researchers have linked to the chemicals to reproductive health problems, adverse neurobehavioral development in kids, and endocrine and thyroid disruption. And so the question arises: Do the risks of today’s flame retardants outweigh the benefits?

Occupational Health News Roundup

Investigative series explores worker health and safety on the farm; California enacts toughest pay equity law in the country; OSHA proposes biggest fine in Nebraska’s history; and Labor Secretary Tom Perez stops by Gawker.

Occupational Health News Roundup

Women in the trucking industry face severe sexual harassment, rape and retaliation; advocates call out chemical giant DuPont on their safety consulting business; home health care workers gain new wage protections; and Texas cities take action on living wages.