News

    Environmental Groups Warn of Dangerous Chemicals in Toys and Home Flooring

    Multimedia

    Zulima Palacio

    A research group known for exposing toxic chemicals in children's toys recently turned its  attention to home improvement products such as flooring and wallpaper.  After testing more than 3000 samples, the nonprofit group found toxic chemicals, including lead and PVCs, a kind of plastic, almost everywhere in homes. Many of the chemicals have been linked to cancer, asthma, birth defects and reproductive problems.  

    This is eight-month-old Lev. As with all babies, he puts everything in his mouth.

    What Lev doesn't know is that, nowadays, many of the things he chews on and even the air he breathes at home might contain high levels of toxic chemicals with adverse effects on his health.

    Rachel Gibson is Lev's mom and the Chemicals Policy Director at Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition of hospitals and health care systems.

    "This right here is one of my son's new favorites," said Rachel Gibson. "It makes noise, has great lights but I don't know what is in the plastic quite honestly.  He loves this thing."

    Rachel is concerned about chemicals known as Phthalates, commonly used to soften plastics and found in children's toys, cosmetics and vinyl floors.  The US Consumer Product Safety commission has banned three phtalates from some children's toys.



    "For the most part we are talking about long term consequences," said Gibson.

    Richard Denison is senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, an organization focused on science and research:  

    "Unfortunately we know that these chemicals are able to disrupt the early development of people," said Denison. "Babies come into the world already carrying a burden of chemical exposure from day one that they got from their mothers."

    The Toy Industry Association says there's no need for concern. Stacy Leistner is the association's spokesperson.

    "We have very strict regulations for all toys that are sold in the US, regardless of where they are from and we are confident that toys on the shelves now are safer than ever before," said Leistner.

    Thirty-four years have passed since the United States first regulated the use of toxic substances,  Since then, more than 80,000 chemicals have entered the market without testing or regulation.

    The US Environmental Protection Agency has been able to regulate only five.   

    Lisa Jackson heads the EPA:

    "The story is clear," she said. "We have only been able to effectively regulate a handful of chemicals and we know very little about the rest."

    Recently the organization known as HealthyStuff.org tested 1000 flooring samples and  2000 wallpapers in search of toxic chemicals. It found alarming levels of lead, phthalates and PVCs.

    The group suggested safe alternatives like linoleum, cork, bamboo and hardwood.

    The list of chemicals that scientists say contain harmful substances is long - from fire retardents in mattresses and furniture, banned in many countries, to Teflon  that has long been associated with cancer.

    "Today in the US about 250 pounds of chemicals per person per day are produced and used," said Denison. "So imagine walking around with a backpack that weighs 250 pounds and replacing it every single day."

    Although there is a partial ban on Phthalates in the US, Denison says many chemicals, including Phthalates, have already caused extensive damage.

    "Everyone of us carries measurable amounts of these chemicals in our bodies," he said. "They  contaminate our soil, food supply and water even decades after they are banned."

    On Capitol Hill, there are new efforts to control toxic chemicals.  But experts say the battle  will be long and difficult.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora