Toxic Nation E-News: the June 2008 issue from Environmental Defence

This June 2008 issue of the Toxic Nation E-Newsletter is filled with information that concerns all Canadians who are conscious about their health and environment:

Nasty Vinyl: Toxic Shower Curtians

Bisphenol A: Your Last Chance to Submit Comments

Cleaning Up The House: BPA Founds in Canadian House Dust

Help Ban Pesticides: Ontario-wide Ban Needs Your Support

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Nasty Vinyl: Toxic Shower Curtains

New laboratory tests reveal that the “new shower curtain smell” may be toxic to our health. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic shower curtains purchased at five major retailers in the U.S. all contain avoidable toxic chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates, organotins, and metals. Some of these chemicals are volatile, so they are released into the air inside our homes.

Read the full report: Volatile Vinyl: The New Shower Curtain’s Chemical Smell

Download our Guide to Vinyl: shower curtains and other products

The new study reveals PVC, also known as vinyl, shower curtains can release as many as 108 VOCs. Some of these chemicals, such as ethylbenzene and cyclohexanone, are considered a human health concern under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and are associated with developmental damage as well as damage to the liver and central nervous, respiratory, and reproductive systems. Some can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.

The tests looked at the amount of chemicals released into the air when the vinyl curtains were unwrapped from their packaging. It took the curtains roughly a month to stop off-gassing their toxic chemicals, which can have an effect on your health. Some people experience nausea, headaches or are sick due to the smell of the off-gassing chemicals.

Environmental Defence is calling on the federal government to ban vinyl shower curtains and require manufacturers to switch to safer alternatives, such as cotton curtains. In addition, we demand the use of toxic chemicals released from vinyl (e.g. toluene, ethylbenzene, cyclohexanone, methyl isobutyl ketone, phenol, etc.) be regulated in consumer products.

TAKE ACTION ON TOXIC VINYL TODAY! Send a message directly to the government to ban vinyl shower curtains.

Bisphenol A: Your Last Chance to Submit Comments

Wednesday, June 18 is the last day for you and your friends to make an impact on the federal government’s decision to regulate the toxic chemical, bisphenol A (BPA). On this day the 60-day comment period on BPA closes and the government will begin reviewing the comments submitted by the Canadian public, stakeholders, and industry.

Based on Health Canada’s proposal published on April 18, it seems that the government is only interested in regulating BPA in baby bottles and infant formula. In doing so, they will be disregarding the evidence that the lining inside food cans, such as the can of soup in your kitchen cupboard, leach BPA into the contained food. A recent study by CTV and the Globe and Mail showed that higher levels of BPA were found leaching from foods cans then were detected leaching from baby bottles.

Where there is a question of potential harm to humans and the environment, as is true of BPA, we should be taking a precautionary approach instead of asking what level of risk is acceptable- a can of soup or a reusable sports bottle.

Voice your concern on BPA today! Send a message to the federal government urging them to ban BPA in food and beverage containers!

Cleaning Up The House: BPA Founds in Canadian House Dust

Increasingly, people are realizing that the air in their homes might be more hazardous then the polluted air we breathe outdoors in urban areas.

Indoor air pollutants are not regulated in Canada. This is a huge concern, given the release of toxic chemicals we are seeing from products we all have around our homes (e.g. shower curtains, miscellaneous plastic items).

Health Canada’s Indoor Air Quality website is fairly minimal, but even they list chemical pollutants from household and personal care products as major sources of indoor air pollution.

What you might be interested in is The Canadian House Dust Study. No, Health Canada is not judging our sweeping and vacuuming skills;rather they are measuring the levels of chemicals in house dust in Canadian homes.

Even more interesting, is that preliminary data from the house dust study detected bisphenol A in 99% of Canadian households, with average concentrations at 1,600 ppb (parts per billion). (Levels of BPA leaching out of foods cans and baby bottles have ranged in 5-19 ppb)

Although we are not eating dust, a sure bet is that the BPA particles go somewhere (landfill, groundwater, plants, etc.). This points to yet another indication that Canada needs stronger regulations on chemicals, particularly in consumer products, along with increased funding to support further research into the effects of environmental pollutants.

For more great reading on human health and environmental pollutants check out Environmental Health Perspectives online.

Help Ban Pesticidest: Ontario-wide Ban Needs Your Support

The Ontario-wide pesticide ban has just passed second reading. Doctors and groups across the province are working to make the ban as health-protective as possible before it receives final passage. This is our last chance to make sure this bill does everything we want it to!

Please take a minute today to send an email to the Premier of Ontario with the following message:

“I strongly support a ban on the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides, including on golf courses. We need to see a ban come into effect as soon as possible, for our health and the protection of the environment”

Premier McGuinty’s email:

Phone: (416) 325-1941

Many Thanks!


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Environmental Defence is a federally registered charity. We’re on a mission. Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We researchn solutions. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, clean water and thriving ecosystems nationwide, and to bring a halt to Canada’s contributions to climate change.


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