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EarthTalk®

by E - The Environmental Magazine


EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: What is the “Fair Trade Your Supermarket” campaign?

-- Brian Howley, Washington, DC


A project of the non-profit Green America, the “Fair Trade Your Supermarket” campaign aims to empower consumers to advocate for more “Fair Trade” products on store shelves at their local supermarkets. Fair trade is a system of exchange that honors producers, communities and the environment by ensuring that farmers and artisans throughout the developing world are paid fair prices for their work and have direct involvement in the marketplace. The goal of the wider Fair Trade movement, according to Green America, is to build real and lasting relationships between producers in developing countries and businesses and consumers around the world.

And that’s where your neighborhood grocer comes in. “While the Fair Trade movement is gaining steam nationwide, most of our supermarkets still carry few–if any–Fair Trade products on their shelves,” reports Green America. “Together, we can put Fair Trade products within reach for millions of Americans.”

And just how does Green America expect us to do this? “First, take stock of Fair Trade products in your supermarket—look for coffee, tea, chocolate, rice, sugar, honey, wine, fresh fruit, and olive oil.” Scan the relevant aisles for third-party certifier Fair Trade USA’s distinctive black-and-white “Fair Trade Certified” label, which is only attached to imported goods where the producers receive fair prices for their products and where strict socio-economic and environmental criteria are met during production. Alternatively, look for the logos of other third-party certifiers such as “Fair for Life” or “Fair Trade Federation” on product labels if you think fair trade versions may be available in a given product line.

“Then, you can encourage the store to stock more Fair Trade products by talking to the store manager as a loyal customer,” adds Green America. They suggest using comment cards, which can be key to getting a store with no Fair Trade items to start carrying them. “Every time you go grocery shopping, drop a comment card in the box asking your manager to stock Fair Trade items.” Of course, talking to a store manager in person may be even more effective, especially if you are armed with a pile of your receipts from the store from the previous month or two to show how much spending power you alone would be able to allocate toward Fair Trade versions of the items you are buying there.

Another creative way to spread the Fair Trade gospel would be by volunteering to hand out free samples of Fair Trade products that the store already sells in order to raise awareness and build consumer demand. “Stores sell more of a product when a sampling table is set out, and if you, your friends and family are working the table, the labor is free for the store too.”

But why stop with your local market? If there is a chain supermarket outlet in your area, take it to the top by writing an e-mail, letter or postcard to corporate headquarters informing them of your desire to buy Fair Trade items in all of their stores. Check out the Fair Trade Your Supermarket website (link below) for more tips on how to make your next shopping trip fairer to the planet and its people.

CONTACTS: Fair Trade Your Supermarket, www.fairtradeyoursupermarket.org; Green America, www.greenamerica.org; Fair Trade USA, www.fairtradeusa.com.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


 

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: The oil industry is planning what some call a dangerous strategy of drilling for oil on the Outer Continental Shelf in the
Arctic Ocean. What’s going on? -- Vera Bailey, New Hope, PA

In November 2011 the Obama administration began lifting the moratorium on off-shore drilling that had been imposed in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a five year plan including 15 leases for oil development on Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf and in the Gulf of Mexico. For now the East and West coasts of the continental U.S. have been spared from drilling, but environmentalists are particularly worried about opening up the fragile Alaskan Arctic to off-shore rigs.

“This five-year program will make available for development more than three-quarters of undiscovered oil and gas resources estimated on the [Outer Continental Shelf], including frontier areas such as the Arctic, where we must proceed cautiously, safely and based on the best science available,” Salazar told reporters.

Republicans were incensed that more acreage was not being made available for off-shore drilling, but environmentalists couldn’t believe what they were hearing for different reasons: In June 2011 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) had released a 292-page report commissioned by Interior Secretary Salazar “to identify the gaps in scientific or technical knowledge about how drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas north of Alaska would affect the region,” reports Jerry Bellinson in Popular Mechanics. The report, Bellinson says, “details several areas where those gaps exist, including oil-spill cleanup technologies, basic mapping of currents and the effects of underwater noise on sea mammals.” Despite the USGS’s warnings, the Obama administration decided to proceed anyway.

“Drilling infrastructure permanently alters ocean floor habitats,” reports Defenders of Wildlife. “Drill rig footprints, undersea pipelines, dredging ship channels, and dumped drill cuttings—the rock material dug out of the oil or gas well—are often contaminated with drilling fluid used to lubricate and regulate the pressure in drilling operations.” The group adds that contaminated sediments are carried long distances by currents and can kill important small bottom-dwelling creatures at the bottom of the marine food chain.

Defenders also argues that spills, leaks and occasional BP-like catastrophes are unavoidable with off-shore oil drilling, if history is any guide. “Even with safety protocols in place, leaks and spills are inevitable—each year
U.S.
drilling operations send an average of 880,000 gallons of oil into the ocean.”

As for wildlife, off-shore drilling can have devastating effects even with no spills or leaks. “Seismic surveys conducted during oil and gas exploration cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, induce behavioral changes, and even physically injure marine mammals such as whales, seals and dolphins,” reports Defenders. “Construction noise from new facilities and pipelines is also likely to interfere with foraging and communication behaviors of birds and mammals. Because they are at the top of the food chain, many marine mammals will be exposed to the dangers of bioaccumulation of organic pollutants and metals.” And off-shore drilling only adds insult to injury as far as Defenders is concerned: “In the face of the climate crisis, the
U.S. needs to look for ways to decrease petroleum consumption, not…increase it.”


CONTACTS: Defenders of Wildlife, www.defenders.org; Popular Mechanics, www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/coal-oil-gas/oil-drilling-in-the-arctic-ocean-is-it-safe.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: I understand there is an effort underway to allow all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorbikes, motorboats and other motorized vehicles into wilderness areas, which would overturn a long-standing ban. What’s behind this? -- Harry Schilling, Tempe, AZ

A new bill making its way through Congress, the Recreational Fishing and Hunting Heritage and Opportunities Act (H.R. 2834), aims to make federally managed public lands across millions of acres of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management property more accessible to hunters and anglers. And a key element of the bill calls for allowing motorized vehicles and equipment—as long as they are used for hunting or fishing—into these areas. Leading green groups are outraged because this would undermine 1964’s Wilderness Act which expressly bans motor vehicles on these last wild vestiges of untrammeled American land.

According to the non-profit Wilderness Society, the motorized vehicles provision “would result in the destruction of the very wilderness values that millions of American hunters and anglers cherish.”

“The practical effect could be to open all designated wilderness areas to all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorbikes, motorboats, chainsaws and other motorized vehicles and equipment…” warns Wilderness Society president William Meadows in a letter to Congress. He adds that buildings, towers and temporary roads could even be built in currently pristine stretches of wilderness if the proposed bill becomes law.

But what’s most troubling to Meadows and others is language in the bill saying that “any requirements imposed by [the Wilderness Act] shall be implemented only insofar as they facilitate or enhance the original primary purpose or purposes for which the federal public lands or land unit was established and do not materially interfere with or hinder such purpose or purposes.” Meadows fears this could be construed to allow road building, timber cutting, mining, oil and gas drilling and other development in our remaining wilderness areas.

Another beef environmentalists have with the bill is that it would exempt decisions made or actions taken with regard to hunting and fishing on federal lands from federal environmental review and public disclosure regulations established under 1969’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The Wilderness Society reports that this part of H.R. 2834 would keep the public and concerned parties out of decisions to compromise the integrity of wilderness but also other types of protected lands.

First introduced in the house last September by Michigan Republican Dan Benishek (with 45 bi-partisan co-sponsors), H.R. 2834 made it through the House Natural Resources Committee within three months and is poised for a full House vote later this spring. If it passes there, the Senate will take up a companion version, S. 2066, sponsored by Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin. Depending on how it plays out, the bill could be on the President’s desk by the summer.

“Recreational fishing and hunting are important and vital recreational activities on our federal public lands,” concludes the Wilderness Society, “but the anti-Wilderness provisions of H.R. 2834 should not be allowed to become law.”

CONTACTS: H.R. 2834, www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr2834; Wilderness Society, www.wilderness.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


 

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: How do green groups feel about the new 2012 Farm Bill draft recently released by the Senate? -- Roger Wheeler, Miami, FL

Like so much of the legislation coming out of Washington, D.C., green groups are mixed on the new Farm Bill now making its way toward a floor vote. No doubt there are some conservation bright spots in the bill, but the question is: Are there enough and do they go far enough?

The non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) doesn’t think so. “Unfortunately, the bill ... will do more harm than good,” says Craig Cox, an agriculture and natural resources expert at EWG. “It needlessly sacrifices conservation and feeding assistance programs to finance unlimited insurance subsidies and a new entitlement program for highly profitable farm businesses.” Cox is critical of the new bill for essentially replacing one subsidy to large successful farms (those which need it least) with another: “Rather than simply ending the widely discredited direct payment program, the Senate Agriculture Committee has created an expensive new entitlement program that guarantees most of the income of farm businesses already enjoying record profits.” He calls replacing direct payments with a revenue guarantee program “a cynical game of bait-and-switch that should be rejected by Congress.”

On the conservation side, Cox is dismayed that the draft bill fails to address “the impact of fence-row to fence-row agricultural production, which is putting unprecedented pressure on our land, water and wildlife.” EWG would like to see the bill include language forcing farmers to protect critical wetlands and grasslands, not to mention soil health in general, in exchange for getting the insurance subsidies. “In combination, a new entitlement program, unlimited secret insurance subsidies, cuts to conservation programs and high commodity prices will create powerful incentives to plow up fragile wetlands and grasslands and erase many of the environmental gains made by agriculture in recent years,” says Cox.

On the plus side, Cox applauds provisions in the bill that create and expand programs supporting healthy diets and organic farmers, as well as those that seek to expand links between local farmers and consumers. “We also support efforts to reform conservation programs to get more conservation bang for the buck,” he concludes, adding that EWG hopes to work with legislators on strengthening the bill’s conservation and nutrition provisions, and to place sensible limits on subsidies for highly-profitable farms.

Another respected non-profit, American Farmland Trust (AFT), is more bullish overall on the Senate’s draft of the bill. The group likes the fact that funding for conservation programs is maintained at all, given the sour economic climate and resistance to put funds into non-emergency programs. AFT also praises the bill for its commitment to support farm and ranch land protection through a new permanent Agricultural Land Easement option which will help protect working lands and keep them in agricultural use.

“Our nation has a critical need to protect farm and ranch land,” says AFT president Jon Scholl, adding that the U.S. lost farm and ranch acreage equal to the size of Indiana over the last 30 years. “Permanent conservation easements protect agricultural land from development, safeguard local agricultural economies and help farmers and ranchers transition their land to the next generation.”

A vote on the final version of the bill could come as early as this summer.

CONTACTS: EWG,
www.ewg.org, AFT, www.farmland.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: I’ve seen a lot of warm and fuzzy TV ads, some sponsored by BP Oil, urging me to vacation in the Gulf of Mexico. But are things really “back to normal?” -- Paul Shea, Dublin, OH


The Gulf of Mexico may be open for business and eager to attract tourists, but it’s still unclear whether or not marine and coastal ecosystems there are healthy two years after BP’s offshore drilling rig exploded 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, eventually releasing 205.8 million gallons of oil into the water column.

Five months after the April 2010 disaster the Obama administration released a detailed recovery plan, calling for spending up to $21 billion—most which would come from BP’s civil penalties—on clean-up and long-term ecosystem restoration. With much of this work—designed to complement the restorative powers of Mother Nature—well underway, some observers are pleased with the results so far.

“The natural recovery is far greater than what anybody hoped when it happened,” says James Morris, a University of South Carolina biologist and a member of the National Research Council committee tasked by Congress to assess the effects of the spill on the Gulf's ecosystem. “The fears of most people—that there would be a catastrophic collapse of the ecosystem in the Gulf—never materialized.”

The fisheries have come back like gangbusters,” Morris reports. “One of the interesting findings was that after the oil spill, bait fish populations collapsed, and predator populations boomed. The reason was that there was no fishing pressure on the top predators because people stopped fishing after the spill. So the predator fish populations rebounded, and they grazed down their prey.”

Not everyone shares such a rosy view. The international environmental group Greenpeace reports: “Throughout the food chain, warning signs are accumulating. Dolphins are sick and dying. Important forage fish are plagued with gill and developmental damage. Deepwater species like snapper have been stricken with lesions and their reefs are losing biodiversity. Coastal communities are struggling with changes to the fisheries they rely upon. Hard-hit oyster reefs aren’t coming back and sport fish like speckled trout have disappeared from some of their traditional haunts.”

Still other observers argue that two years is not enough time to tell whether the region’s ecosystems will be severely damaged long term. “We really don’t know the effects the Deepwater Horizon spill had in the deep sea because we know little about the ecosystem processes there,” reports Gary Cherr, director of UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory and a lead author on a recently released paper published in the journal Bioscience. Cherr and his fellow researchers, including leading oceanographers, ecotoxicologists, and ecologists, conclude that scientists need more time to study how to contain damage from such accidents, especially given the trend to seek new sources of oil in off-shore regions around the U.S. and beyond.

“The deep sea is not a dead zone. It’s not a desert. There’s a lot of life down there,” adds Cherr. “Unfortunately it’s not until a disaster happens that we try to piece together the impacts. That’s difficult to do when you don’t have a complete—or even partial—understanding of the ecosystem.”


CONTACTS: James Morris, ww2.biol.sc.edu/~morris; Greenpeace, www.greenpeace.org; Bioscience paper, www.aibs.org/bioscience-press-releases/resources/Peterson.pdf.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


 

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: Lead was long ago phased out of automobile gasoline, but it is still in aviation fuel and is now the largest source of lead emissions in the U.S. What’s being done? -- L. Eber, Rye, NY

Yes, aviation fuel emerged as the largest source of lead emissions in the U.S. once lead was phased out of automotive gasoline beginning in the 1970s. While jets, which comprise the majority of commercial aircraft, don’t use leaded fuel, smaller, piston-engine planes use enough leaded aviation fuel (nicknamed “avgas”) to account for half of the lead pollution in American skies, making it a real air quality issue.

Some of the health effects of repeated exposure to lead include damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and red blood cells, and decreased function in the cardiovascular and immune systems. Lower IQ levels and learning disabilities can also result from lead exposure, especially in children, whose young bodies are more sensitive than those of adults. And scientists at the National Toxicology Program have concluded that lead and lead compounds are “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes lead as a neurotoxin and in 2008 set tough new standards for how much of it is safe in our air. In 2010 the agency identified 16 U.S. regions that fail to meet clean air standards for airborne lead; all either contained or were near airports where leaded avgas is the norm. But the EPA has not yet restricted lead in avgas, even though unleaded avgas is available.

A 2011 Duke University study found that kids living within 500 meters of an airport where leaded avgas is used have higher blood lead levels than other children, with elevated lead levels in blood found in kids as far as one kilometer away. The EPA estimates that 16 million Americans live close to one of 22,000 airports where leaded avgas is routinely used—and three million children go to schools near these airports.

Friends of the Earth (FoE), a leading green group, filed suit against the EPA in late 2011, demanding that it respond to a petition originally submitted in 2006 asking for regulation of lead emissions from general aviation aircraft under the Clean Air Act. That original petition requested that the EPA issue a finding that emissions from aircraft using leaded avgas endanger public health. “EPA has repeatedly concluded that lead is extremely toxic to humans, wildlife and the environment and causes health effects even at low doses,” says Marcie Keever, FoE’s legal director. “EPA’s continuing failure to do what the law requires and address this pollution leaves us no choice but to take this critical public health issue to the courts.”

According to FoE, 70 percent of small planes could already be using unleaded avgas with no retrofitting needed. The group says that a meaningful plan by the EPA to ban leaded avgas could spark investment in technologies to replace the engines in the rest of the small plane market that relies on leaded avgas.

Some members of the aviation community are taking matters into their own hands. The Aviation Fuel Club, which aims to make aviation fuel affordable for sport aviators, is working to ensure that unleaded avgas is available at many airports across the country. Green groups are pleased with this development, but want the U.S. government to institute binding restrictions on the use of lead in aviation fuel.

CONTACTS: 2011 Duke Study, ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1289%2Fehp.1003231; Friends of the Earth, www.foe.org; Aviation Fuel Club, www.aviationfuelclub.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine


Dear EarthTalk: I understand there is good news about the recovery of bird species like the Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle and others owed to the 1972 ban on DDT. Can you explain?
-- Mildred Eastover, Bath, ME


Rachel Carson’s seminal 1962 book, Silent Spring, told the real-life story of how bird populations across the country were suffering as a result of the widespread application of the synthetic pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), which was being used widely to control mosquitoes and others insects. Carson reported that birds ingesting DDT tended to lay thin-shelled eggs which would in turn break prematurely in the nest, resulting in marked population declines. The problem drove bald eagles, our national symbol, not to mention peregrine falcons and other bird populations, to the brink of extinction, with populations plummeting more than 80 percent.

Luckily for the birds, Silent Spring caused a stir, and many credit it with launching the modern environmental movement. Indeed, one of the world’s leading environmental non-profits, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), initially formed in 1967 in reaction to the DDT problem. The group’s first order of business included filing lawsuits in New York, Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington DC to force a ban on DDT. EDF enlisted the help of dozens of scientific experts—ornithologists, ecologists, toxicologists, carcinogenesis experts, and insect control specialists—to testify at multi-month hearings to prove its point in regard to the dangers of DDT. In 1972 environmentalists' prayers were answered—and their hard work vindicated—with the federal government finally banning DDT.

But with lots of the pesticide already dispersed through ecosystems far and wide, not to mention myriad other threats to bird habitats and the environment in general, no one could be sure whether populations of eagles, falcons and other predatory and fish-eating birds would come back from the brink. While the federal Endangered Species Act went a long way to protect these at-risk species and some of their habitat, non-profits also played a key role in helping specific species recover. To wit, the Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 by a leading Cornell ornithologist to help nurse peregrine falcon populations hit hard by DDT back to their once abundant numbers. Researchers with the group pioneered methods of breeding peregrines in captivity and releasing them into the wild; such techniques have since been adopted widely by biologists trying to bring other wildlife species back from the brink of extinction. Thanks to a combination of factors and the hard work of bird lovers and scientists, peregrine falcons are once again common across the U.S., graduating off the national endangered species list as of 1999.

The bald eagle’s recovery is perhaps the best known example of how our environmental laws worked to restore not just a resource but our very national symbol. In the mid-1960s fewer than 500 nesting pairs of bald eagles existed in the continental U.S.; today, thanks to the DDT ban and other conservation efforts, some 10,000 pairs of bald eagles inhabit the Lower 48—that’s a 20-fold population increase in just four decades! In 2007 the federal government removed the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List. Without the 1972 ban on DDT and ensuing protections, the bald eagle, let alone dozens of other bird species, would likely be gone now in the continental U.S. And without the song of the birds, the spring would be a very silent time indeed.

CONTACTS: EDF,
www.edf.org; Peregrine Fund, www.peregrinefund.org.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


 

EarthTalk®
E - The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: A few years back a study found over 200 chemicals in the umbilical cords of newborns, particularly African American, Asian and Hispanic babies. What are the causes of this phenomenon and what can be done about it? -- Bettina Olsen, New York, NY

The study referenced found traces of some 232 synthetic chemicals in cord blood samples from 10 different babies of African American, Asian and Hispanic descent born in 2009 in different parts of the U.S. Study sponsors Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Rachel’s Network were looking to find out if the hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), a plasticizer widely used in food and drink storage containers, is present in the cord blood of minority babies in the U.S. Sadly and not surprisingly, BPA turned up in nine of the 10 cord blood samples tested. But perhaps even worse is the study’s detection of whole new raft of chemicals showing up in babies’ cord blood for the first time. Some of these newer offenders include tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) from computer circuit boards, synthetic fragrances used in common cosmetics and detergents and Teflon-relative perfluorobutanoic acid.

The 2009 study was a follow-up to an earlier analysis of chemicals in cord blood in the mainstream U.S. population during 2004 births. That earlier study found some 287 different industrial chemicals and pollutants in babies’ cord blood, although BPA was not yet on EWG’s watch list at the time. The more recent study focused on minority babies because minority communities in the U.S. tend to bear a disproportionate pollution burden given their closer proximity to busy roads, industrial sites and older housing. But EWG points out that they tested for chemicals that are likely found in virtually every American household, so none of us are immune to exposure. EWG hopes that by continuing to monitor the chemicals we are born with it can hold corporate polluters’ and government regulators’ feet to the fire in regard to waste outputs and pollution mitigation.

EWG did not look for chemicals associated with smoking or alcohol consumption on the part of mothers, instead focusing on contaminants from exposures to consumer products and commercial chemicals omnipresent on supermarket shelves. To EWG, the presence of these chemicals in umbilical cord blood represents “a significant failure on the part of the Congress and government agencies” charged with protecting human health. “Our results strongly suggest that the health of all children is threatened by trace amounts of hundreds of synthetic chemicals coursing through their bodies from the earliest stages of life.”

Part of the problem is outdated laws governing the handling and use of toxic chemicals. Currently 1976’s Toxic Substances Control Act is the law of the land in regard to controlling the distribution, use and disposal of toxic chemicals nationwide. But EWG and other groups complain that hundreds of thousands of new chemical formulations are unleashed on an unwitting public every year via America’s store shelves because the federal government assumes new products and ingredients to be innocent until proven guilty. These critics would like to see the federal government take a more proactive role in approving new substances for use in consumer products, not to mention residential and workplace environments.

On the legislative front, green groups are pinning their hopes for a reformed Toxic Substances Control Act on New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg’s Safe Chemicals Act (S. 847), introduced last fall. The bill is currently spinning its wheels in committee hearings, but its 17 bi-partisan co-sponsors are optimistic that it will come up for a floor vote before the 112th Congress wraps up the end of this year.

CONTACT: EWG’s “Pollution in Minority Newborns,”
www.ewg.org/minoritycordblood.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: earthtalk@emagazine.com. Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.


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