Springboard

Protect your family from toxic chemicals with Silent Spring's Detox Me app.

Back to school time often means back to the store to stock up on new clothing and school gear. It’s also a great time to think about making some changes in your daily routine to keep your kids safe and healthy. Everyday items, from backpacks to lunch containers, can contain a wide variety of hazardous chemicals. Some of these interfere with development and fertility, or have been linked with other health effects including allergies, asthma, and cancer.

Over the past year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under administrator Scott Pruitt has been rolling back a number of key environmental protections, from reversing the ban on the toxic pesticide known as chlorpyrifos to weakening emissions standards for vehicles and power plants. As scientists, it is critical that we track these changes closely in order to fully understand their impact on human health.

Jennie Liss Ohayon, postdoctoral fellow at Silent Spring Institute

You know the saying, “healthy habits start young.” That’s why Jennie Liss Ohayon is excited about a new opportunity to engage high school students in learning about environmental health—specifically the health risks associated with harmful chemicals in everyday products. The goal of the new project is to help students reduce their toxic exposures while providing them with leadership skills to promote healthier environments at home and in their communities.

‘Tis the season for family, food, and fun . . . And everyone here at Silent Spring Institute wants you and your loved ones to have the healthiest of holiday seasons. That’s why we’ve put together this list of helpful tips on how to limit your exposure to worrisome chemicals commonly found in everyday products.

On September 20th, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted in favor of removing an entire class of flame retardants from children’s products, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and electronics. This represents a huge victory for public health, and was made possible thanks to a broad coalition of scientists, advocacy groups, legal experts, and concerned citizens who came together to protect consumers from toxic chemicals.

It’s been a busy and exciting summer here at Silent Spring. We received the first batch of results from our Detox Me Action Kit project—our crowdsourced biomonitoring study on people’s exposure to common household toxic chemicals. About 150 participants received their results earlier this month, and more reports are due out soon. Thank you to everyone who took the time to pee in a cup, ship us your samples, fill out a questionnaire, and help make this project a reality.

Scientists have devoted substantial time and energy over the years toward understanding the risks posed by environmental chemicals. It's time for us to devote resources toward preventing these unwanted exposures, so we can prevent future health problems, says Silent Spring's Dr. Robin Dodson. In her latest blog post on the subject, Dodson explains what you can do to avoid hidden toxics in everyday products and create a healthier environment for you and your family.

When Congress passed legislation in 2016 reforming the chemical safety law known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), we had high hopes. As we wrote last year, the bill gave the EPA the authority to (among other things) require additional chemical safety testing in order to regulate existing chemicals. Now the EPA has released the final rules for how the agency is going to do that.

Breast cancer tumor and its microenvironment. Credit: National Cancer Institute

A study in Science received widespread media coverage the other week for claiming that much of cancer is simply the result of bad luck. The study was a follow-up to a similar analysis conducted by the same team at Johns Hopkins two years ago. Unlike the previous analysis, the new study includes breast and prostate cancer, as well cancer data from multiple countries.

Some chemicals have a small enough impact on a person’s health that it’s hard to see their effects if you look only at the individual. But if you add up all of the individual health impacts in the population, you end up with a considerable negative impact on public health.

Pages