Members of Congress Join Lawsuit Against EPA Pesticide Testing Rule
Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and
Representative Hilda Solis (D-CA) joined a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) over a recently issued rule restricting pesticide tests
on children and pregnant women. The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by the
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
NRDC and the Congressional members assert that the new
rule fails to implement a total ban on testing pesticides on vulnerable populations,
required by legislation signed into law in 2005. The legislation was drafted
in response to a proposed pesticide study in Duval County, FL, that would have
provided low-income families compensation for allowing their children’s
continued exposure to pesticides. The proposed study was funded in part by the
American Chemistry Council.
The lawmakers assert that there are significant loopholes
in EPA’s human testing rule. Nelson remarked, “Pregnant women, infants,
and children have been and likely still will be used as human guinea pigs in
pesticide testing. It must be stopped.” NRDC added that the rule as written
will continue to allow such tests as long as pesticide companies don’t
submit the results as part of their application for pesticide registration.
EPA disputed the claims, with Agency spokesperson Jennifer
Wood saying that EPA always works to ensure the health and safety of pregnant
women and children, among other vulnerable populations.
Joins Other Ohio Cities in Suing Former Lead Pigment Makers
On October 12, the City of Akron became the third Ohio
municipality to file a lawsuit against several former lead pigment manufacturers.
Like East Cleveland and Toledo, which filed suits in late September, Akron cited
the large number of homes within its city limits that contain lead-based paint.
Akron’s lawsuit seeks, among other things, removal
of lead paint from public and private buildings; damages to cover the millions
of dollars the city has already spent cleaning up lead-based paint hazards;
and funds for a childhood lead poisoning prevention education program.
John McConnell, Jr., an attorney with the law firm Motley
Rice, which is representing the city, said, “Akron’s lead paint
poisoning problem is among the worst in the state of Ohio.”
The former pigment manufacturers were quick to respond,
led by Cleveland-based Sherwin-Williams Co., which claimed the Akron suit and
others like it in Ohio “do not have a lot of merit.” Company spokesperson
Bob Wells added, “Ohio is the last place we thought cities would bite
In addition to Sherwin-Williams, the Akron suit names Millenium
Holdings, NL Industries (formerly National Lead), ConAgra Grocery Product Company,
Du Pont, Atlantic Richfield, Cytec Industries, and American Cyanamid. The same
companies may be subject to still more suits in the near future, as the cities
of Columbus and Cincinnati are considering similar litigation.
Enacts Law Reducing Lead in Plumbing Fixtures
In late September, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
(R) signed a new law that will reduce the amount of lead allowed in plumbing
fixtures and water lines in the home. Assemblyperson Wilma Chan (D-Alameda)
proposed the bill, AB 1953.
The law takes effect in January 2010 and sharply reduces
lead content in all plumbing fixtures from the current maximum of eight percent
to a maximum of 0.25 percent. Currently, the U.S. EPA allows plumbing fixtures
to be sold under a “lead-free” label, even if they contain up to
eight percent lead content.
Upon signing the bill, Governor Schwarzenegger commented,
“I signed this bill to reduce the amount of lead exposure in California’s
drinking water. We need to make sure that the water we consume is safe for everyone,
especially our children.”
Environmental groups, public health officials, and local
and regional water districts supported AB 1953. The California Building Industry
Association opposed the new safety standards included in bill and were joined
by plumbing fixture manufacturers.
Final Air Quality Criteria for Lead Emissions
On September 29, EPA issued its final updated air quality
criteria document (AQCD) for lead emissions. This is the first time that EPA
has updated the lead AQCD since 1990. The document was issued as part of an
overall review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for lead.
The review is long overdue, as federal law requires a review of all NAAQSs every
five years, and EPA last updated the NAAQS for lead in 1978. The old standard
is based on an “acceptable” blood lead level of 30 µg/dL,
three times the current action level set by the Centers for Disease Control
The AQCD forms the scientific basis for continued review
of the lead standard for ambient air. Despite protests from the lead industry,
EPA stressed throughout the updated AQCD the detrimental public health impacts
of blood lead levels at and below 10 µg/dL. While the AQCD does not make
any explicit recommendations to the EPA Administrator regarding the blood lead
level on which to base any updated ambient air standard, the document is normally
considered very influential in setting emissions policy.
The next step in the NAAQS review process is for EPA's
Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) to prepare a "staff
paper" that "bridges the gap" between scientific assessments
in the criteria document and judgments required of the EPA Administrator in
evaluating whether to retain or revise the lead NAAQS.
Continues Healthy Homes Rebuilding Efforts in Gulf Coast Region
The Alliance for Healthy Homes is continuing its important
healthy homes rebuilding efforts in the Gulf Coast region. In October, the Alliance
co-sponsored with the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans a two-hour
workshop on the safe and effective cleanup of moldy homes for property owners.
The workshop presented methods for homeowners to appropriately remediate mold
in historic buildings. The workshop teaches how to maximize the preservation
of original building components that generally withstand water intrusion better
than new replacement components. During the same month, the Alliance co-sponsored
with the Preservation Trades Network a roundtable discussion with about 50 experts
on rebuilding regarding affordable, safe, and healthy rebuilding strategies
for hurricane-damaged homes.
In November, the Alliance will co-sponsor its third train-the-trainer
workshop, designed for staff and volunteers from New Orleans-area organizations
working with homeowners, volunteers, day laborers, contractors, and other workers
on post-hurricane home cleanup. The first two train-the-trainer sessions, in
April and June, were well attended.
Noted healthy homes expert Dennis Livingston has been the
Alliance’s trainer and discussion leader for these healthy homes rebuilding
events, with valuable assistance from organizations such as the National Center
for Healthy Housing, Louisiana State University’s AgCenter, Moving Forward
Gulf Coast, Preservation Resource Center, the Preservation Trades Network, and
local Sierra Club chapters.
Holds First Statewide Healthy Homes Meeting
The Greensboro Housing Coalition, the North Carolina Housing
Coalition, the Alliance for Healthy Homes, and other partners brought a diverse
group of stakeholders together September 18 and 19 for North Carolina’s
first statewide healthy homes meeting.
The purpose of the meeting, one of several state and local
healthy homes meetings across the country being organized by the Alliance and
local partners, was to start to build a movement for healthy homes at the stare
level by bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders in the areas of health,
housing, energy, environment, and green building to form partnerships and plans
that promote healthy homes in North Carolina. A secondary purpose was to gather
input from participants that will inform the agenda of an eventual national
healthy homes summit.
Nearly 100 representatives from communities across the
state shared information about their accomplishments and partnerships, goals,
and challenges. Through local collaborations of universities, cities and counties,
health departments, nonprofit advocacy and housing development organizations,
and housing authorities, North Carolina advocates are making progress towards
healthy homes, despite the challenges of language barriers, high land prices,
abandoned properties, funding shortages, and constituencies that move frequently.
Work groups at the meetings discussed a number of issues
critical to advancing healthy homes in North Carolina, including housing-related
health hazards, design construction and rehab for healthy homes, code enforcement
for healthy homes, and healthy housing affordability.
To integrate lessons learned and build consensus for joint
action, the attendees wrote action steps and collected these into several categories,
including public policy initiatives; asset preservation; needs assessment; money
issues; interagency coordination and collaboration; training; regulations, standards
and enforcement; and education. Next steps include Local Initiatives Support
Corporation sponsoring statewide green building training for community development
corporations and community-based organizations; the North Carolina Housing Coalition
coordinating statewide healthy homes policy initiatives; and working to fund
and carry out a study to examine the cost of unhealthy housing and quantify
the savings achievable by making homes healthier.
For more information on the outcomes of the North Carolina
meeting, contact Beth McKee-Huger at 336-691-9521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resign from EPA Advisory Panel on Toxins
Three members of a federal science advisory panel on toxic
pollution prevention resigned in October, citing excessive industry influence
over the board's agenda. Richard Denison, senior scientist for Environmental
Defense; Joseph Guth, executive director of the California League for Environmental
Enforcement Now; and Joel Tickner, assistant professor at the University of
Massachusetts, resigned from EPA’s National Pollution Prevention &
Toxics Advisory Committee, which is charged with reviewing the agency's assessment
and management of chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The three scientists said the seven industry representatives
on the 15-member panel have limited its agenda to "narrow, short-term issues"
that do not warrant the time or expense to EPA. The panel includes representatives
from Dow, Procter & Gamble, the American Chemistry Council, and the American
EPA had no comment on the resignations.
Lead Exposure May Increase Adolescent Injury Risk
New findings published in the October 2006 issue of the
Journal of Adolescent Health suggest that children exposed to high levels of
lead early in life may be at greater risk of falls and injuries than their peers
who were not poisoned by lead.
Researchers believe that lead exposure can affect children’s
long-term risk of injury by harming their sense of balance, coordination, and
other neuromuscular skills, doing so as it damages brain tissue and other parts
of the central nervous system. Recent research findings of links between lead
and ADHD, as well as poor attention and impulse control, may also partly explain
why teenagers exposed to lead in childhood are more prone to injuries.
Specifically, the study found that teenagers with higher
lead levels as young children were at greater risk of injury from falls or loss
of balance, and adolescents who sustained injuries that limited their activities
for four or more days had an average childhood blood lead level of 15.7 ug/dL.
Overall, those teenagers who sustained any injuries at all had higher childhood
blood lead levels than their peers who reported no injuries during their teenage
The study’s authors said that though their research
methods were sound, the results should still be considered preliminary, as this
was the first study of its kind. The scientists called for further research
into the association between elevated blood lead levels and teenagers’
Study Documents Brain Organization Impacts of Lead
An article published in the September 2006 issue of Pediatrics
documents possibly harmful impacts of lead on childhood brain organization.
Specifically, the article’s authors studied whether lead interferes with
the organization of sections of the brain that control language functions.
After examining images from magnetic resonance image scanning
(MRI), the researchers discovered that children with higher blood lead levels
had significant differences in sections of the brain that are involved in learning
and using language effectively and correctly. These areas suffered “diminished
activation” in children with higher blood lead levels as compared to children
with little or no lead in their blood. These impacts occurred in the left side
of the brain, but they had the indirect effect of prompting enhanced activation
in the right side of the brain.
The results of the study led the scientists to conclude
that childhood lead exposure has significant impacts on brain reorganization
as associated with language function, and that these effects are persistent.
and LISC Healthy Homes Web Conference Archive Now Online
The Alliance for Healthy Homes, in partnership with the
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), sponsored a healthy buildings
web conference on October 12. The conference examined housing-related health
hazards ranging from lead to mold and explored how to create communities with
healthy homes. Featured experts included staff from ERT Associates, an environmental
and health policy consultancy, and Urban Edge, a community development corporation
working in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and surrounding communities in Massachusetts.
Bob Zdenek, Executive Director of the Alliance, led a discussion on: primary
prevention, practical solutions, environmental justice, and "whole house"
strategies that address multiple hazards and their underlying causes. The archive
of the web conference is available online at www.lisc.org/content/calendar/detail/3387/.
Center for Healthy Housing Launches Updated Healthy Housing Research Clearinghouse
Looking for research on the efficacy of asthma interventions
in the home? How about information related to preventing damp basements? The
National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) has created a comprehensive database
of peer-reviewed research and guidance documents related to healthy homes issues
through the National Healthy Housing Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse, which
is funded through a cooperative agreement from the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, is intended to provide researchers, policymakers, and
program staff easy access to the latest research on housing and health issues.
The site contains more than 600 documents and is updated monthly. The information
is useful for writing presentations, grant proposals, and reports that need
to document the evidence connecting housing conditions to specific disease outcomes;
learning best practices for housing professionals (e.g. construction, rehabilitation,
maintenance practices) and health professionals (e.g. environmental disease
management, resident education programs, and home visits); and more.
Where the publisher has granted permission, the full text
articles are available. Where such permission has not been granted, the Clearinghouse
provides a full citation and abstract as well as a link to the publisher so
that you can access the information.
FY06 Lead and Healthy Homes Grantees
The U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD) announced in late September grant awards totaling
more than $118 million to dozens of state and local communities, public health
organizations, and scientific research institutions to better protect children
and families from lead-based paint and other home health and safety hazards.
Another $39 million in funding will be awarded late this year or early next
year to help clean up lead hazards in communities with the greatest need, specifically
cities with a high incidence of lead poisoning and older homes.
Seeks Public Comment on Its Draft Child Exposures Handbook
The EPA National Center for Environmental Assessment opened
a 60-day comment period on October 6 for its summary handbook of statistical
data on various exposure factors used in assessing children's exposures. The
handbook will serve as a resource for assessors for calculating children's exposures.
Comments are due by December 5. Information on how to review the handbook and
submit comments is available at www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-RESEARCH/2006/October/Day-06/r16573.htm.
EPA Resource to Help Assess Children’s Health Risks
As a part of EPA’s efforts to address children’s
health issues, the Agency’s research and development office has written
a report—A Framework for Assessing Health Risks of Environmental Exposures
to Children—that can serve as an important resource on children’s
health risk assessment. This peer-reviewed report provides a comprehensive and
consistent framework for considering children in risk assessments at EPA. This
Framework is not an Agency guideline, but rather describes the overall structure
and the components considered important for children’s health risk assessment.
The Framework can be found on the National Center for Environmental
Assessment’s website at www.epa.gov/ncea,
under Recent Additions.
Earns “Best in America” Seal of Approval
The Alliance for Healthy Homes was recently awarded the
"Best in America" seal from the Independent Charities of America (ICA).
The seal indicates that ICA considers the Alliance one of the best charities
in America and ensures donors to the Alliance that their funds will be used
According to the ICA, “The ICA Seal is awarded to
the members of ICA and the Local Independent Charities of America that have,
upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document, and demonstrate
on an annual basis that they meet the highest standards of public accountability,
program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. These standards include those
required by the U.S. Government for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign,
probably the most exclusive fund drive in the world. Of the 1,000,000 charities
operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000,
or five percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000,
or 0.2 percent, have been awarded this Seal."
Those interested in contributing to the Alliance can visit
to donate via credit card online or may donate via check through the U.S. Mail.
in 2006 Combined Federal Campaign
The 2006 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), which started
in September and runs through the end of December, is the federal government’s
workplace charitable giving program. Federal employees who wish to give to the
Alliance through the CFC can do so by using organization code 1503. Thank you
for your support!
EPA Region 6 is soliciting applications from eligible entities
to conduct projects in the following areas: 1) Education of asthmatics and their
parents and/or primary care givers concerning environmental triggers through
home, daycare, community, and school interventions; 2) Training of healthcare
professionals, community workers, and other trained individuals on environmental
management of asthma so they can counsel people with asthma; 3) Educating parents
and care givers on children's exposure to environmental tobacco smoke through
home, daycare, and community interventions; and 4) Outreach and training projects
that result in effective Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) management practices in schools.
The application deadline is November 27, 2006. For all the details, visit www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6pd/iaq/iaq_rfp.pdf.
EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, in coordination
with the EPA Regional Offices, has announced the availability of up to an estimated
$509,000 in FY2007 State and Tribal Assistance Grant monies to further the pesticide
risk reduction goals of the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program. The
Agency anticipates funding approximately ten projects, one per EPA Region, with
a maximum funding level of approximately $50,900 per project. Eligible applicants
include the 50 States, District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico, any territory or possession of the United States, any agency
or instrumentality of a state including state universities, and all federally
recognized tribes. Proposed projects must address implementation of integrated
pest management approaches that reduce the risks associated with pesticide use
in agricultural or non-agricultural settings. Proposals are due to the agency
January 12, 2007. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/oppbppd1/PESP/regional_grants/2007announcement.htm.
The 2006 Environmental Public Health Conference, presented
by Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Environmental Health, will
be held in Atlanta, December 4-6. The conference theme is "Advancing Environmental
Public Health: Science, Practice, New Frontiers." Among the panels will
be an Alliance-led session on innovative strategies for the primary prevention
of lead poisoning, and a session on public health concerns surrounding rebuilding
after natural disasters. Alliance staff will also moderate a panel on public
health law and its role in providing healthy homes and healthy communities.
and For more information, see www.cdc.gov/nceh/conference/index.htm.
The University of California—San Francisco –
Collaborative on Health and the Environment Summit on Environmental Challenges
to Reproductive Health and Fertility will be presented January 28-30, 2007,
in San Francisco. The Summit will provide overviews by leading researchers of
the science on environmental contaminant impacts on male and female reproductive
health and fertility, developmental health, and peri-conceptional and fetal
origins of adult disorders. The Summit will also explore critical research directions
and tools; translation of the research to public health policy; integration
with health professional education; federal government environmental reproductive
health priorities; patient advocate and community health concerns; and translation
of research to clinical disorders. For more information, visit www.ucsf.edu/coe/prhesummit.html.
The 7th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the
Environment: Integrating Environmental and Human Health will be held February
1-2, 2007, in Washington, DC. The conference will explore the linkages between
environment and human health and will address the many essential roles the environment
plays on our well being today, as well as the multi-dimensional relationships
between human health and environmental components, which may have far-reaching
consequences. For more information, see www.ncseonline.org/2007conference/cms.cfm?id=1238.
The 6th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth: Building
Safe, Healthy and Livable Communities Conference will be held in Los Angeles,
February 8-10, 2007. The conference hosts a variety of participants and speakers
who cross disciplines to share experiences and insights, and valuable tools
and strategies to encourage smart growth implementation. Public health is one
important discipline that has begun to recognize smart growth as a viable solution
to improve our nation’s health. To view more information on this conference,
The International Conference on Developmental Toxicity
and Fetal Programming will take place
May 20-24, 2007, in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands (located in the North Atlantic).
This international conference emphasizes a) the developmental perspective, i.e.,
the risks during different developmental stages, from preconception to adolescence,
from toxic substances; b) the environmental perspective, i.e., the impacts of
different environmental hazards; and c) the disease perspective, i.e., long-term
health implications. For further information, please visit www.pptox.dk.
Building Science Corporation is offering its two-day advanced
building science course through the end of 2006 in locations throughout the
country. Topics covered will include rain control, air control and ventilation,
heat and moisture movement, green building, and disaster resistance. Each course
module (14 in all) is the subject of a Building Science Digest that will be
freely available online several weeks prior to each listed course. Courses will
be taught November 28-29 in Orlando, December 12-13 in Seattle, and December
19-20 in Minneapolis. For more details, visit www.buildingscienceseminars.com/.
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