Study finds toxic chemicals in Vermonters

Wednesday, February 10th the Alliance for a Clean and Healthy Vermont – a coalition coordinated by VPIRG – released a study that tested the bodies of Vermonters from all walks of life for toxic chemicals. The results? Vermonters are no safer from toxic chemicals than anyone else in the country.
The six volunteers – including an organic farmer, teacher, pediatrician, legislator, student, and state government employee – were tested for a variety of common chemicals found in the environment and consumer products.  These chemicals – including BPA, mercury, pesticides, and flame retardants – have all been linked to harmful health impacts ranging from cancer to neurological damage to birth defects. Dozens of chemicals showed up in the bodies of all of the participants, many at levels suspected of causing health problems. 
The amount of each chemical found in the bodies of participants varied widely.  Chemical levels were sometimes lower or higher – in some cases many times higher – than national norms.  According to the study:•    BPA was found in every participant and 33% of the participants had levels above the national mean;•    Levels of mercury were found in four participants, each time equaling or exceeding the national norm;•    Seven types of organochlorine pesticides were found in the blood of all participants, and DDT – banned in 1972 – was found in the bodies of five of the six Vermonters; and•    Twenty different types of flame retardants were present in all of the participants, and Deca was found in all but one of the Vermonters.
“I’m surprised and disturbed to hear about the elevated levels of Deca in my body,” said Katy Farber, the participant with the highest level of Deca in her samples.  “Now I question my electronics, my furniture, and the dust I don’t vacuum as regularly as I should. Most importantly, I wonder about the flame retardants my young daughters are exposed to in our home and what the health consequences for them might be. It shouldn’t be this way. We have enough to worry about as parents – we shouldn’t have to worry that merely living in our homes can cause serious health problems.”
The system intended to protect consumers from harmful chemicals has failed. The majority of chemicals used in products are approved without being fully tested and are only removed once they have been found to cause harm.  Unfortunately, because our exposure to chemicals is so universal, no one can just change their diet or shop their way out of this problem. 
Instead, Vermont’ s government must take action to adopt a comprehensive approach to chemical regulation that phases out the most harmful chemicals, requires the use of safer alternatives, and honors the public’s right-to-know which hazardous chemicals are in what products.
Click here to read the full report. >>
Click here to watch New England Cable News’s piece. >>
Click here to read the Burlington Free Press’s coverage. >>
Click here to read the Times Argus’s coverage. >>