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Toxic Oscars

Posted 11/03/2010 by RoseS

In the run up to the recent Oscar awards ceremony, the environmental group Californians for a Healthy & Green Economy (CHANGE) held its ‘tongue-in-cheek ceremony, ‘The Toxies’, in Los Angeles for so-called ‘bad actor’ chemicals, featuring actors playing the various chemicals collecting the awards.

The event was staged at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, to promote and support California’s green chemistry initiative. The initiative originated in legislation passed in 2008, giving the state authority to create a comprehensive list of chemicals used and sold in California, and seeks to replace potentially dangerous chemicals with safe and sustainable alternatives.

‘A robust Green Chemistry program is essential if we are to ensure the products Californians use every day don’t contain toxics that can lead to cancer and other insidious diseases,’ said Mike Feuer, a member of California’s legislature and the principal author of part of the legislation behind the initiative.

‘These Bad Actor chemicals have deadly serious health impacts on all Californians. Consumers, workers, scientists and health professionals are all calling for a Green Chemistry program that delivers on its promise,’ said Pam Palitz from Environment California.

Amongst the awards presented at the ceremony, the Lifetime Achievement in Harm award, for example, went to the actor playing the metal lead, while, predictably given the current level of media exposure, Bisphenol A (BPA) collected the award for the Worst Breakthrough performance.

‘The Toxies awards ceremony and accompanying report on chemicals will highlight only a fraction of bad actor chemicals. We need a regulatory structure that can fast-track these high hazard chemicals such as BPA and phthalates,’ said Sandra Aronberg, environmental health ambassador with pressure group Physicians for Social Responsibility.

While lead is widely acknowledged as having significant health issues, the picture for Bisphenol A is not so clear. According to the European Information Centre on Bisphenol A, it has been studied, tested and safely used for over 50 years, adding that health authorities in Europe and around the world have confirmed and authorised the safe use of BPA and materials based on BPA such as polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.

In addition, a new OECD guideline study concludes there are no effects from BPA on the nervous system. This new study, which exposed pregnant rodents to a range of BPA dietary doses from low to high, concluded that BPA had no effects on brain development or behaviour in their offspring that had been exposed to BPA in utero and throughout development.

Unfortunately all the scientific evidence in the world will never be accepted by those who are convinced about the justness of their cause. Once again the chemical industry finds itself running to catch up with such pressure groups.

Neil Eisberg - Editor

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