Chemical Reports

Asbestos bans in Brazil and Canada

In December 2016, Canada announced its intention to ban asbestos by 2018. And in January 2018, Canada proposed new regulations to prohibit the "the use, sale, import and export of asbestos and products containing the hazardous material." "The government now acknowledges that all forms of asbestos fibres, if inhaled, can cause cancer and other diseases... the government estimates a single case of lung cancer or mesothelioma costs Canada's health system more than $1 million. Asbestos was declared a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer more than 30 years ago."

In November 2017, Brazil, "the world’s third-largest producer of chrysotile asbestos, also known as white asbestos," moved to ban the production, distribution and use of asbestos. According to a Dec. 4, 2017 article on, Brazil is the most populous country to ban asbestos, while "China, India and the United States — countries with populations that surpass the South American nation — still use chrysotile in some capacity."

Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals

On Nov. 14, 2017, the "Mind the Store campaign released its second annual report card on toxic chemicals in consumer products, which found that one-third of 30 major U.S. retailers are leaders, but two-thirds remain serious laggards. The report, Who’s Minding the Store? — A Report Card on Retailer Actions to Eliminate Toxic Chemicals, includes evaluations of nineteen retailers for the first time."

CPSC votes to ban organohalogen flame retardants

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted Sept. 20, 2017 to "remove an entire class of flame retardants from children's products, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and electronics," begin rulemaking and convene a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel to provide expertise. CPSC published guidelines in the Federal Register on Sept. 28, 2017 (Guidance Document on Hazardous Additive, Non-Polymeric Organohalogen Flame Retardants in Certain Consumer Products). According to the Silent Spring Institute, the CPSC voted "in response to a petition filed by the non-profit law firm Earthjustice and Consumer Federation of America on behalf of 10 organizations and individuals, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the International Association of Fire Fighters."

Conference on Highly Fluorinated Compounds

A June 14-15, 2017 conference on Highly Fluorinated Compounds at Northeastern University addressed "issues raised by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)" and "ubiquitous exposure in consumer products and discrete historic and recent contamination discoveries in drinking water and soil around the world." A 12-part series in The Intercept by Sharon Lerner documents the harms associated with DuPont's chemicals PFOA (or C8), PFOS, and GenX. Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University "collaborated to produce an interactive map that combines federal drinking water data and information on all publicly documented cases of PFAS pollution from manufacturing plants, military air bases, civilian airports and fire training sites."

Building Evidence for Health

Building Evidence for Health is a collection of 2-page curations of the scientific literature on key topics related to buildings and health created by a multidisciplinary team of experts from the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Asbestos: Still a global menace

Health concerns prompt calls to end production and use of deadly substance in the U.S. and beyond. More than 50 countries around the world have banned the use of asbestos, a known human carcinogen linked to lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other diseases. But two Western industrialized countries—the U.S. and Canada—have not taken such steps. Chemical & Engineering News: Volume 94 Issue 47, pp. 28-31, Nov. 28, 2016.

Detection of Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in U.S. Drinking Water Linked to Industrial Sites, Military Fire Training Areas, and Wastewater Treatment Plants

Drinking water contamination with poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) poses risks to the developmental, immune, metabolic, and endocrine health of consumers. Harvard, Berkeley, Univ. of Rhode Island, EWG, EPA, Green Science Policy Institute, Silent Spring Institute, Colorado School of Mines, California DTSC. Environmental Science & Technology Letters, Aug. 9, 2016.

From Homes To Waters: How Toxic Flame Retardants Pollute Our Waterways

Based on a peer-reviewed article published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, this first-of-its kind study uncovers how flame retardants used in products in homes accumulate on clothing, contaminate laundry wastewater, and pass through wastewater treatment plants to pollute rivers and other waters. Washington Toxics Coalition, Sept. 17, 2014.

Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit

This Forum for the Future summit resulted in the Beauty and Personal Care Products Sustainability Summit Report (PDF). Sept. 4, 2014.

Six Classes: A Webinar Series on Chemicals of Concern

Series of half-hour webinars about six families or “classes” of chemicals which contain many of the harmful substances found in everyday products. Instead of worrying about tens of thousands of untested chemicals, we will learn from distinguished scientists who are outstanding teachers about six classes containing many of the bad actor chemicals in consumer products. In addition, the series will move us towards solutions and explore safer green chemistry alternatives. This engaging and informative weekly series ran from Oct. 22 to Dec. 10, 2013. The entire 9 webinar videos can be watched on YouTube or individually below:

Chicago Tribune watchdog: Playing With Fire

Investigative reporting series, begun in 2012, on flame retardants, the chemical industry, and government oversight, including articles and videos.

The Drive for a Safer Chemical Policy in the United States 

New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. 2011. Detailed account of the decade-long campaign to reform U.S. chemical policy.

Green Chemistry Options for the State of California (PDF).

Green Chemistry Initiative Science Advisory Panel. May 2008.

Green Chemistry: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California (PDF).

UC Berkeley and UCLA Centers for Occupational and Environmental Health. 2008. 
Highlights the need for a modern, comprehensive solution to pressing health, environmental and economic problems associated with California’s management of chemicals and products.

Green Chemistry in California: A Framework for Leadership in Chemicals Policy and Innovation (PDF).

University of California, California Policy Research Center. 2006.

Green Chemistry in California: A Framework for Leadership in Chemicals Policy and Innovation

In 2002, the California State Legislature requested a study on chemical policy in the state of California. This resulted in a report titled Green Chemistry in California: A Framework for Leadership in Chemicals Policy and Innovation produced by Michael P. Wilson and the California Policy Research Center at the University of California.

The report identifies the three policy goals for a modern, comprehensive chemicals policy:

  1. Close the Data Gap: Ensure that chemical producers generate, distribute and communicate information on chemical toxicity, ecotoxicity, uses and other key data.
  2. Close the Safety Gap: Strengthen government tools for identifying, prioritizing and mitigating chemical hazards.
  3. Close the Technology Gap: Support research, development, technical assistance, entrepreneurial activity, and education in green chemistry science and technology.

 The report led to the California Green Chemistry Initiative spearheaded by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. The goal of the initiative is to fundamentally change the way California manages its chemicals and waste. An additional gap in the understanding of current chemical policies in California, as well as Washington and Oregon, is the cost of these policies to our local government agencies. Existing chemical policies result in many costs that are borne by local government agencies including:

  • treating waste water that contains toxic chemicals;
  • costs to manage products and materials upon disposal that contain toxic and hazardous components at transfer stations, landfills and incinerators;
  • costs to recycle or manage products that contain toxic components;
  • costs to local health departments to treat people with chronic exposure to products and materials that contain toxic chemicals, etc.

 The UC Berkeley and UCLA Centers for Occupational and Environmental Health, examined health and economic consequences of toxic chemicals, current chemical policy, green chemistry and potential solutions in the state of California in the 2008 report, Green Chemistry: Cornerstone to a Sustainable California.