Friday, May 13, 2016

Memo to House: Stand Firm on States’ Rights

Congress needs to pass a good chemical safety law, but if the Senate has their way, “a new and terrible precedent would be set – state and local governments legally prohibited from protecting their citizens…” Millions of people who could otherwise be protected will instead be exposed to toxic chemicals for several years, in states as diverse as Washington, California, and Tennessee.


As you may know, staff from both chambers of Congress have nearly completed work reconciling different versions of chemical safety reform legislation (TSCA reform) that passed last year. (H.R. 2576 and S. 697 respectively.) Reportedly, there is at least one major sticking point remaining: should states be blocked for up to 4 years from taking action against a toxic chemical while EPA studies the chemical?
The House legislation, sponsored by Representatives Upton, Shimkus, Pallone, and Tonko, rejected such a provision after much consideration. Now they are under intense pressure by the Senate to back down and accept it. Here is why they, and you, should instead hold your ground.
While the exact policy language in the Senate bill is hard to follow (see addendum), the bottom lines are these:
a) Millions of people who could otherwise be protected will instead be exposed to toxic chemicals for several years, in states as diverse as Washington, California, and Tennessee.
b) A new and terrible precedent would be set – state and local governments legally prohibited from protecting their citizens, in deference to a federal decision that is years away.
The policy violates both conservative and liberal principles and would have an immediate negative impact.
What is the practical impact? State firefighter unions backed by public health advocates and scientists recently have pursued state policies to prohibit certain toxic chemicals that are used to treat furniture. Though the chemicals were introduced in the name of fire safety, numerous studies have shown that they cause cancer and other health problems. Firefighters are exposed to especially high levels – the chemicals “weep” from smoldering furniture and penetrate safety gear. There are safer alternatives. Washington just passed a law banning five of these toxic flame retardants, but it requires further public process and legislative action on six more. The legislatures in Tennessee, Minnesota, and Massachusetts are considering similar bills. (Read the Pulitzer-nominated series on these chemicals for a primer on the science and politics.)
But these laws and implementing rules would be blocked by the Senate provision (and by some of the proposed fixes that have been floated). Literally, thousands of firefighters in these states – already concerned about higher than average cancer rates – will be exposed to these chemicals, pending the four-year EPA review. So will average consumers, since studies show these chemicals break down into household dust and wind up in the breast milk of nursing mothers.
Should firefighters and nursing mothers be exposed to toxic chemicals in the name of reform that is supposed to be about – what was it? – preventing people from being exposed to toxic chemicals?
Another example is Tris, the flame retardant chemical shown to cause cancer and neurological damage. After years of preparation and documentation, California is poised to restrict the chemical in children’s foam sleeping pads in favor of safer alternatives.
Should California’s children instead be exposed to this cancer-causing chemical for four more years because of an act of Congress?
The answer is a clear “no.”
The bipartisan approach of the Energy and Commerce Committee leaders in H.R. 2576, which passed 398 to 1 last June, struck the right balance on this question. The Senate provision would instead break dangerous new ground in the law, setting a terrible precedent.
We urge you to stand firm.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Government Data Tracking - Please Read

Information from an HSLDA Newsbrief:

Since Common Core, the federal government has used much effort to get states to use and implement the standards. Along with this, the states have been offered incentives to comment to data tracking of student and teacher data. Now the Common Education Data Standards has released Version 6 Public Review Draft. The V6 Public Review Draft updates the data blueprint and details more student-specific data points to be collected on children nationwide. 

The comment period for this draft is only open until May 4, 2016. One of the element names in the CEDS V6 Draft is for IDEA related (special education) data. 
The goal of data programs like this includes:
  • Developing longitudinal databases in every state,
  • Incentivizing participation in these databases with federal education grants, and
  • Continually updating data points with new “definitions” to collect information about a child’s life—including information about his or her religion, family situation, and socioeconomic status.
Please review the changes to CEDS and make your opinion on government tracking of our students known. Please click here to submit your comments to CEDS.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Steps to a Healthy Home

Healthy Children Project is a project of LDA America. 
LDASC is an affiliate of the Healthy Children Project Coalition.

Steps to a Healthy Home

Take steps to minimize your family’s risks of toxic chemical exposures

Cleaning your home and family

  • Buy or make non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Dust and vacuum regularly; remove shoes when entering your home; minimize use of carpets.
  • Do not use anti-bacterial soap; it contains a pesticide (triclosan) that may promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria and disrupt the endocrine system. Regular soap works fine.
  • Look for non-toxic personal care products, such as shampoos, soaps, lotions and cosmetics. Avoid products containing lead, mercury and phthalates (often listed as "fragrance"). For more information, see The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.

Make non-toxic cleaning products

It’s easy and inexpensive to keep your family healthy and your house clean using products such as baking soda, club soda, lemon juice, baby oil, and water.
  • Clean windows and mirrors: Use one-fourth cup vinegar mixed with one quart water, or use club soda. Wipe with newspaper.
  • Clean drains: Use a half cup baking soda and half cup vinegar. Pour baking soda followed by vinegar down drain, flush with hot water.
  • Remove spots from carpet: Use club soda and salt, or a 3-to-1 mixture of vinegar and water. Pour onto stains. Allow to bubble, and dab dry.
  • Clean wood furniture or wooden, tile, and linoleum floors : Mix a few drops of vinegar and a capful of baby oil in a bucket of water.
  • Plastics: Never use plastic containers or plastic wrap in the microwave. Minimize use of plastics with food and drink. Do NOT use polycarbonate (7), polyvinyl chloride (3) or polystyrene(6) with food or drink; they can leach toxic chemicals. Safer plastics are PETE (1), HDPE (2), LDPE (4) and polypropylene (5). Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) (3) in toys, teethers, building materials, shower curtains, and other items. Avoid use of polycarbonate plastic (7), especially with food and drink. Use glass or non-polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, and stainless steel or non-polycarbonate sippy cups.
  • Food: Buy organic and/or locally grown food when possible. Farmers markets can be a good source of inexpensive, local, and organic produce. Eat a diet low in animal fats, with lots of fruits and vegetables. Some toxic chemicals accumulate in fatty tissues of animals and then in people. Some fish contain high levels of mercury, PCBs and other toxic chemicals. Choose fish low in mercury and salmon that is wild or canned rather than farm-raised. For guidance see the Natural Resources Defense Council’s website on mercury contamination.
  • Teflon and non-stick pans: Avoid using non-stick (Teflon and other trademarks) pots and pans. Dispose of non-stick pans when the coating is peeling, cracked, or flaking.
  • Pesticides: Minimize, or avoid all together any use of pesticides in your home and garden or on your lawn. For help, advice, and alternatives, see the Beyond Pesticides website.
  • Testing: Get children tested for lead levels at ages one and two. Test water supplies for lead. Test private wells for arsenic and other contaminants on a regular basis.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Denied Accommodations on College Entrance Exams...

ASHA Seeking Members With High School Students Who Have Been Denied Accommodations on College Entrance Exams

ASHA is looking for members whose high school students have been denied accommodations on college entrance exams, such as the ACT and SAT.  ASHA believes that students with communication disorders are often denied accommodations on these exams despite having long standing accommodations on their IEP.  ASHA believes testing organizations that refuse to allow accommodations for students with communication disorders deny them access to support and services required under the Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA ).  ASHA is in continuing dialogue about this issue with the U.S. Department of Justice, which is responsible for ensuring compliance with the ADA .
  
ASHA is reaching out to ASHA members to identify families willing to write to Congress to tell their stories.  ASHA will supply a template letter to use for developing this letter.  If you are an ASHA member and are interested in participating, please contact Janet Deppe, ASHA's Director of State Advocacy, at jdeppe@asha.org by Monday, April 25, 2016.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's Time to Ditch Toxic BPA!

All families deserve access to safe and healthy food, free of toxic chemicals.
Toxic BPA cans
 
A new report showed that
67% of nearly 200 cans tested had Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine-disrupting chemical linked to learning and attention problems, breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and asthma.
 
BPA can disrupt brain development even at low levels of exposure. BPA is linked to learning, attention, and behavior challenges. Studies have shown BPA can migrate out of cans, get into the food our families eat, and make its way into our bodies.   
 
Please join the Learning Disabilities Association of America of South Carolina (LDASC) in urging food companies and grocery and dollar stores to take swift action to protect consumers from toxic BPA. This hazardous chemical should not be in cans or other food packaging. But it is not enough to just get BPA out. We need companies to replace toxic BPA with a proven, safer alternative, and that means sharing their safety data on chemical replacements.
 

I think we can all agree this brain-disrupting chemical doesn't belong in the food our families eat. Will you take a second to join LDASC and help get BPA out of canned foods?