Wednesday, April 30, 2008

EPA Needs To Be Sent To Its Room

Even my cute new shoes can't keep me in a good mood after reading this latest article about the EPA, the White House, and the chemical industry. I know that the EPA was created in good conscience. I know that many people who work there are there for good reasons. I know that since the Bush administration has been planting soulless robots all over our regulation agencies, several good scientists and advocates have become disgusted with being asked to lie and hide important health information and have quit. But . . . I kind of think the EPA is just too dirty right now. It needs a time out. The EPA needs to sit in the corner and think about what it's done. And after it's thought long and hard, then it come back to the game with a new perspective and a new mission where it makes good decisions. Because when people who have a heart sit on important information because they think there is a bigger mission at stake, they are more harmful than the opposition itself.

Read this.

White House blocked EPA studies, GAO reports
Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Wednesday, April 30, 2008

(04-30) 04:00 PDT Washington - --

A congressional watchdog agency has found that White House officials repeatedly intervened in the government's scientific process for assessing the health risks of toxic chemicals, prompting Sen. Barbara Boxer to threaten giving Congress control of the program.

The Government Accountability Office reported Tuesday that the White House's budget office, the Pentagon and other agencies had delayed or blocked efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to list chemicals as carcinogens by requesting more research or more time to review the risks.

Boxer, D-Calif., who is chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and requested the report, called the findings scandalous. If EPA does not speed up its assessments of toxic chemicals, she warned that Congress might step in and start banning substances that threaten the public health.

"If we don't see that happen, colleagues of mine are going to take matters into their own hands," Boxer said.

A top EPA official, who was grilled at a hearing before Boxer's committee Tuesday, responded that it was helpful to have more input from the White House and other agencies.

"Ultimately, at the end of the day, it's EPA's decision," said James Gulliford, EPA's assistant administrator for pesticides, prevention and toxic substances.

GAO officials also faulted the administration for setting new rules that keep secret any involvement by the White House or a federal agency in a decision about the risks of a chemical.

"In the risk assessment program, you don't want anyone but the scientists involved," John Stephenson, GAO's chief investigator for environmental programs, told lawmakers.

The issue involves major changes the administration has made to an EPA program called "IRIS" - the Integrated Risk Information System - which allows the agency to determine safe levels of exposure to chemicals to protect the public health. The program has been used to set limits on arsenic in drinking water and benzene in the air, and foreign nations and states like California often use the data for their regulations.
Influencing risk assessment

Since President Bush took office in 2001, the White House has sought to take more control of a process that has long been led by EPA scientists, the report found. The Office of Management and Budget, the Defense Department, the Energy Department and even NASA have taken steps to influence risk assessments that could affect those agencies or hurt U.S. industries, the report said.

For example, the EPA started a risk assessment of naphthalene, a chemical used in jet fuel, in 2002, and agency scientists have been moving toward listing it as a likely human carcinogen. But many military sites are contaminated with naphthalene, which could lead to major cleanup costs for the Pentagon. So, White House budget officials slowed the process, repeatedly requesting more analysis. Six years later, the risk assessment is back at the drafting stage.

"The series of delays has limited EPA's ability to conduct its mission," the GAO report concluded.

The study also found irregularities in the agency's risk assessment of formaldehyde, a colorless gas used in plywood and many other household products, which the World Health Organization has listed as a known human carcinogen but EPA classifies only as a probable carcinogen.

In 2004, the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation decided to bypass the risk analysis of its own scientists and use data by an industry-funded group when it issued new rules for formaldehyde - even though EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment identified a number of problems with the group's data. A federal appellate court struck down the rules last year.

"It was fairly unprecedented," testified Lynn Goldman, who was assistant EPA administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substances during the Clinton administration and is now an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University.
Only 4 approved

Stephenson, the GAO investigator, told lawmakers the risk assessments had slowed to a crawl because of the prolonged inter-agency review. Out of 32 draft risk assessments prepared by the EPA over the last two years, only four were approved.

The program, Stephenson said, "is at serious risk of becoming obsolete."

Public health advocates warned that the results are years-long delays in regulating harmful chemicals that scientists have linked to rising cancer rates in some groups.

Dr. Linda Giudice, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UCSF, pointed to the growing evidence that a child exposed to chemicals in the womb is not only at higher risk of birth defects and learning disabilities, but also at risk of lower fertility, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease as an adult.

Giudice noted that scientists are just now learning of the effects of some chemicals, such as bisphenol A, a compound found in baby bottles and other products. Manufacturers of BPA insist it is safe, but it's been linked to breast and prostate cancer, early puberty in females and behavior disorders in laboratory animals.

"There are many chemicals where we have no scientific data," Giudice said. "The absence of scientific data does not mean the chemical is safe."

Senate Democrats have introduced a bill to ban children's products with BPA, and California lawmakers are considering a similar bill. San Francisco was the first jurisdiction in the world to outlaw BPA in kids' products, but it repealed the ban in 2007 after a court fight with plastics manufacturers.

Boxer said the United States should consider shifting to the European Union's new system, known as REACH, which requires all manufacturers seeking to sell their chemicals in Europe to register and prove the chemical will not hurt human health or the environment. She said the program "puts the burden on the chemical industry, where it should be, to show that their chemicals are safe."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Because I am Lazy

I found this in one of my google alerts and it's not bad.

hope your brand new super cute yellow flats didn't get rained on like mine did this morning. damn it.

Good Read.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Oh Canada!

Today has been a busy busy day. Poor little chemical industry PR departments. T.G.I.F. PR people!!

In the New York Times today (and NPR) there was an article about how Nalgene, you know the company that sells those hard plastic bottles to the trendy environmentalists and hipster's you see all over the place, well they decided that they will no longer be selling those cute little re-useable bottles with BPA. Come on . . . Say with me, say it proud, BPA stands for . . . . Bisphenol A! And it's a endocrine disruptor. And it shouldn't be inside our cute little re-useable water bottles, or baby bottles or anything else really. And if we had a society that was based on the precautionary principle we wouldn't have to worry or spend a crap load of money and time on getting corporations to stop making products that contain crappy toxic chemicals. In fact, I would be able to get a job that pays a whole lot more money and have the weekends off, maybe if I was really lucky I could even leave early on Fridays.

So . . Canada. Oh, Canada! Our brother from another mother.

Turns out our friends in the north don't want to poison their citizens. Their government even takes action on toxic chemicals, well today anyway. As in eliminating them instead of giving corporations that make them access to environmental investigations of their toxicity. Weird.

Read this:

OTTAWA — The Canadian government moved Friday to ban polycarbonate infant bottles as it officially declared one of their chemical ingredients toxic.

The move by the departments of health and environment is the first action taken by any government against bisphenol-a, or B.P.A., a chemical that mimics a human hormone and that has induced long-term changes in animals exposed to it through tests.

“We’re not waiting to take action to protect our people and our environment from the long-term effects of bisphenol-a,” the environment minister, John Baird, told a news conference.

The most immediate impact of the toxic designation will be a ban on the importation and sale of baby bottles made with clear, hard polycarbonate. That move will not take effect until the end of a 60-day discussion period, however.

The health minister, Tony Clement, told reporters that after reviewing 150 research papers on B.P.A. and conducting its own studies, his department concluded that the chemical posed the most risk for newborns and children up to the age of 18 months. The minister said that animal studies suggest “there will be behavioral and neural symptoms later in life.”

Not only are potentially unsafe exposure levels to B.P.A. lower for children than adults, Mr. Clement said that cleaning infant bottles with boiling causes the release of the chemical into their contents.

He suggested that the government had planned to also ban the use of epoxies made with B.P.A. and sprayed into most infant formula cans as a lining. But, he added that no practical alternative is currently available.

Both ministers, however, insisted that current research showed that adults who use food and beverage containers made with B.P.A. related plastics were not at risk.

“For the average Canadian consuming things in those products, there is no risk today,” Mr. Clement said.

The government will, however, begin monitoring the B.P.A. exposure of 5,000 people between now and 2009. If research indicates a danger to adults, the government will take additional action, the officials said.

In addition to its concerns about infants and young children, the government said that its B.P.A. review found that even low levels of the chemical can harm fish and other aquatic life forms over time.

If the baby bottle ban takes effect on June 19, an event that can only be derailed by significant new evidence, it may have little practical effect.

Reports earlier this week indicating that the government would declare B.P.A. toxic prompted a rush by most of Canada’s major retailers to remove food-related B.P.A. products from their stores. The company’s largest druggist, Shoppers Drug Mart, took the step on Friday at its 1,080 stores shortly before the announcement.

Nalgene, the company that turned polycarbonate bottles from a piece of lab equipment into a popular drink container, has also decided to drop the plastic and use others plastics that do not contain B.P.A.

In Washington on Friday, Senator Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement that he intended to introduce a bill that would create a widespread ban on B.P.A.-related plastics. It would prohibit their use in all children’s products as well as any product use to carry food or beverages for adults.

Maybe next week will be easier for you chemical industry people. Hmmm . . on second thought, maybe you should just take the week off.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dirty Dirty Dirty and Not in the Good Way

Congressman Dingell's investigation of the EPA's decision to fire Dr Rice is still going and names are being named and ties to dirty chemical companies are being aired.


EPA Science Probed
House committee investigation of industry bias in EPA science reaches former ACS president
Cheryl Hogue and Jeff Johnson

The chemical industry's ability to determine how science is used to shape the national debate over product safety is being investigated by a key House committee.

"Our committee intends to determine what influence the chemical industry yields over the scientific community and whether that influence is proper," said Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, in a statement releasing an April 2 letter to the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The letter seeks a long list of documents from the U.S. chemical industry's primary lobbying arm.

In mid-March, Dingell's committee also asked the Environmental Protection Agency for related documents and raised similar concerns that agency science is biased in the chemical industry's favor. Both requests demand the information within two weeks from the dates of the letters.

The genesis of the congressional investigations is ACC's successful demand that EPA retroactively remove the views of the chairwoman who had overseen a peer review assessment on a family of flame retardants by the agency after the report had been published. The investigation, however, goes beyond this apparent influencing of EPA.

Among the requested data from ACC are "all records of payments and communications" between former American Chemical Society president William F. Carroll and ACC. Carroll served as ACS president in 2005 and, as a member of the three-year presidential succession, was a member of the society's board of directors in 2004–06.

The Energy & Commerce Committee is particularly concerned about "cross-pollination" between Carroll's role as the head of a society of chemical professionals while at the same time serving as a chief industry proponent for the vinyl industry, a committee staff member says.

Carroll has worked for Occidental Chemical continuously for nearly 30 years and is currently the company's vice president for chlorovinyl issues. He was identified in the House committee letter as an executive with the Vinyl Institute, an industry group allied with ACC. But Carroll strongly denies this: "I was never an executive with the institute. Our company is a member, but I have never worked for them," he says.

Carroll has had a long relationship with ACC, however, and was acting managing director of ACC's chlorine division for six months in 2006. And in 1994–96, he was a staff member of the Chlorine Chemistry Council, an ACC subsidiary. Carroll says he was never on the payroll of ACC or the chlorine council.

The committee is also seeking information on nine scientists with industry contacts who served on EPA review panels, as well as information on a law office and a public relations firm.

The committee is exploring industry and science ties through information it is seeking about ACC's relationship to the International Society for Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology and its journal, Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology, which is owned and published by Elsevier. The society, the committee staff member says, is funded by several corporations and associations, including ACC.

Environmental and public health advocates have been critical of the journal. Jennifer Sass, a toxicologist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, says that in studies the journal publishes, previously reported toxic or adverse health effects from chemical exposure are downplayed or dismissed or simply not mentioned. The journal includes mainly mathematical models and meta analyses of other published studies, she adds, and its editorial board includes attorneys who represent corporations.

Dingell asked ACC for records of any payments to journal officials, but Gio B. Gori, editor of the journal, tells C&EN he has never received money from ACC and is paid for his editing work by Elsevier. "I don't know why they're investigating us," he says. "We have nothing to hide."

At the heart of the investigation is Deborah C. Rice, a former EPA scientist and currently a toxicologist with the state of Maine, who chaired an EPA external peer review panel set up to conduct a toxicological review of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The review of this group of flame retardants began in 2002. The European Union and several U.S. states have banned penta-BDE and octa-BDE. The main BDE found in commerce in the U.S. is deca-BDE, which is incorporated into plastics in the housings of television sets and other electric and electronic equipment, as well as upholstery for furniture and other items.

The peer review panel examined EPA's draft assessment of BDEs, which includes agency expert judgments on how much exposure to each BDE is safe. These judgments can have far-ranging regulatory effects.

EPA places its peer-reviewed judgments on safe doses of chemicals and the scientific justification behind them in a database called the Integrated Risk Information System, which is available on the Web. EPA, other federal agencies, state environmental departments, and even regulators in foreign countries rely on the database. For instance, they often depend on the database's safe daily dose numbers to decide how much cleanup a polluter must do at a contaminated site.

Rice is a world-class toxicologist, according to several toxicologists interviewed by C&EN, some of whom are associated with EPA and did not wish to comment publicly. She was a toxicologist with Health Canada and the U.S. EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment, which is conducting the PBDE review.

Rice declined to comment to C&EN, as did EPA officials.

Rice was selected for the peer review panel in 2006 and was one of five reviewers. The panel met in February 2007 and issued its assessment in mid-March, when EPA posted the report on its website.

On May 3, 2007, ACC wrote to George M. Gray, EPA assistant administrator for R&D, complaining about "the appearance that [the] peer review panel's leadership might lack the impartiality and objectivity necessary to conduct a fair and impartial review of the data." Rice, the letter says, had testified before the Maine State Legislature on behalf of a state agency, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention, where she works. There, she advocated a phaseout of deca-BDE.

Rice simply conveyed the policy position of her employer to state lawmakers, says Sonya Lunder, senior analyst with Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy and research organization.

In a Jan. 8, 2008, letter to ACC, Gray announced that the agency had removed all of Rice's comments from the final peer review report. The agency redacted her comments from the report and reposted it to the website.

In his Jan. 8 letter, Gray said his letter was a follow-up to a June 15, 2007, meeting with ACC to discuss Rice's involvement. Gray wrote in his letter that EPA made the changes because "one of the panel members had a potential conflict of interest."

At ACC's urging, Gray said he had also reviewed initial and final comments of other panel reviewers to determine if the chairperson had influenced their views. His review found "minor additions" from reviewers but provided no evidence that Rice had "significantly influenced the other panelists."

Rice "has no conflict of interest that I'm aware of," says Merrill Goozner, director of the Integrity in Science project at the watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest. Under federal laws and policies for advisory panels, conflicts of interest have to do with advisers' potential financial gain or loss from their recommendations.

Goozner's group and environmental organizations regularly write letters to EPA contending that external peer reviewers have financial conflicts of interest. "ACC has every right to write a letter to EPA, just like we do," he tells C&EN. It is the agency's job, Goozner says, to investigate the situation and determine if a reviewer indeed has a conflict.

EPA, however, "made the wrong decision" in Rice's case, Goozner says.

"Apparently, EPA didn't want to hear from this person because industry disagreed with her conclusions," says David Michaels, a professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University.

Michaels, former Department of Energy assistant secretary for environment, safety, and health, says the removal of Rice from the panel is consistent with other actions the Bush Administration has taken to stack advisory groups with scientists favorable to its views and to silence opponents.

Lunder and other scientists interviewed by C&EN warn of the chilling effect Gray's actions may have on other scientists asked to take part in peer reviews. They note that Rice had already been vetted and selected by EPA and the contractor that put together the panel.

"Peer reviewers should be free to say whatever they think," Lunder says, "and to have retroactive retaliation by removing your name sends a message that if you say something unpopular or out of line with EPA, your views may get dropped. It challenges the whole principle of review by an unbiased panel without fear of retribution."

In an April 4, 2008, statement, ACC said its "strong support for science" and "an independent peer review process" led it to raise concerns with EPA about Rice's membership on the PBDE panel. "We believe EPA acted appropriately and consistently with the rules governing membership in scientific review panels," the industry group said.

"ACC will work with the Energy & Commerce Committee to provide it with the requested materials pertaining to this matter," the statement said.

The final toxicological human health assessment of PBDE is expected this month. It is now being examined by the White House's Office of Management & Budget, according to EPA officials. An official familiar with the draft said Rice's toxicological studies are cited in the assessment although her views on the draft had been struck.


“Trying to save ecosystems has more to do with changing egosystems.”

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Apopka, Florida

This morning on the train into work, I read The New Yorker. At one time The New Yorker and I had a special relationship. We went to bookstores, rode buses, and we even use to go bowling every Tuesday in Silver Spring together. Now, I'm poor and have given up my subscription and am currently leading a life of crime where I steal other people's New Yorkers. Anyway, I was reading my latest act of theft this morning and I started thinking about Florida. I grew up in Florida.

Then I found this: South Apopka Community Survives Amid a Landfill, an Incinerator and a Sewage Plant


I grew up in Fort Lauderdale. Yes there are large smokestacks all around and a port, but mostly my childhood consisted of the beach and the intercoastal, which is disgusting to wake board and ski in because of all the gasoline. As a kid I would get out of the water only to find that I my skin had a glistening film on it. Gross.

What I find so interesting about the Apopka community is that the landfill, incinerator and sewage plant are not what attracts scientists attention its the fact that the alligators in Lake Apopka have small penis'. Yup, for some reason the alligators are being more with severe reproductive abnormalities. And yes, maybe the landfill, incinerator, and sewage plant have something to do with it.

So . . . I'm a total animal lover. I pick up worms that I see on the ground and put them back into the grass and I hate to walk by the puppy mills in those gross pet shops in the malls, but what about the people? Why are there so many studies on the penis size of the alligators and none on the health effects of having an entire community surrounded by a landfill, incinerator and sewage plant.

I'm pretty sure that is has something to do that with the fact that Apopka is poor, mostly in the lower economic class, and consists mainly of people of color.

It's not ok. It's not ok to not take care of communities like this one. It's not ok to ignore the fact the girls are born with all of their eggs and when they are born into communities that are being poisoned by toxic chemicals their eggs are being poisoned too and now the next generation will grow up with birth defects, severe health problems and lowered IQs. It's not ok to ignore the environmental health issues of our children.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Momma Must Be Proud

Just found this on the Washington Post.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee wants to examine these current and former members of Environmental Protection Agency advisory panels and their ties to the chemical industry:

· Robert Schnatter served on a panel reviewing ethylene oxide, which is made by his employer, Exxon Mobil.

· James Swenberg and Vernon Walker both served on the ethylene oxide panel and did research funded by the American Chemical Council that looked at whether ethylene oxide and other similar chemical compounds cause cancer.

· Dale Sickles, who serves on a panel reviewing acrylamide, received funding from both its manufacturer and marketing company.

· Elizabeth "Betty" Anderson chaired a panel reviewing dibutyl phthalate at the same time her employer, Exponent, was paid by the American Chemical Council to downgrade a key scientific study critical of the compound.

· Susan Borghoff served on a panel that reviewed 2,2,4-trimethylpentane and received funding from Lyondell Chemical Co., which makes that compound.

· Deborah Barsotti served on the 2,2,4-trimethylpentane panel while her employer, Mactec Engineering, worked with manufacturers of that compound.


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names"

Congress Investigates the Firing of EPA Scientist

I mentioned Dr. Rice a couple weeks. She is a public health scientist who has been studying the health effects of a brominated flame retardant called deca-DBE. There are three types of PBDE's (polybrominated diphenyl ether's) that are used as flame retardants, two of which have had voluntary phase out guidelines among consumer products, but the third one deca-DBE is still being used in electronics and other things you have in your homes and office. And there are some pretty good reasons why that is harmful to our health. It seems that brominated flame retardants are endocrine distributors and have been doing some nasty things to the lab mice.

A congressional committee has just opened an investigation as to why Dr Rice was fired. But most people suspect it is because of industry pressure. They don't like her studies and they don't like that she is an advocate on the precautionary principle - the theory that says if we don't know that it won't be harmful to the environment and/or our health than we shouldn't be slapping it up on everything that sits still and makes corporations a buck.

Here is the article:
Chemical Industry's Influence at EPA Probed

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2008; A04

A congressional committee is investigating ties between the chemical industry and expert review panels hired by the Environmental Protection Agency to help it determine safe levels for a variety of chemical compounds.

Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the oversight and investigations subcommittee, have demanded documents from the EPA and the American Chemistry Council to probe the roles of nine scientists who are serving on EPA panels or have done so in the past.

The lawmakers sent a letter to the chemical industry Wednesday, expanding a probe that began earlier this month.

"Americans count on sound science to ensure that consumer products are safe," Dingell said through a spokesman yesterday. "If industry has undue influence over this science, then the public's health is endangered."

Dingell and Stupak want to know how much the chemistry council has paid consultants, lawyers, scientists and a scientific journal in efforts to affect public policy.

"I don't remember the last time Congress investigated a trade association like this," said Richard Wiles of the Environmental Working Group, which contends that the chemical industry has stacked EPA panels. "Maybe for the first time, we might find out the extent of industry influence. It's a landmark investigation and has called into question the ethics of the entire industry."

Tiffany Harrington, a spokeswoman for the chemistry council, said it supports independent scientific research and it will cooperate with the congressional request.

The lawmakers want to know why the EPA allowed the scientists in question to remain on expert panels but removed a public health scientist, Deborah C. Rice, from a panel at the chemistry council's request.

Rice chaired an EPA panel last year that reviewed safe levels for deca-BDE, a polybrominated diphenyl ether used as a fire retardant in television casings and other electronics. Deca has been found to cause cancer in mice and is a suspected human carcinogen.

As a toxicologist for the state of Maine, Rice testified before the Maine legislature about the health risks associated with deca. Maine and several other states -- and this week, the European Union -- have since banned the compound.

After Rice's panel completed its work, Sharon Kneiss, a vice president of the chemistry council, wrote to the EPA and called Rice "a fervent advocate of banning" deca who "has no place in an independent, objective peer review." The agency informed Rice that it was removing her from the panel, and it expunged her comments from the official record, even removing them from the EPA Web site.

The Chemistry Council "seems to argue that scientific expertise with regard to a particular chemical and its human health effects is a basis for disqualification from a peer review board," Dingell and Stupak wrote to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "This does not seem sensible on its face."

At the same time, the EPA has allowed at least nine scientists who have received funding from chemical makers or expressed similar opinions about particular chemical compounds to remain on review panels, Dingell and Stupak wrote.

Among those scientists is Dale Sickles, who serves on a panel reviewing acrylamide. He received $93,000 from the manufacturer of the compound and $230,000 from its marketer. "I've been totally transparent throughout the process," Sickles said yesterday.

Four other scientists reached yesterday said that industry funding never influenced their research.

Scientists invited to participate in review panels are asked to disclose any conflicts or perceived conflicts. EPA guidelines say that conflicts do not automatically disqualify an expert but that the agency should make sure the panel has a balance of viewpoints.

Timothy Lyons, an EPA spokesman, said privacy issues prevent the agency from commenting on Rice or the scientists singled out by the congressional investigation. But the agency followed procedures in selecting panel members, he said.

Rice, who has declined to comment, has become a cause celebre among Bush administration critics, who say her case is symbolic of undue industry influence in public health regulation under President Bush.

"This is an administration that has put corporate interests before public health and safety, and ideological zealotry before sound science," Dingell said. "This disturbing pattern extends to EPA's peer review panels."


It's rainy and cold in my Falls Church office right now. Booooo.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I'll Take Two of Everything You Have in Green

So . . everyone and their little sister's obnoxious boyfriend is on this green kick. If they aren't showing off their double stacked recycling bins then they are showing off their Method Green Apple dish soap and matching hand wash. Which is fantastic . . . kind of.

Except business is business. And when businesses see a way to make money and keep their overhead low they attack. Viscously. That's what has been happening with this green wave the US of A has been riding. Another word for it is Greenwashing. Wash that green right out of your hair or wallet or whatever I'm too tired to be clever today, sorry kids.

I just got my daily google alert for some evil chemical somebody and I saw that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking for comments for their Green Guides on Green Packaging. FTC's Green Guides are voluntary guidelines for marketing of consumer products.

Wow cosmic timing!! As I was writing this blog a colleague came into my office with the latest Buffalo Spree edition on Living Green. Oh Buffalo, you!

Anyways . .. this is what the purpose is exactly:

"These guides represent administrative interpretations of laws administered by the Federal Trade Commission for the guidance of the public in conducting its affairs in conformity with legal requirements. These guides specifically address the application of Section 5 of the FTC Act to environmental advertising and marketing practices. They provide the basis for voluntary compliance with such laws by members of industry. Conduct inconsistent with the positions articulated in these guides may result in corrective action by the Commission under Section 5 if, after investigation, the Commission has reason to believe that the behavior falls within the scope of conduct declared unlawful by the statute."

So basically the FTC believes it is within it's right to draw up guidelines on how corporations design their products when they are making claims about being environmentally safe.

Interested parties prepare to thumb wrestle.

Guess what? There are corporations that lie on their packaging and advertising. I know I know. Crazy. What is happening right now is that some companies are simply saying that they are green and you should spend your hard earned money on those products because like you they care about our planet. Some products have labels about carbon offsetting. What? There is a problem with carbon offsetting? Who said that? Many environmentalists think that carbon offsetting is crap. crap. crap. crap.

Hmmm I feel I have to touched on too many aspects of greenwashing here. So I'm going to continue down the FTC green guides comment period discussion and come back to carbon offsetting at another time (but feel free to google or dogpile it in order to find out more in the mean time).

Ok. FTC guidelines on green marketing. Last November FTC announced it was going to start holding a workshop on Carbon Offsetting to find out whether it should rewrite its guidelines. This greenwashing thing is relatively new to popular culture and though you have been hearing Reduce Reuse Recycle for . .well . . almost as long as I have been alive . . . the real need to take drastic measures to protect our planet and your children is only now starting to touch soccer mom's in suburban Virgina. So it makes sense that they want to revisit those guidelines. And it makes sense corporations that are making big bucks on producing things that make moms and dads feel better about bringing into their home want them to proceed cautiously.

The first workshop they led in this initiative was on carbon offsetting, but the FTC just announced another workshop on Green Packaging. It will be held here in Washington DC on April 30. They are accepting comments until May 19.


As school administrators and parents are deciding what type of products to buy, things like these workshops are necessary to pay attention to. How are people suppose to know what is in their products? How does the school facility manager find better alternatives? Why aren't there more choices? Why are all the kids getting asthma in your community? It's a tough realization to find out that the products you purchase everyday could be making your kids sick and we need to make sure that people are held accountable if they producing products and lobbying to limit restrictions on products that are creating hazardous learning environments.

That's all I got.