Chemicals in the News

Two articles in the SF Chronicle this morning about chemicals, their over-use and abuse.

The annual Bay monitoring report was released this week

Pesticides, flame retardants and other chemicals used in homes and businesses have been found in San Francisco Bay at levels that could pose hazards to aquatic life if they go unchecked, according to a new report.

For now, none of the chemicals is present in concentrations alarming enough to be of “high concern,” meaning they are unlikely to cause significant harm to water quality and the bay’s inhabitants, according to the annual report from the Regional Monitoring Program, an environmental group that tracks contaminants in the bay.

“However, there are a number of chemicals that are showing up not too far from levels of concern, and that’s the bad news,” said Tom Mumley, assistant executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Pretty amazing what some of the chemicals are — and how they enter the watershed:

One chemical the monitors are concerned about is fipronil, an insecticide that’s increasingly being used to control pests around buildings and fleas on pets. Found in higher-than-usual concentrations in bay sediment, it could affect the delicate bay wildlife if allowed to build up, according to the report.

Pyrethroids, another family of insecticides used to combat fleas and bedbugs, aren’t a big danger in the bay now, but they’re widespread in the urban creeks that feed into the bay.

“It’s theoretically just a matter of time,” Mumley said. “The more they continue to be used, the more we’d expect them to be at high levels in the bay.”

Also under scrutiny are alkylphenols, which are breakdown products of chemicals in household detergents and other cleaning products. Chemicals in this family – which are known endocrine disruptors that can interrupt the hormone system in mammals – were found in varying levels in mussels and the eggs of cormorants, and experts say they may contribute to the decline of fish populations in the bay. Perfluoro-octane sulfonate – which is used as a stain repellent on textiles, furniture and carpets – was detected in bay birds, seals, fish and mollusks. In mammals, exposure to this chemical has been associated with compromised immune systems, reproductive defects, neurotoxicity and cancer.

SF Gate   for a copy of the report, go here.

And in some relatively good news, Target joins other retail giants in promising to identify ingredients in most of its products

As consumers nationwide have become more aware of the toxic chemicals in their over-the-counter products, they have pushed manufacturers and retailers to make changes.

The message seems to be paying off.

The latest example is retail giant Target, which this month announced that it will identify and eventually inform shoppers which of its more than 7,500 household and personal care products are least harmful to health and the environment.

The announcement from the company, which opened its second San Francisco branch this month, follows similar programs by other retail chains, such as Walmart, CVS and Kroger, and manufacturers like Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson.

SF Gate

Many of the corporations are using GoodGuide to help them identify and inform.  Take a look and see why Patagonia is better than Ralph Lauren….