Ecocide and Environmental Illness

The impact of toxic consumer products has had a huge impact on my life, for over 30 years.

The majority of these links were provided by Linda Sepp. (Thank you, Linda! See her excellent website, Seriously Sensitive to Pollution, here.)

My blog posts on these topics can be found under these archive categories: Climate Change, Environmental Issues, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

Volatile Chemical Products (VCPs) and Impact on Human Health

• National Prevalence and Effects of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Anne Steinemann, Phd.D. Journal of Occupational Medicine, March 2018. PDF here.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS), its co-occurrence with asthma and fragrance sensitivity, and effects from exposure to fragranced consumer products.
Methods: A nationally representative cross-sectional population-based sample of adult Americans (n = 1137) was surveyed in June 2016.
Results: Among the population, 12.8% report medically diagnosed MCS and 25.9% report chemical sensitivity. Of those with MCS, 86.2% experience health problems, such as migraine headaches, when exposed to fragranced consumer products; 71.0% are asthmatic; 70.3% cannot access places that use fragranced products such as air fresheners; and 60.7% lost workdays or a job in the past year due to fragranced products in the workplace.
Conclusion: Prevalence of diagnosed MCS has increased over 300%, and self-reported chemical sensitivity over 200%, in the past decade. Reducing exposure to fragranced products could help reduce adverse health and societal effects.

• International prevalance of fragrance sensitivity. Anne Steinemann, Ph.D. Air Quality, Atmosphere, and Health. August 2019. PDF here.

ABSTRACT: Emissions and exposures from fragranced consumer products, such as air fresheners and cleaning supplies, have been associated with health problems and societal impacts. This study investigates effects of fragranced consumer products on the general population in four countries: United States, Australia, United Kingdom, and Sweden. Nationally representative population surveys (n = 1137; 1098; 1100; 1100) found that, across the four countries, 32.2% of adults (34.7%, 33.0%, 27.8%, 33.1% respectively) report fragrance sensitivity; that is, adverse health effects from fragranced consumer products. For instance, 17.4% report health problems from air fresheners or deodorizers, and 15.7% from being in a room cleaned with scented products. Commonly reported health problems include respiratory difficulties (16.7%), mucosal symptoms (13.2%), migraine headaches (12.6%), skin rashes (9.1%), and asthma attacks (7.0%). For 9.5% of the population, the severity of health effects can be considered disabling. Further, 9.0% of the population have lost workdays or lost a job, in the past year, due to illness from fragranced product exposure in the workplace. Personal estimated costs due to these lost workdays and lost jobs, across the four countries in one year, exceed $146 billion (USD). A majority of people across the countries would prefer that workplaces, health care facilities and professionals, hotels, and airplanes were fragrance-free rather than fragranced. The study highlights a concern for public health and societal well-being, as well as an approach to reduce risks and costs: reduce exposure to fragranced products.

•Fragranced consumer products: Exposures and effects from emissions. Anne Steinemann, Ph.D. Air Quality, Atmosphere, and Health, October 2016. PDF here.

ABSTRACT: Fragranced consumer products, such as cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and personal care products, are a primary source of indoor air pollutants and personal exposure. Previous research indicates that fragranced products can trigger adverse health effects, with implications for workplaces and public places. This is the first study to examine the multiple dimensions of exposures related to fragranced products and effects in the US population. The study investigated the prevalence and types of fragranced product exposures, associated health effects, awareness of product emissions, and preferences for fragrance-free policies and environments. Data were collected using an online survey with a nationally representative population (n = 1136) of adults in the USA. Overall, 34.7 % of the population reported health problems, such as migraine headaches and respiratory difficulties, when exposed to fragranced products. Further, 15.1 % have lost workdays or a job due to fragranced product exposure in the workplace. Also, 20.2 % would enter a business but then leave as quickly as possible if they smell air fresheners or some fragranced product. Over 50 % of the population would prefer that workplaces, health care facilities and professionals, hotels, and airplanes were fragrance-free. While prior research found that common fragranced products, even those called green and organic, emitted hazardous air pollutants, more than two thirds of the population were not aware of this, and over 60 % would not continue to use a fragranced product if they knew it emitted such pollutants. Results from this study provide strong evidence that fragranced products can trigger adverse health effects in the general population. The study also indicates that reducing exposure to fragranced products, such as through fragrance-free policies, can provide cost-effective and relatively simple ways to reduce risks and improve air quality and health.

•Personal care products contribute to a pollution ‘rush hour’. University of Colorado at Boulder. Science News, April 2018.

EXCERPT: When people are out and about, they leave plumes of chemicals behind them — from both car tailpipes and the products they put on their skin and hair. In fact, emissions of siloxane, a common ingredient in shampoos, lotions, and deodorants, are comparable in magnitude to the emissions of major components of vehicle exhaust, such as benzene, from rush-hour traffic.

•Volatile chemical emissions from fragranced baby products. Neda Nematollahi, et. al. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health. August 2018. PDF here.

ABSTRACT: Fragranced consumer products have been associated with adverse effects on human health. Babies are exposed to a variety of fragranced consumer products, which can emit numerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs), some considered potentially hazardous. However, fragranced baby products are exempt from disclosure of all ingredients. Consequently, parents and the public have little information on product emissions. This study investigates VOCs emitted from a range of fragranced baby products, including baby hair shampoos, body washes, lotions, creams, ointments, oils, hair sprays, and fragrance. The products were analysed using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) headspace analysis. Of the 42 baby products tested, 21 products made claims of green, organic, or all-natural. Results of the analysis found 684 VOCs emitted collectively from the 42 products, representing 228 different VOCs. Of these 684 VOCs, 207 are classified as potentially hazardous under federal regulations, representing 43 different VOCs. The most common VOCs emitted were limonene, acetaldehyde, ethanol, alpha-pinene, linalool, beta-myrcene, acetone, and beta-pinene. A comparison between ingredients emitted and ingredients listed reveals that only 5% of the 684 VOCs, including 12% of 207 potentially hazardous VOCs, were listed on the product label, safety data sheet, or website. More than 95% of both green and regular products emitted one or more potentially hazardous VOCs. Further, emissions of the most prevalent VOCs from green, organic, or all-natural products were not significantly different from regular products. Results from this study can help improve public awareness about emissions from baby products, with the aim to reduce pollutant exposure and potential adverse effects on babies.

• Right to Know: Exposing Toxic Fragrance Chemicals Report. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. September 2018. [Link to report below.]

EXCERPT: Did you know that dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of chemicals can hide under one little word – “fragrance” – on the product labels of beauty and personal care products? And that the F word could lead to serious health consequences. What exactly is hiding in your products?
BCPP set out to investigate to what extent major companies that make beauty, personal care and cleaning products hide unlabeled toxic chemicals in their products. We took on this research project because the scientific literature and our previous product testing indicated that fragranced products contained chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other adverse health effects.

Right to Know Report.

Chemicals in Consumer Products Associated With Early Puberty. Jennifer Abassi. JAMA Medical News and Perspectives. April 2019. [Link to actual study. below.]

Association of phthalates, parabens and phenols found in personal care products with pubertal timing in girls and boys. Kim G. Harley et. al. Human Reproduction, January 2019.

Are in-utero or peripubertal exposures to phthalates, parabens and other phenols found in personal care products associated with timing of pubertal onset in boys and girls?
We found some associations of altered pubertal timing in girls, but little evidence in boys.
Certain chemicals in personal care and consumer products, including low molecular weight phthalates, parabens and phenols, or their precursors, are associated with altered pubertal timing in animal studies.


Chemical and Climate Change/Environment

Screen Shot 2019-09-25 at 2.05.08 PM
From MacDonald et. all, Science, Feb. 2018.

•Consumer, Industrial Products Overtake Transportation as Source of Urban Air Pollution. Originally by Andy Fell. Environment. Posted by Sandra Hall in Air Quality Research Center website, March 2018. [See link to actual study below.]

•Volatile chemical products emerging as largest petrochemical source of urban organic emissions. Brian C. McDonald, et. al. Science, February 2018. PDF here.

EXCERPT: A gap in emission inventories of urban volatile organic compound (VOC) sources, which contribute to regional ozone and aerosol burdens, has increased as transportation emissions in the United States and Europe have declined rapidly. A detailed mass balance demonstrates that the use of volatile chemical products (VCPs)—including pesticides, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, cleaning agents, and personal care products—now constitutes half of fossil fuel VOC emissions in industrialized cities. The high fraction of VCP emissions is consistent with observed urban outdoor and indoor air measurements. We show that human exposure to carbonaceous aerosols of fossil origin is transitioning away from transportation-related sources and toward VCPs. Existing U.S. regulations on VCPs emphasize mitigating ozone and air toxics, but they currently exempt many chemicals that lead to secondary organic aerosols.

A hidden source of air pollution? Your daily household tasks. University of Colorado at Boulder. Science News,  February 2019.

EXCERPT: Cooking, cleaning and other routine household activities generate significant levels of volatile and particulate chemicals inside the average home, leading to indoor air quality levels on par with a polluted major city.
What’s more, airborne chemicals that originate inside a house don’t stay there: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from products such as shampoo, perfume and cleaning solutions eventually escape outside and contribute to ozone and fine particle formation, making up an even greater source of global atmospheric air pollution than cars and trucks do.
The previously underexplored relationship between households and air quality drew focus today at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., where researchers from CU Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and the university’s Department of Mechanical Engineering presented their recent findings during a panel discussion.
“Homes have never been considered an important source of outdoor air pollution and the moment is right to start exploring that,” said Marina Vance, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CU Boulder. “We wanted to know: How do basic activities like cooking and cleaning change the chemistry of a house?

Surge in chemical use ‘a threat to health and environment.” The Guardian. [No author or date.]
Sales of synthetic chemicals will double over the next 12 years with alarming implications for health and the environment, according to a global study that highlights government failures to rein in the industry behind plastics, pesticides and cosmetics.
The second Global Chemicals Outlook, which was released in Nairobi on Monday, said the world will not meet international commitments to reduce chemical hazards and halt pollution by 2020. In fact, the study by the United Nations Environment Programme found that the industry has never been more dominant nor has humanity’s dependence on chemicals ever been as great.

Second edition of Global Chemicals Outlook.

 •Fragrances as new contaminants in the Venice lagoon. Marco Vecchiato et. al. Science of the Total Environment, October 2016.

ABSTRACT: Fragrance Materials (FMs) are omnipresent components of household and Personal Care Products (PCPs). In spite of their widespread use, little is known about their environmental occurrence. We selected 17 among the longest-lasting and most stable fragrance ingredients that are commercially available, namely: Amberketal, Ambrofix, Amyl Salicylate, Benzyl Salicylate, Bourgeonal, Dupical, Hexyl Salicylate, Isobutavan, Lemonile, Mefranal, Myraldene, Okoumal, Oranger Crystals, Pelargene, Peonile, Tridecene-2-Nitrile, Ultravanil. A new analytical method was developed to quantify FMs in water samples and it was applied to perform the first study about the distribution of these compounds in the surface waters of the city of Venice and its lagoon. Total FMs concentrations range from about 30 ng L− 1 to more than 10 μg L− 1 in polluted canals during the low tide. Sewage discharges were supposed to be the main sources of the selected FMs in the environment. Salicylates, oestrogenic and allergenic compounds, were in general the most abundant and widespread components. This study reports for the first time the detection of most of the selected FMs in surface waters and represent the first step to understand their environmental fate.

More links to come…