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					Volume VII, Number 6
November/December 2007                                                                 California Bans Chemical
                                                                                         in Plastic Baby Toys
                                                                                           California has just become the
The Next                                                                               first state in the nation to ban the
                                                                                       sale of toys for children under
                                                                                       three that contain certain toxic
      S T E P                                                                          plastic softeners called phthalates
                                                                                       (pronounced “THA laytes”; the
                                                                                       “ph” is silent).
     Toward a Healthier Future                                                             Supported by environmental
                                                                                       and health groups, this new law
A Bi-monthly Newsletter of the Sebastopol Toxics Education Program                     goes into effect Jan. 1, 2009. Simi-
                                                                                       lar legislation is expected soon in
                                                                                       at least nine other states, and is
   The Gift of Healthier                    simmer herbs in water on the stove;        being explored at the federal level.
                                            or throw herbs like cinammon into              Phthalates are used in a wide
     Holidays for All                       your fireplace. More information is in     variety of consumer products, in-
                                            the Index under Perfumes.                  cluding plastic toys and baby
    This holiday season, give               s Remove mold and reduce its               teethers. However, researchers
yourself and others the gift of a           regrowth with less-toxic solutions,        say that regular contact with ph-
healthier, less-toxic home and               such as diluted tea tree oil. For more    thalates — for instance, chewing
world.                                            information, see the Index un-       on plastic toys — can interfere
    Here are some ideas                             der Mold & Mildew.                 with children’s essential hormone
for how you can do this.                                                               systems at crucial stages in their
                                                     s Manage ants without
(For more juicy details on                                                             development, increasing their
                                                      toxics. For tips, see the In-
these topics, see the TNS                                                              chances of serious illness both
                                                       dex under Ants.                 now and later in life.
Online Index at <www.                                 s Give earth-friendly                Animal studies have found that
Index.html>.)                                        gifts, including organic          phthalates can cause significant
                                                    clothes, natural toys, and edu-    reproductive and developmental
s Decorate with nature’s                           cational books, to make it
beauty. Instead of spending                                                            harm, including early onset pu-
                                                  easier for your loved ones to        berty, decreased female fertility,
money on imported toxic trin-                    create healthier lives.
kets, bring the outside in with                                                        reduced offspring survival, in-
fallen pine boughs, bright red berries        s Wrap ecologically. Choose re-          creased birth defects, male geni-
and leaves, and colorful squash and         cycled and chlorine-free paper. Avoid      tal abnormalities, breast and
fruit.                                      metallic papers as they can’t be re-       prostate cancer, and altered func-
                                            cycled. You can also get creative and      tioning of the thyroid gland.
s Avoid toxic “spray snow,”                 cover gifts with magazine images,
which can include harmful chemicals                                                        Because of these problems,
                                            comics, fabric, or paper bags stamped      phthalates have been banned in
like perchloroethylene and acetone.         and tied with raffia.
Try hanging homemade paper snow-                                                       children’s toys in 14 nations and
flake cutouts instead!                      s Reuse or recycle wrapping pa-            the European Union. Alternative
                                            per. Don’t burn it, as it can contain      materials are being used instead.
s Buy local organic food for holi-          toxic metals.                              For example, McDonald’s makes
day meals and gifts. You’ll enjoy and                                                  toys for its meal packages that
share delicious treats while support-       s Discard outdated techno-toys
                                            responsibly, including computers,          meet Europe’s standards. Indus-
ing local healthier agriculture.                                                       try groups continue to maintain
                                            TVs, phones, stereo equipment, etc.
s Replace synthetic food dyes               See the Index under Electronic Waste.      that phthalates are safe.
with healthier natural ones.                                                               The California bill’s author, San
                                            s Cut blackberries back during
s Clean your house less-                    winter’s dormancy. Then, instead           Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona
toxically, including the oven. For          of pouring a toxic pesticide into their    Ma, said, “California continues to
more details, see the Online Index          roots, prevent regrowth with vinegar.      lead the nation in protecting chil-
under Cleaners.                             See the Index under Vinegar.               dren from dangerous chemicals
s Fill your house with natural                                                         and in safeguarding our environ-
                                               For more eco-holiday ideas,             ment. AB 1108 sends a clear mes-
scents, instead of the toxics hid-          see <
den in many commercial air                                                             sage to the Consumer Product
                                            holidays.html>. I’d also love to hear      Safety Commission that if the
fresheners. Use natural essential           your tips and ideas. Email them to
oils, diluted in water in a spray bottle;                                              Bush administration won’t act,
                                            me at <>.             states will.”
                                                                    ~ Patricia Dines                          See TOYS, over
                                                                                                                 the next s t e p

    Greening Chemistry                   ready succeeding in a wide variety of
                                         sectors. They’re also essential to          TOYS, continued
                                         solving many of our current
   I just returned from my annual        sustainability challenges, he says, in-         While this bill is an important
pilgrimage to the Bioneers confer-       cluding global warming, energy pro-          and valuable step forward, it’s just
ence, held every October in Marin.       duction and efficiency, and a healthy        a first step. Unfortunately, these
As usual, I come back to my daily life   food supply.                                 chemicals are still used in many
invigorated both by the valuable in-
                                            GC is becoming increasingly               other toys and products, and are
formation and ideas, and by the con-
                                         adopted and appreciated, with GC or-         found to be widely polluting our
nection with others who also care
                                         ganizations, university programs,            bodies and our world. For more
about the earth.
                                         and awards springing up around the           about the problems with phtha-
   One of the plenary speakers this      world. Europe is pioneering the              lates, and how you can protect
year was Paul Anastas, who confer-       implementation of these ideas in law.        yourself and the planet, see this
ence founder Kenny Ausubel in his        California is now finalizing its plans       article’s resources at <www.
introduction called “the father of       to adopt GC. (For more on the latter,>.
green chemistry” because of his pio-     see the Index under Green Chemis-
neering work in the field.                                                            SOURCE: “A nationwide toxic toy ban
                                         try.) GC work was even recognized            likely to follow state lead,” SF Chronicle,
   Green chemistry (GC) is the envi-     in the 2005 Nobel Prize for Chemis-          Tom Chorneau, Oct. 16, 2007 <www.
ronmentally-friendly design of           try, as the Committee called the   
chemical products and processes to                                                    2007/10/16/MNT0SQDJV.DTL>
                                         awarded work “a great step forward
reduce or eliminate the use and pro-     for ‘green chemistry’ ... an example
duction of hazardous substances.         of how important basic science has
   GC, says Ausubel, benefits a          been applied for the benefit of man,           “It’s a dangerous myth to
corporation’s bottom line by creat-      society, and the environment.”                 believe that you can make
ing superior products, trimming toxic       To assist implementation of GC                yourself into a healthy
waste, reducing liability, and avoid-    ideas, Anastas with John C. Warner              person on a sick planet.
ing harm to people and the planet.       developed 12 principles of green                   You can eat wild salmon
   Both Ausubel and Anastas de-          chemistry. He says that these might           instead of tuna to reduce your
scribed the devastation toxics cause     seem like common sense, but unfor-            exposure to PCBs and mercury.
today, including toxic spills, worsen-   tunately aren’t yet common. Overall,            You can exercise and reduce
ing ocean dead zones, chemical           these encourage scientists to:                    your risk of heart disease
plants vulnerable to terrorist attacks   • Design processes to maximize the                    and hypertension.
that could harm millions, and a wide        amount of the raw material that             But we can’t shop our way or
range of poisons found in everyone’s        ends up in the final product;               lifestyle our way out of being
bodies, including newborns.
                                         • Design chemicals and products to             connected to everything else
   Anastas describes our current pri-       degrade to innocuous substances                     on our planet.”
mary response to these threats as           after use, avoiding accumulation
“hardening the perimeter” with guns,                                                              Charlotte Brody
                                            in the environment;
guards, and personal protective gear.                                                      Health Care Without Harm
He considers this approach flawed,       • Design energy-efficient processes;           Executive Director, Commonweal
both because these systems are im-       • Design to minimize potential for
perfect and will fail, causing great        accidental release, fires, and ex-
harm (as in Bhopal), and because the        plosions;                                            ABOUT STEP
costs are high but don’t add to prod-    • Avoid producing toxic products
uct capabilities or company profits.        and waste;                               The Next STEP (TNS) is published six times a
                                                                                     year by the Sebastopol Toxics Education Pro-
   GC offers a better way to address     • Use safe, environmentally-benign          gram (STEP). STEP is a project of the City of
these problems — by designing our           substances, including solvents,          Sebastopol, implemented by local citizen volun-
                                                                                     teers. STEP’s mission is to support city residents
chemicals wisely from the start, so         whenever possible;                       in reducing their toxic use and exposure, creating
that they’re less-toxic, biodegrad-                                                  a healthier and safer Sebastopol for everyone.
able, safe for people and wildlife,      • Use renewable feedstocks and re-          Newsletter Editor, Lead Writer, and Layout:
and less vulnerable to accidents            usable catalysts; and                    Patricia Dines, Email <>
and terrorists.                              • Use real-time monitoring.             Newsletter Editorial Team: Patricia Dines and
                                                                                     Jim Gleaves
   Anastas says that it’s a                       That sounds like smart chem-       Newsletter Design Concept and Logo De-
myth that we can’t have                          istry to me!                        sign: Lyn Dillin (neé Bouguereau)
our modern conve-                                                 ~ Patricia Dines   STEP Founders: Michael Black, Patricia Dines,
niences without poi-                                                                 Rebecca Dwan, Jeff Edelheit, Nan Fuchs, Craig
                                                   RESOURCES: Bioneers Confer-       Litwin, and Larry Robinson.
soning ourselves. GC
                                                   ence <>,              STEP, P. O. Box 1776, Sebastopol CA 95473
applications are al-                              Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.               <>
                                                  org/wiki/Green_chemistry>                      Printed on recycled paper.

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