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					    Hidden Health Hazards:
     Everyday Exposures to
    Environmental Pollutants
               Anne C. Steinemann

Civil and Environmental Engineering and Public Affairs
              Director, The Water Center
               University of Washington

          Science & Technology Roundtable
                 November 10, 2005
    Overview of Presentation

           • The Problem
• The Science, Technology, and Policy
           • The Solutions
     National Increases in Diseases with
        Links to Pollutant Exposures
• Asthma in children under five has increased by 160% (1980-1994)

• Autism has increased by 1,000% (since mid-1980s)

• Cancer in children has increased by 26% (1975-1999), with sharp
increases in acute lymphocytic leukemia, 62% and brain and nervous
system cancers, 50%

• Testicular cancer in young men has increased by 85% (1973-
1999), and is now the most common cancer in men ages 15 to 35.
Hypospadias has increased by 100% (1968-1993) and now affects
one of every 125 male babies.
     Disease Increases, Continued

• Breast cancer has increased by more than 40%
(1973-1998) and now affects nearly 1 in 8 women
today. If trends continue, breast cancer will affect
1 in 4 of our granddaughters.

• Washington State has the highest incidence of
female breast cancer among all states in the U.S.
(145.2 per 100,000 per year; 1996-2000).
             Links to Pollutants
• The American Cancer Society estimates that only
5% to 10% of all cancers can be attributed to
inherited factors. The rest are attributable to
environmental exposures and other damage in our own

• Affecting immune, endocrine, neurological,
reproductive, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal,
respiratory, genitourinary and other systems.
  The Science and Technology of
  Human Exposure Assessment
Human Exposure Science:
Measuring what, where, when,
and how pollutants reach humans

Personal Exposure Monitors
Indoor/Outdoor Pollutant Monitors
Chemical Analysis
   The Science and Technology of
   Human Exposure Assessment

EPA TEAM Studies (1980s, 1990s)
• more than 3,000 participants, 18 U.S. cities
• VOCs, pesticides, CO, particles, pthalates, PAHs

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Studies:
Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals
(2001, 2003, 2005); 148 chemicals monitored
• biomonitoring of human exposure to environmental
chemicals (including heavy metals, pesticides,
PAHs, VOCs, phthalates, dioxins, PCBs)
          Human Exposure Studies:
            Surprising Results
• We are regularly exposed to a variety of hazardous
chemicals, and carry many of them in our bodies.

• Most of our pollutant exposures are not from sources
traditionally regulated.

• Rather, more than 90% of our pollutant exposures come
from sources that are close to us and within our control, yet
largely unregulated and unrecognized.

                What are those sources?
          The Primary Sources
Our indoor environments (homes, workplaces,
schools, airplanes, etc.) and the products and
     practices inside those environments:
              •   Consumer Products

              • Building Materials
                 and Furnishings

              • Personal Activities
Primary Hazards: Consumer Products
      • pesticides and herbicides
      • air fresheners, deodorizers, sprays and plug-ins
      • cleansers, disinfectants, anti-bacterial products
      • fragranced products
      • cologne, after-shave, perfume
      • personal care products (shampoo, soaps, lotions)
      • laundry supplies (dryer sheets, fabric softener, detergents)
      • moth repellants
      • nail polish and nail polish remover
      • hair spray and gels
      • cosmetics
      • dry-cleaned clothes
      • plastics
      • anti-bacterial soaps
      • hand sanitizers
         Primary Hazards:
 Building Materials and Furnishings
• carpets
• paints
• varnishes
• adhesives
• solvents
• vinyl flooring
• pressed wood products
• upholstered furniture
• mattresses, bedding
• wallpaper, shelf paper
• combustion appliances
  Primary Hazards: Personal Activities
• bathing and washing in chlorinated
• wood-burning smoke
• scented candles
• refueling an automobile tank
• recently driven car in attached garage
• cigarette smoking
          Specific Results:
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
• VOC exposures indoors are 5 to 50 times higher than
outdoors, even in large urban cities.

• VOC levels in new buildings are often 100s times higher
than outdoor levels.

• VOC health effects include sensory irritation, headaches,
dizziness, breathing difficulties, neurological damage,
seizures, loss of consciousness, cancer.
          Specific Results: Fragrances
                 Significant Source of Toxic VOCs
                Lack of regulation, testing, reporting

  Products include:
  • air fresheners                    •   shampoo
  • deodorizers                       •   soap
  • laundry detergents                •   lotions
  • dishwashing detergents            •   hairspray
  • chlorine bleach                   •   after-shave
  • dryer sheets                      •   nail polish and remover

More than 95% of chemicals used in fragrances are toxic
synthetic compounds linked to birth defects, central nervous
system disorders and allergic reactions. (U.S. House of Representatives)
Studies found 31%-33% of Americans experience adverse
health effects from fragrances.
                        Air Fresheners
•   Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
•   Ethanol: Causes central nervous system disorders
•   Limonene: Known carcinogen
•   A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal
    edema, and central nervous system damage
•   Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
•   Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
•   Linalool: Causes central nervous system disorders
•   Benzyl alcohol: Causes central nervous system damage and
    respiratory problems
•   G-Terpinene: Causes asthma and central nervous system
     Nearly 20% of Americans experience breathing
     difficulties, headaches, and other health effects
     when exposed to air fresheners.
       Laundry Products, Dryer Sheets
•   Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
•   Ethanol: Causes central nervous system disorders
•   Limonene: Known carcinogen
•   A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including
    fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
•   Ethyl Acetate: On EPA's Hazardous Waste list
•   Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
•   Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
•   Linalool: Causes central nervous system disorders
•   Pentane: Known to be harmful if inhaled

     In addition to indoor exposures,
     consumer products contribute more than 10%
     to outdoor VOC emissions.
           Specific Results: Pthalates

Sources:                       Effects:
soft plastics, pesticides,     developmental and
pharmaceuticals, lotion,       reproductive abnormalities,
children's toys, adhesives,    such as infertility, precocious
detergents, lubricants, food   thelarche (onset of breast
packaging, soap, shampoo,      development before age eight
hairspray, nail polish, and    in girls), sperm damage, and
products made from polyvinyl   birth defects
chloride (PVC)
           Specific Results: Pesticides
Findings:                    Effects:
DDT found in children,       Cancer, brain damage, endocrine
even if born after the ban   disruption, birth defects,
(1972); DDT also found       developmental abnormalities,
in carpet dust of 25% of
                             reproductive system defects,
sampled homes
                             neurological diseases,
Chlorpyrifos metabolites     miscarriages, and immune
nearly twice as high in      system damage; specifically
children (age 6-11) than     linked to Parkinson’s Disease,
as in adults                 Alzheimer’s Disease, Multiple
                             Sclerosis, ALS
             “Skin Deep” Database
Just released by the Environmental Working Group

• Evaluates (listed) ingredients in 14,172 personal care products.

• Problem: only listed ingredients—many ingredients unlisted and
untested (nearly 90 % of the 10,500+ ingredients)

Example: Baby Magic Bubble Bath
Hazards of one or more ingredients: cancer hazard, reproductive
developmental toxicity, potentially harmful impurities,
ingredients not disclosed on label, estrogenic chemicals and other
endocrine disruptors, immune system toxicants, …
       If these products are sold,
          why aren’t they safe?
• Overall lack of regulation
• Even if regulated, “safe” not implied
• Exemptions under “trade secrets” and other
industry protections
• Reliance on voluntary testing and reporting
• Virtually no testing for many health effects of
         Lack of Regulation

             The Paradox:
      U.S. environmental regulations
      intended to protect human health
generally fail to address the major sources of
   pollutants that endanger human health

         Trouble with the Laws
• Lack of attention to human exposure
• No law addresses indoor air (e.g., Clean Air Act:
“ambient air” = “outdoor air”)
• Difficulty of proof (e.g., multiple sources, multiple
effects, lag time)
• Burden of proof (e.g., TSCA, “unreasonable risk”
not defined; depends on industry data)
• Industry influence (e.g., exemptions for consumer
products, air fresheners, fragrances; reliance on
voluntary testing and disclosure)
 Inadequate Testing and Labeling
Federal laws do not require disclosure of “inert,”
“fragrance,” or “trade secret” chemicals, even though
they can be more toxic than the active ingredients.

• Most consumer pesticide products contain
over 95% “inert” ingredients that are classified
as hazardous pollutants.
• More than 95% of “fragrance” ingredients
are known carcinogens and neurotoxic
chemicals, and even registered pesticides.
   I’ll avoid the really toxic stuff,
            so why worry?
• Cumulative and synergistic effects
• “Body Burden” and persistence
• Unrecognized, subtle, delayed damage
• Mounting evidence that “safe” is not safe
• Low-level exposures harmful; sometimes more
harmful than high-level exposures
     Low Levels; High Stakes

Chlorinated tap water
  • Miscarriages at 75 ppb
  • MCL is 100 ppb (1998)
  • Demasculinization of frogs at 0.1 ppb
  • MCL is 3 ppb
      Exposures defy traditional
     dose-response relationships
Non-monotonic dose-response
(response increases as dose decreases)
Example: Bisphenol-A (plastics)
• 5.0 mg/kg/day “no effects” but…
• 0.020 decreased sperm
• 0.0020 damage to prostate
           The Missing Males?

Normally 106 males for every 100 females born
(ratio of 0.5146)

  • Seveso, Italy: Dioxin and Pesticide exposure
  accident (1976). During 10 years after accident,
  54 males for every 100 females born
  (ratio of 0.3506)

 • Netherlands: Children of pesticide-exposed workers,
 33 males for every 100 females
 (ratio of 0.248)
The Disappearing Frogs?
          The Disappearing Humans?

• Average sperm counts among healthy American men
have declined by nearly 60% over the past 50 years.

• Sperm counts continue to decline at a rate of
1.5% per year.

• In 1938, only 0.5% of American men were
“functionally sterile” (sperm count less than 20 million).
Today, it’s between 8%-12% of American men.
What are everyday health effects of
      everyday exposures?
• Flu-like feeling         • Memory loss
• Headaches                • Joint pain and muscle aches
• Fevers                   • Gastrointestinal problems
• Cognitive difficulties   • Rashes
• Lethargy                 • Thyroid dysfunction
• Dizziness                • Immune system weakened
• Sore throat              • Breathing difficulties
• Congestion               • Seizures
• Nausea                   • Loss of consciousness
• Blurry vision            • Disability
      What can we do about it?

• Immediate, personal solutions
• Future, larger solutions: the
importance of science and technology
             Ten Toxics to Tackle

• Pesticides               • Dust
• Fragrances               • Furnishings
• Cleaning Products        • Flooring
• Chlorine                 • Food
• Mold                     • Combustion
• Includes herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, such as
termite treatments, bug repellant, Roundup, Weed and Feed, etc.
• Chemically “synthetic organic pesticides”; developed around WWII
• EPA states: no pesticide can be considered “safe”

What to do?
• Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
• Non- and less-toxic approaches; deal with
sources of pest problem
• Synthetic organic compounds
(thousands of times less expensive than natural scents)

 • Beware of misleading labels:
 “fragrance-free” or “unscented” (masking fragrance);
 “organic”; “99.44% pure”; “sensitive skin”;
 “hypoallergenic”; “natural”

 What to do?

 • Avoid products with “fragrance”

 • Use natural sources
                     Cleaning Products
• Exposure routes: inhalation, epidermal, ingestion
• Beware of safe-sounding products (“Simple Green”)
and “anti-bacterial” products
• Avoid dry-cleaning (if must, use “green” dry
cleaners and air out clothes afterwards)
 What to use instead?
 • Vinegar
                                   • Non-toxic products
 • Baking soda                     (soaps, detergents, etc.)
 • Hydrogen peroxide
• Major epidermal (and inhalation)
exposure in shower and bath—chloroform
• Drinking water exposure

What to do?
• Filters: activated charcoal; KDF
(kinetic-degradation-fluxion); reverse-
osmosis; distillation, and others
• Air out shower; get a good exhaust fan
• Caution: plastic filters and plastic piping; older filters
• Natural substances can be toxic.
What to do?
• Keep things dry (ventilate, expose to light/sunshine).
• Use a dehumidifier (40%-50% humidity).
• Check the basement (source of air for whole house).
• Use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar (rather than
bleach) for small clean up. Use an N95 mask.
• Mold can spread quickly; be vigilant.
• Professional clean-up? Beware of chemicals used.
• Your Bedroom: most important room
• Your Pillows, Mattress, and Bedding: most important furnishings

  What to do?
  • Allergy covers
  • Air out; Wash bedding regularly; Empty room
  • Beware: air duct cleaning (stirs things up;
  often uses toxic chemicals); carpet cleaning (encourages mold;
  often uses toxic chemicals)
  • Air filters
  • Healthy flooring
Tile (some caution—grout, sealants)
Hardwood (caution—finishes, sanding, manufactured floors)
Concrete (caution—glazes)
     Vinyl flooring—after outgassing (may take months/years)
     Linoleum (real linoleum) also OK

Carpets—chemicals they harbor and emit, dust,
Remodeling; new furnishings;
new construction
What to do?
• Paints—zero VOCs
• Finishes—zero/low VOCs; water-based
• Furnishings—glass, metal (steel), marble, hardwoods (solid
maple, beech, birch, cherry; rather than cedar, pine)
Caution: plywood and particle board (long-lasting VOCs)
• Organic cotton mattress; Wool
• Ventilate; Outgas
• Plastics—avoid for long-term storage;
microwaving; heating
• Problems with teflon, paper goods
• Pesticides, dyes, preservatives, chemicals

What to do?

• Store in glass, rather than plastic

• Organic (see rankings—which foods have highest residues)

• Cookware and storage: use glass, stainless steel, ceramics
• Smoking                       • Gas-fired appliances
• Wood-burning smoke            • Attached garages

What to do?
• Ventilate
• Air filters: HEPA, charcoal, pre-filter; inert housing (metal)

• Improved human health

• Improved environmental health
• Cost savings
• Less maintenance
• Improved performance
• Improved quality of life
             Even Workplace Benefits
Most expensive part of a building is the human capital (labor),
representing more than 90% of total cost

Indoor air pollution—attributed to cost of > $400 billion annually
in the U.S. in lost worker days and productivity

Improve indoor air quality; Improve profits

VeriFone building
Costa Mesa, CA

Reduced absenteeism:
Energy savings: 50%
     The Future: The Importance of
        Science and Technology
• Exposure Measurement

• Toxicity Testing

• Consumer Information

• Pollutant Reduction

• Healthier Products and Practices