The Signal: News and Notes from the Pharos Team
Pharos Uncovers 46 Products with Chemicals Banned By New REACH Regs
The European Union moved to ban five highly hazardous chemicals used in building materials plus a sixth chemical used in cleaning product fragrances under the REACH program last week. In a Feb. 17 press release, the EU announced that these six “substances of very high concern will be banned within the next three to five years unless an authorization has been granted to individual companies for their use.”
HBN staff surveyed the products we’ve evaluated in the Pharos Project and found forty-six products that contained one of the targeted chemicals or were manufactured using one as a feedstock. Some of the chemicals were targeted for the ban because they are persistent bioaccumulative toxicants (PBTs) that spread widely from their sources without degrading and are building up in increasing concentrations in humans. The flame retardant HBCDD is one of them, and it is present in nine polystyrene foam insulation products evaluated by Pharos. For an excellent assessment of the likely insulation industry impact and reaction to the HBCD ban, read the excellent blog on the topic by Alex Wilson of BuildingGreen
The types of building products impacted by the REACH phase-out of MDA include high performance coatings, flooring adhesives, carpet backings, sprayed polyurethane foam insulation, composite wood, and resilient flooring compositions that contain polyurethane wear layers. MDA - targeted because it is a known potent carcinogen - is an essential building block of methylene diisocyanates, commonly referred to as MDI. MDI is used as a binder in wood composites. It is also used in combination with polyol mixtures in most polyurethane systems. (Some polyurethanes avoid MDA chemistry by using toluene-based isocyanates). Twenty-one products evaluated by Pharos include MDI compounds in their material contents. Another nine products list polyurethane as part of their content. It is unclear whether these products use MDI or alternative isocyanates in their composition.
Three of the substances covered by the REACH ban are phthalates - (BBP, DEHP and DBP). These hormone disrupting reproductive toxicants are used widely as a plasticizer to make PVC flexible and sometimes also to increase spreadability in paints and solvents flooring. All seven vinyl floorings in the Pharos system are known or likely to include either BBP or DEHP. Many of the vinyl flooring manufacturers have refused to disclose their ingredients, but our patent and industry practice research has revealed that BBP is widely used and DEHP is still in use.
Pharos users can learn more about the many toxicological impacts of these six chemicals by exploring them in our Chemicals and Materials Library. The banned chemicals include:
HBCD & HBCDD (hexabromocyclododecane)
DEHP (bis(2-ethylexyl) phthalate)
BBP (benzyl butyl phthalate)
DBP (dibutyl phthalate)
Musk xylene (5-ter-butyl-2,4,6-trinito-m-xylene)
Pharos users will find products that contain these chemicals or any other substance by clicking on the red button labeled “Show products that contain this material” in the upper right hand corner of the chemical description page.
It's about time! The truly disgusting part is that the mfgs, with the blessings of the agencies that were initially formed to protect the American people, and members of Congress looking the other way, have known the poisonous potentials all along. As I check every MSDS on every product that is being used to build my home toxin-free, what comes up EVERY time, is in the box immediately following the unprounceable chemicals, instead of actually listing the probable poisonous effects, it says: "Unknown" or "No data available." ?? If the agencies did their job and TESTED these chemicals, they WOULD know and the data WOULD be available. That products are still being cranked out on an unsuspecting public that have NOT been tested is criminal negligence! There needs to be a complete 180 in Washington and the good ol' boy network kicked out and replaced with integrity, ethics, and honesty. No more special interest group lobbyists. Today's children have medical conditions of epidemic proportions that weren't even KNOWN previously; food allergies, etc. There's only one common denominator and it is that we've been living in a chemical soup and our foods are FILLED with pesticides and insecticides. Our soils and plants are saturated with them; our waters are polluted; and it continues with GM produce and growth hormone-loaded, inhumanely treated livestock. It takes a minimum of ten years of testing to achieve results showing effects. It is paramount that the testing be done by those who cannot be bought off by the industries whose products they are and there needs to be a control group run at the same time. NOW they say sodas are harmful? NOW they say cell phones DO effect brain cells. NOW is TOO LATE! Testing takes place BEFORE and not AFTER! All the companies are criminally liable for the damage to The People and the Planet their greed has caused. It is unconscionable! We need people of courage in our Congress who will legislate that NO product may be put on the market until AFTER all the possible harmful effects of what's in, on, and the materials of their product has been tested - by truly independent labs - for ten years minimum. No more "Unknowns" or "Data Unavailable." That's outrageous.
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