Environmental Protection

Wacky "The Toxies" Awards Tackle Serious Issue with Red Carpet Performance (With Video)

Red carpet events are common in Tinsel Town, but none quite like “The Toxies.” Costumed characters – actors hired to be toxic chemicals – emerge from limousines to walk down the proverbial red carpet to receive “awards” for the harm they are doing to the American public.

The Toxies is led by  Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles (PSR-LA) and Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy with groups across the country. Now in its 2nd year, the Toxies has expanded to include satellite events from Oakland to Minnesota and New York, and across the globe in Australia, Canada and more.

Cancer survivor Fran Drescher, whose organization Cancer Schmancer supports the Toxies, sent a video message stating: “Thanks to all of the chemicals in our environment that trigger thousands of cancers each and every year, you’ve got Cancer Schmancer working day and night to kick your little tuchuses!”

“Some chemicals taking home ‘Toxies’ are becoming more and more familiar to consumers,” says Bobbi Chase Wilding of Clean NY. “For example, bisphenol A has become a household tongue twister since parents came wise to its use in baby bottles.  BPA deserves its “Least Sexy Performance” award because it continues to invade our lives through canned foods, reciept paper, plastics and more.  BPA, you’re a big turn-off.  We can find safer chemicals than you!”  BPA is linked to breast cancer and infertility, and is found in the bodies of most Americans.

Nominated for ‘Super Hot Mess’ is  halogenated flame retardant chemicals, because they are in everyone’s bodies and linked to lower IQ, cancer, genital malformations in babies, and infertility.  “Super Hot Mess’ is definitely the right award for Halogenated Flame Retardant.  They can’t make up their mind what form to take!  No sooner do we get action on some, like PBDEs, than they’re back as chlorinated tris and other guises, said Kathy Curtis of Environmental Health Fund. “We’ve gotten wise to their quick change tactics, and see them for what they truly are: obsolete dinosaur chemicals that truly are a ‘Super Hot Mess’.”

Tracey Brieger, Co-Director of Californians for Pesticide Reform says, “methyl iodide has proven itself as the best candidate for ‘Worst Replacement Actor,’ hands down. Formerly used in labs by scientists to create cancer, methyl iodide is now in widespread use as a pesticide. It’s way more toxic than its predecessor methyl bromide, that created holes in the ozone layer. This award has been in the bag for methyl iodide since its corporate promoter Arysta bullied California regulators to ignore independent scientific studies and approve the gas as a pesticide in December, despite its ability to contaminate water and cause late term miscarriages.”

Another chemical making recent news stories, named by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a carcinogen, is formaldehyde. Because it’s been found in Brazilian Blowout and other hair straightening products, formaldehyde is nominated for the “Worst Hair Raising Performance” award. While FDA is delaying a response on formaldehyde, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration just released a formal warning to workers to avoid products that contain it. “We’re also worried about a child’s exposure to formaldehyde through products like baby shampoo and cribsheets because children are particularly vulnerable to early life exposure to toxins,” says Kathleen Schuler, co-director of the Healthy Legacy coalition in Minnesota.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a statement asking the federal government to protect children from the problem of toxic chemicals,” said Dr. Harpreet Malhi, a physician at  Eisner Pediatric & Family Medical Center in Downtown Los Angeles. “‘The Toxies’ is an engaging educational tool for doctors and patients to start the conversation about chemicals is our workplaces, homes, and neighborhoods.

“Environmental health protections in toxic chemical regulation is good for business,“ says David Levine from the American Sustainable Business Council. “Billions are spent on health care each year from chemical exposure linked illness, not to mention lost work. Our trading partners have better protections for their products than we do….in some cases, like bisphenol-A even China has better protections! If we reform our chemical regulations with environmental health protections strengthened, all businesses will have to play fair. It levels the playing field and creates opportunity for businesses who are doing the right thing.”

“Lifetime Achievement in Harm” nominee this year is Lead, the second time lead is being recognized for long lasting neurological effects. “We have known for centuries that lead causes neurological impairment and reduces IQ. Yet, thousands continue to be exposed to leaded paint in housing. This toxic legacy reminds us that we are often wrong about what we consider safe levels of exposure, there is no safe level for lead exposure.  “Low income communities and children of color are at greater risk of exposure to lead; we cannot expect children to thrive and learn if we do not muster the political will to lower the action level on lead,” says Martha Dina Argüello of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles.

While a worthy contender for an award in lifetime harm, mercury is nominated for the “Worst and Longest Running Performance.” “Mercury is a neurotoxin, yet it’s used to make skin lighteners, “ says Pamela King Palitz of Environment CA. “It’s also a by-product of fossil fuel emissions, and travels from smokestacks to the oceans, where it accumulates in tuna, swordfish and other fish we like to eat. The petrochemical industry is desperately fighting against mercury protections because it means they would have to clean up their emissions.”

“Body Burden” is the term used to describe long lasting chemicals that are in our bodies and stay there. The average baby is born with over 200 man-made chemicals in his or her body. This year’s favored nominee for “Worst Chemical Body Burden” goes to Dioxin.  “Few people realize that although efforts have been made to ban chemicals that leave dioxin as a “legacy,” there are plenty of contaminated communities, such as Midland, Michigan, where cancer and other illnesses linked to dioxin exposure persist,” says Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. “Recently EPA has been trying to issue a ruling on dioxin, but corporations such as General Electric that would be accountable for the contamination have been lobbying fiercely against protections from Dioxin.”

The “Worst Special Effects” nomination went to Perchlorate, a component of solid rocket fuel found in drinking water supplies in 26 states.  ”Our children are most at risk,” says Andria Ventura of Clean Water Action. “The State of California has determined that even minute levels of perchlorate can be linked to irreversible impaired brain development, yet millions of Americans are drinking this contaminant every day.”

The “Most Washed Up” nomination goes to Triclosan- a pesticide found in many hand soaps. “This is an example of products hitting the marketplace before they have been adequately studied, “says Mia Davis from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Triclosan is linked to thyroid disease, resistance to antibiotics (and thus risk for “supergerms”), and cancer. It’s even found in toothpaste, and it just has to go!”

Perchloroethylene, or “perc” for short, is hoping to win the “Worst Dressed Award,” for its impacts on the nervous system, kidneys and reproductive systems. “Dry cleaning businesses all over the nation are switching away from perc,” says Gail Bateson from Worksafe, but the waste from this chemical remains in water systems in communities, contributing to the larger cumulative chemical exposure that our families are exposed to. With safer alternatives such as wet cleaning, there’s just absolutely no reason to keep perc around.”

The Toxies hopes to raise awareness of the importance of protecting our environmental health and the need for safer alternatives. Click on any of the partner groups below to find out more.

For more info: www.toxies.com

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