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tv   Earth Focus  LINKTV  June 22, 2017 9:00pm-9:31pm PDT

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>> today on "earth focus," everyday chemicals and how theyy mayay be harming us, coming up o on "earth focus." [captioning made possible by kcet public television] they are everywhere in our environment. in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. they are in everyday products we use for personal care and cleaning. they are in our furniture, our children's toys, and the products we use in gardening and agriculture. and almost all of us have them inside our bodies. >> chemicals, right now, according to the best evidence we have, are contributing
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to the chronic disease burden in thisis country i in ways that are substantial. >> wewe areeeing increaeases, clearlyly, in certain kinds of illnesssses. asthma is one. autism is another. adhd is a third. >> one out of every third child born today is going to have diaabetes. and if f you're a minorityty, it's one out of t. >> chemicals contribute to the incidence of leukemia. >> breast cancer, infertility. >> alzheimer's, parkrkinson's. >> people are more obese or higher weight than they were 10 to 20 years ago.. >> chchildhood cancers are going up. >> we're seeing effects on sperm count in men. um, the catch line is, you know, men today are not the menen ththeir grandfathers were. >> there are more of these bizarre birth defects, particularly around male reproductive development. >> if i were a parent...
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i would be very concerned. >> they were meant to make life easier, and they do. >> better things for better living through chemistry. >> > chemicals fight disease, bolster food production, and support manufacturing. they're big business, a keystone of the u.s. economy. from consumer goods to high technology, almost all aspects of modern life depend on the chemical industry. chemical production in thehe united states has grown 25-fold since world war ii. with sales of over $763 billion in 2011, the chemical industry supports over 3 million u.s. jobs
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and invests billions into research and development. our bodies take in a soup of chemicals every day, and this exposure has consequences, for our health, our safety, and our future. >> there's 84,000 chemicals that are legal for commerce in the united states, to be used to make all kinds of things, go into the products we bring into our homes, our work places. and they are basically unregulated. >> of course, every year, new chemicals are coming on the line that have not been fully tested. >> there's almost 13,000 chemicals that are used in cosmetics, and just about 10% of them have actually been evaluated for their safety. we found lead in lipstick. there's mercury ouout there in skin lightening creams. we have found formaldehyde in products. >> this is stuff that you use
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to embalm the dead, yet they're in products that people are applying to their faces and their skin daily. >> pesticides are clearly poisonous. and it should be obvious to us that if they kill insects that they are going to have the possibibility of hurtrting us. >> in your kitchen cabinet, if you opened up the doors and you counted up all the tin cans in there, all of them are going to be lined with bisphenol a, unless they're labeled that say they're not. >> pcbs migight be in plastics, might be in cups, might be in containers that we put in our microwaves, might be e perfectly safe whehen they are firirst pun the shelf, but quite dangerous once they start to break down. >> what we have is chemical companies that have created producucts that have contaminatd literally every living t thing on the planet. >> i think that the corporations who are profiting from this really have run away with our system.
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>> industrial chemical p pollutn begins in the womb. >> evererything that we're bringing into our bodies if we choose to have children, we actually pass that right on through to a developing child. >> some of these chemicals we know can cross the placenta and enter the womb and have efeffects at incredibly tiny, tiny doses. >> about 10 years ago, a seminal study was done on 10 newborns' cord blood. the cord blood, as the baby was born, contained several hundred toxic elements. which terrified all of us. >>hemicals l like bisphenol a, many different classes of flame retardants. >> we found ddt and pcbs,, polychlorinated biphenyls. chemicals that we interact with everery day f from consumer products. >> we e now know that alonong wh
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the nutrients s and oxygen that the mother supplies the developing b baby comes a cocktail oof toxic chemicals. [baby cooing] >> we know that chemicals will affect younger children, fetuses, newborns, babies, and young children in general more than older children and adults. and the reasason for thaat is thahat younger r chdren and fetuses s are develoloping h more rapidly. their organ systems arare much more e sensi. > what science is starting to show now is that early exposures to toxic chemicals at critical points when a child's in the womb has effects later in life. >> endodocrine disrupuptors are chemicals of growing concern. fetuses and children exposed to even minute amounts may develop a wide range of health conditions, from diminished intelligence to cancers later in life.
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our endocrine glands produce hormones that regulate the basic processes of our body, like metabolism, growth, reproduction, and development. endocrine disruptors disturb how these processes work. >> endocrine disrupting chemicals interfere with hormone signaling. proper hormone signgnaling isis very important forr fetal devevelopment and for chchildhood devevelopme, as well a as sexual maturation. therefore, compopounds that ininterfere withth these process could have very profoundd effects. >> many of these and other chemicals appeaear to be associated with lower i.q.s, and/or behavioral problems in children. >> if you look at what these chemicals can do to the brain, we know now these chemicals are also interfering with how we process information. >> they affect ouour genetic
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outcome. they increase the possibility thatat we lose a baby.y. they change the activy of o our hormomones, our sex hormones, in a variety ofof different way. >> we''re seeieing children starting pupuberty at youounger ages. so there are many little girls that have, for example, breast buds by the age of 7 in the african american community and d 8 in the white community. this s is too y young for our children. >> 980 endocrine disrupting chemicals have now been identified. among the most ubiquitous are a class of compounds called phthalates, bisphenol a, and flame retardants, including pbdes, chemicals so common that almost all of us have them inside our bodies.
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>> so you may have vinyl floors, yoyou may have vinyl shower curtains, you may have vinyl toys that your kids are usining. those, if it's soft andnd pliabe plplastic, it's leaching pthalates, which are known to be toxic, into the envvironment where youou get exposed. >> pthalates are in many common products, including food packaging, building materials, and pharmaceuticals. they're in our cars, and even in new car smell. they're used in cosmetics to hold fragrance and help products to more effectively penetratete and moisturize the skin. >> we're concerned about their effects on males, on bababy boys. >> we see problems with testicular development, problems with sperm development. >> they can be associated with a decrease in testosterone levels. so if you interfere with the testosterone levels, they don't quite go up all the way. in animal studies, it's been shown to be linked to cryptorchidism, so, undescended
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testicles, and hypospadias, which is incomplete formation of the male reproductive organs. >> pthalates m may also be feminizing boys. scientists found that pthalates may be associated with a shorter ano-genital distance-- the distance between the genitals and anus, a subtle marker of feminization in boys. the american chemistry council, which represents chemical manufacturers, says pthalates are among the most thoroughly studied compounds in the world and have a history of safe use. but pthalates are banned from children's toys in more than 10 countries and the european union. in the united states, 3 pthalates were permanently banned from children's toys and child-care articles in 2008 because of their potential to leach from plastic that's chewed or sucked. >> the worst actors have been takenen out of childr''s toyoys,
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but they're still widely used in many other types of consumer productsts, and bio-monitoring studies show that thesese chemicals are still shshowing up in people. >> we're deep in the hold of bisphenol a. there's widespread exposure. it's biologically active at very low levels. >> bpa is of concern, bbecause it lookoks like an estrogen. . and it's s been n to have a weak esestrogenic effect. . and so if you're expod to a c chemical that m might interfere e with your hormone levels, in this case your estrogen, that can have effects, particularlyly if it happens during development. >> and there is preliminary data that says that it may in fact directly--an early life exposure might directly i increase the risk of breast cancer in animals. >> if there are chemicals that affect the development of the b breast even beforee birth, , if there are chemicacas that cause breast tumors in
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animals, these are chemicals that we want to be worried about and start thinking about reducing exposure. >> in addition to breast cancer, bpa may be assocociated with genetic damage and a wide variety o of reproductive, metabolic, behehavioral, and developmental p problems. it's one of the top industrial chemicals in the world. about 6 billion pounds of bpa are produced globally each year, earning manufacturers a profit of some $8 billion. >> we've made some progress with eliminatingng bpa from infant products, including infant formula packaging, baby bottles, and plastic drinking cups. >> but bpa remains widely used in many consumer products, from electronics to medical equipment. and it's in the resin of can linings and in plastic bottles, where it can leach into the food or liquid contents
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inside. the food and drug administration, which has jurisdiction over food packaging, says bpa is safe at the low doses that occur in food. but many research and health organizations remain concerned about bpa's impact on human health at current levels of exposure. over 1.5 million tons of flame retardants are used worldwide each year. they're added to consumer products to meet flammability standards, though their effectiveness remains questionable. >> any furniture that you have that has polyurethane foam in it, which is most ofof our furniture, may y contain toxic flame retardants. and those flame retardants don''t stay put in that foam. they leech out and they end up in the dust in our house, where we're all exposed and particularly kids who are on the ground low, picking things up, putting their hands in their mouths,
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they're exposed to that dust, which is gonna have flame retardant chemicals in it. >> there are many different kinds of flame retardants. among the most studied are polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or pbdes. scientists have linked pbdes to a wide range of conditions, from delayed development to learning problems and diminished intelligence. >> the neuro-developmental effects--so that's exposures during pregnancy or early in liffe, linking t to neueuro-developmental effects inin animals, have now bebeen evaluated in two human studies. so there's one in a population in new york and one in a population i in california. and what they find is actually remarkably similar. these developmental exposures to pbdes are actually linked to detriments in i.q. >> two pbdes, penta and octa, were taken off the u.s. market voluntarily in 2004 because
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of growing health concerns. production of the pbde deca is in the process of being terminated. >> the problem with all of these pbdes is that t they arere very persistent in the environment. >> the i issue with pbdes is tht ththey've been replalaced withtr types of chemicals ththat may he very sisimilar concerns and perhaps even the same mechanism of action, i in terms of their ability to disrupupt the endocririne system. >> the flame retardants chlorinated tris and fire master 550, which may be linked to dna damage, cancer, or neurological defects, continue to be widely used in polyurethane foam in a number of common children's' products. >> so i think that the whole issue of flame retardants is one for which there is s some conce, and i think the real question we should ask, and maybe we n d to ask this more broadadly of other kinds of chemicals as well, is, do w we really
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need them? >> when it comes to endocrine disruptors, one of the most toxic places is your home. the silent spring institute conducted the first household endocrine disruptor exposure study in 2004. their focus was cape cod. >> we went into 120 homes on the cape and tested air and dust samples and women's urine, looking for 89 hormone disruptors. and we found 67 of them. >> w we were surprised to find pcbs in house dust anand in indr air in these suburban homes. >> we see some links between certain ones of t these pcbs and breast cancer diagnosis years later. >> we measured 27 different pesticides. we've measured 44 different flame retardants.
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in two thirds othe home we ilill fod ddddt. >> a 2007 stu found aossible nk beten earlyxposure to t and ter develoent of brst canr, even thgh d was banne40 yearsgo. >> weee in that study that the won who we under 1 yearold when they we expos to ddare at mh higherisk f bebeg diagnosed with bast ncer under the e of 50. about fold hheher ri i in ese women who had been exposed todt as gis. ifif wean looin the l and see whachemicalare doin biogically and thth we ca look in our bodies and in our homes and see which ones we're exposed to, whwhere they're comg from in the products or pollution, then we have the opportunity to reduce exposure to these suspect chemicals, uh, now.
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>> the emerging science on endocrine disrupting chemicals really means that we have to hahave a complplete overhaul of our chemical safety system. >> youu know, we're dealing with chemicals for whichch there is no safe level of exposure. >> it's the tiny, repeated exposure that more adequately mimics our o own hormone system that is really concerning. >> the hormones in our bodies are operating at parts per billion and parts per trillion concentrations. >> the e one thing that's clears that our current system isn't working, and it doesn't take these low w chronic doses into account. >> i think it's very importantnt for us toto make sure thahat we investigate effects that at least approach human exposure lelevels. >> our cururrent system does not look a at aggregate e exposures, basically a fancy way of saying, what do all these low dose chemicals do in combinatition together?
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> but looking at low dosese exposures memeans a sea change in how we do toxixicological testing and d risk assessment, and that's controversial, costly, and something the chemical industry opposes. >> one of the areas of science that is emerging, and very interesting and very troubling, is called epigenetitics, which shows that an acute chemical exposure can actually r result into a a genetic chchange. anand that geneticic change cane passed down from generation to generation basased on a chemical exposure. >> your grandmother could have been exposed to something that you didn't know about, she didn't know about, that is affecting your health today. >> the evididence that we do hae from laboratory experiments in animals cecertainlyly gives us cause for concern. >> some people are more exposed to chemicals because of the job they do or where they live. low income anand minority communities often l live near
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poinints of pollution like chemical plants and waste dump s sites, or i in aged andnd substandard housing. and these communities share a disprproportionate buburden of diseaease. >> higher rates of asthma, higher rates of obesity, higher rates of lead poisoning. >> so tthe asthma a rate in w we call cecentral and east harlelem is at one in 4 children. um, and when n you go basasically 10 blocks sououth to the e upper eastside, you find d that the asthma ratete for children isike hahalf of that. >> we house over one third of the new york city's diesel bus fleetet. and when y you fige that we've got 5 depots, each with 200 or more buses, these are depots right across from people's hohomes, uh, from schools, across from parks. >> researches at columbia university found that pregnant african american and dominican american mothers in new york
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city who are exposed to high levels of airborne pollutants from vehicle exhaust and buburng solid waste gave birth to children who later developed cognitive and behavioral problems. dr. frederica perera led the study. >> devevelopmental l delay at ae 3,3, with cognitive deficicits at age 5, and behavioral problems, including anxieiety, depression, and attention, symptoms of those proroblems, at ages 6 to 7. >> these children also scored more than 4 points lower on standardized intelligence tests at age 5. >> [indistinct chchatter] >> evenen a very small drop in i i.q. can afaffect or can be predicted to affect lifetime e earnings of that individual. >> you have these types of injustices occurring in rural communities, like out on indian reservations, for example.
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you have them occucurring in suburbs that t might be predominantly african american or latino. >> when you realize that some communities have, uh, have a disproportionate share of that pollutionon burden, then you begin to understand why we have communities that are sicker than others and why it is harder for those communities to recover. >> there is nothing more important than protecting the health of our children and generations to come. and no one's profit margin can justify harm brought to our children and to future generations. thank you. [cheering] >> the fact is that our chemical policy system in the united states, whether itit's at the state e level oror at the e fedl level, is broken.. > the toxic substances coconl act, my joke is it's the laww that never lived up to its nama. >> when they passed the law in 1976, they grandfathered in about 62,000 chemicals, called them safe because they were
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already in use. some of these chemicals that we knew nothing about at the time are turning out to be problematic. >> and according to the general accounting office, 85% of new chemical applications and their technical names of pre-manufacture notice include no testing data whatsoever. >> under the toxic substances control act, or tsca, the burden is on the environmental protection agency to show that an industrial chemical is unsafe. epa can only ask the company for data or require testining if epa can prove that there is a potential risk. and that's hard to do without access to the company's data in the first place. >> the burden of proof has to shift. it has to be on the companies, not on the government. the companies are making the profit, and theare government simply doesn't have the resources. >> the decisions a about chemics are made almost entirely on the basis of their functionality for a manufacturer. >> in realitity,
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we become the guinea pigs in the marketplace. > safety only y comes into py if people like us have made a stink about it. >> the chemical industry, scientists, and environmentalists all agree that changege is needed. but efforts at reforming legislation are currently stalled between the chemical industry's push for profit and safety advocates' drive to protect the public from harm. with federal toxic law broken and no improved law likely coming soon, action on chemical safety on the state level has taken the spotlight. in 2013, 29 states introduced policies to reduce exexposure to toxic chemicals in l legislative sessions. states can actuaually forbrd different products frfrom coming in with thesese chemicals of concern. so that''s really important. it's also important in that the more states take actition, the signal to the mart
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is that you u need to start looking for an alternative emical. b because there''s enouh of a consumer concern to support the state level l action. >> so i think that that sort of intersection of the consumer power and policy advocacy is what's going to lead us to these real long-term changes. >> when people speak up and citizens speak up, companies are forced to listen because of the power of the purse, so to speak. >> johnson & johnson agreed to reformulate all of their products to remove carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxins. they've made this commitment because they recognize that this is what their consumerers want. >> i think shoppers should be able to go to the store without a chemistry degree and a magnifying glass and know that the products on the shelf have been evaluated for safety. >> it's our children and ourur grandchildren n who are going to suffer as thesese toxins build
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up in our bodies and in our environment over time. >> we don't want to kill thee economy. we want to make sure that children are protected. >> no mother should have to worry and look at this baby fromom the minute it's bborn and watch it and wonder what is going to happen to this s child. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] [captioned by the national captioning institute]
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reyes: women of latin america making a difference across the continents. we'll show you the unique ways they're creating an impact. i'm elaine reyes in washington, d.c., and this is "americas now." [woman rapping in spanish] reyes:s: first up, f female raps fighghting for justitice with s. they sining out to stotop crimes agagnst women and dr atttttion to the thousandsf didisaeared women mimissing in mexexico. then, a physicist who hamade a breakthroughgh that is lititeray ouout of this world. she helped discover gravitation w waves i spacacthat will now help


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