Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland

PROTECTING MARYLANDERS FROM TOXICS—Maryland PIRG Foundation is working alongside concerned citizens, our members, and our powerful coalition to speak out against dangerous toxic chemicals.

WE'RE EXPOSED TO HARMFUL CHEMICALS EVERY DAY

There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, used in everything from perfumes and household cleaners to fertilizers and industrial solvents.

These chemicals are created to make our lives better, and many of them do. Yet most of them go directly into use without testing their impact on our health, or the long-term consequences for the environment. Given what we know about the potential harm some chemicals can do, we shouldn’t rush a chemical into widespread industrial or commercial use before we know for sure that it’s safe. Certainly, we should stop using the ones we know are toxic.

We’re being exposed to a cocktail of chemicals that have not been proven safe — and this exposure adds up over time. For example, the average person in the U.S. comes in contact with more than 100 different chemicals from personal care products before they even leave the house.

And with these chemicals come an increase in chronic illnesses, and there is a growing consensus amongst the environmental health community that this is due in part to toxic chemical exposure. In 2010, approximately 16.4 percent of Maryland children had a history of asthma compared to a national average of 13.6 percent. And in Baltimore City, the number is even higher. Meanwhile, leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers have increased by more than 20 percent since 1975, asthma rates have doubled since 1980, and autism diagnoses have increased tenfold in the last 15 years. 

COMMONSENSE STEPS TO A TOXIC-FREE MARYLAND

Our campaign pushes for concrete steps that will help make it easier for Marylanders to protect themselves from toxic chemicals. The Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland platform calls for commonsense steps to protect Marylanders from toxic chemical exposure:

  • Give communities the right to know: Simply put: if it’s in use, we should be able to find out about it. We have the right to know what chemicals are in the products we buy, that are stored at the factory down the street, or that are sprayed on our crops, parks or schoolyards.
  • Prove it’s safe: Companies should be required to prove that a chemical or process won’t endanger our health or the environment before it’s put into use. And once reasonable concerns about a chemical's risk have been established, we should stop its widespread use unless and until independent research proves it's not harmful.
  • Eliminate chemicals of concern: Some chemicals are so dangerous, or pose such a risk to our health or the environment, that we should stop their use immediately.
  • Zero out toxics: We should require that manufacturers develop plans to phase out the use of any chemical that has been proven to be toxic and replace it with the best available alternative.

None of this is easy, since some of the policies meant to safeguard us from toxics are stuck in the past. And unfortunately, the EPA and FDA have thus far failed to protect us from toxic threats. So to get us closer to zeroing out toxics, we need to work in our state, in cities, and directly with the companies that are creating or using these toxic chemicals.

Issue updates

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center | Public Health

A Perfect Storm

SINCE 1980, THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Superfund” toxic waste cleanup program has been responsible for identifying the worst toxic waste sites across the country and holding polluters accountable to cover the cost of cleaning them up. When the polluting party cannot be found or afford the cleanup, the Superfund program has the authority and funds to clean up the site. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Statement: New FDA plan to reduce toxic metal in baby food falls short

A month after announcing a weak plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new plan Thursday aimed at making baby food safer over the next several years.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health

After 20 people die and dozens become ill, FDA finally flags hand sanitizer from Mexico | Teresa Murray

Consumers still at risk for harmful over-the-counter drug products of all types because of soft federal regulations.

> Keep Reading
News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Public Health, Health Care

NURSING HOMES STILL DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MASKS, GOWNS, OTHER PPE

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health

New Report: Toxic waste cleanup efforts lag, putting Marylanders at risk

The Superfund toxic waste cleanup program, a priority of the EPA for four decades, is responsible for responding to the most serious hazardous waste sites in the country, including the 1,327 sites on the EPA’s National Priorities List. There are 20 number of these sites in Maryland alone. The chemicals found there, such as arsenic, benzene, dioxin, and lead, are some of the most dangerous in the world. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Statement: New FDA plan to reduce toxic metal in baby food falls short

A month after announcing a weak plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new plan Thursday aimed at making baby food safer over the next several years.

> Keep Reading
News Release | US PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19, Public Health, Health Care

NURSING HOMES STILL DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MASKS, GOWNS, OTHER PPE

A new analysis by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group found that 8 percent of nursing homes nationwide as of Dec. 27 had a critical shortage of surgical-grade N95 masks, which are the best protection against spreading the virus. Additionally, 4 to 6 percent of nursing homes reported shortages in at least one other category of personal protective equipment.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health

New Report: Toxic waste cleanup efforts lag, putting Marylanders at risk

The Superfund toxic waste cleanup program, a priority of the EPA for four decades, is responsible for responding to the most serious hazardous waste sites in the country, including the 1,327 sites on the EPA’s National Priorities List. There are 20 number of these sites in Maryland alone. The chemicals found there, such as arsenic, benzene, dioxin, and lead, are some of the most dangerous in the world. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

CDC estimates at least 35,000 die from drug-resistant infections annually

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its new Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States report, which estimates at least 35,000 Americans die annually from infections that antibiotics can no longer effectively treat.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Result | Public Health

Victory: Macy's commits to phase out toxic flame retardents

We did it: Macy's announced it will stop selling furniture that contains toxic flame retardants.

> Keep Reading
Result | Public Health

Victory: Subway Announces Plan to Go Antibiotic Free

We're ecstatic that Subway will be living up to the healthy image they've created. They have more restaurants in the U.S. than any other chain, and their announcement will put major market pressure on the meat producers to stop overusing antibiotics.

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center | Public Health

A Perfect Storm

SINCE 1980, THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Superfund” toxic waste cleanup program has been responsible for identifying the worst toxic waste sites across the country and holding polluters accountable to cover the cost of cleaning them up. When the polluting party cannot be found or afford the cleanup, the Superfund program has the authority and funds to clean up the site. 

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Environment Maryland Education Fund | Public Health

Superfund Underfunded

The Superfund program was originally funded by a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries, but that tax expired in 1995, and now the money for the Superfund program has come primarily through appropriations from the general revenue.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Chain Reaction V

The Chain Reaction V report grades the top fast food and fast casual chanins on antibiotic use policies for their beef supply chains. 

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG | Public Health

Get the Lead Out

Our children need safe drinking water – especially at school where they go to learn and play each day.  Unfortunately, lead is contaminating drinking water at schools and pre-schools across the country.  As our report shows, states are failing to make the grade when it comes to keeping lead out of drinking water at school.  Instead of waiting for more testing, we need to proactively remove the lead pipes and plumbing at the root of this toxic hazard for our children.

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health, Consumer Protection

HOW SAFE IS OUR FOOD?

While our food safety system has improved significantly over the last 100 years, when toxics, fake foodstuffs and bacteria regularly infiltrated the supply, it is clear there is more work to do. A modern society relies on ensuring that the daily act of eating does not undermine the health of the population. 

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health

After 20 people die and dozens become ill, FDA finally flags hand sanitizer from Mexico | Teresa Murray

Consumers still at risk for harmful over-the-counter drug products of all types because of soft federal regulations.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health

20 Questions to Ask Your Nursing Home during COVID | Teresa Murray

Whether you have a loved one currently in a nursing home or rehabilitation facility, or whether you’re shopping for one, you should arm yourself with a list of questions to gauge how safe the environment is. Here’s a guide to those questions, and the answers you should expect.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | COVID-19, Public Health

By The Numbers: Is Maryland on Track to Reopen Safely? | Emily Scarr

Some people and businesses are feeling intense pressure to resume economic activity, but Maryland’s recent increase in positive COVID-19 cases and limited testing and tracing capacity indicates that we are not ready to begin the process of reopening safely as outlined in Governor Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery. Here, we’ll look at the numbers that explain why. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Consumer Tips, COVID-19, Public Health, Consumer Protection

Cleaning and disinfecting safely during the coronavirus outbreak | Emily Scarr

If you’re like me, you’re spending a lot more time cleaning while sheltering in place. My increased time at home cooking, working, and playing with my children makes a lot of mess! I am also cleaning more as a way to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. I enjoy my cleaning routine; in a day full of zoom calls and wrangling small children, it’s nice to take a break to listen to the radio or music while I wipe down the counters or sweep the floor. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Public Health

Toxic triclosan in toothpaste? | Dev Gowda

A recent article in the LA Times revealed that a new study found that the toxic compound triclosan, which is commonly found in toothpaste as well as other consumer products such as cosmetics, children’s toys, and yoga mats, “could cause adverse effects on colonic inflammation and colon cancer.”

> Keep Reading

Pages

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center

SINCE 1980, THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Superfund” toxic waste cleanup program has been responsible for identifying the worst toxic waste sites across the country and holding polluters accountable to cover the cost of cleaning them up. When the polluting party cannot be found or afford the cleanup, the Superfund program has the authority and funds to clean up the site. 

News Release | US PIRG Education Fund

A month after announcing a weak plan to reduce heavy metals in baby food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new plan Thursday aimed at making baby food safer over the next several years.

Blog Post

Consumers still at risk for harmful over-the-counter drug products of all types because of soft federal regulations.

News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation

The Superfund toxic waste cleanup program, a priority of the EPA for four decades, is responsible for responding to the most serious hazardous waste sites in the country, including the 1,327 sites on the EPA’s National Priorities List. There are 20 number of these sites in Maryland alone. The chemicals found there, such as arsenic, benzene, dioxin, and lead, are some of the most dangerous in the world. 

Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Environment Maryland Education Fund

The Superfund program was originally funded by a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries, but that tax expired in 1995, and now the money for the Superfund program has come primarily through appropriations from the general revenue.

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