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10 Top Environmental Health Stories of 2012
The top environmental health stories of 2012 were all about everyday hazards that are right in our backyards. They have to do with the unintended consequences of chemical pollution that could harm the health of our families, our neighbors, our towns - our nation.
Here's how the EWG staff voted:
1. President Obama signs the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, improving extended medical care for people stationed there when the base's water was severely contaminated.
2. Johnson and Johnson pledges to rid its personal care products of formaldehyde, a carcinogen, and other potentially dangerous chemicals. It is the first major maker of consumer to make this sweeping promise.
3. The federal Food and Drug Administration bans the plastics chemical bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen that disrupts development, from baby bottles and sippy cups. Better late than never - major baby products makers have already switched to other plastics, but the dangerous petrochemical is still used to coat the insides of cans of baby formula and other foods.
4. The American Academy of Pediatrics endorses cell phone safety legislation that calls for warning labels urging parents to minimize children's use of mobile devices while the health risks of cell phone radiation are under study.
5. EWG forces open California state government's "blind eye" to fracking - prompting public outcry for stronger regulation.
6. The Chicago Tribune conducts an exhaustive investigation of the flame retardant industry and concludes that it has used "deceptive tactics" to trick the public into believe that these chemicals are non-toxic and essential. In fact, they are linked to serious disorders, and they don't prevent fires.
7. The FDA issues sunscreen regulation, finally, barring misleading claims of "waterproof" or "sweatproof." But almost immediately the agency bows to industry pressure and postpones implementing the rules for another year.
8. The American Academy of Pediatrics takes a rare policy stand warning of the dangers of pesticides to children and urging the government to take action to reduce their risks, through such measures as improved marketing, labeling, use and safety. The academy urges physicians to learn to recognize acute pesticide poisoning and also subtle signs of low-level chronic exposure to these potent chemicals.
9. A team of scientists at Stanford University touched off an uproar by declaring that organic food is no more nutritious than conventionally grown food. Maybe, critics replied, but what about the stuff organics don't have, namely, pesticides and chemical fertilizer?
10. France bans BPA in all food containers, including cans, by 2015. It becomes the first nation to enact a legal bar on BPA in all food packaging.