The chemicals within us

JenniferSitting before a Senate subcommittee is a young mother. She is slim, pretty, intelligent . . . and full of dangerous chemicals.

Molly Jones Gray of Seattle testified this week in Washington, D.C., regarding human exposure to toxic chemicals.  After participating in a study conducted by the Washington Toxics Coalition, a pregnant Gray was horrified to learn that her body contained a variety of dangerous chemicals. Gray said she was testifying not only on her own behalf, but also for her 7-month-old son Paxton. She told the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health:

On behalf of my son Paxton and all other children, I am asking for your help to lower our body burdens of chemicals that come between us and our health.

The Toxics Coalition conducted a study testing nine pregnant women from Washington, Oregon, and California for five groups of chemicals: phthalates, mercury, so-called “Teflon” chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds, bisphenol A, and the flame retardant tetrabromobisphenol A.

The study, entitled Earliest Exposures, examined the blood and urine of the nine women in their second trimester.

Let's try this again: Washington state Senate passes a bill limiting the use of BPA

Mothers take great care to provide the best for their children, choosing nutritious formula and food for their young. So why is a chemical that may hinder a child's development allowed in baby bottles and sippy cups?

That was the sentiment behind a 36-9 vote in the Washington state SenatJennifere today for a bill (SB 6248) to ban bisphenol A, or BPA, from food and drink containers for young children. Similar legislation passed the House earlier this week 95-1, but that bill (HB 1180) went further by also banning the chemical in bottles containing sports drinks such as Gatorade.

BPA is widely used in shatterproof plastic containers for food and drinks, as well as a plastic lining in cans for food and soda. Studies have shown that when these containers become hot, whether through microwaving or by pouring hot liquid into them, BPA can seep into the food or drink. This is also occurs when the plastics get scratched over time.

Federal safety regulators have expressed concern about the harmful effects the chemical could have on fetuses and young children's brains, reproductive systems, pituitary glands, and behavior. The chemical has also been linked to a variety of cancers, diabetes, and obesity.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration "believes there are great causes for concern, especially among the youngest,” said Rep.

Homelessness up in Denver; total in Oregon includes thousands of kids

Ben Bernanke says it looks like we're out of the recession, but the facts on the ground in the West say something different:

  • In Oregon, the population of homeless people who are children numbers more than 18,000, The Oregonian's Betsy Hammond writes. The numbers are highest out in the countryside (where, as InvestigateWest's Rita Hibbard noted earlier today, it's also hard to find medical care because of a shortage of doctors.) The 14 percent increase in homeless kids this year stems from foreclosures and job losses, of course.
  • In Denver, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless just released a report showing that in a seven-county area centered on Denver, more than 11,000 homeless people were counted using a new census technique. Forty-four percent were homeless for the first time, Catherine Tsai reports for the AP.

    While the new counting method makes comparisons to previous years perilous, consider this: The count was done on Jan. 27. So in the dead of winter, in a really cold place, this country was unable to find homes for thousands of its citizens.

So while the official economists' definition of a recession may no longer apply, there's still a whole lot of pain out there, Mr. Bernanke. We can see it from the Pacific coast to the crest of the Rockies.