Unsafe Product Fact Sheet
When it comes to product safety, most people rely on companies and the government to do the “right” thing. However, time and time again, scientific findings and court proceedings that bring these hazards to light are exposed by the people, not the FDA or EPA. Further, our safety regulations continue to trail behind those of other world powers.
We’ve put together a fact sheet of some commonly used unsafe products that are still on the market and not banned by the FDA or EPA.
Talc In Baby Powder
Dangers: Talcum powder has been linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer and lung disease. Additionally, it can contain asbestos fibers, which have been linked with mesothelioma lung cancer.
Findings: Industry leader Johnson & Johnson has been at the center of the talc issue. Already, four juries have found in favor of plaintiffs who claimed their ovarian cancer was caused by prolonged use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower-to-Shower Powder. Reparations of up to $417 million have been ordered on behalf of the victims, with the most recent verdict being handed down on August 21, 2017. Johnson & Johnson continues to deny any danger, and their talc-containing products are still available across the nation.
Regulatory Status: While the FDA does regulate talc in food products, cosmetic products are not currently required to be reviewed by the FDA. There is no federal ban on the use of talcum powder in cosmetic products, despite bans on the use of the ingredient by the European Union.
Teflon On Nonstick Pans
Dangers: Increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers, as well as thyroid disease. Higher levels of exposure have been linked with miscarriage and fertility issues or birth defects.
Findings: Teflon (brand name) maker DuPont has been found guilty in several personal injury and wrongful death suits after the chemical was found to have tainted water surrounding the plants where they made their nonstick coating for cookware. A paper released in 2015 called the Madrid Statement was signed by over 200 scientists from 40 countries and presented evidence that Teflon, created in part by chemicals called poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), is carcinogenic. Additionally, these toxins were confirmed both by independent scientists and DuPont’s in-house team to be released by the nonstick pans after just 2-5 minutes of heat on the stove.
Regulatory Status: The EPA has ruled that a substance closely lined to PFAS, perfluorinated compounds, is a likely carcinogen. In 2005, the EPA fined DuPont for hiding information on the health hazards associated with PFAS. In 2010, the EPA launched a voluntary program to encourage manufacturers to reduce, and by 2015, eliminate these chemicals in their products. Though the Teflon brand name is no longer used, non-stick coated pans containing PFAS are still widely available in the cookware aisle.
Glyphosate In Weed Killer
Dangers: Both the WHO and, more recently, the State of California, have listed glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Glyphosate exposure has also been linked with kidney and liver issues. While more pressing danger has been associated with RoundUp Weed Killer, the use of the pesticide in farming has resulted in finds of trace amounts on popular foods, like Quaker Oats and Cheerios.
Findings: Current litigation against Monsanto’s RoundUp product is ongoing, with dozens of plaintiffs claiming their cancer was caused by RoundUp usage. However, Monsanto recently lost a battle with the State of California to keep the ingredient off a list of known carcinogens. Monsanto is now required to label their product with warnings accordingly.
Regulatory Status: After being called out last year for not including glyphosate in annual testing practices, the FDA began testing the herbicide; however, the testing was shut down soon after. A new testing period has begun recently, likely as a result of increased pressure stemming from these lawsuits. The EPA previously published reports saying that glyphosate was not a likely carcinogen, but with new studies to the contrary, and with California’s recent decision to list glyphosate as a carcinogen, perhaps it is time to take a deeper look into the issue. The EPA sets “tolerances” for residue from pesticides like glyphosate that remain on food products; American standards allow in some cases double the amount of residue than what the European Union considers safe.
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