In Response to President’s Cancer Panel Report, GREENGUARD Environmental Institute Urges Consumers, Building and Design Professionals to Choose Low-Emitting Products to Protect Human Health

May 12, 2010

Airborne chemicals released by common household products include known carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and other contaminants

ATLANTA, May 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI), in response to the findings of the President’s Cancer Panel Annual Report, urges consumers and building and design professionals to make every effort to choose products that have been independently verified for low chemical emissions.

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The Cancer Panel Report, entitled “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” concludes that human exposure to chemicals — including those found in and on manufactured products — plays a key role in the damage of DNA and the development of various cancers and other diseases.

“With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread,” the report states, emphasizing that only a few hundred of those 80,000 chemicals have actually been tested for safety.

Of those chemicals that have been tested, many are released from products into the air people breathe (a phenomenon known as off-gassing) and are known to trigger a host of other ailments, too, including headaches, nosebleeds, delayed cognition, nausea, upper respiratory irritation, and asthma. Consequently, one of the best ways to reduce chemical exposure is to practice source control — that is, choosing products and materials that have been independently verified for low chemical emissions.

“If you keep the chemicals out of your environment in the first place, you’ve already won half the battle,” says Henning Bloech, executive director of GEI. “People spend 90-percent of their time indoors, where the air is replete with volatile organic compounds and other chemicals. The risk of chemical exposure while indoors is therefore tremendously high. If people want to be proactive about staying healthy, it’s critical that they be mindful of the products they’re bringing into their homes.”

The simplest way to know if a product is low-emitting is to look for it in the GREENGUARD Product Guide?, a free, easy-to-use online resource that allows users to search for GREENGUARD Certified products by category, manufacturer, sustainable credit, and more. GREENGUARD Certified products meet some of the world’s most stringent standards for low chemical emissions and undergo regular third-party review to maintain their certification. The GREENGUARD Certification Program screens products and materials for thousands of chemicals, including known carcinogens and reproductive toxins like formaldehyde and benzene. Consequently, GREENGUARD Certified products help reduce human exposure to chemicals and can contribute to a healthier environment.

“As the body of evidence showing a link between chemical exposure and cancer grows, consumers need to be cautious about the types of products they come in contact with,” says Dr. Marilyn Black, founder of GEI. “This is especially true for children, who are more vulnerable to health risks associated with environmental contaminants. The quality of our lives is at stake, here. Now is not the time to play the ‘let’s wait and see’ game.”

Other key findings excerpted from the President’s Cancer Panel Report include the following:

  • Children are at special risk due to their smaller body mass and rapid physical development, both of which magnify their vulnerability to known or suspected carcinogens, including radiation. Numerous environmental contaminants can cross the placental barrier; to a disturbing extent, babies are born “pre-polluted.” Children also can be harmed by genetic or other damage sustained by the mother (and in some cases, the father). (p.98)
  • Numerous chemicals used in manufacturing remain in or on the product as residues, while others are integral components of the products themselves. Further, in the ongoing quest for more effective and efficient ways of making industrial and consumer products, new chemicals and other substances are being created continually and existing substances are being put to new uses. (p. iii)
  • While all Americans carry many foreign chemicals in their bodies, women have higher levels of many of these chemicals than do men. Some of these chemicals are found in maternal blood, placental tissue, and breast milk samples from pregnant women and mothers who recently gave birth. These findings indicate that chemical contaminants are being passed on to the next generation, both prenatally and during breastfeeding. (p.26)

To read the report in its entirety, click here.

About the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI)

The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute is an industry-independent, not-for-profit organization that aims to protect human health and improve quality of life by reducing people’s exposure to chemicals and other pollutants. As an ISO-IEC Guide 65:1996 accredited, third-party certifying body, the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute certifies products and materials for low chemical emissions and provides consumers with a resource for choosing healthier products and materials for indoor environments. All certified products must meet stringent standards for low chemical emissions based on established criteria from key public health agencies. GREENGUARD Certification is broadly recognized and accepted by sustainable building programs and building codes worldwide. For more information and a complete listing of certified products, visit www.greenguard.org.

SOURCE GREENGUARD Environmental Institute

Source: newswire

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