Blog Archives

The Smart Shopper’s Guide to Toxins

Posted by Titan on October 22, 2013

Protect yourself and your loved ones. Use this guide to avoid some of the most common household and cosmetic toxins. Whether you’re reading this as an industry tradesman or a stay-at-home mom, you are a consumer and should be aware.

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1, 4-dioxane

1, 4-dioxane is a by-product of a chemical process of ethoxylation, in which ethylene oxide a known breast carcinogen, is added to other chemicals to make them less harsh. Readily penetrates the skin.

The U.S. EPA considers this chemical, a probable human carcinogen, and is suspected by the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects. Also, it is a suspected kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant.

Found in: Shampoos, conditioners, skin care, personal care, laundry detergent, household cleaners.

Avoid: Polyethylene glycol or ‘PEG’, polyoxyethylene, any ingredient with ‘eth’ in the name such as sodium laureth sulphate, ceteareth or oleth.

Nitrosamines

Nitrosamines have been identified as one of the most potent classes of carcinogens, having caused cancer in more than 40 different animal species as well as in humans.

NDELA (nitrosodiethanolamine) is the specific nitrosamine “to which human exposure is the greatest.” Since it occurs in cosmetics and is “absorbed readily through the skin (Carcinogenesis 1985, National Cancer Institute”. Nitrosamines are created when nitrosating agents are combined with amines.

Found in: Cosmetics, skin care, personal care, hair care.

Avoid: MEA (Monoethanolamine), DEA (Diethanolamine), TEA (Triethanolamine)

e.g. Cocamide MEA, DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate, TEA Lauryl Sulfate.

Phthalates

Phthalates have had a lot of buzz in the past few years and more and more people are asking they be removed from products. These toxic chemicals are used as fragrance ingredients; plasticizers; solvents, masking agents; and for perfuming.

The risks: ‘Fragrance’ can contain up to 400 separate ingredients, including tluene and phthalates. Phthalates are an endocrine disruptor that can harm the developing fetus and the male testes. Long-term exposure causes liver and kidney damage. high-level exposure causes irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches.

The US EPA found that 100% of perfumes contain toluene, which could cause liver, kidney and brain damage as well as damage to the developing fetus. Synthetic fragrances are known to trigger asthma attacks. Symptoms reported to the FDA from fragrance exposure have included headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and allergic skin irritation. Fragrance is a common skin irritant.

Found in: Air fresheners, cologne, perfumes, cosmetics, hairspray, nail polish paints, plastics, household perfume products, floor polish, window cleaning products, adhesives, toys and shower curtains.

Avoid: Fragrance (Parfum), Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Diethyl Phthalate (DEP).

Parabens

Used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries and as a food additive.

The risks: Parabens are hormone disrupters and have been shown t be a reproductive toxin in animal studies. Parabens act as a false estrogen, which leach onto estrogen receptors in the body, and therefore have been detected in breast cancer tumors.

Found in: Deodorants cosmetics, shampoos, moisturizer, shaving gels, make-up and toothpaste, cleaning products and pharmaceuticals.

Avoid: Methyl, Ethyl, Propyl and Butyl Paraben, and Japanese Honeysuckle Extract (Plantservative).

Formaldehyde

Used as: Cosmetic biocides; denaturants; and preservatives.

The risks: Formaldehyde is classified as a Category 2 carcinogen. Low level exposure causes irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, and can cause skin and lung allergies. It is also a central nervous system depressant.

Found in: Particle board, pressed wood and other newer construction; detergents, cosmetics, shampoos, bubble baths, hair conditioners, athlete’s foot treatments, skin disinfectants and even mouthwashes!

Avoid: Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (Suttocide), Imidazolidinyl urea (Germall 115), Diazolidinyl urea (Germall II), Quaternium-15, DMDM Hydantoin (Glydant), 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1, 3diol (Bronopol).

Triclosan

The risks: This hormone disruptor accumulates in our bodies and creates bacteria resistance to antibiotics and antibacterial products.

Along with its negative health effects, triclosan also impacts the environment, ending up in lakes, rivers and other water sources, where it is toxic to aquatic life.

Found in: Antibacterial soaps, deodorants, toothpaste, cosmetics, fabrics and plastics.

Avoid: Triclosan (Microban, Irgasan DP-300, Lexol 300, Ster-Zac, Cloxifenolum, Biofresh).

You can also look up chemicals on the EPA’s new ChemView, which lets you find chemical safety and regulatory data, and compare chemical use, health and environmental effects. Or, read their blog post about ChemView.

A GOOD RULE OF THUMB: If you cannot pronounce the ingredient, it probably isn’t good for you. Another suggestion: avoid products with more than five ingredients.

The Government Opens for Business

Posted by Titan on October 17, 2013

When the government shutdown took affect, the EPA was one arm of the government affected and that halt in operations trickled down to Titan Environmental. When the shutdown occurred, we were awaiting our certification renewal to continue teaching the EPA accredited RRP lead safe training course. When that was put on hold, we were unable to teach or even schedule our next class. But, today, the EPA reopened and our application is now being processed.

Stay tuned for upcoming classes. We’ll post soon!

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Did the government shutdown affect your business operations? We’d like to hear from you.

A recent poll, commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), reported 65% of the public opposed the EPA being prevented from doing its work.

About 94% of workers at the EPA were sent home during the shutdown, halting enforcement of the law and multiple efforts to write new regulations.

According to the NRDC, there were many ways the government shutdown hurt public health and the environment. Read the article here and tell us what you think.

Lead in the Air You Breathe

Posted by Titan on October 10, 2013

Lead was banned twenty years ago in automotive gasoline, yet continues to pollute our air.

Currently, aviation fuel is the largest source of lead emissions in the U.S. and will continue to be for the next four years. In June 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the planned phase out of Avgas, leaded gasoline in aviation use for private aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says there are approximately 167,000 aircraft in the U.S. and a total of 230,000 worldwide that rely on the current 100 octane, low lead fuel for safe operation.

In 2011, a Duke University study found that kids living within 500 meters of an airport, where leaded Avgas is used, have elevated blood lead levels. The EPA estimates 16 million Americans live close to one of 22,000 airports where leaded Avgas is routinely used-and three million children go to school near these airports. And as Kevin Drum wrote in his Mother Jones piece, even low blood lead levels have bad health and social consequences.

The FAA has asked fuel producers to offer options that would safely allow general aviation aircraft stop using leaded fuel by 2018.

However, according to Kent Misegades, director of the Aviation Fuel Club, there is already a lead-free alternative called Mogas–which can be used in 80% of exisiting piston engine aircraft and has been available since 1982. The remaining 20% of planes can run on Mogas with a modification called Inpulse.

So why the delayed phase out?

Without regulatory pressure, there just isn’t enough incentive to change. Flyunleaded.com publishes a list of airports that supply mogas—a list that includes only 3 percent of all airports in the United States, according to Misegades.

A few environmental groups have taken legal action to speed up Avgas’ phaseout. In 2011, the Center for Environmental Health sued several avgas suppliers under California’s Proposition 65, which requires businesses to disclose chemicals that can cause cancer or other health problems. “[The aviation industry] realizes the writing is on the wall,” says CEH spokesperson Charles Margulis. “It’s a matter of time.” After petitioning the EPA to study and regulate aircraft lead emissions in 2006, Friends of the Earth also sued the EPA in 2012 for failing to adequately respond to that petition. A few months later, the FAA announced it would work with the EPA to take concrete steps toward implementing unleaded alternatives.

Banning leaded Avgas in aviation use will be a huge step to cleaning our air, protecting our children, and our health. It’s just too bad they expect us to wait four more years. The health effects of lead in automobile gas were known as early as the 1920s, but it took half a century before the EPA eliminated it. Unfortunately, the tetraethyl lead in Avgas has flown under the radar for decades and is still poisoning the air we all breathe.

Want to make a difference? Do something about it–HELP GET THE LEAD OUT! Here are some suggested actions you can take at a local level:

1. Sign a petition.

2. Contact local airports and demand they offer Mogas or another unleaded option.

3. Join the Aviation Fuel Club.

4. Join a local environmental group (or start one) and work together to make a difference.

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New EPA Pesticide Labels

Posted by Titan on October 1, 2013

New EPA Regulated Pesticide Labels for Neonicotinoids

To protect bees and other pollinators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed new pesticide labels that prohibit use of some neonicotinoid pesticide products where bees are present. The EPA is states they are concerned about declines in pollinator health, and are working to protect bees and other pollinators from pesticide risks through regulatory actions, voluntary changes to pesticide use by registrants, and research programs aimed at increasing the understanding of factors associated with declining pollinator health.

Neonicotinoids are systemic nerve poisons, which cause death to bees and other pollinators and are linked to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). They are a relatively new class of insecticides that share a common mode of action that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. They include imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, thiacloprid and thiamethoxam. The neonicotinoid class of insecticides has been identified as a leading factor in bee decline. For this reason, environmentalists want the EPA to take these pesticides off the market.

Did you know that products approved for home use in gardens, lawns and on ornamental tress could have one or more poisonous Neonicotinoid? Currently local and national environmental groups have raised awareness and have asked certain big chain home improvement companies to stop selling ingredients, which contain Neonicotinoids.

In March 2012, a study published in Science showed that neonicotinoid pesticide use hinders the growth of bumble bee colonies and reduces the number of new queens by 85%. Bad news for bumble bees.

The EPA is now re-evaluating the risks of neonicotinoids. According to Scott Black, the EPA has stated that the registration review process will take several years. At the earliest , the new verdict for imidacloprid will be in 2016 and 2017 for clothianidin and thiamethoxam.

With one in three bites of food reliant on bees and other beneficial species for pollination, the decline of these important species demands swift action.

What you can do to protect yourself, your family and your pets at home:

• Do not use pesticides on your lawn or gardens. There are effective, organic and natural options for your use.

• Eat organic and non-GMO to avoid potential ingestion and to avoid supporting Neonicotinoids.

• Take your shoes off at the door. There are are more than just pesticide dangers you could be tracking in!

• Support pollinators by planting a variety of flowering plants or even hosting your own bee hive.

To learn more about you can protect the pollinators, visit: www.beyondpesticides.org or www.epa.gov.

The Link Between Lead and Crime

Posted by Titan on September 12, 2013

America experienced a massive increase in levels of violent crime, ranging from 1960, to its peak in 1990, then steadily declining. Though many theories are in place to explain this peak and decline in crime, Kevin Drum of Mother Jones has provided compelling evidence and statistics; all of which points to one simple idea: violent crime rose as a result of lead poisoning because of leaded gasoline.

ThePBEffect

The chemistry and neuroscience of lead gives us good reason to believe the connection. Decades of research has shown that lead poisoning causes significant and probably irreversible damage to the brain. Not only does lead degrade cognitive abilities and lower intelligence, it also degrades a person’s ability to make decisions by damaging areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, impulse control, attention, verbal reasoning, and mental flexibility.

It is scientifically noted that children exposed to high levels of lead in early childhood are more likely to have lower IQs, higher levels of aggression, and lower impulse-control.  All those factors point to crime when children reach their teens if not earlier.

Between 1976 and 1986, the Environmental Protection Agency required oil companies to phase out leaded gasoline. In 1978, lead in residential paint was banned (though most pre-1978 buildings still have lead paint, which children can absorb).

Tests have shown that the amount of lead in Americans’ blood fell by four-fifths between 1975 and 1991. A 2007 study by the economist Jessica Wolpaw Reyes contended that the reduction in gasoline lead produced more than half of the decline in violent crime during the 1990s in the U.S. and might bring about greater declines in the future. Another economist, Rick Nevin, has made the same argument for other nations.  He collected lead data and crime data for Australia and found a close match; same for Canada, Great Britain, Finland, France, Italy, New Zealand and West Germany.

As Drum reports in his article, leaded gasoline, though totally banned, still lurks and still has adverse affects on our children. The fact of the matter is that the leaded gasoline fumes settled into soil, especially in heavy traffic areas. And, the issue we’re faced with is that lead in soil doesn’t stay in the soil. Every summer, like clockwork, as the weather dries up, all that lead gets kicked back into the atmosphere in a process called resuspension.

And just like gasoline lead, a lot of that lead in old housing is still around. Lead paint chips flaking and old windows whose friction surfaces generate lots of dust as they’re opened and closed.

Drum’s conclusion is that solving our lead problem will do more than any prison could do to reduce our crime problem—it would produce smarter, better-adjusted kids in the bargain.

Cleaning up the rest of the lead that remains in our environment could turn out to be the cheapest, most effective crime prevention tool we have. And we could start doing it tomorrow.

Lead Safety and Environmental Regulations Standards

Posted by Titan on August 8, 2013

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OSHA’s standard for protecting workers from lead (29 CFR 1926.62) celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.
Titan acknowledges the NEED to be up-to-date on the many environmental regulations and the standards that keep workers and building occupants safe. The links provided below, offer quick reference to helpful information to keep you up-to-date:

Do you know your RRP?

Posted by Titan on August 2, 2013

When you’re not up-to-date on RRP you stand to be severely penalized.

Recently, a KC company agreed to pay more than $65,000 in penalties for not following lead-safe work practices as required by the RRP rule. These violations included failure to properly post signs, failure to close all doors and windows as required, failure to cover the ground as required, and failure to clean properly.

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The Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule is a part of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The rule requires each person or firm hired to perform a renovation to be certified and to use specific work practices to minimize lead-based paint hazards for workers and occupants.  Under the RRP rule, general contractors can be held liable for regulated renovation work that subcontractors perform for the company. This includes record-keeping as well.

Don’t be next on the EPA’s compliance offender list.  Get up-to-date on your RRP with Titan Environmental.  Our next EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) training course is:

Friday, August 16th, 2013

SIGN UP NOW!
Seats are limited and class is only offered once a month!

VISIT OUR WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION!
http://www.titankc.com/training-calendar/

Energy Upgrades for the Home and EPA’s Protocol to Protect Health

Posted by Titan on August 1, 2013

According to the EPA, there is a set of best practices when it comes to improving indoor air quality in conjunction with energy upgrades in a home.

EPA_Protocols_healthenergy

This isn’t new information, but it isn’t old news either. In fact, we’re recapping nearly two-year old information:

In November 2011, the EPA came out with the new guidance to help ensure home energy upgrades would protect the health of Americans while saving energy and money.

While home energy upgrades make a home more comfortable and affordable, there are an abundance of benefits all around—improving quality of life for occupants, protecting the environment, and sustaining American jobs.

However, if the appropriate home assessment is not made before the work begins or the work isn’t performed properly, the home energy upgrade activities might negatively affect indoor air quality.

The EPA’s Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades focus primarily on the health and safety of the building occupants. The document identifies priority indoor environmental issues and includes Assessment Protocols to evaluate existing problems. Minimum Actions to be taken during home energy upgrade activities, and Expanded Actions, which provide opportunities to promote improved occupant health through home energy upgrades.

Titan recommends work done in pre-1978 homes and buildings, be performed by an EPA certified Lead-Safe Firm or by home energy upgrade workers who have sufficient resources and are properly certified to work with lead paint.

Top 7 RRP Violations Resulting in Hefty Fines

Posted by Titan on July 3, 2013

Did you know? Most RRP fines from the EPA are due to improper paperwork and not following the basic guidelines? Failure to comply could result in fines of up to the statutory maximum of $37,500 per violation per day.

1. Failure to establish and maintain records.
This is the #1 violation. You must keep all records for all work you have performed, records for all certified workers and proof they were certified during the job, proof they were the ones on the job, proof of compliance, and post-renovation cleaning verifications. Take pictures, get signatures, document, document, document!2. Failure to comply with work practice standards.
This is very specific information that covers a wide-range of work practices. Including, but not limited to:
* Use of machines designed to remove paint or other surface
coatings through high speed operation without a HEPA
vacuum attachment.
* Failure to contain waste from renovation activities.
* Failure to contain work area, including windows and doors.
* Failure to contain lead dust.

3. Failure to comply with training requirements.
You must obtain a training course completion certificate.4. Failure to provide the lead hazard information pamphlet, Renovate Right, to the property owner.
Document this! Obtain a signature, take a picture of yourself delivering it to each address, email a copy, and retain this documentation for 3 years.

5. Failure to obtain firm certification.
These are simple applications to the EPA and State.

6. Failure to ensure trained individuals performed the renovation.
DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!

7. Failure to post signs.
You must post signs clearly defining the work area and warning occupants not to enter prior to beginning work. Take a picture!

Lead-safe work practices are critical to reducing exposure to lead-based paint hazards and avoiding potential lead poisoning.

And remember, RRP compliance is an inexpensive solution to an expensive problem.

If you are a contractor or have employees who work on pre-1978 homes and have not taken the RRP certification class or need a refresher course:

Environmental Awareness-101

Posted by Titan on June 27, 2013

DID YOU KNOW?
* The average person spends 90% of their time indoors.
* The air indoors is 2-to-5x more polluted than the air outdoors.
* Children breathe in 50% more air than adults.
* According to the CDC, at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to lead.
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Factors that compromise an indoor environment include:
* Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) * Carbon Monoxide
* Lead Paint and Lead Dust * Asbestos * Mold * Dust Mites
* And scores of other common indoor pollutants.
Common signs of indoor toxicity:

* Allergies, asthma, headaches or fatigue worsen when
you are in your house or another building.
* You generally feel sick or tired indoors.
* Unsuccessful attempts to feel better.

Spreading knowledge is key to these very serious problems.

CARE FOR YOUR AIR!