How to Create Greener and Healthier Schools for Children and Teachers

Mike Schade, Markets Campaign Coordinator Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ)

Thank you to our co-sponsors.
Funding provided by the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute through a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Environmental Conservation

Overview of Today’s Presentation.
 Part One: Children’s Health, Chronic Diseases &
Toxic Chemicals

 Part Two: PVC/Vinyl – Hazardous Plastic of Concern
in Schools and Buildings

 Part Three: Market Movement, Safer Alternatives &
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP)

 Q&A

Children’s Unique Vulnerabilities to Toxic Chemicals.
 Children are not "little adults" - their
developing brains and bodies, their metabolism and behaviors make them uniquely vulnerable to harm  For their weight, children eat, drink and breathe more than adults - so from toxic chemicals. pound for pound they take in a  Exposure begins in the womb greater quantity of toxic through the mother's exposures to contaminants. A small exposure toxic chemicals. Infants ingest translates into a big dose. chemicals through breast milk,  Children put things in their mouths formula and contact with their and spend a lot of time on the floor environment. and ground, so they may ingest  Rapid brain development in the chemicals from toys, containers, fetus, infants and young children dirt and dust on a regular basis. make them more susceptible to harm from chemicals that may impair brain function and development.

Chronis Diseases on the Rise

Chronic Diseases on the Rise.
 Asthma:  Prevalence approximately doubled between 1980 and 1995.  #1 cause of school absenteeism & #1 chronic childhood illness.  Learning and developmental disabilities.  Number of children in special education programs classified with
learning disabilities increased 191% from 1977 to 1994.  Cases of autism spectrum disorders increased 23% from 2006 to 2008, and 78% increase since 2002.Today effects 1 in 88 children.  Largest increase among African American and Hispanic children.

 Childhood Cancers  Leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers have increased
by more than 20% since 1975.

Reproductive Health Problems on the Rise.
 Reproductive Health in Women  Early puberty in girls – 1 in 10 girls – risk factor for breast cancer.  Difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy affected 40%
more women in 2002 than in 1982.  Fertility problems, miscarriages, preterm births, early puberty, and birth defects are all up.

 Reproductive Health in Men  Average sperm counts appear to be steadily declining.  The birth defect resulting in undescended testes has increased
200% between 1970 and 1993.  Rising rates of male genital birth defects such as hypospadias, a condition in which the urethra does not develop properly.

President’s 2010 Cancer Panel Report: “Environmentally Induced Cancer Grossly Underestimated.”
“The true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. 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 un-studied or under-studied and largely unregulated -- exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread.”

Chronic Diseases are Costly to Our Economy.
 Direct and indirect costs of treating the nation’s
worsening asthma epidemic already exceeds $53 billion.

 133 million people in the U.S.—almost half of all
Americans —are now living with chronic diseases and conditions.

 Chronic illnesses now account for 70% of deaths
and 75% of U.S. health care costs.


Failure of Federal Law: Just Look At the Numbers.
From the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)




chemicals registered in the United States.

are monitored through the EPA Toxic Release Inventory.

have been tested for were threats to human BANNED. health and safety.

/// MATERIAL HEALTH 06.07.2011


Hazardous Chemicals of Concern in Schools and Buildings
 Mercury: CFL lighting

 PCB’s: lighting and caulking
 Hazardous flame retardants: electronics and furniture  Carcinogens , Asthmagens and Reproductive Toxicants in
Cleaning products

 Pesticides

 Phthalates and vinyl plastic

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC or vinyl) plastic in schools and buildings
 Hazardous lifecycle:
 Production  Use  Disposal

Where is PVC Found in Buildings and Schools?
 Building Materials:  Flooring  Roofing  Carpeting  Siding  Furniture  Piping  Playground

 School and Office
Supplies  Electronics – computers/laptops  3-ring binders  Paperclips  Notebooks, etc.  Backpacks  Lunchboxes

Vinyl: Hazardous to Manufacture
 Chlorine Gas – chemical warfare agent in WWI.  Mercury and coal in China.  Vinyl chloride  Worldwide demand more than 17 billion pounds
annually – 98% of which used to make PVC.

 Classified as a human carcinogen by EPA,
International Agency for Research on Cancer and the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

 Vinyl chloride causes a rare form of liver cancer,
brain cancer, associated with breast cancer.

 Ethylene dichloride  Probable human carcinogen that also affects the
central nervous system and damages the liver.

Production Releases Known Human Carcinogens
 Studies have documented links
between working in PVC facilities and the increased likelihood of developing diseases including:  Angiosarcoma, rare form of liver cancer.  Brain cancer.  Lung cancer.  Lymphomas.  Leukemia.  Liver cirrhosis.

PVC Plants & Environmental Justice.

Harmful Chemicals Migrate Out of PVC Consumer Products: Pose Avoidable Hazards to Children’s Health.
 Stabilizers  Lead  Cadmium  Organotins  Plasticizers  Phthalates (i.e.

 Bisphenol A

VinylContributes to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Problems.
 EPA studies of human exposure to air pollutants
indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times— and occasionally more than 100 times— higher than outdoor levels.

 PVC flooring and other PVC products can
contribute to poorer indoor air quality as PVC products can off gas chemicals called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

 A study by the California Air Resources Board
found forty chemicals, some of which are toxic, off-gassing from PVC flooring.

 Another study found PVC flooring can emit
chemicals for a period of at least nine months, indicating a persistent risk of toxic exposure.

Phthalates Interfere With Our Hormones.
 Hormone-disrupting chemicals that interfere with the
production of the male sex hormone, testosterone.

 Testosterone is necessary for proper development and
function of the male reproductive organs.

 Interference with testosterone activity, especially early in
life, may have irreversible effects on male reproduction.

Phthalates Harmful to Our Health.
 In 2006, the U.S. National
Toxicology Program Expert Panel found that the phthalate DEHP poses a risk to human development and fertility.

 Low sperm count and      
quality. Infertility Undescended testes Impaired reproductive development in males. ADHD Obesity. Neurodev. Of infants.

 Health Impacts:  Preterm birth  Low birth weight  Premature breast
development in girls,

Vinyl Flooring and Asthma – What’s the Connection?

A study published in 2009 found a statistically significant link between PVC flooring, asthma , and autism spectrum disorder. The study  found that children who live in homes with vinyl floors, which can emit phthalates, are twice as likely to have autism. A 2008 study found an association between concentrations of phthalates in indoor dust and wheezing among preschool children. The  presence of PVC flooring in the child’s bedroom was the strongest predictor of respiratory ailments. common in the two buildings with signs of phthalate degradation in PVC flooring. A study of workers in an office building found they were diagnosed with adult-onset asthma at a rate of about 9 times higher than expected. The researchers identified PVC flooring as the source of chemicals, such as 2ethyl-l-hexanol, l-butanol, in the air. A study of adults working in rooms with plastic wall covering materials were more than twice as likely to develop asthma. These researchers pointed to other recent epidemiologic studies in children conducted in Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Russia that also found links between between PVC, phthalates, and respiratory problems.

A study of 10,851 children found the presence of floor moisture and PVC significantly increased the risk of asthma.
A study among personnel in four geriatric hospitals found asthma symptoms were more

Phthalates In Our Homes, Schools and Bodies.
 Phthalates have been found in indoor air and dust, and in human
urine, blood.

 “BUND analysed dust samples from 60 childcare centers and found
that the samples contained an average of three times the level of plasticisers found in normal households.”

 We ingest or inhale phthalate-contaminated dust and absorb
phthalates across their skin.

 In all of us.  An extensive study of 2,500 individuals found metabolites of at
least one phthalate in 97 % of those tested.

 In a more recent study, certain phthalates were found to be
present in 100% of girls age 6 to 9.

 Higher levels in children:  Phthalates are highest in children ages 6 to 11, and in women.  Babies born pre-polluted:  Amniotic fluid.  Umbilical cord blood  Breast Milk.

Not Just VOCs & Phthalates: Lead, Cadmium and Organotin Additives.
 Lead: Known cause of neurodevelopmental problems.

 Cadmium: cancer and kidney damage.
 Organotins: can affect the central nervous system, skin, liver, immune
system, and reproductive system

 Lead has been found in vinyl:
     
Backpacks Lunchboxes Toys Baby Bibs Garden Hoses Computer wiring

Phthalates Banned in Toys, But Still Allowed in Our Children’s Schools?
 EU bans in toys: Since 1999, 6
phthalates banned in toys in the EU. 3 banned in cosmetics.

 FDA: The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration issued a safety alert recommending that health care providers limit the exposure of newborn males to DEHP in medical procedures.

 Country bans: At least 14 other
countries have banned these phthalates in children’s toys.

 U.S. ban in toys: In 2008, Congress
passed law banning phthalates in toys.

 State of California prop 65: “known
to cause birth defects or reproductive harm.”

 State bans on phthahlates in toys:
Banned in Vermont, Washington and Maine.

 NY: On New York’s “chemical
avoidance list” for OGS state purchasing.

Vinyl Flooring and Cleaning Products

PVC Waste in New York State.
 Amount of PVC burned in trash incinerators in New York:
 37,517 tons/year burned in incinerators.  New York State is #2 in the country for amount of PVC burned
in incinerators.

 Amount of PVC dumped in landfills:
 116,088 tons/year discarded in landfills.  New York State is #3 in the country for amount of PVC
dumped in landfills.

Dioxin: Harmful to Children’s Health

Dioxins Targeted for Phase-Out By 170 Nations Around World.
 Worst of the worst:
Persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic (PBT).

 Lowered testosterone
levels  Decreased sperm counts  Decreased testis size  Birth defects

 Remember Agent Orange?

 Known carcinogen – IARC,

 Reproductive  Endometriosis  Decreased fertility  Inability to carry
pregnancies to term

 Developmental  Learning disabilities  Decreased IQ  Delays in psychomotor &

NYC Firefighters Concerned about Vinyl Building Fires
 NY Telephone Co. Fire of 1975
"There's no question that exposure to PVC and other horrible contaminants at the telephone fire has led to a higher level of cancers.“ --Former NYC Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen

 9/11
“PVC is among the most serious dangers to humans and the environment when it is burned. It releases dioxin, which is widely considered to be one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, and virtually every resident of NYC has measurable levels of dioxin in their bodies.” -- Captain Alexander Hagan, President of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association (UFOA).

Part Three:

Let’s Create Greener, and Healthier Buildings and Schools
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing to Prevent Pollution


Healthcare Institutions Phasing Out Vinyl and Phthalates
 Over 100 healthcare institutions
around the world are reducing or phasing out PVC and phthalates in hospitals.

“Hospitals, health groups use purchasing power to push for greener medical products” -$135 BILLION in purchasing power – asking suppliers whether products contain vinyl and phthalates.

Architects Specifying PVCfree Building Materials

American Public Health Association (APHA): 2011 Policy Resolution to Reduce PVC in Facilities with Vulnerable Populations
The APHA… “urges local, state and federal governments and decision-makers to consider phasing out the use and purchase of flexible PVC in building materials, consumer products, and office suppliers in schools, daycare centers, medical care facilities, nursing homes, public housing, facilities for special needs and the disabled, and other facilities with vulnerable populations when cost-effective alternatives are available.”

EPEAT Certification for Greener Electronics

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC): New LEED Credits

LEED Pilot Credit 54 LEED v4 credit out for public comment Both would reward buildings that avoid phthalates, and other hazardous chemicals of concern in buildings.

Good News! Safer PVC-free Alternatives for Buildings.
 Flooring: Linoleum, Rubber,
Cork (Forbo, Altro, Armstrong, Mohawk, etc.)
(various manuf.)

 Wallguards: HDPE,
Polyethylene, biobased (various)

 Carpeting: Various materials
(Shaw, Milliken, Mohawk, Interface, Construction Specialties)

 Office furniture: Herman
Miller, Steelcase

 Roofing: TPO, EPDM
(Firestone Building Products, Carlisle SynTec, John Mansville)

 Shower curtains: EVA, PEVA,
Polyester, Nylon (Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, WalMart, Sears / Kmart)

Safer PVC-free School / Office Supplies.
 Desktop Computers: Acer,
Apple, HP/Compaq, Wipro Nokia, Sony, Toshiba Vision, Green Office, ReBinder) coated, nylon coated.

 Laptops: Apple, Asus, HP,  Paperclips: Non-plastic  Monitors: Acer, Apple,
Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung

 Notebook dividers: PE, PP
(Avery, Office Depot, Staples, Sustainable Group)

 3-ring binders:
Polyethylene, HDPE, recycled cardboard (Avery, Wilson Jones, Green

Resources Featuring Safer Alternatives -free-products/

Are They Actually Safer?
The report found that while linoleum, synthetic rubber, and polyolefin also pose some environmental hazards, they are more preferable than vinyl flooring across their lifecycle.
Of the four materials evaluated, they found that linoleum was the most preferable material from an environmental health and lifecycle perspective.

USGBC: Alternatives to Vinyl Flooring are Safer for Human Health & Environment
“The evidence indicates that a credit rewarding avoidance of PVC could steer decision makers toward using materials that are better for human health in the case of resilient flooring... sheet vinyl and VCT are worse than the alternative materials studied for most environmental impacts” "When we add end-of-life with accidental landfill fires and backyard burning, the additional risk of dioxin emissions puts PVC consistently among the worst materials for human health impacts..." -USGBC Technical Science Advisory Committee (TSAC) final report.

Assessing Materials – Health Care Without Harm
FIGURE 1. PLASTICS: ENVIRONMENTAL PREFERENCE SPECTRUM Ÿ Plastics with highly hazardous additives Ÿ ABS Ÿ EVA Ÿ Polycarbonate Ÿ PEX Ÿ PET Ÿ Polystyrene Ÿ Polyurethane Ÿ Silicone Ÿ Biobased Ÿ Polyethylene plastics – Ÿ Polypropylene sustainably Ÿ TPO grown PREFER
PEX = Polyethylene (PE) Cross-linked (X) PVC = Polyvinyl Chloride TPO = Thermoplastic Polyolefin


ABS = Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene EVA = Ethylene Vinyl Acetate PET = Polyethylene Terephthalate

Linoleum vs. Vinyl: Cost Savings

What’s Being Done in NY?
What Can You Do?

New York State Green Procurement: Executive Order 4
 NYS Executive Order 4:  2010: NYS adopted a
Greening NYS government procurement.
guidance policy encouraging NYS agencies to consider avoiding 85 chemical of concern in products purchased by NY state.

 PVC chemicals on the list:
dioxin, phthalates, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride.

 OGS developed PVC-free

carpeting specifications to implement list.

NYC Green Procurement Vinyl and Dioxin
 Local Law 118 and 120 of 2005:
“By January 1, 2008, the director shall promulgate rules to reduce the city’s purchase or lease of materials whose combustion may lead to the formation of dioxin or dioxin-like compounds.”

 In 2012 - DCAS and MOCS making progress on:  Office Supplies – working with STAPLES to reduce PVC office supplies  Carpeting – new 2012 DCAS specification prohibits PVC in carpeting  Electronics – EPEAT - no PVC allowed in large plastic parts.
“Specifically, DCAS is negotiating with Staples with the aim of creating detailed shopping lists to guide agency users to nontoxic and PVC-free products—advancing the goals of Local Law 120….City efforts to reduce the use of dioxin-creating products will continue.” NYC Deputy Mayor Cass Holloway (April 2012)

Start an Environmentally Preferable Purchasing and Building Policy!
 Encouraging your school or institution to adopt a Green
Purchasing Policy  Disclosure – Require suppliers to disclose which products
contain PVC and hazardous chemicals (phthalates, heavy metals like Pb and Cd) – signal to market.  Add PVC-free specifications into contracts with suppliers – leverage purchasing power.  Preference for greener materials.  Partner with suppliers.

 Buy off of State E04 and federal green contracts (i.e. EPEAT

New Green Purchasing Fact-sheets / webpage:
1) Toxic Chemicals in Products and Building Materials Commonly Purchased by NY Schools and Government Agencies Opportunities for Purchasers to Prevent Pollution by Specifying and Promoting Safer Products 2) New York and National Environmentally Preferable Purchasing and Building Policies to Promote Safer Products 3) Green Purchasing to Reduce Toxic Hazards and Procure Safer Products Best Practices for Pollution Prevention in New York 4) Resources for Government and School Purchasers to Identify and Specify Safer Products and Building Materials

What Can You Do as a Teacher or Parent?
Green Purchasing:
green PVC-free purchasing policy for products the school purchases.

Raise Awareness:
building architects and purchasers!

1) Encourage your school to adopt a 1) Share the new fact-sheets with

2) Encourage your school to
build/renovate with PVC-free building materials.

2) Educate parents, teachers and students! Organize a screening of Blue Vinyl for your community to raise awareness. 3) Spread the word!

3) Back to school – go PVC-free!
When buying your back-to-school supplies, shop for PVC-free products.

Learn More & Thank You.
Funding provided by the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute through a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Environmental Conservation

Mike Schade, Markets Campaign Coordinator Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) 212.964.3680

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