Cleaner Air and Water for Schools with Proposed Michigan House Bill Package

A group of Michigan lawmakers has proposed new legislation that could impact the health and wellness of students across the state. The seven proposed bills target K-12 public school districts to increase protections for indoor air and water quality, site environmental quality, address enhanced lighting and energy performance standards and include a process for expanding classroom-based environmental literacy.

The bills, introduced by State Reps. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown Township, Kristy Pagan, D-Canton, Robert Wittenberg, D-Oak Park, and Henry Yanez, D-Sterling Heights will move to committee for further development. Their further development offers promising conversations on how to save money on energy bills, reduce operating expenses, and improve the quality of classroom environments.

“So if we want our kids to be healthy enough to attend school and to do well in school, then we need to make sure they have a healthy school environment,” Chang said. “These bills outline steps our schools and the state can take, such as my bill that addresses school sitting, to create a healthier physical environment for our students.”

The legislators also announced the formation of the Better Classroom Caucus, which Rep. Wittenberg will chair, to address environmental and health factors in schools. The Ecology Center will be following this effort and encourages healthy, high-performance investments in our classrooms and the students and teachers they support.  

Published on September 27, 2017

Zero Waste Washtenaw

Working with community events to divert 6.4 tons of waste since 2015

In May 2015, Recycle Ann Arbor was awarded a $19,500 "pollution prevention" grant from the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to expand Zero Waste events throughout Washtenaw County. The grant partners were the Washtenaw County Office of the Water Resources Commissioner (Solid Waste Department) and Amcor Rigid Plastics. 

Zero Waste events work toward maximizing materials composted, recycled, or reused while minimizing the overall trash (to landfill) produced. The Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) qualifies "reaching zero waste" as achieving a diversion rate of 90% or greater. Though a good benchmark, we believe any amount of waste not going to the landfill is a success worth celebrating at Zero Waste events!

Although Recycle Ann Arbor had been hosting Zero Waste events since 2012, partnering with Washtenaw County Solid Waste allowed us to share resources including staff, supplies, and community connections to further expand our reach in Washtenaw County. The successful collaboration became known as "Zero Waste Washtenaw" which included new program branding and a website; www.zerowastewashtenaw.com

While the grant funding ended in September 2017, the program momentum will continue thanks to the commitment of our grant partners, community event organizers, and dedicated program volunteers. Zero Waste Washtenaw exceeded its original purpose and achieved much in the two years of the grant. Some of the program highlights accomplished over the grant period are: 

  • 6.4 tons of waste was diverted from the landfill
  • Average diversion rate per event was 89% over 40 events
  • 62,000 attendees were reached through community and private events
  • The largest event, "Taste of Ann Arbor", had 18,000 attendees
  • Amcor Rigid Plastics committed 50 volunteer hours to the program
  • Recycle Ann Arbor hired a Zero Waste Event Assistant to support the program 
  • Community discussions began about creating a Zero Waste event ordinance for Ann Arbor
  • An attendee survey conducted at the 2017 Ann Arbor Earth Day Festival found 96% of those surveyed had a better understanding of "zero waste" after having attended the event 

If you are interested in hosting your own Zero Waste event or volunteering for the program, please contact Christine@recycleannarbor.org for more information

Article first appeared on Recycle Ann Arbor's website

Published on September 27, 2017

DEARborn Recyclers Are Making a Difference

55,000 lbs is a lot of trash. It’s hard to imagine how big a pile it’d make. That’s how much recyclable material student-led teams in Dearborn Public Schools diverted from landfill last school year. This school year, they aim to divert double that amount. Through the Dearborn Education and Action on Recycling (DEAR) program, these young environmental stewards are leading change in their community– lowering the recycling contamination rate through increased recycling knowledge.   

In 2015, representatives from the City of Dearborn invited Ecology Center and Recycle Ann Arbor to discuss the status of Dearborn recycling and brainstorm methods for tackling the growing issue of contamination in Dearborn’s residential service. City officials reported that Dearborn’s residential carts were well-used, and residents were eager to recycle, but often carts were filled with materials that the current recycling system cannot handle. Bricks, clothing, plastic bags, Styrofoam, yard waste, food, and furniture were regularly making their way into neighborhood curbside carts.

From this initial brainstorm, the DEAR program developed as a means to utilize recycling education in public schools to reduce the contamination rate of the City’s recyclables.  In the program’s first year, over 17,000 individuals gained access to school recycling, and over 11,000 students and staff participated in education.   

Dearborn is a community with a long, proud, history of recycling, setting up one of the first curbside pick-up systems in the state.  Since that time, residential recycling has gone through a lot of changes – new technologies, new materials, new markets.  The recycling center, where recycled materials are sorted and bundled for sale to remanufacturers, uses technologies that can limit the type, size, or shape of materials a curbside system can accept. Whether or not you can dispose of material in your recycling cart often depends on if the recycling center has a contract with a buyer for that material.  These factors contribute to why recycling rules can differ so from place to place and over time. Keeping the public informed and active with the ins and outs of local recycling is an ongoing challenge for municipalities, and Dearborn has been no exception.

Conversations with residents and community organizations such as ACCESS helped to identify the need for new educational approaches and resources tailored to Dearborn’s diverse population.  Schools are trusted social centers for Dearborn’s neighborhoods and were in need of recycling services.  Dearborn Education and Action on Recycling (DEAR) has grown from two pilot schools in spring 2015 to now include 30 public schools. Generous funding from the AETNA Foundation and significant financial investment from the City of Dearborn has allowed the DEAR program to grow.

Administrators, teachers, and facility personnel responded to DEAR with great enthusiasm, and they have put in tremendous effort over the past year to make recycling a part of the district’s school culture.  Each school is unique, posing distinct challenges for setting up a recycling system and making it accessible to all. While one school faces the hurdle of physically transporting recycling within a three-story building, another school tries out different methods for monitoring milk carton recycling in the lunchroom, and yet another focuses on translating recycling education for non-native English speakers to make it appropriate for all.

The real success of DEAR lies with the initiative students have taken to run the recycling programs in their schools, problem-solve to address school-specific challenges, and carry what they have learned out into the broader community. Some of the earliest schools to come onboard, Long Elementary, Salina ES Elementary, and Salina Intermediate have been particularly successful establishing student-led recycling systems. With some adult supervision, students manage the recycling collection inside the building and make sure it is placed at the curb outside for weekly pick-up.  Students use data sheets to survey each cart weekly and keep a running log of how much recycling, what type of recyclables, and types of contamination they see. Students also help to educate their peers; they even created a video to educate family members about recycling.  

Due to the popularity of the program, high schools joined the program this school year.  All public schools now have the same recycling service that residents throughout the City of Dearborn receive.  Since the beginning of the program, over 11,000 individuals have participated directly in recycling assemblies or hands-on training led by Ecology Center educators.  Student surveys indicate that student knowledge about recycling increased 44% after participating in recycling education. The students help divert more than 55,000 pounds of low-contamination recycling from the landfill.  These numbers are expected to double over the next school year as we focus on creating greater capacity among local adults to act as leaders on recycling education and advocacy.  In January 2018, a Master Recycling Educator Training will help 48 local citizens become recycling leaders, trained with the skills and knowledge to continue recycling education and serve as community advocates.

The Ecology Center has been developing effective recycling education for over 30 years. Building local capacity is at the heart of how the Ecology Center works within a community.  It is our goal to step back after this year as the local schools, residents, and City officials work together with renewed understanding and established systems for communicating and mutually supporting an ongoing recycling partnership.  

The residents of Dearborn are highly motivated to recycle and sincerely value the need to manage waste responsibly.  Teachers and parents who have participated in recycling education events hosted at neighborhood schools are interested in the topic of waste, often bring diverse, multi-cultural perspectives to the meaning of “recycle,” and have suggested improvements to the current waste management system.  This kind of active dialog between informed residents and local service providers has the potential to seed further local collaboration and long-term system improvements.

The future of the DEAR program depends on the students, their parents, and teachers along with the community around them. The students and staff participating in the program have demonstrated the dedication and innovation needed to succeed. And, when DEAR succeeds, recycling succeeds. And, that’s a win for all of us.

 

Published on September 27, 2017

Expanding Electric Vehicles in Michigan Would Generate Billions in Savings

Report shows massive potential for growth in MI ahead of Michigan Technical Conference on Alternative Fuel Vehicles

Chevy Volt

Lansing, MI, August 8, 2017— A new report released today by M.J. Bradley & Associates, and commissioned by Charge Up Midwest, found expanding electric vehicles could save Michigan families, drivers and electricity customers billions of dollars over the next three decades. The report also found there is significant potential for growth for electric vehicles in Michigan. 

“Our study estimated the costs and benefits of increases in plug-in electric vehicles in the state of Michigan and found significant potential for electric vehicle growth and subsequent savings for residents,” said Brian Jones, senior vice president of M.J. Bradley & Associates. “Our highest projections are very attainable if the utilities, regulators and the private sector aggressively pursue electric vehicle adoption in Michigan.”

The report includes both “moderate” and “high” adoption scenarios based on Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and Bloomberg forecasts, respectively. According to the Bloomberg forecast, by 2050, up to 55.7 percent of all passenger vehicles and trucks in Michigan could be powered by electric vehicle technology. Key findings for cumulative financial benefits from mainstream Electric vehicle adoption in Michigan include:

  • Reduced electricity bills for utility customers are $800 million (moderate) and $2.6 billion (high) by 2050 
  • Savings from ownership of an EV compared to a gasoline vehicle are $6.3 billion (moderate) and $23.1 billion (high) by 2050
  • Societal benefits from reduced pollution are $1.5 billion (moderate) and $5.7 billion (high) by 2050

“The benefits of electric vehicles for Michigan are significant – especially when it comes to the potential for new auto sector jobs and protecting our air, land and Great Lakes,” said Charles Griffith, Climate and Energy Program Director for the Ecology Center. “In order to maintain Michigan’s leadership in the auto industry, as well as realize the economic and environmental benefits of reducing our use of imported petroleum, government, the private sector and utilities must work together to create smart policies and investment strategies to support the emerging electric vehicle sector.” 

Tomorrow, the Michigan Public Service Commission is hosting the Michigan Technical Conference on Alternative Fuel Vehicles. At the conference, automakers, electric utilities, charging station companies and other stakeholders will discuss the future of electric vehicles in Michigan.

“Michigan, the birthplace of the auto industry, could lead the electric vehicle revolution,” said Luke Tonachel, Director of Natural Resource Defense Council's Clean Vehicles and Fuels Project. “With the right infrastructure, electric vehicles can be an economic and environmental force that cuts pollution, lowers electricity rates, while being cheaper to operate than conventional gasoline vehicles.”

The report examined other benefits, including reduced oil use and lower greenhouse gas emissions in Michigan, including:

  • Gasoline saved annually: 138.6 million gallons (moderate) and 243.6 million gallons (high) by 2030
  • Greenhouse gas emissions reduced annually: 1.9 million tons (moderate) and 7.7 million tons (high) by 2050

“Accelerating the use of electric vehicles in Michigan will reduce dangerous pollution and protect our air, land and Great Lakes, said Joe Halso, Associate Attorney with the Sierra Club. “Now is the time to put Michigan on the road to cleaner air, a better grid, and a stronger economy by improving drivers' access to our cleanest and cheapest transportation fuel: electricity.”

 

###

Published on March 9, 2017

Detroit Incinerator an Assault on Justice

Mayor Mike Duggan has taken recent actions, both quiet and public, that signify his commitment to the health and well-being of Detroiters. He spoke to a large audience at the Mackinac Policy Conference chronicling how racist policies at the federal and local levels disenfranchised and impoverished Detroit’s African American families. He committed to do better than his predecessors, promising “One city for all of us.” Then without much fanfare, Mayor Duggan signed onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement, committing the city to reducing carbon emissions to below 1990 levels. One action--shutting down Detroit’s trash incinerator--could help Mayor Duggan make good on both of his recent commitments.

The Detroit trash incinerator, one of the largest in the world, is a prime example of environmental racism. Here is a facility that pumps out carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, and particulate matter daily, and whose operators have violated the Clean Air Act 379 times since January 2015. All of these pollutants contribute to climate change. And they all contribute to health concerns of local residents. Residents who are predominantly African American and low income.

The fact that much of the trash comes from whiter, more affluent communities, such as Oakland County and the Grosse Pointes, exacerbates the inequity of the situation. This concern and others prompted several organizations to join with residents to form Breathe Free Detroit, a new campaign aimed at closing the Detroit incinerator. In February we began working with residents who were concerned about pollution from the incinerator. On a blustery night this past March, almost two hundred residents packed a public hearing to object to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s slap-on-the-wrist fine and bulk discount for repeated violations by the corporation that runs the incinerator.

Residents stood up and spoke about how they--or their children--suffer as a result of the pollution, and dozens more submitted written comments to the same effect. Community members described chronic asthma so severe that it caused sleepless nights, loss of work and school, and even emergency room visits. Nurses spoke about providing emergency treatment to small children, opening their airways so they could breathe normally again. And having their hearts break when their young patients were released only to be exposed to the very same asthma-inducing pollution when they returned home.

Residents cited research from the University of Michigan that found air pollutants released by the incinerator cause and activate asthma and increase asthma-related hospitalizations for children. The emissions can also cause nonfatal heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, decreased lung function, coughing and difficulty breathing.  

Michigan Department of Community Health (now Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) has even labeled Detroit the “epicenter of asthma”. And yet, their sister department, the MDEQ, refused to take action. After hours of testimony and three months of deliberation, the MDEQ sent letters to every person who stood up that night in March, informing them they were going to do nothing. Nothing to bring the fines to a just amount, nothing to ease the suffering of those living in the shadow of the beast.

This is why neighborhood residents are hopeful when they hear Mayor Duggan has joined the U.S. Conference of Mayors in their dedication to curbing climate change. The same pollutants that cause climate change are also coming out of the incinerator and getting into the lungs and bloodstreams of those living nearby.

Please join us in calling on Mayor Duggan to continue to stand with the U.S. Conference of Mayors who recently adopted a resolution to work towards 100% renewable energy with language that specifically excludes incineration. Burning trash is a poor way to deal with reusable and recyclable resources. Mayor Duggan can take an important step toward a cleaner, greener, and healthier “city for all of us” by closing a 30-year chapter of incineration and moving Detroit toward the zero waste practices of the future.

Melissa Cooper Sargent, Green Living Resources Director, Ecology Center

William Copeland, Climate Justice Director, East Michigan Environmental Action Council

 

Published on July 25, 2017

#Resist #Rebuild #Create

The Trump Administration’s agenda threatens many of the environmental and public health gains of the last 50 years.  In just the Administration’s first 100 days, the President proposed a 33% cut to EPA’s budget; issued executive orders to roll back federal climate and vehicle emission regulations; eliminated science panels; and proposed massive deregulation.  These attacks will hurt all of us, but most acutely people of color,  the poor, and the disenfranchised.  Given these threats, we just can’t continue business as usual at the Ecology Center.

This moment in our nation’s history demands greater coordination across justice movements, bolder action and a hopeful long-term vision and strategy. It demands an outpouring of people, fighting to restore our country’s democratic institutions, to protect our communities, and to build an equitable and healthy future.

Campaign financing, legislative gerrymandering, media decentralization, and political polarization have left lawmakers hostage to special interests, and undermined the public’s belief in our democratic institutions  - making it very difficult to advance environmental and public health policy in many parts of the country, and nationally.  

We wrote earlier about the Three Unstoppable Forces to Halt the Trump Rollbacks, including market transformation, state and local action, and the grassroots opposition movement.  Those are areas where the Ecology Center has a long history of engagement and success.  Our work to respond to the Trump era agenda will be three-fold:

#Resist:  work with allies in the environmental movement and beyond to #Resist efforts to roll back important gains in environmental and civil rights protections.

#Rebuild: work to rebuild our democracy by helping to shore up democratic institutions

#Create the foundation of a more just, sustainable and healthy food system, a safe and ecological material economy, and a renewable and equitable energy system.   

#Resist

We are leading and supporting work to mobilize the grassroots opposition to public health and environmental rollbacks.  We’ve always worked together with partners around the country, and we’ll be joining forces with them to protect our communities and our health from the worst attacks of the Trump Administration and Congress.

#Rebuild

We are working to develop the most promising approaches to restoring the institutions of democracy.  Michigan’s partisan-based legislative redistricting process has created one of the country’s most badly gerrymandered political maps.  We will help develop a ballot initiative to create an independent commission to draw the state’s political boundary lines each decade following the national census.

#Create

We are working to create innovative solutions for healthy people and a healthy planet.  Join us in building the foundation for a better future:  

Published on May 30, 2017

Seriously? Seriously! Chemical Industry Advocate to Oversee Chemical Regulation at the EPA

 

Earlier this month Dr. Nancy Beck, a former advocate for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), was appointed as the new Deputy Administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). This move creates a major conflict of interest between Dr. Beck’s long history of advocating against chemical regulations. This conflict of interest signals that the EPA, under Administrator Pruitt, is increasingly putting the interest of regulated industries ahead of protecting people and the environment.

Dr. Beck has spent the last 5 years opposing EPA’s safety regulations and scientific findings. While serving as the Senior Director of Regulatory Science Policy at the ACC, Beck consistently fought against rules that govern the use of harmful chemicals. These efforts were all geared towards protecting the financial interests of chemical giants. The ACC itself represents approximately 150 chemical companies that include DOW, DuPont, ExxonMobil, and Monsanto.

Within the EPA, the OCSPP is specifically responsible for assessing risks from chemicals and overseeing programs that prevent pollution and contamination. They work tirelessly to identify harmful chemicals and their potential risks to humans and the environment. Their conclusions drive the EPA’s policies regarding chemicals and their uses.

In the summer of 2016, the EPA passed the Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. This act delivers overdue amendments to the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – the nation’s central chemical management law. The Lautenberg Act was passed with the intention to reevaluate chemicals, create new risk standards, and increase transparency to the public. At the time of its passage we knew that the new law’s impact would depend on how it is administered by the EPA. We were worried about how it might be implemented then, we’re downright terrified about it now!

Dr. Beck’s new role will put her at the center of how chemical safety is assessed in our country. Given her previous role working against Lautenberg and trying to deregulate chemical companies, she serves as a direct conflict of interest in this matter. In addition to this, she also has a history of publicly criticizing the EPA’s program for determining chemical toxicity, especially when findings call for stricter regulations.

This conflict generates a great threat to the health and safety of both people and the environment. The connection between Dr. Beck and the industries she’s supposed to be regulating are too close to assume a fair implementation process. Efforts to remove Dr. Beck from the task of implementing the Lautenberg Act and similar regulatory policies need to be taken to ensure that the safest chemical policies are reached.

The Ecology Center joined organizations from across the country in calling on Administrator Pruitt to review the ethical issues and potential conflicts of interest surrounding Dr. Beck and her new role. You can join this effort by signing the petition to EPA Administrator Pruitt to evaluate the potential conflict of interest that Dr. Beck holds in relation to her new position. Acting now could help stop chemical policy rollbacks that will impact our health for generations to come. 

Published on May 30, 2017

We Want Affordable Non-Toxic Car Seats!

"We want affordable, non-toxic car seats!" This is the call of our new campaign, the Car Seat Detox Challenge. After the recent release of UPPAbaby’s innovative Mesa Henry infant car seat—which relies on wool instead of chemicals to achieve flammability standards—we are asking all car seat manufacturers to detox.

The Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff program found brominated flame retardants in 87% of (13 out of 15) seats recently tested (Read the report: Traveling with Toxics: Flame Retardants and Other Chemicals in Children’s Car Seats). Flame retardants have been shown to migrate out of products to contaminate air and dust and can be absorbed dermally as well. Brominated flame retardants, in particular, persist in the environment, bio-accumulate in our bodies, and are associated with an array of harmful effects, including reduced IQ, developmental delays, autism, hormone disruption, reproductive harm, obesity, and cancer. And they are not needed!

UPPAbaby is leading the charge for non-toxic car seats. And a small handful of companies may not be far behind. Two of the models we tested (by Britax and Maxi-Cosi) were free of all brominated FRs. And two other models (by Clek and Orbit Baby) only contained brominated FRs in minor components, such as velcro or on the warning label. These brands, however, still rely on other flame retardant chemicals, which are thought to be less toxic.

But, with prices ranging from $190 for a Maxi-Cosi seat to $450 for a Clek seat (with UPPAbaby’s Mesa Henry tagged at $350), these less toxic and non-toxic options are not options at all for most people.

Industry-wide innovation is required to keep these harmful chemicals out of our children’s car seats—and make them affordable for everyone. According to our testing, lower cost car seats, such as those made by Graco, Baby Trend, Cosco, Evenflo, and Safety 1st still contain brominated FRs, including in the fabric and other components, which directly contact babies and children.

Therefore, the Ecology Center has joined with national partners to create the Car Seat Detox Challenge. This campaign challenges car seat manufacturers to advance their designs to eliminate hazardous chemicals. We are asking these five major manufacturers—Graco, Baby Trend, Cosco, Evenflo, and Safety 1st—to take on the challenge because an affordable car seat should not have to come with a chemical exposure cost.

Please visit—and join!—the Car Seat Detox Challenge Facebook group and sign the petition.

The Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff program has tested hundreds of children’s car seats over the past ten years. Visit HealthyStuff to see the 2016 car seat report.

 

Published on May 30, 2017

Car Seat Detox Challenge

National groups call on leading car seat brands to deliver toxic-free car seats

MAY 10, 2017Ecology Center, in collaboration with four national partner organizations, today issued a challenge to leading car seat manufacturers to develop and produce car seats without the use of toxic chemicals that can have harmful effects on children’s health.

The Car Seat Detox Challenge is a response to laboratory testing conducted by Ecology Center over the past ten years. Recent testing found that 87% of car seats tested by the Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program contained brominated flame retardants, which are potentially toxic and persistent in the environment. Halogenated compounds (including brominated flame retardants), triaryl phosphates and other added toxic flame retardant chemicals have been shown to migrate out of products to contaminate air and dust, potentially exposing children to harmful chemicals. Important note: Car seats provide vital crash protection. Children should always ride in a properly installed seat, regardless of the chemical hazard.

Ecology Center issued the challenge in partnership with four national groups: Getting Ready for Baby; Healthy Babies Bright Futures; Safer Chemicals, Healthy FamiliesMind the Store Campaign and Safer States. The groups challenge manufacturers to develop a safer chemicals policy within a year, create an action plan and eliminate and safely substitute hazardous chemicals in their products.

“It’s possible to make car seats that meet the federal standard without added flame retardants,” explains senior scientist Gillian Z. Miller, Ph.D. from the Ecology Center. “Leading car seat manufacturers should be using their technology and resources to make non-toxic car seats, and we know some of them are making good progress. Safe and affordable car seats should not have to come with the potential costs of chemical exposure.”

In April 2017, UPPAbaby unveiled its new MESA Henry car seat model, the first and only car seat to pass federal safety standards without the use of fire retardant chemicals. It did this by making material changes (such as using wool to make the fabric naturally fire resistant) to deliver a car seat without any added toxic flame retardants. UPPAbaby offers the new model in infant size only and at a price higher than the industry average.

“UPPAbaby has made a commendable step, showing it is possible to design car seats that pass legally mandated flammability tests without harmful additives,” says Melissa Cooper Sargent, Green Living Resources Director at the Ecology Center.  “We’d like to see Baby Trend, Cosco, Evenflo, Graco, and Safety 1st take up the challenge to protect millions of children each year from exposures to hazardous chemicals.”

Exposures to toxic flame retardants have been associated with an array of negative health effects including reduced IQ, developmental delays, autism, hormone disruption, reproductive harm, obesity, and cancer. Children are more vulnerable than adults to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals because their bodies and immune systems are still developing. Pound for pound, children breathe more air than adults and are prone to putting their hands and other objects in their mouths, further increasing the chance of exposure.  

The Car Seat Detox Challenge encourages parents, caregivers and concerned citizens to join the effort in calling upon manufacturers to develop safer car seats for children by signing the petition and joining the Car Seat Detox Challenge Facebook group.

ECOLOGY CENTER CAR SEAT STUDY

Ecology Center’s latest car seat study led to the development of the Car Seat Detox Challenge. Testing child car seats periodically for ten years, the Ecology Center has been tracking changes in chemical additives. Car seats are a required product in which babies and children often spend a few hours per day. The flame-retardant (FR) chemicals historically used in car seats to meet federal flammability standards include known carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and developmental toxicants. Exposure occurs through contamination of air and dust. Safer alternatives are available, and while testing has shown trends away from the worst chemicals, companies can still do much better. In the 2016 study, the Ecology Center analyzed flame retardants and other chemicals in 15 infant and toddler car seats purchased in 2016, including two from the United Kingdom. The brands tested for this study included BabyTrend, Britax, Chicco, Clek, Cosco, Diono, Evenflo, Graco, Joie (from the UK), Maxi-Cosi, Nuna, Orbit, Recaro, and Safety 1st. Three different analytical techniques were used: X-ray fluorescence, infrared spectroscopy, and gas chromatography with mass spectrometry. Please visit the Ecology Center’s 2016 Car Seat Study for more information.

####

PARTNERS

Healthy Babies, Bright Futures
Getting Ready for Baby
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families / Mind the Store
Safer States

Published on May 9, 2017

Local Governments Lead the Way Against Climate Change

Ann Arbor City Council soon to vote on major local climate funding

On April 22, over 100,000 people at the March for Science – in Washington DC and in local events around the country – sent a message to President Trump and Congress that facts matter.  On April 29, an even larger crowd is expected at the People’s Climate March, and at sister marches nationwide, to deliver the message that the U.S. can’t backtrack from solving the existential problem that climate science has informed us of.

At the same time, no one expects the federal government to move us forward in the fight against climate change, at least not during the next four years.  Instead, we’re looking for leadership in other places – and one of the most promising places is in local government.

You may not think of climate change as a local issue, but don’t tell that to city officials in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, or to New Yorkers after Hurricane Sandy.

Right here in Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan Climate Center reports that annual precipitation rates have increased 44.8% from 30 years ago, and the incidence of 100-year storms have increased by 41.2% in that same time period. Extreme storms will bring damaging winds and floodwaters adversely affecting our communities. The threat of climate change will not be equitably shared, and vulnerable communities will suffer the brunt of it.

What’s more, local governments can and will lead the charge for climate action. Our community can take action now to help curb the worst impacts of climate change. Climate solutions are implemented by city, counties, and states. So while the federal government will be working to dismantle climate action initiatives, cities, states, and counties have the opportunity to continue progress no matter what happens in Washington DC.

Right now, the Ann Arbor City Council is finalizing a two-year operating budget, and they’ve got their greatest opportunity yet to take a stand for climate action.

The Ann Arbor Climate Partnership, a collaboration of Ann Arbor Area citizen activists, organizations, and businesses working together to #ActOnClimate, the City’s Energy Commission and the City’s Environmental Commission, have offered a visionary Climate Proposal to be funded through this upcoming budget, laying out critical steps to prepare our community for the impacts of climate change and reduce our carbon footprint.

The proposal includes five new initiatives:

  1. Rain Ready Ann Arbor, an integrated climate adaptation program;
  2. “EnergySmart” Ann Arbor, an energy efficiency service;
  3. A2 Solar for All, to expand renewable energy in the city;
  4. Charge Up Ann Arbor, sparking the transition to cleaner transportation; and
  5. A2 Green Grants, a neighborhood grants program

If you care about what becomes of our community in the next 10 years or the next 100 years, taking action over the next month is crucial. Before the budget is decided upon, speak out.

Here’s what you can do to move climate action progress ahead in Ann Arbor:

  1. Attend next Monday, May 1st, City Council meeting and voice your support for climate action funding.

  2. Sign our petition.

  3. Sign up to receive updates from the Ann Arbor Climate Partnership.

  4. March with us on April 29th in Washington, or in Detroit, Lansing, or at other sister marches.  

Published on April 27, 2017

Pages