The next meeting of the Chemical Release Prevention Program Roadmap Planning Team will be Friday, March 20, 2015 from 10-12pm at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (First Floor Conference Room). This and all meetings of the Chemical Release Prevention Program Roadmap Planning Team are open to the public and include time for public comment.
Please take just a moment to send this important message to the CEOs of the three largest dollar store chains asking them to adopt policies to identify, dislose, and replace hazardous chemicals in the products they sell.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, February 4, 2015
New Report Finds 81% of Dollar Store Products Tested Contain One or More Hazardous Chemicals Linked to Learning Disabilities, Cancer & Other Serious Illnesses
People Concerned About Chemical Safety Joins More than 100 Organizations Call on Dollar Stores to Protect Communities of Color and Low-Income Families from Toxic Products
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions – a group of over 100 health, community, and environmental justice organizations around the country – released a report today about toxic chemicals found in Dollar store products. The report — A Day Late and a Dollar Short: Discount Retailers are Falling Behind on Safer Chemicals – includes testing results for 164 dollar store products such as toys, jewelry, school supplies and other household items, that found over 81% (133 of 164) contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern. 15 of these products were purchased from Dollar stores in the Kanawha Valley.
The campaign also sent a letter today to the CEO’s of the four largest Dollar store chains — including Family Dollar (tentatively acquired by Dollar Tree on January 22), Dollar Tree, Dollar General, and 99 Cents Only – urging them to stop the sale of products with hazardous chemicals to communities of color and low-income families, who already live in more polluted areas and “food deserts,” and adopt policies that will protect both customers and their businesses. Combined these discount chains have sales totaling over $36 billion and operate more stores nationally than Walmart.
“Many West Virginians struggling to make ends meet are confined to shopping at dollar stores for everyday products,” said Maya Nye, Executive Director of People Concerned About Chemical Safety. “Many of these products contain chemicals known to cause birth defects, cancer, learning disabilities and diabetes among other serious illnesses. Everyone deserves access to healthy products, not just those who can afford it.”
The chemicals of concern found in Dollar store products tested for this report include: phthalates, linked to birth defects, reduced fertility, cancer, learning disabilities, diabetes, and other health issues; polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC or vinyl), which creates hazards throughout its life cycle and has been linked to asthma and lung effects; and toxic metals such as lead, which harms brain development, leading to learning disabilities, lower IQ, and cause other serious health impacts, especially in children.
Other key findings from A Day Late and a Dollar Short include:
49% of products tested (80 of 164) contained two or more hazardous chemicals above levels of concern;
38% of the products tested (63 of 164) contained the toxic plastic PVC (vinyl);
32% of a subset of vinyl products tested for phthalates (12 of 38) contained levels of phthalates above the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) limit for children’s products.
12 of the 20 products purchased in the Kanawha Valley had levels of chlorine from 3 to over 100 times greater than the level of concern.
One toy purchased in the Kanawha Valley, Silly Straws, contained levels of phthalates greater than the CPSC regulated limit for children’s products.
In addition, 40% of sales at Dollar stores go toward food products (not tested for this report) – much of which is highly processed with low nutritional quality, and whose packaging is another potential source of toxic chemicals including bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic hormone linked to breast and others cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease.
Fortunately, there is a growing movement by mainstream retail and manufacturing brands – including Target and Walmart – to respond to consumer demand for safer products with publicly-available corporate policies that identify, disclose, and replace priority toxic chemicals with safer alternatives. By failing to address toxic chemicals through comprehensive policies, Dollar chains are not only putting their customers at risk, they are exposing their businesses to the fate of companies like Mattel, which lost 18% of its value after recalling toys with lead paint, and Sigg USA, which went bankrupt after failing to disclose toxic BPA in its water bottles.
“Many safer products are available. There are also a number of resources available to help Dollar stores transition to healthier solutions for their customers,” says Maya Nye.
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is asking for a comprehensive set of reforms, including that:
Discount Retailers immediately remove children’s products found to contain regulated phthalates and lead from store shelves; and adopt comprehensive corporate chemical management policies to identify, disclose, and remove hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and from all products in their stores, beginning with their house brands.
Local, State, and Federal Governments ensure that discount retailers comply with all relevant laws and regulations; and adopt public policies (such as Maine’s Kid-Safe Products Law and Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act) that require manufacturers and retailers to disclose hazardous chemicals in products, research alternatives, and remove hazardous chemicals when alternatives are available, effective, and safer.
Families and Communities let Dollar store chains know that they want safer products, and join local and national efforts advocating for nontoxic products.
The Campaign for Healthier Solutions is led by Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform. Participating organizations include: Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Environmental Health, Clean and Healthy New York, Clean Water Action, Coming Clean, Greenpeace, Healthy Building Network, Learning Disabilities Association of America, Lideres Campesinas, Los Jardines Institute, Moms Clean Air Force, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, Women’s Voices for the Earth.
DUNBAR, WV – People across the Kanawha Valley had a chance to have their voices heard about how to improve chemical safety. The goal of the meetings allowed residents a chance to have conversations about local chemical safety and to find out what solutions other states have implemented.
“I came here today to become empowered and educated, so I can go out in my community and have information,” said Cyndi McGill of Nitro.
Clark spoke in Charleston on Friday as part of a two-day Summit on Chemical Safety in West Virginia, sponsored by the group People Concerned About Chemical Safety. The event continues Saturday at Ferguson Baptist Church, in Dunbar.
DUNBAR, W.Va. — Friday marked the start of a two-day summit on chemical safety that will explore solutions to prevent chemical disasters in West Virginia.
Especially those at highest risk like people living in lower income neighborhoods that are situated right next door to some of the Kanawha Valley’s biggest chemical plants.
On the fifth anniversary of the fatal incident at the DuPont facility in Belle, people concerned about chemical safety are hosing the summit.
The summit is part of a year-long project dedicated to exploring recommendations made by the Chemical Safety Board, and to developing a roadmap for preventing another chemical release in West Virginia.
The summit continues Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Ferguson Memorial Baptist Church on Marshall Avenue in Dunbar.
Extra special thanks to Mike Youngren with Volunteer Video for helping us out!
The next meeting of the Chemical Release Prevention Program Roadmap Planning Team will be part of the Looking Forward: Summit on Chemical Safety in West Virginia. Click here for details and to register.
Maya Nye, People Concerned About Chemical Safety
304-389-6859 or email@example.com
Emmett Pepper, WV International Film Festival
917-617-8208 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
West Virginia’s premiere of “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain”
Marking the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal Disaster, West Virginia International Film Festival presents the West Virginia premiere of “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” sponsored by People Concerned About Chemical Safety.
On December 2, 1984, a tragic gas release from a Union Carbide facility in Bhopal, India killed thousands of people instantly and caused long-term effects for many more. Thirty years has passed since the world’s worst industrial disaster yet many don’t know that the effects are ongoing.
“Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain,” is a fictionalized drama based on real events. It tells the story of Dilip, a rickshaw driver in Bhopal, India, who lands himself a job at the Union Carbide plant to pay for his sister’s wedding. On a mission to expose what he believes is a deadly time bomb, Dilip’s long time friend, Motwani, a tabloid journalist, persuades feisty American journalist, Eva, to delve deeper into Carbide’s activities. Motwani’s fears come to fruition on the night of his Dilip’s sister’s wedding, as they become statistics in the world’s largest chemical disaster to date.
Lining out the cast of “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” is Mischa Barton, Kal Penn, and Martin Sheen. Mischa Barton, who plays Eva, is best known for her work on the award-winning Fox television show, “The O.C.” Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner Martin Sheen, who plays Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson, is best known for his roles in Francis Ford Coppola’s landmark film “Apocalypse Now” and as President Josiah Bartlet in the acclaimed television series “The West Wing.” While Kal Penn, who plays Motwani, is best known for his role as Kumar in “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” his other well-known role is in the White House serving President Obama’s administration in the Office of Public Engagement.
Maya Nye, Executive Director of People Concerned About Chemical Safety, a local organization dedicated to prevention of chemical disasters, says that, “the Bhopal Disaster hit close to home for many people living in the Kanawha Valley with economic ties to Union Carbide. It reminded us how vulnerable we are.”
The film’s writer and director, Ravi Kumar, says that, “[t]he event is old enough, so most of the facts have been revealed and also there’s also an emotional distance to the tragedy to make an objective assessment of how the events unfolded… The reason for making this film is not to play the blame game, but learn from history so another tragedy can be avoided.”
Emmett Pepper, President of WV International Film Festival, stated that “the timely release of this film and strong connection to the region made it a no-brainer for us to partner for this screening. We are very happy to be having this screening with a discussion afterward, to give context and meaning to the movie-going experience.”
West Virginia’s premiere of “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” will be Thursday, December 4th at 7:00 PM at the LaBelle Theatre in South Charleston. A panel discussion will follow the film. Tickets are $5 at the door. Donations supporting the people of Bhopal will be accepted at the door. For more information on the event, visit www.chemsafety.org or call 304-389-6859.
On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, Mr. Warne “Ponce De” Leon Ferguson, 87, passed away peacefully at his home in Institute, WV after a week of loving care from his daughters whom he shared with his beloved wife of 42 years, Gail Marie.
Warne spent his formative years in Institute, and reveled in the fact that he had been educated on the campus of WVSC exclusively, starting in kindergarten in a segregated normal school, graduating to the WV State High School, and continuing to WVSC; interrupted by a voluntary enrollment in the Army after the Pearl Harbor attacks where he served as an Air Corps Bomb Tech Specialist, at Hickam Field AFB in Hawaii. Upon his return, he earned his Bachelor’s degree from WVSC, graduating with a degree in Health, Fitness and Physiology, and became a letterman in 3 sports: Tennis, Golf and Basketball.
He relocated to NYC after his studies, where he worked and ultimately would retire from the NY Board of Education, having taught in the elementary schools of Harlem. Warne was regarded throughout Manhattan as a pioneer for children’s fitness, but his proudest moments came from work as the recreation director of various afterschool programs for the Children’s Aid Society. In later years, he would go on to champion tennis programs for underserved youth and coach as part of the Jr. American Tennis Association in both NY and Charleston, WV. While in NY, he utilized his proximity to the Univ. of Mass at Amherst to pursue his Master’s degree.
It was also in NY that he would meet the love of his life, Gail Marie Jackson, and start a family. Eventually, he would move his family back to WV, but not before he put his wife through law school at Georgetown University while advancing his career in NYC. Shortly before she graduated, he began his service to WVSC as the Director of Upward Bound and Special Services Programs, a position he would hold for over 10 years.
Upon his return to the WV area, he continued his quest for social justice by founding the grassroots organization, People Concerned About MIC (now People Concerned About Chemical Safety), as a community advocate and activist. Warne was particularly interested in protecting the communities of Institute and West Dunbar from the environmental racism they had been subjected to since the early 1920s. He persevered and lived to witness the dismantling of the MIC production units in his community.
Warne was also able to claim fame for being the first African American “allowed” to play in the WV Public Courts tennis tournament. Breaking through the color barrier, was his opportunity to become the first African American to win a division at those same tournaments. He would go on to win over 5 Championships in various divisions of the Public Courts. Although he was a natural athlete with a keen eye and talent for basketball, tennis, table tennis, and football punting, it was golf for which he had a passion. In his retirement he lived on the golf course, becoming affectionately known as “Sweet Swinging Ferg.” When he wasn’t playing golf, he would most certainly be attending to his wife who pre-deceased him, spending time with loved ones, and assisting infirmed friends.
In the twilight of years and even through his most recent illness, one could easily find him at the Kroger’s deli in Dunbar, coffee in hand, communing with friends and employees, joking and telling tales of his love of family, jazz and a life well lived. He will be missed.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Gail Marie (nee Jackson); parents Daniel L. and Katherine W. Ferguson; siblings, Jane E. Ferguson, Daniel L. Ferguson, Jr., Katherine L. Ferguson, Stewart Ferguson and Raynina Swann; 2 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; and 2 nephews. He leaves to mourn his death a son, Ricky Bowles of MI; daughters, Deborah Lynn Powell of OH, Gregg Suzanne McAllister of WV, Kathy L. Ferguson of WV and Hillary Ferguson Jackson (Jodi) of DC; brothers, Joseph T. Ferguson and Gurnett E. Ferguson (Phyllis), both of OH, and sister, Sue Ann Davis of WV; 9 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; 4 nieces; 2 nephews; and a host of cousins and extended family.
A wake will be held on Friday, Nov. 14, 2014 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Davis Fine Arts Bldg. on the campus of WVSU, Institute, WV. Formal Funeral Services will be held Sat., Nov 15, 2014 at Ferguson Memorial Baptist Church, located at 12 Marshall Ave., Dunbar, WV. A viewing will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., immediately followed by the services. The interment will be at Grandview Memorial Park in Dunbar. Arrangements entrusted to Preston Funeral Home of Charleston.