Women for a Healthy Environment's
"Living Well" Newsletter

Creating a Healthier Community
October 2014
WHE Logo

Thank you for recently visiting our booth at the health fair. Welcome to Fall and a school season that is in full swing! WHE introduced its Fragrance-Free School toolkit to every school district in the Commonwealth in August, thanks to the generous support of the Highmark Foundation. Click here to download a kit to share with your school today. It's always beneficial to have parents communicate this important information to their schools, as well.

Unfortunately, I can now relate on a more personal level to this topic. Just this week, my daughter encountered a situation in which one of her teachers sprayed a scent in the classroom. My daughter was nauseous and had a headache for the remainder of the day. We need school districts to pay stricter attention to this matter. No air fresheners, plug-ins, body sprays, perfume, etc. should ever be permitted in the school setting. Many scientific studies show the negative impact to our air quality...and health...as a result of using these products, especially when exposing them to such a vulnerable population - our children.

To that end, WHE staff spent time earlier this month walking the halls of the state Capitol, meeting with members of the Senate and House Education Committees. We were discussing the need to create healthier school environments, including the importance of a statewide green cleaning in schools bill. Our message was favorably received. As you know, this is a complicated process and we'll need your help and support in the upcoming months to get this legislation introduced and passed in the new year!

Finally, with this season comes falling leaves, picking pumpkins and trick or treating for many. Remember that leaves and pumpkins can be added to a compost pile. However, there are a few more tricks than treats when it comes to Halloween costumes and accessories. Read the article below to learn about harmful chemicals lurking in Halloween items. This is yet another example of the need for chemical reform, whether it's at the state or federal level. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to updating you over the next few months about several new WHE initiatives in the upcoming year...

Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis
Executive Director

PS Don't forget to turn your clocks back this weekend!
Halloween Items Found to Contain Harmful Chemicals

A study released by the Ecology Center's HealthyStuff.org project found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies. The Ecology Center tested 105 types of Halloween gear for substances including lead, flame retardants, tin compounds and phthalates -- harmful chemicals that are linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer. The products were purchased from top national retailers including CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. To read the full press release, please


Non-Toxic Halloween Tips

  1. Click here to take action! Contact your favorite retailers and ask them to sell non-toxic supplies.
  2. Avoid vinyl products: select cloth and natural materials for costumes and decorations.
  3. Make up and masks: Use paint and pencils made from clay or other natural ingredients, our make you own.
  4. Trick or Treating: use old pillow cases or reusable shopping bags.
  5. Pumpkins: Roast and eat the seeds and compost the pumpkin when you're done.
  6. Decorations: Avoid plastics and instead use paper, cardboard, leaves or other natural and recyclable materials for your decorations.
Creating a Healthier Home for Families

 WHE has expanded its programming to include educational sessions and training in the area of Maternal & Child Health. These workshops focus on creating a green, eco-friendly, healthier home environment for families. Thanks to the Heinz Endowments, these sessions are offered to organizations and agencies, as well as their clients, throughout southwestern PA and are free of charge! Session modules consist of multiple topics and are activity-based, making learning interactive and fun. A community, organization or agency may choose from one or several of the following: Healthy Homes, Healthy You; Creating a Healthy Start for Baby; and Food and Our Environment.


WHE has provided workshops to various agencies including the Allegheny County Health Department, Sister's Place, Kingsley Association, and Family Support Centers. Contact WHE to schedule a Maternal & Child Health education session in your community today at 412-420-2290 or email info@WomenForAHealthyEnvironment.org!


Teens on the Eco Scene Program Expands


Teens on the Eco Scene (TOTES) is in full swing and has already provided programming to eight schools in the southwestern PA region during this school-year alone! The TOTES program provides classroom and after- school STEM programming on topics such as Food and Our Environment, Free to Breathe: Indoor Air Quality, and Healthy Personal Care Products. The flexible curriculum has been implemented in various capacities including: family and consumer science, culinary, science, and health classes, after-school programs and youth-serving agencies. Contact Women for a Healthy Environment at 412-420-2290 to get Teens on the Eco Scene programming in your school or organization! This program is grant funded, so there is no fee to participate!

Food Day

On October 24th WHE celebrated Food Day with a Twitter chat. This is a day that raises awareness on topics including food justice, food insecurity, environmental/agricultural challenges, health, and much more. Food Day is also a celebration of real food. People everywhere are encouraged to enjoy and appreciate a meal made with real, whole, clean food ingredients. You can also celebrate Food Day in your own way. Below are 5 simple ways for anyone to get involved over the next few weeks:

  1. Cook a real meal for you and your family. For a bigger dinner party, invite your friends! Use as many organic/seasonal/fair trade items as possible! For Autumn recipe ideas, click here
  2. Watch a food film. There is a vast array of food films and documentaries to choose from, to help you find the perfect one, check out Food Day's Guide to Food Films here.
  3. Use everything in your refrigerator. On average, Americans waste 30% of the food that they buy, so take the food left in your fridge and make something delicious!
  4. Do your research. There are thousands of food articles out there. Find a topic that interests you and learn more about what you can do to improve the challenges facing our food system today.
  5. Patronize a restaurant that incorporates local foods into its menu planning.

WHE is Moving!

We have been fortunate to be housed at The Children's Institute since 2009. The goods news is we're both growing. In mid November, WHE will move to the Creative Workplace on Commerce Way in East Liberty (across from Whole Foods, adjacent to the AAA building). Stay tuned for our open house date!

We are also excited to announce that WHE is in the process of applying for our nonprofit designation. In the meantime, you can still click here to donate your tax-deductible gift to WHE in care of The Children's Institute!

Our goal is to raise $5,000 before the end of year to help with the move and application process!

In This Issue
Harmfull Halloween Costumes
Teens on the Eco Scene
Every Day is Food Day
WHE is Moving!
Special Feature: Air Linked to Autism
Special Feature

Preliminary results from a groundbreaking study from the University of Pittsburgh show a significant correlation between exposure to toxic air pollutants during pregnancy and a child's early years of life and the development of autism spectrum disorders. To read the full press release, click here.

Upcoming Events
Pittsburgh City Council Post Agenda meeting on air quality in Pittsburgh - organized by City Councilman Corey O'Connor. The meeting will take place at 2 p.m. on the 5th floor of the City-County Building at 414 Grant St.

Allegheny County Health Department Community Meetings - These meetings are an opportunity for the Health Department to disseminate information on the current health of the County and engage the public in a community discussion about health issues, including air quality. Click here to find a community meeting near you.
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Contact Information
WHE Executive Director
Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis
(412) 420-2290