This past year, I had the privilege of joining WHE as its first Executive Director. We have been busy continuing the dialogue on our exposures to environmental toxins, striving to inform the public so they can take steps toward a healthier future for themselves and the environment.
Each new year brings more opportunity for us -- as women, as leaders, as a community -- to become empowered and educated about environmental risks so that we can make healthy choices for ourselves and our families and advocate for change for a better tomorrow for all.
We would like to thank you for your support because without you, Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE) would not have had such a successful year in 2010. Peace, Health and Happiness to you and your family in the New Year!
Women for a Healthy Environment
WHE wants chemical reform now! This past year, we actively supported two key pieces of legislation that were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both bills have similar goals:
- To set up a fair system to assess chemicals for safety
- To phase out the most toxic substances
- To make chemical information more available and transparent to consumers
Both seek to reform terribly outdated regulations!
Reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA)
Since TSCA was passed in 1976, over 80,000 chemicals have been introduced; just over 200 have been reviewed by the EPA; and only five have been regulated! WHE is in support of a bill that would promote a comprehensive chemicals policy that would protect public health and the environment, while restoring the luster of safety to U.S. goods in the world market.
In 2010 the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act (House) and Safe Chemicals Act (Senate) were introduced. These bills would:
- Ensure that chemicals meet a health standard to enter or remain on the market;
- Require the EPA to identify and restrict the most toxic chemicals that build up in our food chain and in our bodies
- Require extra protections for those populations most; vulnerable to toxic chemicals, including pregnant women, infants and children, and those living in envrironmental 'hot spots'; and
- Require the EPA to rely on the National Academy of Sciences' recommendations to incorporate the best and latest science when determining safety of chemicals.
Reform of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938
Currently, there is no law requiring the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to test chemicals in personal care products or require industries that manufacture cosmetics to test their products. Products are listed as "natural," "organic," and "hypoallergenic," but these are only marketing terms - there are no legal standards for these claims. For a list of ingredients to avoid, visit WHE's website.
In 2010 the Safe Cosmetics Act (House) was introduced. This bill would:
- Phase out harmful ingredients;
- Create a health-based safety standard protecting children, the elderly, and those employed by cosmetic treatment services (such as hair/nail salons and spas) and cosmetic manufacturing plants;
- Require full ingredient disclosure, including ingredients of fragrance and salon products on product labels and company websites; and
- Provide a level playing field for small business.
Even though Congress has failed to vote on these bills, now is not the time to give up! We anticipate new bills will be introduced in 2011 and need your help encouraging strong language.
To continue these efforts, WHE endorsed two national campaigns -the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families campaign.
In addition, WHE and the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA) sponsored a free public forum addressing chemical reform on December 9th, 2010. Pittsburgh Perspectives on "Chemical Policy: Improving Our Health and Economy" highlighted regional expertise including:
- Felicia J. Bayer - Manager, Health Services Center of Excellence, Alcoa Corporation
- Noedahn Copley-Woods, M.D. - Obstetrician/Gynecologist, Magee Women's Hospital of UPMC
- David Dausey, Ph.D. - Senior Director, Health Programs and Initiatives, Carnegie Mellon University
- Daryl Ditz, Ph.D. - Senior Policy Advisor, Center for International Environmental Law
Due to obligations in Washington, D.C., Congressman Mike Doyle and Congressmen Tim Murphy were unable to attend. However, they did provide comments to be read during the evening. Their full statements can be found on the WHE website homepage.
Regional Coalition Efforts
This past summer WHE reached out to organizations, academia, businesses and community members to raise awareness about the need for chemical reform. If you are committed to promoting reform of federal and state policies to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in our consumer and personal care products and protect public health and the environment, contact WHE at 412.420.2290. Women for a Healthy Environment plans to schedule visits to Harrisburg and Washington DC in 2011.
In addition we will be conducting focus groups with nail salon workers and owners. If you, or someone you know, would like to participate, please contact us at 412.420.2290.
Informed women have the power to drive change!
|In the past year, WHE had the opportunity to partner with the Pittsburgh Public Schools to hold a workshop to educate families about healthy eating and to identify resources for locally grown foods. Family, Food and Fun Day: Healthy Cooking with Soul gave parents, caregivers, and children the opportunity to participate in cooking demonstrations with chefs and certified food educators, learn helpful tips from a registered dietician, enjoy healthy food selections, and plant seeds to start their own gardens! Attendees loved eating nutritious and delicious foods and sharing the experience with their family. "[I liked] the opportunity to learn with my family," said one attendee.
WHE is excited to continue a partnership with the Pittsburgh Public Schools in the new year.
WHE is excited to continue our collaboration with the Pittsburgh Public Schools, allowing us to educate students in the cosmetology program about ingredients to avoid and safer cosmetics alternatives.
With valuable information to be introduced into the curriculum and exciting workshops for students, we are happy to get this project rolling so students in our area can become informed and learn about healthier product selections!
In 2011 we will be expanding this program to college campuses. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about safe personal care products, contact WHE at 412.420.2290.
|Year in Review |
|Enjoying time learning about gardening and locally grown foods at the Healcrest Garden in Garfield. Photo courtesy Joshua Franzos Photography. |
It's been a busy year! We had the great opportunity to collaborate with a number of organizations and businesses that were an aid to our outreach work. WHE collaborated with the following:
- Alcoa Corporation - Health Services Center for Excellence
- Auburn Meadows Farm
- Carnegie Mellon University - Health Programs and Initiatives
- Center for Victims of Violence and Crime - EVE Project
- Center for International Environmental Law
- Construction Junction
- eLoop, LLC
- Environmental Working Group (EWG)
- Giant Eagle Market District
- Habitat Restaurant at the Pittsburgh Fairmont Hotel
- Learning Disabilities Association of America
- Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC
- PA Association of Sustainable Agriculture
- Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC)
- Pittsburgh Public Schools
- Rachel Carson Homestead Association
- Squirrel Hill Family Wellness Center
- The Children's Institute of Pittsburgh
- University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute - Center for Environmental Oncology
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center - Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center
- University of Pittsburgh - Office of Child Development
The following businesses and organizations provided in-kind support:
- Bonnie Plants
- Carnegie Science Center
- Coffee Tree Roasters
- East End Food Co-Op
- Frankferd Farm
- Giant Eagle
- Home Deport
- Naturally Soergel's
- Storehouse for Teachers
- The Kingsley Association
- Trader Joe's
- Westin Convention Center Hotel
Special thanks to our collaborators, supporters, constituents and all those who attended WHE events this past year! We look forward to your continued support and participation.
Below are some of this year's highlights:
To see a full list of past workshops and events WHE has held (including related podcasts and other materials), visit the Events section of our website here! Don't forget to visit the website often to see upcoming events listed on our calendar!
This past year WHE was fortunate to assemble individuals who collectively provide expertise that covers the medical, science,
environmental, and education fields to create WHE's science advisory committee (SAC). These members provide guidance for WHE's distribution of various scientific studies and reports. WHE thank you SAC members!
Without your continued support,
we would not be where we are today!
WHE has not only advocated on behalf of issues related to our health and the environment -- pushing for safer reforms on chemical policy and other important topics, such as Clean Water and Clean Air in our region -- WHE has also brought our region free, yet incredibly valuable events and workshops that have educated our communities, putting them on the pathway to healthier living. With the launch of our website and social networking tools, we hope the articles and reports we've shared with each of you have been valuable to understanding the latest scientific findings between our health and the environment.
Our ability to continue to bring our families and friends across western Pennsylvania free events and workshops and advocate for policy change that protects our health depends on our ability to fund these activities.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Women for a Healthy Environment in care of The Children's Institute by December 31st. You can also make a gift in honor of that special someone this holiday season. Your generous gift greatly helps us bring many exciting opportunities to your community. And please introduce someone to WHE.
We look forward to many successes in the New Year and wish you all the best! Thank you for your continued support.
Women for a Healthy Environment
- Empowering women with reliable scientific information
- Advocating for environmental policy solutions
- Educating the community about environmental health risks