Manufacturers of these products will have to change their formulation or remove word "organic" from label. (Photo: Center for Environmental Health)
In a first-ever test of California’s law regarding organic personal care products (think hair and skincare products, even toothpaste), the Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health (CEH) announced today that it has reached settlement with 11 companies, ones that make national-brand products labelled organic, but were not organic under California law. The 2003 California Organic Products Act (COPA) requires products labelled “organic” to contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.
Earlier this year, CEH spent hours shopping at national retailers, including Target, Walgreens, Whole Foods and others, selecting products labelled “organic.” In June, the CEH filed lawsuits against more than two dozen manufacturers, saying specific products did not meet the standard and were in violation of state law.
In the agreements announced today, 11 companies have agreed to comply with COPA, either by increasing the amount of organic ingredients or by removing the word “organic” from their label. The agreement further requires companies to make their ingredient records available to CEH for inspection.
Children's park located under a freeway in Fresno. (Photo: Sasha Khokha)
Yesterday morning, KQED brought you Sasha Khokha’s report questioning how well the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is protecting public health on poor air quality days.
About 10 hours later, the Valley Air District issued an air quality alert using significantly stronger language than it had used previously.
A little background: Khokha reported that the Valley Air District’s public service announcements had focused on what people could do to reduce emissions, but had not alerted the public how to protect their health on poor air quality days.
For example, the District issued a PSA on September 29, 2011, a day when the air quality was in the “unhealthy for all” category. Among other things, the District recommended people walk or bicycle instead of drive their cars. Now, this is great for reducing emissions, but anyone who followed this advice could have harmed their lungs. Not exactly a great public health message.
This post originally appeared in KQED’s NewsFix on November 1, 2011.
Water polo tournament at Fresno's Sunnyside High goes on, despite air quality so poor that school districts are supposed to cancel outdoor activities. (Photo: Sasha Khokha)
Today, KQED’s Sasha Khokha outlines how the lack of effective air monitoring policy in the San Joaquin Valley could be harming the people who live there. As she reports, a recent study from UCSF Fresno and CSU Fresno [PDF] finds a direct link between air pollution and asthma-related ER visits. The study found what researchers call a “linear association” between certain components of air pollution and asthma ER visits. In other words, as air pollution goes up, the likelihood of an asthmatic child heading to the ER goes up, too.
The San Joaquin Valley has some of the dirtiest air in the country and high rates of childhood asthma.
As air pollution goes up, the likelihood of an asthmatic child heading to the ER goes up, too.
The culprits are two components of air pollution: ground-level ozone
and particulate matter
. Ground-level ozone can have corrosive effects on the lungs, decreasing lung function. Particulate matter are tiny particles, like soot. The simple act of breathing carries these particles deep into the lungs where they stick and can cause breathing and heart problems.
This post originally appeared on KQED’s Climate Watch blog on October 21, 2011.
Tourists snap pictures of a murky sunset in San Diego. (Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images)
A major study released recently in Fresno details the direct link between higher levels of air pollution and asthma-related ER and hospital admissions. So, what’s that got to do with climate change? Plenty.
“There’s a division in the public’s mind between global warming and health effects of pollution,” says Dimitri Stanich of the California Air Resources Board.
In reality, there’s significant overlap. Some components of air pollution shown to have harmful warming effects on the planet are also harming people, especially children, right now.
Let’s start with ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone is different from the ozone layer, which lies about 15 miles above the earth (not exactly ground level). The ozone layer shields us from most of the sun’s harmful rays. Ozone is good in the atmosphere but bad, in many ways, at or near ground level.
Some components of air pollution shown to have harmful warming effects on the planet are also harming people right now. Ground-level ozone is not part of air pollution itself. Instead, it is formed by a complex chemical reaction starting with the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) component of air pollution. That chemical reaction is especially strong when the air is calm and the sun is shining (California’s Central Valley in the summer, anyone?). This stuff is terrible for your lungs.