MT Weekly: J&J Asbestos Settlement, EPA to Regulate PFAS

MedTruth Weekly delivers the latest in medical research, regulation, legislation and legal actions. The best way to be an advocate for yourself is to know the facts.

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EPA Will Regulate Two Important PFAS Chemicals Under Safe Drinking Water Act

Regulation

On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its intention to set drinking water limits for two nonstick, water-and-stain-resistant chemical compounds, PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate). An announcement of actual proposed limits may be months away while finalized limits could take years. The action is perceived by many as long overdue in consideration of mounting public pressure and scientific concerns.

PFOA and PFOS belong to an expanding class of more than 4,700 manufactured chemicals known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) used in everyday products such as nonstick cookware, pizza and French fry boxes, carpet, and clothing as well as in industry, and which are being targeted by the EPA. Coined the “forever chemicals,” PFAS are comprised of one of the strongest atomic bonds, between carbon and fluorine, and remain in the environment for an unknown duration.

PFAS may bioaccumulate in the body over time and may be linked to weight gain, reduced immune function, alterations in metabolism, reproductive function and fetal growth, and other health issues.

Johnson & Johnson’s Last-Minute Baby Powder Cancer Case Settlement

Legal Developments

On Tuesday, health and personal care products behemoth Johnson & Johnson narrowly averted yet another baby powder cancer trial by settling behind closed doors after the jury had been given instructions but prior to opening statements.

According to a Law360 breaking news report, attorneys for Johnson and Johnson and 62-year-old plaintiff Laura Shanahan met with New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe in chambers. When the parties emerged from the private meeting, Judge Jaffe announced the end of the trial. The plaintiff in the case, 62-year-old Laura Shanahan, alleged that asbestos in Johnson and Johnson’s baby powder had caused her mesothelioma. Pleural mesothelioma, a deadly cancer of the tissues surrounding the lungs, is caused by asbestos exposure about 80% of the time.

No further information is available about the terms of the settlement.

Chemical Exposure in Womb Linked to Autistic Traits in Boys, Folic Acid is Preventative

Women’s Health

A study published Feb. 19 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that exposure to endocrine-disrupting phthalate (THAL-ate) chemicals in the womb was associated with autistic traits in boys aged 3–4 but not in girls. Equally important, however, folic acid, also known as folate or vitamin B9 and which is taken to prevent birth defects, was found to be protective. A link to autistic traits was not found in boys whose mothers took the recommended dosage of folic acid during the first trimester of pregnancy.

A group of chemicals that make plastic softer and less likely to break, phthalates are used in hundreds of products ranging from vinyl flooring to plastic raincoats, inflatable toys, detergents, garden hoses, and personal care products. Phthalates enter the body through food and drink stored or served in phthalate-containing plastic, by consuming meat and dairy from exposed animals, through personal care products such as cosmetics, soaps, shampoos and lotions, and from breathing in dust from phthalate-containing carpet, upholstery or wood finishes.

Research indicates that nearly all Americans have phthalate byproducts in their urine and that adult women have higher concentrations of phthalates found in personal care products than men.

Latest Coronavirus Updates

Public Health

  • Globally more than 2,700 people have died, with at least 39 deaths outside mainland China
  • More than 80,000 cases have been reported across 35 countries and territories, with 2,400 cases outside mainland China
  • Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control warned Tuesday that the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. is inevitable and urged communities to take precautions
  • At least 53 cases of coronavirus are confirmed in the United States, including 36 individuals who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, 3 individuals repatriated from China, and 14 infected across six states: California (8), Illinois (2), Arizona (1), Wisconsin (1), Massachusetts (1), and Washington state (1)
  • Currently, only 12 U.S. state and local laboratories are able to test for coronavirus
  • The Association of Public Health Laboratories, representing the 150 largest public health labs in the U.S., requested permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to create their own coronavirus tests
  • The FDA is monitoring medical products at risk of potential shortages in the event of an outbreak
  • The World Health Organization states that coronavirus is not yet a pandemic but advised that now is the time to prepare
  • South Korea has more than 970 coronavirus cases
  • Italy has more than 280 cases, the greatest number in Europe

By Carah Wertheimer

Carah Wertheimer is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. Her areas of specialization include food, health, environment, social justice and community reporting. Her work has appeared in National Geographic, The Denver Post, The Daily Beast, the Boulder Daily Camera, Boulder Weekly and other publications.

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