Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment
Fisherville, Ontario, Canada
Tel. 416 410-0432, Fax: 416 362-5231
Vol. 14, No. 5, June 11, 2009
    Honoured Reader Edition

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We devote most, but not all, of this issue to the serious problem of endocrine disrupting substances in our water. In November 2008, GL's editor and associates attended the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry SETAC conference in Tampa, Florida. While scientific research reported is still ongoing on industrial pollution, much scientific attention was on emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and personal care products some of which are also endocrine disrupting chemicals EDCs which present challenges to scientific research. In this issue, we discuss a couple of the SETAC presentations, present a historical overview from the US National Research Council on the issue and touch briefly on some of the other stories on this vast and growing scientific and commercial literature.

Our editorial addresses the question of environmental priorities, or lack thereof, in government and activist agendas. In our last issue, we suggested that defining the Sins of Greenwashing might not be the most helpful tool for encouraging greening of the marketplace. We received a response from TerraChoice which we publish below. Dianne Saxe has provided a column on James Lovelock’s recent presentation in Toronto. A reader in Uzbekistan has drawn our attention to ongoing work on dryland sustainable agriculture in that region and Dr. Peter Victor has written on “Bigger isn’t Better” in relation to the economy.

Next issue we plan an update on green energy. Meanwhile, we hope you find this acronym-filled issue (truly, we do try to reduce the use of acronyms and to explain them before first use!) to be of interest. We encourage your letters and comments.


Gallon Environment Letter is pleased to announce that it will be part of the Air and Waste Management Association Annual Conference and Exhibition at the Cobo Centre in Detroit, Michigan, June 16 - 19. GL will be part of the CIAL Group exhibit in the Ontario pavilion. We look forward to seeing many of our readers during the AWMA Annual Conference.


Recently quite a few people have been asking why governments are putting priority on such relatively trivial items as BPA in baby bottles, shopping bags, and banning of seal products while making far fewer big announcements about such major issues as endocrine disruptors, effective waste reduction, and climate change. Why are governments cosying up to the environmental NGO community and ignoring the scientists and green businesses that offer in depth, and often alarming, analysis of the state of our climate, our air, our water, our fisheries, and so on?

GL fears that the reason is that some of the more high profile environmental groups are providing governments with instant gratification on minor issues while backing off on those issue that truly threaten the survival of species, including the human mammals. What government could possibly resist the opportunity for such kudos as “Listing bisphenol A as toxic is a tremendous step towards protecting Canadians from this harmful chemical and we congratulate the Prime Minister and Ministers Clement and Baird for this decision”?* Meanwhile, messages about the devastation that is now expected by such respected advisors as Nicholas Stern to come from climate change are almost totally ignored.

GL was most recently alerted to this phenomenon of giving priority to the relatively unimportant by a series of articles about the state of the Great Lakes that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator. In those articles it was noted that the state of the Great Lakes has almost completely dropped off the agenda of the Canadian and Ontario governments. The question was why?

Our view is that the answer to the Great Lakes question, as well as to many other major environmental questions, includes a few realities:
                      environmental groups in Canada are no longer making water quality in the Great Lakes a priority issue. Indeed, at least one major group that claims an environmental agenda, the Council of Canadians, has made Great Lakes water quantity a higher priority than water quality.
                      almost every press release, whether from an NGO or from a government, starts by telling us what tremendous progress has been made on cleaning up the Great Lakes. The facts tell otherwise but few of the major spokespersons have the intestinal fortitude to explain that, while a few parameters indicate improvement, most of the major indicators suggest that, overall, Great Lakes water quality continues to pose a major threat to all those species that rely on it. By emphasizing the tiny steps forward, governments have created a climate in which the fact that we are taking many large steps backwards go almost totally ignored.
                      Canadian governments have cut back on research and collection of data. With less data and few researchers the issues have disappeared. What a terrible message that sends, encouraging cutbacks to research and data collection by those politicians that want to reduce government action on the environment.
                      Great Lakes water quality has been found to be a tremendously complex issue. Like governments, many environmental groups want quick hits and much press to support their fundraising efforts. More important long-term issues are too expensive and too technical for the political agenda of most activists.

We recognize that small steps can add up and that every small step will bring us closer to the achievement of the environmental goals to which most Canadians aspire. At the same time, we suggest that spending time and government effort on the smallest of the small steps, such as the issue of shopping bags, is taking valuable time and attention away from the big issues that threaten major harm to humans around the world.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the day when McDonald's withdrew polystyrene packaging from all of its restaurants. The move, which was widely heralded, did nothing for the environment. Indeed, arguably, it set back recycling efforts, contributed in the wrong way to climate change, and gave lots of people an unwarranted good feel about the environmental progress that they believed society was making. Note that by 1990 the CFC problem, which was a serious problem in earlier polystyrene foams, had been resolved so the withdrawal of polystyrene packaging served only to remove a highly recyclable package for which a recycling program had been developed in favour of a non-recyclable coated paper package which is still not being recycled almost 20 years later.

GL encourages informed individuals to start raising their voices against some of the trivial solutions being given such high priority by governments and by environmental groups. Banning the sale of bottled water in public spaces will not save the world. Indeed, some of the reaction, such as larger sales for sweetened and carbonated beverages and use of reusable but short life containers, will only make things worse. A Lake Simcoe management plan, released last week may help Lake Simcoe [see a future issue for our analysis] but will not itself do anything for the other 31,751 lakes larger than three square kilometres in Canada. Why cannot Ontario develop a management plan for the Great Lakes or for all lakes in the province.

It is time we started to focus more on the big picture and less on the tiny solutions that give politicians and environmental groups good press and a good feel but which almost completely ignore the real threats to the environment which sustains us.

Colin Isaacs

* Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. 18 April 2008.

Lake Simcoe Protection Plan


While the theme of this issue is pharmaceuticals and personal care products , we shouldn't forget that these are just part of what we as humans are doing to harm health and the environment: we need a balanced approach which seeks to address the overall impacts of our chemical use.

One of the presentations at the 2008 SETAC annual meeting reported, for the first time, finding measurable concentrations of a human pharmaceutical, the tranquilizer diazepam, in marine fish tissue. Other research on potentially endocrine disrupting compounds in the southern California coastal area finds legacy organochlorine pesticides (long banned in commerce), PCBs, current pesticides, pharmaceutical and personal care products, commercial chemicals, antifouling paints from ships, flame retardants and nonylphenols. Some were found widely distributed in sediments, fish and marine water, while others occur only in one or a few locations.

The detection of chemicals in the environment and in the human body is usually a cause for further investigation, and even concern but not always alarm. Some chemicals are a hazard but the risk may not be high. Others may be indicators of significant risks.

Although the presence of the endocrine disrupting chemicals in waters has been widely reported, a framework for assessing the ecological risks of the EDCs is still lacking. One proposal at SETAC was to relate the potency of estrogen-like active pharmaceutical ingredients as a ratio to 17 -ethynylestradiol. This relative potency would then be converted to a predicted no (adverse) effect concentration for aquatic life proportional to that of the estrogen.

Excreted estrogens are considered to be the most serious contributors to the aquatic concentration of estrogenic compounds. It used to be believed that some forms of estrogen were inactive but it now appears that these may be reactivated by interaction with chemicals and microorganisms in the environment. GL notes that our (non-resident) population expert Albert Bartlett, University of Colorado Professor Emeritus, wrote to us to ask whether Elizabeth May and Zoe Caron's Global Warming for Dummies discussed population (it did but only briefly) but here is an issue where contraception controlling population is presenting a potential serious risk.

SETAC Abstract: Organic Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Sediments and Flatfish near Marine Outfalls. K. Maruya, D. Vidal-Dorsch, S. Bay, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, Costa Mesa, CA; J.Kwon, K. Xia, A. Kevin, Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, Mississippi State, MS.

SETAC Abstract: Estimating the relative potency of estrogen-like active pharmaceutical ingredients to ecological receptors using a fish estrogen receptor binding assay. S. Thakali, T. Verslycke, M. Sharma, Gradient Corporation, Cambridge, MA; T. Verslycke, A. Tarrant, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA; H. Yekel, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc, Malvern, PA

SETAC Abstract: Method Development of Free and Conjugated Estrogens by High Performance Liquid Chromatography with an Electrospray Tandem Mass Spectrometry. J. Tso, D. Aga, Chemistry, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY.
[The abstract book is part of the program package given to those who attend the SETAC annual conference. More details are provided in each presentation abstracted. Sometimes, the abstract book is made available online later for public access]


Alan Kolok of the Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory at the University of Nebraska at Omaha wrote recently about the finding of eggs in male smallmouth bass in the Potomac River. He suggests that "This phenomenon now poses one of the most important water quality problems of our time." Despite five years of research it has not been possible to identify the chemical compounds responsible. Although lab results indicate that certain chemicals in water can cause intersex fish and other animals, in the environment the link is still missing.

Kolok identifies changes from the past approach to chemical pollution:
                       point sources usually, industrial pollution, were identified in the past as causing pollution. Legislation such as the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act provided pressure for industry to stop the more blatant pollution.
                      the levels of pollutants causing the effects are at much lower concentrations, some of which a few years ago would not even have been detectable.
                      in the past, acute toxicity or lethality was key but endocrine disrupting chemicals may not be very toxic but have chronic developmental or reproductive effects, that is the effects are at the cellular level. Kolok writes, "This signal mimicy and inappropriate pattern development can occur at astonishingly low exposure concentrations, and can lead to bizarre changes in development, such as ovarian follicles within the testes of male fish."
                      Different animals are affected differently so for example, fish are several orders of magnitude more sensitive to estrogens than invertebrates.
While in the old pollution research, scientists could check the end-of-the-pipe of the factory, this pollution is much less visible but "an insidious trickle of effluent from a large number of sources." Each compound may change into different metabolites, each having its own environmental impacts as well as interacting with other compounds. Kolok suggest that what is needed is:
                      technical innovation for better and cheaper assessment of the pollutants.
                      public awareness.
                      political will to deal with the much more difficult to solve problems than of yesterday.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Kolok (see above) was co-author of a number of presentations at SETAC. Tests at the outlets of Wastewater Treatment Plants at six small Nebraska cities concluded that WWTP effluent contributes significant levels of estrogens to Nebraska’s surface waters. Caged minnows exposed to this effluent have the greatest quantities of estrogen compared to fish at other sites. Caffeine was also found almost everywhere, even in remote areas.

Growth hormones used in cattle have raised concern about cattle feedlot runoff. Caged minnows were placed on the Elkhorn River watershed where there are many feedlots. Female minnows experience reduced expression of vitellogenin and estrogen receptor, indicators of defeminization, compared to females in reference locations. But whether these reduced expressions affect reproduction hasn't been established yet.

SETAC North America 29th Annual Meeting. Environmental Stewardship: Integrating Science and Management. Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Florida, USA, 16-20 November 2008. [Abstracts are sometimes posted later in time on the SETAC web site. The next meeting is SETAC North America 30th Annual Meeting. Human-Environment Interactions: Understanding Change in Dynamic Systems. Hilton Riverside, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 19 - 23 November 2009].

SETAC. 29th Meeting. Abstract: Estrogenic compounds downstream from six small cities in eastern Nebraska: Occurrence and biological effect. A.S. Kolok,Biology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE; A.S. Kolok, M.K. Sellin, Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE; D.D. Snow, Water Sciences
Laboratory, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Lincoln, NE.
See also
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.
Endocrine disruption in the Elkhorn River: Girls gone wild. M.K. Sellin, J. Weigel, A. Kolok, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE; M. Schwartz, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Island, NE; D. Snow, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE; B. Carter, EcoArray, Inc., Gainesville, FL.
See also
Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Public pressure in the 1990s led the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of the Interior to request the National Research Council to scientifically review the effects of environmental contaminants known as endocrine disrupters on human health and on wildlife including fish. The Committee on Hormonally Active Agents and the Environment was set up in 1995 and found it a long and difficult process to produce its report, which was finally published in 1999. There were problems defining in an unambiguous way what "endocrine disruptors" were. Because disruptors implied a negative effect even before the research was done, the Committee used the term hormonally active. The most difficult area for reaching consensus was "in the area of reproduction and development, including the issue of declining sperm production in human populations."
Some synthetic chemicals in the environment had adverse effects on wildlife mimicing the female hormone estradiol. In the womb, human fetuses exposed to the synthetic estrogen diesthylstilbestrol (DES) had adverse effects later in life. Mice similarly exposed as embryos had similar effects which seems to indicate that lab studies were indicative of human effects. Lab studies indicated that male and female rats, mice and guinea pigs and female rhesus monkeys exposed during development to different concentrations of HAAs such as DDT, methoxychlor, PCBs, dioxin, bisphenol A, octylphenol, butyl benzl phthalate BBP, dibutyl phthalate DBP, chlordecone, and vinclozolin could produce structural and functional abnormalities in the reproductive tract. It was clear that at high concentration, HAAs affected wildlife and human health but what was not clear was whether lower concentrations found in the environment also caused the same type or extent of harm. Some effects may be due to other chemicals or conditions. The Committee concluded that prenatal and postnatal exposure to PCBs and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) due to contaminated rice oil in Japan and Taiwan led to developmental defects but could not link HAAs to other defects such as undescended testicles and testicular cancer. Prenatal exposure to PCBs could lead to lower birth weight, shorter gestation, deficits in IQ and memory and delayed neuromuscular development. There were many studies on wildlife which showed reproductive and developmental anomalies due to exposure to contaminants some of which are HAAs e.g. fish eposed to effluents from sewage treatment plants, paper mills and polluted waters of the Great Lakes. Effects include intersexes in trout exposed to sewage-treatment-plant effluent STPE.

Estrogens, androgens, thyroid hormones and many HAAs are assumed to be able to pass through cell membrances and interact with receptors in the nucleus. Effects reported were "reproductive changes, developmental defects, neurobehavioral abnormalities, immunologic deficits, carcinogenesis and ecological effects."

The issues faced by the Committee were common to all in the scientific community: limitations and uncertainty in the data, determining appropriate sources of information, evaluating the evidence, defining the chemicals with hormonal or antihormonal activity


A number of the challenges reported were:
                      while there are observed effects, the question remains whether human sperm concentration is really in decline. Sperm count is very controversial as some data indicate this trend but it depends on whether different geographic regions have difference in sperm concentration regardless of chemical exposure.
                      where effects are clear such as developmental abnormalities, is the cause really the HAAs. Many chemicals are in the environment and the variations of the environment itself complicate conclusions.
                      chemical and other agents in the environment interact in multiple exposures so it is difficult to assign causal action to specific chemicals. In the laboratory it may be possible for the researcher to separate one potential causal agent from all the other alternatives but outside the lab the complex biological processes make it much more difficult. A harmful chemical may interact with many others. The report says the Committee "has no illusion that the problem of how to apportion cause among the members of a mixture of environmental chemicals will soon be easily solved."
                      chemicals which have hormone-like activities also affect organisms unrelated to hormonal activities.
                      mechanism of action between the HAAs and the biological outcomes is not well understood. This doesn't mean that the reported effect is unimportant or unconfirmed but more is needed about the direct and indirect effects of HAAs and between primary and secondary effects. Mechanisms of actions are needed for both in vitro and in vivo systems.


HAAs can be synthetic or natural and exposure can be involuntary or voluntary. Involuntary exposure for both humans and animals can be by drinking contaminated water, breathing contaminated air, eating food, or contacting contaminated soil although breathing in HAAs would contribute a very small portion.

The Committee considered that humans voluntarily exposed themselves to HAAs though use of cleaners, pesticides, food additives, pharmaceuticals including birth control pills, herbal supplements, cosmetics and pesticides.

Flavonoids in fruits and vegetables are HAAs, especially high in soy beans. People consume about 1 gram of flavonoids a day and these are related to lower incidences of some types of cancers such as colon, breast, stomach and prostate. These natural estrogenic compounds could have both anticancer activities and estrogen-related adverse effects. Compared to estradiol estrogren, many of these natural estrogens or phytoestrogens are many times weaker but their potency may depend on the conditions for binding to the cell receptors. Some hormones are transformed into different oxidation products. Steroids can interact with blood serum proteins changing the uptake of HAAs. Legumes, oilseeds such as flax, nuts contain phytoestrogens. Even beer has measurable concentrations of isoflavones. Concentrations can vary widely.

Bisphenol A was detected in human tissue in 1995 from liquids in food cans containing a plastic coated liner. BPA was also found in saliva leaching from composites and sealants in dentistry.

DDT is still used in developing countries. PCBs are banned for production in North America but distributed due to accidents, improper disposal or release from sediments or other environmental sites or use.

Dioxins are HAAs which are unique in that they are not purposefully made but are due to combustion of plant material and byproducts of industries using chlorine. Forest fires, home wood fires, and incineration create dioxins.

Alkyphenol ethoxylates APEs are used as surfactants and detergents. The report discusses a range of potential HAAs which may number in the tens of thousands as many chemicals have never been studied.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The Great Lakes Water Quality Board advises the International Joint Commission on restoring and maintaining the "chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem", the US-Canada commitment under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement GLWQA. Emerging challenges are making that mission more complicated. As well as invasive species, the chemicals from pharmaceuticals and personal care products and endocrine disrupting compounds are being examined for the proposed renegotiation of the GLWQA in 2010.

About 70,000 commercial and industrial compounds are produced, consumed and deposited into the environment and 1,000 new ones are introduced each year. New chemicals have effects of their own as well as combining with already deposited toxic chemicals. Among the emerging contaminants are: synthetic fragrances and musks, industrial and household chemicals like flame retardants and stain resistant materials, veterinary drugs, pesticides, genetically modified foods, vitamin and mineral supplements, food additives, as well as pharmaceuticals and personal care products PPCPs. While it used to be that most of the concern was at the manufacturing stage, ie industrial pollution, these chemicals are released mostly during consumption and disposal. These chemicals are not addressed in the GLWQA.

"Emissions" from medications are from human feces and urine and from animal manure from animals treated with hormones and drugs for speeding growth or dealing with disease. Other sources of pharmaceuticals are dumping unused medications into the toilet or garbage and sludge from sewage treatment spread on farm fields. Shampoos and soaps, sunscreens, insecticides, hair gels, creams, makeup and perfumes are washed off or thrown out to landfill to leach out into groundwater sources and eventually to lakes and streams. Sewage treatment waste and agricultural runoff are big sources of PCPPs into the aquatic environment. Sewage treatment plants do no remove many of these substances which often become more active after treatment.

The report outlines some of the impacts of PCPPs:
                      ingestion by people and wildlife of excess hormones such as testosterone and estrogen impact physical development and reproductive function.
                      microbes in water and soil adapt to antibiotics increasing risk of disease organisms with antibiotic resistance.
                      more allergic reactions
                      increased negative impacts on sensitive people such as the very young, or the elderly or those at certain stages such as pregnant women.
                      adding more to the already toxic soup of chemicals. The impacts of these mixtures is still not well researched and represent risks many of them as yet unknown.


The US EPA set out a new approach in 2008 for PPCPs which involves more research on:
                      testing. Since some of these chemicals may have effects at low concentrations; testing protocols to detect both the chemical and the effects need strengthening.
                       sources and effects in water.
                       policy development to regulate PPCPs.
No priority has been put on redesigning pharmaceuticals to ensure that they degrade in the environment or use less toxic chemicals.

In Canada, the Food and Drug Act covers both pharmaceuticals and personal care products but while Health Canada conducts a pre-market evaluation, there is no evaluation at the consumption and disposal stage in terms of persistence, bioaccumulation or toxicity.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


A popular presentation at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry SETAC meeting in Tampa in November 2008 was by Karen Kidd, Canadian Research Chair and Professor at the University of New Brunswick.

She spoke to a slide show about a seven-year whole lake experiment in northwestern Ontario, part of the 58 Experimental Lakes in Canada which are used for research. It served to provide the answer to the question of whether the laboratory studies of decreased reproductive success of fish exposed to certain levels of EE2, the synthetic estrogen commonly used in birth control pill. was valid in the wild fish. The lake was dosed with a concentration of EE2 within the range of concentrations observed in treated and untreated municipal wastewater. Fathead minnows have been adopted for toxicity testing because they are widely distributed, easily cultured in the laboratory and represents a large group of fishes. This fish normally has a lifespan of about 4 years although only a few live beyond 2 years in this lake. Since they don't spawn until the second year, most spawn only once. Two consecutive years of reproductive failure spells catastrophe for the fathead minnow. Kidd told the audience to watch carefully for Tristan shown in the slides as the person adding the estrogen to the lake; we were to see him later in the slideshow.

Within seven weeks of the addition of estrogen in 2001, the fathead minnows began to show some changes compared to reference samples from two reference lakes. The fish differences compared to the reference samples were greatest during certain seasons ie the fall. In time, many males were feminized to such an extent they were unable to reproduce and the females also showed intersex features. By the fall of 2002, the fathead minnow population collapsed. Although a few small minnows were still caught, they were nearly extinct. The longer living dace in the same lake were not threatened to the same degree. Lifespan and other factors may be important to the risk of exposure to estrogens and estrogen mimics. Kidd suggests that while the short-lived fish may be an indicator the chronic exposure of the longer-lived fish would result in the loss of these populations too. The study concludes, "inputs of natural and synthetic estrogens and estrogen mimics to the aquatic environment in municipal wastewaters could decrease the reproductive success and sustainability of fish populations."

Oh, and Tristan, the technical assistant responsible for boating out into the lake and adding the estrogen: he was shown feminized too with a wig and a dress.

One of the missions of the SETAC conferences is to bring together scientists and policy makers in companies, government and civil society. Some scientists do not find it easy to translate their technical research into less-than-dry presentations, the topics in themselves are often new and interesting even if that session is otherwise boring which is why many sessions are surprisingly well-attended. Kidd, on the other hand, did a great job of communicating the technical aspects while explaining what it meant, with a touch of humour.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


A voluntary Swedish pharmaceutical industry initiative is classifying the environmental impacts of pharmaceuticals. Much of the information in Swedish but some is in English. Three levels of information are provided: 1. is for patients 2. and 3. give more detailed information with 3. the most applicable to the environmental risk assessment.

Level 1 rates the basic aquatic risk e.g. use of this medicine results in insignificant environmental risk to high environmental risk. Another category is for insufficient environmental information available to assess risk.

Level 2 addresses whether the medicine will degrade, bioaccumulate in aquatic organisms or whether the pharmaceutical is PBT (Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic) or vPVB ((very Persistent and very Bioaccumulative), and again a designation for insufficient information.

Level 2 is calculations related to risk assessment including what % of the drug or its breakdown compounds is excreted, what happens in sewage treatment plants, tests from ecotoxicity and degradation tests, the names of species tests, (metabolites), CMR (Carcinogen, Mutagenic, Reproduction effects) and endocrine disrupting potential and data analysis of the risk.

Because they are not considered to be an environmental risks, a number of pharmaceuticals are not documented including vitamins, electrolytes, amino acids, proteins, and carbohydrates. Herbal medicines and vaccines are also exempted.

Data is shared between companies where possible. Predicted Environmental Concentration (PEC) is used as a basic measure which uses a number of elements such as how many kg. are sold in Sweden for a given year, what is the population of Sweden, volume of wastewater per capita and day, dilution of waste water by surface water flow.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The US-based Environmental Working Group has pushed for greater health and environmental improvements in personal care products including operating a database on negative impacts through its cosmetics database. It partners with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. According to this group, a typical American consumer might use as many as 25 different personal care products in a day with over 200 different chemical compounds. Companies are encouraged to sign up to the Compact for Safe Cosmetics committing to inventorying product ingredients and eliminating those linked to cancer, birth defects and other serious health consequences and to bring safer, greener production.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


A workshop on PPCPs was held in 2007 with proceedings published as scientific assessment papers from Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute.

It has been known for more than 20 years that pharmaceuticals and personal care products are released into the environment but only in the last decade have analytical methods been developed to identify and quantify them in wastewater treatment plant effluents, surface waters, drinking water, ground water, biosolids, farm manure and biota. Still the science about exposure and impacts is rudimentary. This 2007 workshop was the third science workshop on the topic following those in 2002 and 2004.

As well as pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and personal care products such as synthetic musk fragrances widespread in Canadian sewage effluent and waters, veterinary medicines and animal care products are found in agricultural watersheds, according to Dr. Mark Servos, Scientific Director of the Canadian Water Network. Wastewater treatment such as ozone and filtration remove many of these types of compounds but are not widely used in Canadian water treatment. Advanced treatments, also not used widely in Canada, can remove many of these compounds.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


According to US-based law firm Beveridge & Diamond, Colombia's Ministry of the Environment has issued a regulation which will require take-back requirements for expired pharmaceuticals to be phased in over a period of three years until 70% of the population have access. Manufacturers and importers must develop management plans. Distributors and retailers must accept return free of charge to the consumers and transfer them free of charge to importers and manufacturers. Collection and disposal is subject of hazardous waste rules. A Spanish version of the resolution is provided.

Beveridge & Diamond. Colombia Issues Regulations Requiring Take-Back of Expired Pharmaceuticals. March 10, 2009.


Post-Consumer Pharmaceutical Stewardship Association (PCPSA) is a non-for-profit organization mandated with developing harmonized approaches to medications return programs in Canada.

In BC on March 20, the British Columbia Pharmacy Association and the PCPSA held a
medications return awareness campaign. In a program which is a decade old, consumers are
asked to return unused medications to drug-retail stores in BC so the unused and expired
medications can be disposed of in a safe way. The stewardship initiative claims to have disposed of about 35,000 kg of medication in 2008 up 53% since 2007. The collection containers were redesigned to be larger and rectangular to reduce volume and fuel use in transportation.

In Ontario, the the Municipal Hazardous or Special Waste Regulation identifies pharmaceuticals, including natural health products, as one of the category of obligated materials. The aim is to divert the material through 3Rs stream (reduce, reuse, recycle) diverting them from landfill by charging a fee to the makers and importers of the material. It is expected the medications program will be implemented in early 2010. The PCPSA says that the pharmacies should lobby for having a program run by the industry so the medications are returned to community pharmacies for collection rather than through hazardous waste days/depots as the return to store is seen as more cost-effective ie cheaper.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


The American Chemistry Council, an industry group, issued a press release in April expressing concern that some manufacturers have chosen to remove phthalates from fragrances even though there is no science or regulatory support for that decision. The web site includes a Phthalate Information Centre and information on endocrine disruptors.

For example, SC Johnson known more for housekeeping products but also selling skin-based pesticides and shaving gels, has promised to phase out phthalates in fragrances particularly DEP.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


In March, the European Parliament voted in favour of a new version of an act on cosmetic products. Cosmetics legislation is essentially a version of chemical law as cosmetics are chemical preparations. It requires:
                      prior notification, safety assessment and labelling of nanomaterials. Each such ingredient will have nano in brackets after its name. A catalog of all nanomaterials used in cosmetic products as well as foreseeable exposure conditions will be maintained by the EU.
                      new provision for traceability along the supply chain.
                      safety assessment based on the intended use as well as the systemic exposure
                      traces of prohibited substances will be allowed but only if unavoidable under good manufacturing practices. Prohibited substances include CMRs (causing cancer, mutagenic and reproductive effects) and three phthalates DEHP, DBP and BBPs.
                      country of origin on all imported cosmetics
                      tightening up on claims about characteristics and functions
                      member nations are expected to perform checks on products including physical and laboratory checks based on adequate samples.
                      a channel for communicating adverse effects e.g to health professionals, distributors, etc.
To come into force 42 months after the end of the date of publication in the European Journal.

Environmental safety is not addressed by the recast of the Cosmetics Directive per se but the REACH regulation requires suppliers of chemicals used as cosmetic ingredients to supply cosmetic manufacturers with information on environmental hazards:
                      if the substance is produced in quantities of over 10 tonnes per year per registrant, a chemical safety assessment including environmental risks must be performed and communicated by the cosmetics manufacturers.
                      downstream users of the ingredient must apply the recommended risk- reduction measures of the manufacturers.
                      substances under REACH may be restricted or require an authorization process to address environmental safety

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


In 1996, Congress as part of the Food Quality Protection Act required the US Environmental Protection Agency to screen pesticide and other contaminants for their endocrine disrupting potential. Along with the OECD and OECD member countries, the US EPA developed a Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. Many of the tens of thousands of chemicals on the market could be hormonally active. In April 2009, the EPA published the list of initial Tier 1 Screening chemicals consisting of 67 pesticide active ingredient and high production volumes pesticide inert ingredients. This doesn't mean the chemicals are endocrine disruptors. Among the chemicals are some phthalates used in personal care products. For example, dibutyl phthalate is used in some nail polishes although some companies have phased it out.

Paid subscribers see link to original documents and references here.


Henkel published its first Environment Report in 1992. In its latest report, the Germany-based company says it is increasing the use of ingredients from controlled organic crops in toiletry formulations. Products are formulated for biodegradability and "we have set ourselves the target of raising the proportion of readily biodegradable ingredients in our soaps, shampoos and shower gels from the current 65 percent to 80 percent by 2012."

More products are being formulated for "a high sustainability profile", for example no synthetic colourants, perfume ingredients, polyethylene glycols, or mineral-oil-based paraffin oils. Some products such as toothpaste and liquid soaps are third-party certified by ECOCert to meet other ecological criteria.

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The 2009 budget for the City of Montreal includes the installation of the new ozone treatment system for treating wastewater discharged into the river

Researchers from Environment Canada, the City of Montreal and the University of Montreal were involved in pilot projects using different forms of treatment, using ozone, performic acid and UV-radiation disinfection processes at the Montreal wastewater treatment plant. Before disinfection, residues of a number of pharmaceutical products were found including salicylic acid, clofibric acid, ibuprofen, naproxen, triclosan, carbamazepine, diclofenac, and 2-hydroxy-ibuprofen at different concentrations. Specific ozone doses eliminated more than 50% of these with higher removal rates at higher doses of ozone. UV radiation often removed less than 10% although there were better rates for diclofenac and triclosan. Irradiation which improves bacteria removal did little to deal with the pharmaceuticals and performic acid had poor removal rates for pharmaceuticals. How the by-products created by each of the treatment methods affects health and the environment has yet to be studied. The various chemicals and processes used in the current water treatments such as chlorine also create by-products some of which are considered potentially serious contaminants of water.
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Dear Editor, thanks for your recent coverage of this year’s “Sins of Greenwashing” study.

As you might expect, we disagree with all or most of your representations about and criticisms of the study. Nevertheless, these are important issues and we welcome the debate. Most importantly, I suspect we can agree on these two thoughts: Support for companies that are trying to offer “greener” products is an important thing; consumers have a tremendous power to change the world. And, encouraging ever greater standards and transparency in environmental claims is important to encouraging ever greener innovation and progress toward sustainability. We’re confident we share those objectives with you and so, though we might disagree with your analysis and conclusions in this case, we’re happy that the issue attracts your attention.

Many thanks.


Scott McDougall

by Dianne Saxe

Renowned scientist James Lovelock gave a powerful speech in Toronto today. Lovelock argues persuasively that we are already headed to huge, irreversible temperature changes, which will massively disrupt human society and populations. These changes will be far greater and faster than those predicted by the ?Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, just as actual changes in sea level, temperature and ice have repeatedly outstripped those predicted by the IPCC. And much, much greater than those predicted by Al Gore. How will people react? (Gwyn Dyer says, “Climate Wars”.)

In the face of this crisis, Lovelock calls for an urgent shift to energy conservation, renewables and nuclear energy, less meat consumption and a huge effort to create and bury charcoal. But even if we do all of these things, disruptive temperature rises are inevitable, likely in sharp jumps. Lovelock predicts food shortages and huge migrations to northern regions, such as Canada. It’s like the “phony war” in 1939, he says; everyone knows the disasters are coming, but no one is doing anything effective about it. When we do decide to act, we will bitterly regret these lost years.

The speech was organized by Corporate Knights.

Reprinted with permission from Saxe Environmental Law News. James Lovelock and the climate “phony war” May 26, 2009. Environmental law updates (not advice) by a top Canadian lawyer in Toronto, Ontario. Check out more at

Contact: Address: 248 Russell Hill Road, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4V 2T2. Phone: 416 962 5009 for the office manager, Elaine Cohen. For Dianne, call 416 962 5882, ext 224. Email admin (at)


Christopher Martius of Uzbekistan writes to draw awareness to the first drafts of scientific analysis papers to support decision-making at the UN Scientific Conference contributing to the world’s fight against desertification and land degradation**. He oversees a program promoting more profitable and more sustainable agriculture in the highly degraded lands of Central Asia and the Caucasus, where the collapse of the Soviet Union has led to the virtual disappearance of farm research and support for natural resource management, improving crops and livestock and ensuring good links between consumers and producers. Food insecurity and poverty are the result.

For one month, from 28 May to 28 June 2009, the first drafts of the white papers from the three Working Groups plus one paper on a cross-cutting topic will be open for review by scientists and stakeholders worldwide. To begin the review of the 80-100 page long papers, please go to the website and click the button on the left entitled ‘Online Consultation’. You can download and read the papers in PDF format there if you prefer, but all comments must be received via the web feedback system that is accessed through the above path.

Dr. Christopher Martius, Head, Program Facilitation Unit (PFU), CGIAR Program for Central Asia and the Caucasus (CAC) Coordinator, Regional Program of the International Center For Agricultural Research In The Dry Areas (ICARDA) for the CAC Region, Tashkent, Uzbekistan ICARDA is member of the Dryland Science for Development (DSD) Consortium. Visit: Mail Address: Program Facilitation Unit, P.O. Box 4564, Tashkent, 100000, Uzbekistan Street Address: 6, Osiyo Street, Tashkent, Uzbekistan (please note new street name. number has not changed) Phones: +99871 2372130

The CAC Program is the winner of the 2008 “CGIAR King Baudouin Science Award for Outstanding Partnership".
Web page of the CAC Program:

**The Committee on Science and Technology (CST) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has called for a Scientific Conference on the topic of “Bio-physical and socio-economic monitoring and assessment of desertification and land degradation, to support decision-making in land and water management.” The Conference, popularly known under the shorter title 'Understanding Desertification and Land Degradation Trends', will take place at the UNCCD Conference of Parties in Buenos Aires, Argentina during 22-24 September 2009.


Peter Victor, author of Managing without Growth, (see GL Vol. 13, No. 12, December 22, 2008 Peter Victor: Managing Without Growth) wrote an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen. The comments on the Ottawa Citizen web site on the article were generally positive although one comment suggested that a steady state economy on a planet with ever-growing population could mean a downward spiral for each individual.
Victor also provides a link to a new UK report by the Sustainable Development Commission SDC, the Government’s independent watchdog on SD. Prosperity without Growth? discusses the drive in current economic policy to return to growth which fuels environmental crisis and "social recession", a growing gap between the wealthy and the poor. One fifth of the world shares just 2% of the world's income. In the last 25 years, the global economy has doubled but resource consumption has degraded an estimated 60% of the world's ecosystem and led to the threat of global and catastrophic climate change. Author of the report, Tim Jackson, Economics Commissioner of the SDC said, "For millions in developing countries, growth is clearly still vital to deliver basic standards of living and well-being. But, in developed countries including the UK, well-being far from increasing prosperity, our debt-driven consumption has created an unstable system which has put jobs and livelihoods at risk, as well as damaging us psychologically and socially."

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