Magazine article E Magazine

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Magazine article E Magazine

Updates

Article excerpt

NOT CHILD'S PLAY

Since E last reported on polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in IV bags and other medical equipment (see "Bad Medicine," In Brief, July/August 1999), the National Toxicology Program brought together a team of scientists to study its effects on critically ill male infants. The panel "expressed serious concern" about DEHP, a chemical used to soften PVC products, which manufacturers admit can climb to concentrations of five parts per million in solutions--more than 830 times the level allowed in drinking water.

According to the report, premature infants who have frequent contact with DEHP through medical supplies could be at risk for reproductive and developmental problems such as reduced fertility, ovarian dysfunction and changes in sperm production. Health Care Without Harm's Cecilia DeLoach stresses that consumers should not panic. "But we encourage them to ask health care providers about PVC alternatives," she says. Some medical supply companies, like Baxter, are already pledging to phase PVC out of production. CONTACT: Health Care Without Harm, (617)244-2891, www.igc.org/psr/hcwh.html; National Toxicology Program, (919)541-3398, http:// iccvam.niehs.nih.gov.

DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD

Wal-Mart's recent announcement that it will begin test marketing the sale of prepackaged irradiated beef patties has sent consumer groups reeling. Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project, says such companies will "use food irradiation to extend the shelf life of meat beyond what is appropriate, and mask the unhygienic conditions in which animals are raised, slaughtered and processed." Wal-Mart's plan also includes an agreement to purchase poultry from a slaughterhouse employing company self-inspection, a rapid-fire process in which "diseased and unwholesome chickens are being released to unsuspecting consumers," says Felicia Nestor, food safety project director of the Government Accountability Project. …

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