Re: GBlist: Foam Insulation (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 14:24:09 -0500
From: Loren Abraham <loren@cstone.net>
To: Parie Hines <plhines@ncsu.edu>,
    Greenbuilding List <greenbuilding@crest.org>
Subject: Re: GBlist: Foam Insulation

In response to :
> From: plhines@ncsu.edu (Parie Hines)
> To: greenbuilding@crest.org
> Subject: GBlist: Foam Insulation
> Date: Wed, 26 Feb 1997 10:15:07 -0500 (EST)
> Thanks to everyone who has responded to my concrete questions!
I've just
> recently read "Our Stolen Future" by Theo Colburn, which has
raised some
> questions in my mind about the possible toxicity of plastics,
> types like PVC, polystyrenes, etc. Apparently there is a
possibility that
> they emit chemicals which affect the body's hormone balance,
which can cause
> serious birth defects and other problems. Does anybody know
about the
> toxicity of different types of rigid insulation?


You have found probably the most important reading material
relating to the environment  to emerge since Rachel Carson penned
"Silent Spring" in 1962.  I apologise in advance for the rather
lengthy reply to this query, but this subject is of great interest
to me, it is huge and also very alarming.  I hope by this, to
stimulate the desire to investigate the subject of endocrine
disrupters further on your own.

Unfortunately as was mentioned in "Our Stolen Future" it is very
difficult to get the manufacturers to reveal the specific chemical
makeup of their products.  They consider these to be proprietary
and trade secrets.  I know this because I worked for one for ten
years.  "Right To Know" legislation requires only disclosure of
compounds known to be toxic, i.e. those included in the EPA TRI
(toxic release inventory - mostly VOC's), the CERCLA list of known
carcinogens, and the various lists in SARA III and OSHA
(legislation), and used by regulatory agencies such as NIOSH, etc.
_ these formulate the  recognized toxic substances.  Products
whose constituents are among these must be documented and the
information made available to anyone handling them.  This
information including amounts, related toxicity and safety
hazards, exposure limits, and recommended precautions can be found
in the manufacturer's MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)
information.  However, most of the chemicals which are suspected
hormone mimics and endocrine disrupters are not yet included in
the lists of known toxic substances.  An example is the family of
alkyphenols, including nonylphenol, a common anti-oxidant used in
many Polystyrene and PVC compounds and a known estrogen mimic. 
Another estrogen mimic found in polycarbonates is bisphenol-A. 
All of these chemicals can be found to leach into surrounding
substances, such as milk, water, whatever.  There are virtually
hundreds of these chemicals used as additves in plastics,
detergents, paints, pesticides, drugs and foods.  They are used as
emulsifiers, plasticisers, anti oxidants, conditioners,
preservatives, bug killers and for many other purposes.  Until
more research can be done to identify those which actually mimic
hormones in humans and have resulting toxic effects, we will
continue to be unknowingly exposed on a daily basis.

A particularly worrisome development in this field of research is
the finding that in certain cases although separately, these
estrogen mimics are weakly estrogenic alone, when two - especially
 endosulfan and  dieldrin - were paired, the potency rose by 160
to 1,600 times, a huge leap that stunned the researchers.

 "The thing that was most compelling was the dramatic synergy
between two unlike chemicals," said  endocrinologist John
McLachlan, who led a Tulane University research team.

 "Instead of one plus one equaling two, we found that one plus one
equals a thousand-fold. We  expected interactions, but we were
surprised they were so strong," Because  they break down 
extremely slowly, these chlorinated pesticides, solvents, and
industrial byproducts can accumulate in lakes, rivers, and
streams,  as well as fatty tissues, ultimately affecting health
and  reproductive abilities of wildlife and perhaps humans.

What can we do?
It is almost certain that many common everyday plastic products
contain endocrine disrupters.  Whether these chemicals indeed do
act as hormone disrupters in humans and to what degree has not yet
been established.  Since it is not feasible to simply stop using
plastics and other everyday household products, we can only
support the research which is badly needed.  Many of the
researchers in this field are unable to obtain funding to continue
this important work.  Educate yourselves and your congressmen, so
that this important work can continue.  In addition, use common
sense and trust your intuition.  The adage goes "if it stinks...
it stinks" (i.e., it's probably bad).  Or if something just
doesn't "feel right" to you perhaps you should look for
alternatives.  I have come to believe in prudent caution.

What little remaining energy I have (I suffer from CFIDS) to do
independant research is devoted, in part, to studying the
potential relationship of known endocrine disrupters (hormone
mimics) and a host of ermerging disorders including, MCS (multiple
chemical sensitivity), CFIDS/ME (chronic fatigue immune
disfunction syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis), GWI (gulf war
illness) , SBS (sick building syndrome), ADD (attention deficit
disorder), and various other problems grouped under the heading of
Environmental Illness.  The focus of my work will be aimed at
allowing building designers,  building product manufacturers and
other interested individuals and organizations to be informed
about new developments in this field of study and to take action. 
Please contact me (off the list) if you are interested in
participating in some way in this activity.

The Hypothesis:  Aside from the early fetal sexual development
interference (which may lead to a range of problems later in life
including cancer in the reproductive systems, compromised immune
function, brain development, and loss of fertility) so elegantly
established in Theo Colburn's books, it is also possible that
these chemicals disguised as functional hormones, are potentially
blocking the related cell receptors from the true hormones.  This
ulimately may cause impaired function in immune, neurological,
endocrine and other systems.  It is well established that the mind
and body are united through a complex  chemical orchestration
involving a variety of neurotransmitters, helpers, and inhibitors
(hormones).  When this orchestration is infiltrated to a certain
extent, with these imposters, all systems can and probably do
break down.

For more information on Endocrine Disrupters, refer to:
NOTE:  If you have problems with this url, let me know.  Someone
told me it may have been removed.

...and read the book mentioned earlier:
Title:     Our Stolen Future
Author:  Theo Colburn, Diane Dumanowski, John P. Meyers
Publisher:  Dutton
Published: 1996

Request a copy of a publication
Title:   "Environmental Hormones: Chemical Threats to Reproductive
						a Journalist's Resource Guide
Edited by:  Janet Raloff 
Publisher: The Environmental Journalism Center.  
Sorry, I do not have an address or phone no.

Hope this is found to be helpful by some.

Loren E. Abraham, AIA, IDSA
President - DTI/ERG
912 St Charles Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22901
Vc: 804 296 4197    Pg: 804 963 1511  Fax: 804 971 3729
 1997 Daybreak Technologies Inc. / Environmental Research Group

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