Through public interest litigation, CEH harnesses the power of laws such as California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (aka Prop 65) to force the elimination of toxic chemicals in consumer products. CEH has won hundreds of legal settlements that protect the health of millions of people across the U.S. and the entire globe.
We also partner with community-based environmental justice organizations to hold polluting corporations accountable. In our work with California residents in Long Beach, Paramount, and El Cajon, we provide technical assistance through air monitoring and other scientific expertise, partner with residents to build legal cases against facilities, and advocate alongside these community members to continue to defend against unsafe toxic exposures even after a case has settled.
Learn more about toxic chemicals in Products and Air and Water.
CEH Finds High Levels of BPA in Sports Bras and Athletic Shirts
CEH is suing 7 brands of sports bras and 5 brands of athletic shirts after testing showed that the clothing could expose individuals to up to 22 times the safe limit of the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), according to California law.
The sports bra brands include Athleta, PINK, Asics, The North Face, All in Motion, Nike, and FILA. The activewear shirt brands include The North Face, Mizuno, Athleta, New Balance, and Reebok.
CEH sent legal notices of our intent to sue to these companies back in October of 2022. CEH uses public interest litigation and the power of right-to-know laws like California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act (aka Proposition 65) to force the removal of toxic chemicals from consumer products.
Tell Activewear CEOs: Take the BPA Out of Sports Bras and Athletic Shirts!
BPA, a well-studied hormone disrupting chemical, mimics estrogen and can disrupt the normal functioning of the body, including metabolism, growth and development, and reproduction.
To date, CEH’s investigations have found BPA in polyester-based clothing with spandex, including socks made for infants.
CEH Finds More Than 100 Sock Brands with High Levels of BPA
CEH sent legal notices to approximately 100 companies after extensive testing showed their socks made for babies, children, and adults could expose someone to up to 31 times the safe limit of the chemical BPA, according to California law. The companies include Adidas, Champion, GAP, Hanes, New Balance, and Reebok.
“Studies have shown that BPA can be absorbed through your skin and end up in the bloodstream after handling receipt paper for seconds or a few minutes at a time,” said Dr. Jimena Díaz Leiva, Science Director at CEH. “Socks are worn for hours at a time, so it is concerning to be finding such high levels of BPA, particularly in those made for babies and children.”
Add Your Name: Tell Fashion CEOs to Take the BPA Out of Socks
Research has shown that early life exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals like BPA can increase the risk of infants developing a range of diseases during childhood and later in adulthood. Exposure to these chemicals during critical periods of development can increase the risk of adverse health outcomes.
“BPA was originally designed as an estrogen,” said Tyrone Hayes, Professor of Integrative Biology at University of California, Berkeley. “Given the many adverse effects of exogenous estrogenic compounds, BPA should not be in our clothing, food packaging, or anything else that humans (or any animal for that matter) will come in contact with.”
CEH tested socks with different blends of polyester, cotton, and spandex, and found BPA in the socks made predominantly from polyester with spandex. CEH has not found BPA in socks predominantly made from cotton.
Throughout 2022, CEH has pushed the companies to reformulate their products to remove all bisphenols including BPA, and we have reached legally-binding, court-enforceable agreements with some of the companies. We applaud those that have elected to reformulate their products to remove not only BPA, but all bisphenols, from their socks.
Building a Community-Led Air Monitoring Network to Advance Environmental Justice in Paramount, CA
Moses Huerta and Jaime Lopez both grew up in the City of Paramount, located in Southeast Los Angeles County. Moses has lived in Paramount his entire life and remembers the first time he noticed a metallic smell in the air around his home in Paramount, “I recall playing outside in the yard and noticing all this black smoke coming from this large building behind our house. I coughed a lot and got nosebleeds. The taste and smell of metal burning was overwhelming.” Jaime, Moses, and other Paramount residents eventually learned that the odors weren’t just a nuisance, but were the result of a dangerous substance being emitted into the air, hexavalent chromium (Cr6 or hex chrome), a heavy metal known to cause cancer in humans. Hex chrome along with other heavy metals like nickel and cadmium are emitted by 17 metal-related processing facilities sited in Paramount.
Since 2017, CEH has partnered with resident leaders to bring public interest litigation against four metal-processing facilities in Paramount.
Now that the project is consistently generating data, the CEH team has transitioned to supporting Paramount residents in their efforts to disseminate and use the data collected by Moses to advocate for clean air and more stringent emissions standards.
Planting a seed of change has grown into a movement we hope continues to spread as CEH focuses our efforts on supporting more grassroots science-based advocacy efforts. Too often science has been used to exclude and harm communities of color. In Paramount, equipping residents with the tools to carry out their own science ensures access to data they can use to advocate on their own behalf for clean air in their community and beyond.
A Community Champion in the Fight Against Toxic Diesel Pollution
CEH is committed to supporting the local efforts of community leaders to defend against unsafe toxic exposures in their communities. So, when government regulators failed to adequately respond to East Oakland residents’ concerns about the cancer-causing diesel engine exhaust coming from Green Sage’s nine trailer-sized generators, CEH and the Environmental Democracy Project (EDP) partnered with the Oakland Cannery Collective (the Collective), the resident group that had been advocating on the issue, to take legal action.
Now that the polluting generators are gone, critical work remains to ensure accountability and shut down illegal generators in other parts of the city. One of the leading community voices in these efforts has been that of Alistair Monroe, a cultural arts producer, educator, and festival promoter who founded the Collective to protect and preserve the Oakland Cannery and his father’s legacy.
“The poor air quality, continuous eyes burning from constant dust particles and smoke soot, and the coughing haunt[ed] us daily. It’s horrifying to witness how the cannabis industry displaces residents that have lived here for decades. We are not mules for economic gain but a vibrant group of artists who have paved the path to enrich our community. We have the right to clean air, and to a safe space to live and work.”
– Alistair Monroe, President, The Oakland Cannery Collective