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Eau du Birth Defects

The Citizens’ Environmental Coalition wants to take the poison out of the perfume

‘I don’t know how to put this,” said Kathleen Curtis, executive director of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, “but phthalates can shrink the size of a baby’s penis.”

On June 23 at Macy’s in Colonie Center, the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition began a campaign to draw attention to pending legislation in the New York State Senate that would prohibit the sale or distribution of cosmetics containing dibutyl phthalate. Members of the CEC took time to educate shoppers in the cosmetics department about the health problems these chemicals can cause. “It’s the last thing men want to hear,” says Curtis, “but phthalates can affect the size of the penis and its placement.” Upon hearing the news, at least one customer returned a recent purchase.

The EPA currently recognizes dibutyl phthalate as having short-term and long-term toxicity, but does not have any studies showing its effects on humans. It has been proven to cause birth defects in animals. Studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have shown a correlation between levels of phthalates and increased incidents of cancer.

Products that contain dibutyl phthalates include perfumes, nail polish and shaving cream. According to Curtis, the chemical is used by most major brands. According to the FDA, as many as two-thirds of the products on store shelves today contain phthalates.

The use of phthalates has been banned in the European Union for more than a year. Manufacturers continue to distribute products containing phthalates in the United States despite the fact that they manufacture and distribute products free of phthalates in the European Union.

What is most disturbing to Curtis is that most products that contain the chemical are not labeled, making it nearly impossible to avoid them. In most cases, said Curtis, phthalates are contained in what is usually marked as “fragrance.” “It’s not the retailers that are pushing to keep the chemical in these products,” noted Curtis, “it’s the chemical manufacturers.”

Movement on the legislation banning phthalates in New York has come to a halt with the end of the legislative season, but Curtis is looking forward to educating people on the topic in the fall in conjunction with what she expects will be new energy and support for the bill in the Legislature. “I think we will see a number of people attaching their names to it,” she said.

Don’t be surprised if you run into representatives of CEC handing out literature about baby penis shrinkage or misplaced urethras the next time you’re at the cosmetics counter. According to Curtis, the June 23 event “was just a warning shot.”

—David King

dking@metroland.net


What a Week

Aw, We’re Druglords, Not Terrorists

According to DEA documents, Osama bin Laden approached Columbian druglords in 2002 with a plot to poison shipments of cocaine bound for U.S. ports. Bin Laden offered the cartels millions of dollars to purchase literally tons of cocaine. The idea of murdering their customers didn’t seem fiscally responsible to the cartel heads, and they turned him away. Sources claim another reason bin Laden was turned away was the cartel’s fear of U.S. retaliation. Aren’t they supposed to fear that already?

Spinning the Extreme Struggle

Feeling that their nearly 4-year-old catchphrase “war on terror” might be dragging down even the most hawkish citizens, the Bush administration has decided it’s time for a kinder, gentler tagline. It’s hard to believe they could outdo a crowd pleaser like “Operation Infinite Justice”—the original catchphrase for the invasion of Afghan istan—but have they ever. It hasn’t taken long for administration officials to fall in love with “Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism” (or, as per the popular acronym, G-SAVE).

Iowa’s Not So Nice This Time of Year

Gov. George Pataki announced in July that he will not seek reelection. He is now threatening to veto legislation to make the morning-after pill more accessible. The move has angered many New Yorkers, and some say it’s a move rightward to help a possible 2008 presidential bid. Pataki has some local competition, though, from Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who, like Pataki, has been testing the waters in Iowa—and who reportedly so far has thrown around much more money there than Pataki.

Off the Ballot

Albany Ward 5 Common Council member Shirley Foskey (who has had trouble making it to council meetings regularly) and Ward 11 candidate Justin Teff were removed from the September ballot because they didn’t have enough valid signatures by the petition deadline. At the same time, the Board of Elections did not rule on charges that the campaigns of Victor Cain (Ward 2) and Cheryl Mackey (Ward 4) had violated an agreement that keeps Albany Housing Authority employees from campaigning on AHA property unless specifically invited by tenants.



Overheard

Overheard:

"So I gave him $50 for 'cheese' from Vermont, and he brought back $50 worth of actual cheese! It was damn good cheese though."

—late night at the Old Songs Festival campground



About That Entropy Thang

photo:Chris Shields

Transportation activists who have long advocated spending less money on new roads, and more on repairing what we’ve got, had an excellent exhibit A this week, as a hinge in the northbound ramp from I-787 to the Empire State Plaza failed, leaving a section of road about three feet below where it belonged, and snarling rush-hour traffic throughout the Albany.

 

Loose Ends

-- no loose ends this week --



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