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Friday Finds: Quench Your Chemical Thirst

American sodas spiked with flame retardants
That mid-day caffeine boost you reach for every afternoon may contain a chemical that causes skin lesions, memory loss and nerve disorders, reports Environmental Health News. Sodas like Mountain Dew and Gatorade contain brominated vegetable oil (BVO), a synthetic chemical  that keeps a soda’s fruity flavors well-mixed inside the can or bottle. Recent studies have found that brominated flame retardants, which may have effects similar to BVOs, build up in people’s bodies and are linked to “impaired neurological development, reduced fertility, early onset of puberty and altered thyroid hormones.” BVOs are found in about 10 percent of US soda drinks. Though drinking the occasional soda is unlikely to cause any health problems, binge drinkers and young children may want to find another way to get through the day with their eyes open.

EPA turns a blind eye to environmental justice cases
Despite an EPA memo outlining environmental justice issues as a top priority, more than a dozen complaints alleging that air pollution is disproportionately harming low-income and communities of color have languished under Administrator Lisa Jackson’s EPA, reports iWatch News. Some of those complaints have sat in the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights for more than a decade, such as one woman’s case in Texas that alleges toxic emissions from a 10-mile stretch of oil refineries and industrial plants have caused her to have several miscarriages. Though the EPA insists that it has made “meaningful progress” on many of the complaints, environmental justice advocates are skeptical, like Earthjustice’s Marianne Engelman Lado, who told iWatch, “The backlog doesn’t seem greatly improved, and it’s not clear what processes they use to evaluate the complaints. Why is that progress?”
 
“Eco-friendly” Walmart loves global warming
Walmart’s shelves may be stocked with ecofriendly CFL light bulbs and concentrated laundry detergent, but the big box giant is secretly harboring an anti-environmental agenda, reports Grist. Since 2005, when Walmart launched its sustainability campaign, “40 percent of the $3.9 million it has given to members of Congress” went to congressmembers who typically vote against the environment. Among its biggest recipients of campaign cash are Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo) and John Boozman (R-Ark), two big climate-change deniers. Walmart also gives a ton of money to legislators at the state level who espouse pro-polluter views. Lining the pockets of anti-environmentalists while touting sustainability is just one of the many ways that Walmart tries to greenwash its way into the hearts and minds of Americans. Here’s a bunch more.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.