Pete Myers

Founder, CEO and Chief Scientist of Environmental Health Sciences

Toxins: Toys to Toothpaste

Pete Myers PosterTuesday, April 14, 2009
Stern Center, Great Room – 7:00 p.m.

Revolutionary advances in the environmental health sciences have discovered that low exposure to materials found in many of today’s consumer products – materials once thought safe – in fact have adverse consequences on human health.

Topical Background
From toys to raincoats to perfumes, toxins in today’s American household are found in unexpected places. These harmful substances migrate from homes to hospitals where they are found in the tubing of medical equipment and may even affect infants in the womb by way of the umbilical cord.

Exposure can come from dust in the air or from plasticized coverings. According to studies from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), children ingest more than 120 chemicals on a daily basis. Most of these chemicals are absorbed through the skin and mouth. For example, plastic rubber duckies floating in children’s bathtubs contain high levels of toxins.

Babies and children develop at faster rates than adults, which leads to greater vulnerability to chemicals. An adult’s body is able to resist and overcome many of the toxins found in everyday plastic products, but a baby’s body is a blank canvas, open to everything it ingests. A child’s development can also be directly tied to the toxins in toys. Links have been found between these chemicals and colds, ear infections, allergies, and behavioral changes in children.

Lead is one of the most abundant substances in the lives of adults. The legacy of lead in housing, soil and water often creates unacceptably high exposure levels to adults. The Departments of Human Services, Health and Senior Services, and Community Affairs work together closely to address these issues and to protect citizens from poisonous substances.

About the Speaker
Pete Myers is the founder, CEO and chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit organization that promotes public understanding of advances in scientific research on links between the environment and human health.

Along with co-authors Dr. Theo Colborn and Dianne Dumanoski, Myers wrote Our Stolen Future, a book that explores how contaminants threaten fetal development. Since that book was published, he has maintained the web site, synthesizing hundreds of scientific articles about endocrine disruption, thereby making them more accessible to the media and the public.

Beginning in 1990, Myers served as director of the W. Alton Jones Foundation in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is on multiple boards including the John Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, the Environmental Grantmakers Association, the Jenifer Altman Foundation, the Earth Day Network and the Publication Education Center. Until its merger with Pew Charitable Trust in late 2007, he served as board chair of the National Environmental Trust.

Myers holds a doctorate in biological sciences from the University of California Berkeley and a BA from Reed College.

Video of the Program