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Josh McCormack

Digital Content Curator, Salud America! Josh McCormack joined Salud America! and its home base, the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health​ San Antonio, in February 2019. Graduating from Texas A&M University with a BA in English Literature, he has previously worked in journalism and publishing. Josh enjoys reading; some of his favorite authors include Stephen King, Omar El Akkad and J.R.R. Tolkien.​


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Articles by Josh McCormack

What’s that Weird Smell on Your Airplane Flight?


airplane scents harm

Fragrance sprays are used to diffuse scents across the country in public bathrooms, office buildings, private residences, and now airline carriers. While in-flight air fresheners can reduce strong smells, they also can trigger problematic side effects in people who are sensitive to certain chemicals found in those products. Individuals who undergo symptoms from fragrance exposure could be experiencing Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT). Worse, those who are TILTed could experience a range of health effects during their flights now that more planes will use air fresheners. “Fragrances are to varying degrees toxic, and they are in fact one of the biggest triggers of irritability, mental confusion, and difficulties with concentration or learning,” writes Dr. Claudia ...

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Apple Promises to Think Different about Hazardous Chemicals in Products


Apple chemicals of concern

One of America’s largest corporations is reassessing the way they handle potentially health-harming substances in their products. Last month, Apple released its “Environmental Responsibility Report,” which provides insights into their overall climate-conscious. Specifically, the report illustrates the ways Apple is changing their mindset and practices concerning hazardous substances — something they hope will change the way the electronics industry functions as a whole. “Prioritizing potentially problematic chemical substances is key to effectively focusing green chemistry efforts in electronics manufacturing,” Apple writes in their 2018 Chemicals of Concern report. “Existing scientific tools and policy frameworks, however, do not provide immediately applicable and ...

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Harmful Water Contamination Present in Nearly All U.S. States


PFAS contamination 43 states

Researchers now estimate that 19 million Americans face dangerous chemical exposure from the water coming from their sinks and faucets. Over 600 public water systems, military bases, airports, industrial plants, and other sites contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. Worse, this is a wide-spread problem affecting people in 43 states, according to new research from the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “The Environmental Protection Agency has utterly failed to address PFAS with the seriousness this crisis demands, leaving local communities and states to grapple with a complex problem rooted in the failure of the federal chemical regulatory system,” said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. Findings of EWG’s Report The study’s ...

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#SaludTues Tweetchat 5/21/19: Clean Water Justice and Access



Did you know millions of Americans struggle to access clean water every day? Pollution and chemical contamination has impacted the drinking water of U.S. soldiers, public school students, and families who can lack the ability to purchase and use water filtration tools. Moreover, currently proposed pieces of legislation could make that problem much worse. The EPA hopes to roll back clean water protections, and by doing so, giving companies loopholes to dump hazardous material into our sources of water. This kind of pollution harm our country’s rivers, lakes, and groundwater supplies. Let’s use #SaludTues on Twitter on Tuesday, May 21, 2019, to tweet relevant information about current issues in clean water access and what is being done to solve the problem: ...

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Tell EPA: Close the Water Pollution Loophole!


EPA groundwater loophole

In another move to reduce clean water protections, the EPA plans to enact another ruling that will make it easier for companies to remove hazardous waste through dumping. This proposed directive would limit the protections of our rivers and lakes by allowing a loophole with greater flexibility for corporations to eliminate toxic waste by polluting the groundwater, according to Clean Water Action. This plan follows in the footsteps of the agency’s recently proposed “Dirty Water Rule,” and is part of a seemingly wide-reaching effort to reduce environmental protection efforts. The EPA wants your opinion on this proposed rule by June 7, 2019! Email a Comment Now for Clean Water! Dear EPA Office of Wastewater Management, Access to clean water should be a foremost ...

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E-Cigarettes: Nicotine’s Newest Red Herring


Vape chemical risk

For years, tobacco companies gained profits through lies and deception — now, e-cigarette producers are following in their predecessors’ footsteps, health experts say. Since its inception, vape manufacturers like Juul promoted their products as a “safer” alternative to smoking cigarettes, and even as a way to gradually quit smoking altogether. However, there is no substantial evidence backing these claims. Studies are actually beginning to show the exact opposite. The overall lack of knowledge concerning e-cigs is a notable risk to users, according to the FDA’s former Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, and current Principal Deputy Commissioner, Amy Abernethy. “While we believe that currently addicted adult smokers who completely switch off of combustible tobacco and ...

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Washington State Passes Comprehensive Toxic Chemicals Bill


Washington State chemical bill

Last month, Washington (12.7% Latino) state lawmakers approved far-reaching chemical legislation, which will regulate toxic substances in consumer products. The bill, which is awaiting signature from Governor Jay Inslee, aims to implement harmful chemical identification, restriction, and prohibition efforts. Toxic-free advocates are describing the law as one of the most substantial pieces of regulatory legislation in the country. “Washington state’s legislature has taken bold action to protect public health and the environment from the dangers of toxic chemicals,” said Liz Hitchcock, leader of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, in a press release. “Other states and the federal government should follow their lead.” What Does the Bill Entail? The Pollution Prevention for ...

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EPA Receives Over 450,000 Clean Air Comments


Mercury air pollution

In another attempt to roll back environmental protections, the EPA is proposing to revise the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS). However, the agency received a total 473,714 comments that provide insights and opinions that largely urge against their proposed plans; 231 members of the Salud America! network also sent an email to EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler pressing for clean air quality. A large portion of these comments focuses on the EPA’s recent de-regulatory efforts, and their refusal to make policy decisions based on scientific findings or relevant data, according to The Pump Handle. Last month, a coalition of 21 attorneys general filled comments that oppose the proposed rule as well as issuing a press release that rebukes recent environmental rollbacks. “EPA blinds ...

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Roughly 25% of Air Freshener Ingredients are Toxic to Your Health


Air freshener toxins

Fragrances can make a home go from smelling objectionable to welcoming — they can also cause severe health concerns in sensitive individuals. Researchers studied the substances found in these products for years, and their results communicate a serious message: Air fresheners have the potential to trigger bodily reactions such as respiratory problems, migraine headaches, and asthma attacks. Their largest concern? The data showed that about a quarter of the ingredients in these products are toxic. These chemicals also can trigger Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) in those exposed. “Fragranced consumer products, such as cleaning supplies, air fresheners, and personal care products, are a primary source of indoor air pollutants and personal exposure,” writes Dr. Anne ...

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