In An Earth Day Test For Synthetic Biology Field, Zymergen Raises $500 Million In IPO

Zymergen's Hyaline optical film is made with biology not petrochemicals.

The past few years have been boom times for synthetic biology. Today, in a big test for public markets’ appetite for the emerging field, Zymergen raised $500 million in an initial public offering set to value the company at more than $3 billion.

“I love the symbolism that we’re going public on Earth Day,” cofounder and CEO Josh Hoffman told Forbes in a morning video call. “There’s a bit of luck there, but I’m just super pleased. It is really cool.”

Hoffman, 50, a former McKinsey consultant and Rothschild merchant banker, founded Zymergen in 2013 with two former Amyris execs, Zach Serber, 46, now chief science officer, and Jed Dean, 43, now vp of of operations and engineering. They named it Zymergen as a mash-up of the words zymurgy (the study of fermentation), merge and genomics. Based in Emeryville, California, a hotspot for biology startups, the company’s scientists ferment molecules that can become part of industrial coatings, insect repellant or whatever final product the company is developing.

Zymergen is one of a number of companies that are using biology, along with machine learning and robotics, to transform how we manufacture stuff. And after years of flying under the radar, investors are taking notice. In addition to Zymergen’s IPO, Gingko Bioworks, which we profiled in Forbes magazine in 2019, is now reportedly considering a SPAC deal worth more than $20 billion.

“I love the symbolism that we’re going public on Earth Day.”

Zymergen’s first product is a transparent polymer film, called Hyaline, that it’s marketing for use in consumer electronics. It has 10 other products in development in electronics, personal care and agriculture. The potential market opportunity, by Zymergen’s calculations, is $1.2 trillion. “I’m not saying we’re ever going to sell $1.2 trillion, let’s not be absurd, but it’s ubiquitous across product classes,” Hoffman says. “We’re trying to make better stuff in a better way across the economy, and last I checked there was a lot of stuff to go make.”

But this is a long game: Though Zymergen had raised more than $1 billion from investors that include SoftBank, True Ventures and DCVC before its IPO, it’s just beginning to commercialize its first product. Revenue last year was a meager $13 million, “substantially all” of which came from R&D service contracts and collaboration agreements for developing, testing and validating its biomanufacturing platform, according to its prospectus. The company reported a net loss of $262 million for 2020, and has said that it does not expect to be profitable in the foreseeable future.

Hoffman, who has an undergraduate degree from the Unviersity of California, Berkeley, and a graduate degree from Yale, never intended to be an entrepreneur. He started his career at the Carter Center in Atlanta, then worked for the Uganda Ministry of Finance before winding up in banking. “Entrepreneur is not a label I apply to myself,” he says. “I would be a little uneasy if somebody called me that, but it probably fits.”

Hoffman had been doing some advisory work at Amyris, and when Serber left to start his own company the two started hanging out and talking about the potential. Today, their Emeryville labs are a high-tech space, where scientists wearing white lab coats with a stylized letter “Z” on them run experiments rapidly thanks to the company’s custom automation.

In a video tour of the labs last summer, Zymergen showed off how it had integrated systems to not only have colony-picking robots, but to design software that could put the pieces together in modular fashion. “Jed Dean and I traveled to China to visit car parts factories and Apple factories to learn how the work is done,” Will Serber, Zymergen’s head of automation, who has a master’s degree in astrophysics from Princeton, explained then.

Zymergen’s Hyaline product is a bio-based polymer film that is transparent and strong, yet bendable, making it good for use in foldable touchscreen phones, high-density flexible printed circuits, wearable sensors and other consumer electronics. The company launched it commercially in December 2020, and is currently doing qualifications with potential customers.

Most of the materials currently in use as optical films are petrochemical-based and decades old, giving Zymergen’s product an advantage in sustainability. But Zymergen’s pitch to customers is more than that. “If you show up at a phone company or an OEM and you’re like ‘biology can change your world,’ they’re like, ‘that’s cool, but I don’t know what to do with it.’ But if you show up with an optical film, that’s a different story,” Hoffman says. “We’re not selling sustainability, we’re selling performance.”

Among the next products in development are another optical film, for launch in 2022, and a next-generation film that could be used in flexible electronics and as insulation for antennas to deliver 5G data speeds, planned for 2023. In agriculture, meanwhile, it is working on a bio-based, non-Deet insect repellant and a microbial alternative to synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

“We’re still in the first mile of a 100-mile race,” says Hoffman, who owns just over 3 million shares of stock worth $93 million at the offering price. “The goal was not to create a company to go public. It was to create a generation-defining company that allows us to make products in a better way. It’s going to be years before we fully realize that.”

I’m a senior editor at Forbes, where I cover manufacturing, industrial innovation and consumer products. I also edit the Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before rejoining Forbes in 2016, I was a senior writer or staff writer at BusinessWeek, Money and the New York Daily News. My work has also appeared in Barron’s, Inc., the New York Times and numerous other publications. I’m based in New York, but my family is from Pittsburgh—and I love stories that get me out into the industrial heartland. Ping me with ideas, or follow me on Twitter @amyfeldman.

Source: In An Earth Day Test For Synthetic Biology Field, Zymergen Raises $500 Million In IPO

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The Everyday Chemicals That Might Be Leading Us to Our Extinction

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If you’ve smugly enjoyed the dystopian worlds of “The Handmaid’s Tale” (where infertility is triggered in part by environmental pollutants) or “Children of Men” (where humanity is on the precipice of extinction) — and believed that these stories were rooted firmly in fantasy — Shanna Swan’s “Count Down” will serve as an awakening.

“Count Down,” which Swan wrote with the health and science journalist Stacey Colino, chronicles rising human infertility and warns of dire consequences for our species if this trend doesn’t slow. The reason, Swan explains, may be growing exposure to “endocrine disrupting chemicals” that are found in everything from plastics, flame retardants, electronics, food packaging and pesticides to personal care products and cosmetics.

She outlines the danger. These substances interfere with normal hormonal function, including testosterone and estrogen. Even in small doses, they pose particular danger to unborn babies and young children whose bodies are growing rapidly. These hormone-warping chemicals, which can enter even the placenta, have the ability to alter the anatomical development of girls and boys, change brain function and impair the immune system.

Swan is a noted environmental and reproductive epidemiologist who has studied this subject for more than two decades. Her work on falling sperm counts garnered worldwide attention in 2017. Media coverage focused on her central finding: From 1973 to 2011, the total sperm count of men in Western countries dropped by 59 percent. The quality also nose-dived, with more odd-shaped sperm and fewer strong swimmers capable of fertilizing an egg. Perhaps most important, the DNA they carried was also more damaged.

A study Swan cites in “Count Down” found that just over a quarter of men experiencing erectile dysfunction were under 40. That may be, in part, because testosterone levels have been dropping at 1 percent per year since 1982. The outlook for women isn’t good either. The miscarriage rate has risen by 1 percent per year over the last two decades. If these trajectories continue, in vitro fertilization and other artificial reproductive technologies may become a widely needed tool for conceiving children.Get the Book Review Newsletter: Be the first to see reviews, news and features in The New York Times Book Review.

Swan distills information harvested from hundreds of published studies and while some ring familiar, the conclusion she reaches hits hard. These chemicals are limiting the ability of current and future generations to have children. They could, ultimately, snuff out the human species altogether.

This is why Swan was compelled to write this book, one with apocalyptic implications. Despite the publicity, these alarming findings haven’t sparked changes in environmental policies, regulations or public demand for safe substitutes.

Her focus on male infertility marks an overdue inflection point, with the medical community’s acceptance that the health of both sexes is equally important. When a couple can’t conceive or a woman miscarries, she usually bears the blame. Swan dispels the myths surrounding reproductive failure. Yes, as women get older, their ability to get pregnant drops, but Swan reminds us that a man’s reproductive clock is also ticking as he ages. Abnormal sperm, increasingly common in men over 40, can also cause miscarriages.

Teasing out the mechanisms behind plummeting fertility rates is complicated. While man-made chemicals certainly play a role, Swan emphasizes that timing matters, with different impacts for those exposed in utero, as newborns, adolescents or adults. She walks the reader through the reproductive problems that result from contact with flame retardants, pesticides and what she calls “an alphabet soup” of chemicals.

For men, phthalates, found in many products, from plastics to shampoos, are the worst offenders, tanking testosterone levels and sperm counts — and causing sperm to basically commit suicide. In women, these chemicals may cause early menopause or cysts in the ovaries, or they may disrupt monthly cycles.

Bisphenol A, a ubiquitous chemical used in hard plastics, electronics and millions of other items, affects both sexes but is particularly concerning for women. It interferes with conception and causes miscarriages early in pregnancy.

Swan broadens her argument by documenting how these chemicals are jeopardizing the survival of many other creatures. Genital abnormalities are of great concern: distinctly smaller penises in alligators, panthers and mink, as well as fish, frogs, snapping turtles and birds that appear to have both male and female gonads, and mating difficulties in many species caused by altered behavior.

Swan highlights another layer of risk. Parents’ exposure to these chemicals can affect the sexual development of their children. If a woman smokes when she is pregnant, her son’s sperm counts may drop by 40 percent — and if he is later exposed to endocrine disruptors, his sperm production may drop so low that he becomes infertile. Swan describes the collateral damage caused by a combination of lifestyle factors — such as stress or bad diet — and daily exposure to toxic chemicals. The effects can radiate down through several generations.

Although most of Swan’s analyses focus on Western countries, she has uncovered similar trends in South America, Asia and Africa.

Swan offers a sense of relief in her wrap-up, providing practical advice on steps that individuals can take to protect their health. She goes beyond lifestyle recommendations, outlining a far more difficult task: Purging harmful chemicals from our homes by reading the ingredients on bathroom and kitchen cleaners. Choosing personal care products that are phthalate-free and paraben-free. Ditching air freshener and scented products. Not microwaving food in plastic, making sure to filter drinking water and toss out plastic food storage containers and nonstick cookware. The suggestions go on.

Swan does miss an opportunity to give more attention to real-life stories. When she mentions individuals, their reproductive problems are often described without the history or context that strengthens a narrative. There are times when a memorable personal story might have supplanted a rather detailed anatomical and chemical description. There are passages that suffer from what Swan herself refers to as “stat overload” or dozens of foreign-sounding chemical names.

Over all, her conclusion is well supported: the need for regulation, specifically United States federal policies that require companies to prove chemicals safe before using them commercially. Europeans favor this precautionary principle and are currently phasing out or banning the most dangerous chemicals. Swan underscores how this contrasts with the American approach of “innocent until proven guilty,” which then requires taxpayer-funded government studies to investigate health effects.

“Count Down” is an important book for anyone concerned about the environment, pollution, successful childbearing or declining health of the human species. Other than the pervasive chemical names, it is written in a casual, accessible style and will be of practical relevance to couples and young adults who are considering having a family.

Fertility is already an issue for some who have children later in life, when the effects of these chemicals may be more pronounced. Swan offers somewhat bracing recommendations for women who choose to delay pregnancy: Freeze your eggs in your 20s as an insurance policy. For men, investigating their sperm count early might reveal infertility trends when they are easier to correct. More broadly, this book provides a wake-up call that increases understanding of fertility, its challenges and the recognition that both partners play a role.

But ultimately her conclusion is a plea for swift national and global actions that ban the use of these chemicals and mitigate the effects of those that are impacting health and even life itself worldwide. Swan makes it clear that the future of many species, including our own, depends on it.

By Bijal P. Trivedi

Bijal P. Trivedi is the author of “Breath from Salt: A Deadly Genetic Disease, a New Era in Science, and the Patients and Families Who Changed Medicine Forever.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com

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Episode 1 of 3 Check us out on iTunes! http://testtube.com/podcast​ Please Subscribe! http://testu.be/1FjtHn5​ We may currently well be in the midst of a 6th mass extinction but how much of species loss can be attributed to humans and their endeavors? + + + + + + + + Previous Series: How Fire Shaped and Continues To Shape Humanity: https://youtu.be/pZqmvy5YdAk?list=PLw…​ + + + + + + + + Sources: Are We In The Midst Of A Mass Extinction?: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/ext…​ “Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. Many of them perished in five cataclysmic events.”

7 Things You Should Never Clean With Vinegar

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While it might seem like the answer to any and every cleaning conundrum is vinegar (it’s found in several of our favorite homemade cleaning solutions)—it’s not always the best choice. It’s a fantastic multi-purpose cleaner, but it’s not a miracle solvent and it won’t work on every type of stain or messy situation. Even though cleaning with vinegar is an affordable, eco-friendly, and relatively safe way to clean, there are still some surfaces and materials that can be damaged by vinegar. Save yourself from cleaning regrets—never clean these 7 things with vinegar.

RELATED: 7 Cleaning Mistakes That Are Wasting Your Time

Over time, the acid in vinegar can wear away at the finishes on your countertop. While these surfaces are known for their durability, they’re also expensive, so you definitely want to keep them looking new for as long as possible. Using a vinegar-based, all-purpose cleaner can slowly fade that smooth shine with repeated use. The easiest way to keep stone clean is to wipe it down with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Easy, right?

While it might be really temptingto grab a microfiberclothand some vinegar to scrub away all of those smudges on your touchscreen devices, it’s a bad idea. It can ruin the coating on the screen. Tech screens can be really fickle and experts recommend using the cleaning formula specifically formulated for your laptop, phone, or tablet. Wiping down the device with a clean, dry microfiber will often do the trick.

RELATED: How to Deep Clean a Germy Cell Phone (Without Destroying It)

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Mixing chemicals is serious business, and in general, is best to avoid for safety reasons. And while most of us know that bleach and ammonia can create a toxic gas, vinegar is another liquid you shouldn’t mix with bleach. Since vinegar is an acid, it releases toxic chlorine vapors when mixed with bleach. Separating your cleaning products will keep your home clean and safe.

Just like on stone countertops, using vinegar repeatedly on waxed wooden surfaces can cause the finish to wear over time. While some pros recommend using vinegar to clean floors and remove grime from furniture, just exercise caution based on your specific items and avoid leaving water or moisture on wooden surfaces. Be cautious when cleaning any finished wood surface and start with the least harmful method first.

Vinegar is known for its cleaning and deodorizing properties, and adding a cup of white vinegar to the top rack of the dishwasher is a popular cleaning tip. However, the acid in vinegar can break down the rubber seal of a dishwasher and other appliances over time. Check your appliance’s manual to see if it’s made with natural rubber, which can handle vinegar. If not, try a more diluted vinegar solution and run a normal cycle so the vinegar never sits on the rubber parts. For a full how-to, check out the complete directions here.

While vinegar is a great deodorizerand can help with odors of all kinds, you don’t want to use vinegar to clean up pet accidents. While it might remove the odors you smell, pets will still be able to sniff out past accidents and will go back to mark these spots again and again. Instead of vinegar, you’ll want to use an enzymatic cleaner. It will kill both the odors you smell and the ones only detectable by your pet.

While you can probably get away with using vinegar to clean your grout every now and then, it’s best to avoid using caustic cleaners like vinegar and bleach on grout. Over time, they can wear away the seal on grout and tile, causing them to age and deteriorate more quickly. For the safest way to clean grout, check out our full tutorial, starting with the mildest cleaning method and working your way up from there.

By: Caylin Harris

Source: https://www.realsimple.com

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Japan BrandVoice: Why Companies Like French Chemicals Maker Arkema Are Choosing Kyoto

Why are some of the biggest companies in the world choosing to set up their Japan headquarters in Kyoto instead of other major cities? It might have something to do with a little-known fact about Japan’s old capital: Kyoto is home to a whopping 38 universities and about 150,000 students. That is a massive pool of highly educated, motivated workers as well as institutional knowledge, experience and talent (not to mention Nobel Prize winners) that can accelerate recruiting and business collaborations. It’s one reason why Kyoto is so appealing to entrepreneurs and innovators from everywhere.

A unique research park

Another reason why Kyoto is drawing foreign investors is its world-class infrastructure. In 1978, Osaka Gas closed down a massive gas plant that had operated in central Kyoto for half a century. In 1989, part of the site was reborn as Kyoto Research Park (KRP). It’s the only privately owned research park in Japan, and today, 30 years after its launch, it’s a shared office, research and laboratory space that hosts many established and startup companies from Japan and overseas.

French chemical company Arkema is one of 480 companies and organizations that are tenants at KRP. Spun off from energy multinational Total in 2004, Arkema was publicly listed in 2005. It specializes in high-performance materials and industrial products such as coating resins, specialty adhesives and fluorochemicals. Its predecessor joined KRP in 1993 when Total decided to establish its Kyoto Technical Center. With about 30 staff, the Kyoto Technical Center is Arkema’s second base in Japan after its headquarters in Tokyo. The role of the Kyoto Technical Center is to provide business and technical support to Arkema’s customers in Japan, Korea and the Asia-Pacific region. It develops new kinds of polymers, including materials for everyday products such as lightweight, high-performance running shoes and automotive components.

“Kyoto was a good place for us to establish our center because of the living environment here and its cost-effectiveness,” says Damien Vitry, a general manager at Arkema. “We also have a high rate of staff retention, which is a challenge in places like China. We still have staff in Kyoto who joined us in 1993.”

In Kyoto, Arkema is focused on 3D printing technologies, next-generation plastics and plastics applications. These include sustainably sourced bioplastics, such as its Rilsan polyamide line, and heat-resistant plastics, such as its Rilsan HT polyamide line, that can replace metal tubing in automotive and other applications. The company tries to link its R&D with U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and works with groups such as the Japan Organics Recycling Association and the Japan BioPlastics Association.

“Over the past 10 years, customers have become more interested in knowing where a product comes from, whether it has a bio-based origin,” says Vitry, who completed a PhD at Tokyo Institute of Technology before working in Japan and China. He helped set up an Arkema R&D center in Changshu, China, before settling in Kyoto.

Arkema hosts Japanese interns in Kyoto and undertakes collaborations with Japanese firms such as fiber and textile maker Toyobo. One of the main advantages for the company as a tenant at KRP is that it can use a shared KRP laboratory with specialized equipment that can advance its R&D projects.

“We can use this equipment to characterize materials for analyses, for example measuring the electrical properties of polymers for 5G networks,” says Vitry. “These are tools we can’t afford to have ourselves because we don’t need them all the time. We’re also part of the KRP network of companies and our people meet them every week. Overall, the environment at KRP is very helpful for us.”

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Where inspiration meets manufacturing prowess

Arkema is one of 26 foreign companies at KRP from 11 countries and regions; others include

Bosch and Pfizer. They have offices in KRP’s 17-building, 5.9-hectare site, which is supported by Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture and local industry.

KRP aims at being a one-stop service center for businesses, with both facilities and business support. It has 68,800 square meters of rentable space for office and other uses, laboratories where researchers and startups can use high-end equipment such as DNA sequencers and MALDI mass spectrometers at low cost, a conference center for up to 350 people, an executive lounge, and other facilities. KRP also offers services to support new businesses and to facilitate networking among companies including major local manufacturers. But one of the main attractions is local talent.

“Large corporations tell us they join KRP for the recruiting potential for local hires, foreign exchange students and overseas designers,” says Adachi Takeshi, general manager in the KRP Brand Strategy Department. “We have strong connections with Kyoto universities and we host technical seminars featuring experts from academia.”

These kinds of events have drawn life sciences venture companies from all over the Kansai region as well as the likes of Johnson and Johnson, Takeda Pharmaceutical, and other big brands. Adachi notes that the local fundraising environment has improved in recent years, with both the number of venture capital companies and the volume of funds increasing. The Kyoto Startup Company Evaluation Committee (aka Kyoto Mekiki) is one of several regional groups that work with Kyoto City to support fledgling businesses.

Meanwhile, KRP is continuing to grow. It is expanding its footprint with construction of an 18th building for office rental space slated for completion in 2021. As he and his colleagues welcome more businesses from overseas, Adachi emphasizes Kyoto’s attractiveness as a compact city with rich academic, manufacturing and business resources.

“People here in Kyoto have been making things for almost 1,200 years,” says Adachi. “People from overseas who see traditional things here can become inspired and work with local craftsmen to turn their ideas into prototypes. We are working with many companies, startups and entrepreneurs to do this in a more effective, efficient way. There’s no other city that can offer this combination of inspiration and manufacturing prowess. People get culture shock here, but in a good way.”

Note: All Japanese names in this article are given in the traditional Japanese order, with surname first.

To learn more about Kyoto Research Park, click here.

To learn more about Arkema, click here.

Japan is changing. The country is at the forefront of demographic change that is expected to affect countries around the world. Japan regards this not as an onus but as a bonus for growth. To overcome this challenge, industry, academia and government have been moving forward to produce powerful and innovative solutions. The ongoing economic policy program known as Abenomics is helping give rise to new ecosystems for startups, in addition to open innovation and business partnerships. The Japan Voice series explores this new landscape of challenge and opportunity through interviews with Japanese and expatriate innovators who are powering a revitalized economy. For more information on the Japanese Government innovations and technologies, please visit https://www.japan.go.jp/technology/.

Source: Japan BrandVoice: Why Companies Like French Chemicals Maker Arkema Are Choosing Kyoto

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Arkema continues to innovate and develop ever more efficient materials for coatings that are both tougher and easier to apply, while addressing environmental constraints. Working closely with its customers, the Group markets a unique multi-technology and multi-product offering for the paint, coatings and adhesives markets, to be showcased at the European Coatings Show, Nürnberg, 19 to 21 March 2019 (Hall 4A – Stand 313).

Massive Sinkhole Leaks Radioactive Water Into Florida’s Aquifer – Trevor Nace

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A massive sinkhole recently collapsed nearby Mulberry, Florida, draining approximately 215 million gallons of radioactive and contaminated water into Florida’s aquifer. The sinkhole was located directly below a wastewater storage pond used by Mosaic, the largest phosphate fertilizer producer in the world. There is local outcry that the event in fact took place three weeks before the local community was notified, despite the fact that this is Florida’s largest and primary aquifer for potable water…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2016/09/23/massive-sinkhole-leaks-radioactive-water-into-floridas-aquifer/?fbclid=IwAR3n9mATbQzjTfq0I1Rra5iCO__arO_L74Mfupci8GKD9Tc8O7zib-R8vxs#652ad5f15ed8

 

 

 

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Norway’s Equinor Shows Big Oil Can Survive Putting A Price On Carbon – Christopher Helman

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Norway, thanks to decades of oil and gas drilling in its coastal waters, has the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, with more than $1 trillion in invested assets. That’s equivalent to roughly $200,000 for each of the 5.2 million Norwegians. Rare among those struck with the “resource curse,” Norwegians feel kind of sheepish about owing their birthright to fossil fuels. Among the world’s most zealous environmentalist states, Norway has pledged to become “climate neutral” by 2030, and has imposed all manner of emissions trading and carbon taxes to get there…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2018/10/12/norways-equinor-shows-big-oil-can-survive-putting-a-price-on-carbon/#5cd5b73a5c05

 

 

 

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Asbestos, Other Chemical Toxins Found In Five Back-to-School Items Sold at Dollar Tree, Other Retailers – Ross Torgerson

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Five back-to-school items have tested positive for toxic chemicals – including asbestos – according to a release from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Those items include Playskool crayons (36 count), Brace Brands children’s Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends water bottle, GSI Outdoors Kids’ insulated water bottles, Jot brand blue 3-ring binder and The Board Dudes brand markers.

 

According to the release, trace amounts of asbestos were found in green-colored Playskool crayons sold at Dollar Tree. Asbestos, which can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, has recently been found in other children’s products such as makeup. Of the six different types of crayons tested, Playskool crayons was the only brand that tested positive for toxic chemicals. Crayola, Up & Up, Cra-Z-Art, Disney Junior Mickey and the Roadster Racers and Roseart crayons all tested negative for toxic chemicals.

Two recently-recalled water bottles also tested positive for toxic chemicals, research shows. Both the Base Brands children’s Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends and the GSI Outdoors children’s water bottles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to high levels of lead. The Base Brands water bottle can be found primarily at Costco and on Amazon, while the GSI Outdoors water bottle is sold mainly at L.L. Bean. Lead has been known to cause severe developmental and behavioral problems.

Phthalates, which has been linked to causing birth defects, hyperactivity and reproductive problems, was found in the Jot brand blue 3-ring binder sold at Dollar Tree. According to the CPSC, the levels of phthalates found in the binder is considered unsafe for children.

Lastly, benzene, a carcinogen linked to leukemia and disruptions in sexual reproduction and liver, kidney and immune system function, was found in The Board Dudes brand markers sold on Amazon.com.

According to the U.S. PIRG, it is legal to have asbestos in crayons, however, scientists and government agencies say that it is unnecessary to expose children to asbestos. In the release, the research group urges any manufacturers that sell crayons that contain asbestos should issue a voluntary recall and reformulate the ingredients.

“Based on our testing, we know that most manufacturers make safe school supplies,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG education fund toxics director. “We’re calling on the makers of unsafe products to get rid of toxic chemicals and protect American schoolchildren.”

Since it is often legal to sell products that contain toxic chemicals, the U.S. PIRG said that parents who buy glue, markers, pencils, rulers and crayons should look for the Art and Creative Materials Institute label, which lets consumers know that the product is non-toxic for children.

For products like water bottles and lunch boxes where there is no label offered, look for a manufacturer’s “children’s product certificate” on the product. That label assures consumers that the product has been tested in a third-party laboratory under specifications set by the CPSC.

 

 

 

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