CONTACT Martha Arguello (310) 261-0073
Rebecca Fuoco (650) 759-6461,
Español: Guadalupe Garcia (213) 252-2952, 

June 23, 2012


Hollywood joins environmental health groups in (dis)honoring the toxic chemicals and pollutants posing the greatest health threats to our communities

(Los Angeles) Red carpet events are common in Los Angeles, but none quite like “The Toxies.” 16 Actors in colorful costumes hired to “be” toxic chemicals emerge from limousines to walk down the red carpet to receive “awards” for the harm they are doing to the American public. The event will be held at the Silent Movie Theatre with the red carpet events starting at 4:00 and the awards ceremony at 5:00.

This year’s event will be emceed by D.W. Moffett who stars in the ABC Family series Switched at Birth and TV Land’s Happily Divorced. Moffett will be in-character as Tex Doolittle, who praises the chemicals by twisting or even denying evidence of their toxicity, the role played in real life by chemical industry lobbyists. Taking a page from the tobacco industry’s playbook, the chemical industry hires lobbyists to cast doubt on legitimate, peer-reviewed research that indicts toxic chemicals and pressure decision-makers not to take action. The Toxies is a tongue-in-cheek response to this problem, using Hollywood flair to bring attention to the flawed U.S. regulatory system for chemicals, shining a spotlight on particular examples where the system has failed.
Publicly thanking Moffett for emceeing the event, Sandra Bernhard tweeted “…safe home environments are one of my big concerns thank you dw for making it happen.” From the set of Happily Divorced, cancer survivor and Cancer Schmancer founder Fran Drescher appears in a video greeting on the Toxies website stating “Thanks to all of the chemicals in our environment that trigger thousands of cancers each and every year, you’ve got Cancer Schmancer working day and night.”
The event is led by Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles (PSR-LA) and Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy with groups across the country. Now in its 3rd year, the Toxies has expanded to include satellite events from Oakland to Minnesota and New York, and across the globe in Australia, Canada and more. Environmental health and justice groups and concerned members of the public watch live online at, presenting their own “Toxies” to local chemical pollutants.
Some of the chemical “nominees” are household names and some are less familiar. What they have in common is that they affect the health of those exposed to them – whether the exposures take place in the workplace, in the home, or in the general environment – and that safer alternatives exist.
Halogenated Flame Retardants (HFRs), a nominee for “Worst Replacement in a Series”, has been present in California furniture as a sequence of chemical variations for over three decades. “Since my work helped remove chlorinated Tris from children’s pajamas in the 1970s, I have yet to see a case of a halogenated flame retardant that didn’t pose a health concern,” says Arlene Blum, Executive Director of the Green Science Policy Institute. This nominee has also received attention recently after a recent expose revealed that the fire safety benefits promoted by its manufacturers are untrue.

Third-time “Lifetime Achievement in Harm” nominee Lead is being recognized for long-lasting neurological effects. “We have known for centuries that lead causes neurological impairment and reduces IQ. Yet, thousands continue to be exposed to leaded paint. This toxic legacy reminds us that we are often wrong about what we consider safe levels of exposure–there is no safe level for lead exposure” says Martha Dina Argüello of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. “We cannot expect children to thrive and learn if we do not muster the political will to adequately test children and safely remove lead from our housing stock.” Urban housing built before 1975 is likely to have lead, as up until that time lead was routinely included in paint. As lead poisoning rates have declined nationally, the racial disparities of this disease have increased. According to the National Health and Nutritional Survey data, African-American children are five times more likely than white children to be lead poisoned.
Nominees in the category “Worst Ball-Breaking Performance” are known to interfere with hormones and the reproductive system. One nominee, phthalates, has been banned in toys yet is still widespread in vinyl plastic products found in schools, such as vinyl flooring. “Children are uniquely vulnerable to these hormone-disrupting poisons, which are linked to chronic diseases on the rise such as asthma, obesity, and learning and developmental disabilities” says Mike Schade of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. “Children have the right to go to safe and healthy schools, and not be exposed to toxic phthalates from vinyl plastic products.”

Toxic mixtures whose identities are kept confidential by manufacturers are honored in the category “Worst Performance in a Mystery.” Nominee Fracking Chemical Cocktail is a secret formula, but it is known that methanol, diesel, xylene, formaldehyde, sulfuric acid, and over 600 other chemicals and radioactive isotopes are released into groundwater and air during the fracking process. “Because US EPA has had its hands tied for the most part by exemptions for fracking in federal statute engineered by the oil and gas industry, and because our own State Division of Oil and Gas has been allowing fracking to occur with no permits, no notice to neighbors or other state agencies, and no tracking, we don’t know where Fracking Chemical Cocktail is hanging out,” said Bill Allayaud, Director of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group. He continued, “but we do know that if this bad actor ends up in your drinking water, you are being exposed to some of the most toxic chemicals in commerce, and where it lurks should not be a mystery.”

Of particular relevance to Los Angeles residents are the chemicals nominated for “Worst Local Performance.” One nominee, nitrates, inhibits blood’s ability to carry oxygen which in pregnant women can lead to miscarriages and “Blue Baby Syndrome”. “Nitrate contamination is the leading cause of well closure in California,” said Jennifer Clary of Clean Water Action. “But dozens of small communities can’t shut down their well because it’s the only water supply. These water systems have to keep serving contaminated water to residents, who in turn are forced to pay twice for water – one for tap water they cannot drink, and again for bottled water to keep their families safe. They are stuck in another Catch-22 situation – their water is being contaminated by agriculture, the major employer in these areas”.

Due to popular demand Genetically Modified Organisms are being honored at this year’s ceremony. “The general public has the false impression that genetic engineering is precise. In truth, it’s sub-microscopic shooting from the hip, resulting in unpredictable and potentially dangerous changes in the organisms’ DNA and the health properties of food” says Dr. Robin Bernhoft, Former President of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.

Ultimately, organizers hope to not only spur action on the chemicals highlighted at the event, but to also push for a fundamental change in the way chemicals are regulated in the U.S. Ana Mascareñas, coordinator of the Toxies, says “The Toxies helps shed light on a very serious and often overwhelming problem: a broken system that allows toxic and untested chemicals get on the market, in our environment, and in our bodies. While profit-driven interests fight against environmental health protections, we can use tools like the Toxies to keep moving the public conversation forward, and demanding support for the Safe Chemicals Act, Safe Cosmetics Act, and other state and national measures that can help fix this problem.”

Experts with direct contact info listed below.

Available Issue Experts

Martha Dina ArgüelloExecutive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility — Los Angeles. Spanish/English bilingual. Cell: 310.261.0073, Martha can address a variety of toxic chemical exposure issues — to communities of color, about educating physicians, and what has happened in California toward reforming chemical regulatory policy. She has been involved in the California Green Chemistry Initiative. She can address bad actors  Lead and BPA.

Arlene Blum PhD, Executive Director and Founder, Green Science Policy Institute. 510.644.3164, Arlene can address halogenated flame retardants and the efforts toward Green Chemistry solutions.

Cecil Corbin-Mark, Director of Policy Initiatives and Deputy Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice (WE ACT) in Harlem, New York, NY. 212.961.1000 ext. 303, Cecil can address environmental justice and chemical exposure issues.

Kathleen A. Curtis, Policy Director, Clean New York. 518.708.3922. Kathleen can address policy in various U.S. states on protecting environmental health from flame retardant chemicals.

Ana Mascareñas, Policy and Communications Coordinator, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles (PSR-LA). 213-689-9170, cell:323-743-3241, Ana can discuss the concept behind “The Toxies”, BPA, Halogenated Flame Retardant and their recent California legislation.

Gail Bateson, Executive Director, Worksafe. cell: 510-439-6604, gbateson Gail is available to discuss workplace and worker chemical exposure issues, and “green” and “blue” collaboration to advance chemical policy reform.

Kathleen Schuler, Healthy Legacy.  612.382.5917,,. If she is not answering, contact Katie Rojas-Jahn,, (763) 226-4206. Kathleen can speak about chemical policy reform at the state level, especially in Minnesota. She can also be consulted Bisphenol A and especially the success of state laws in getting baby bottles and sippy cups with BPA off of store shelves. Kathleen is the co-director of Healthy Legacy, a Minnesota-based public health coalition working to phase out the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products.

Michael Green, Executive Director, Center for Environmental Health. 510.655.3900 x302, Michael can speak to his 15 year journey to remove lead from children’s products through advocacy, education and litigation.

Mike Schade, Center for Health, Environment, & Justice. 212.964.3680 or Mike can address dioxin issues and market shifts around bisphenol A.

Christina Medina, Center for Environmental Health, 661.477.2760, Christina can speak about issues related to California toxics policy reform and the Green Chemistry Initiative. She is also the Program Coordinator of the Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE), one of the main groups presenting the Toxies.