Audience Questions to Dr. Key Geiser - March 14, 2021 Forum
In Our Own Backyard: Cancer and the Environment, Where are We Now?

  1. What is Dr. Geiser’s website?

  2. Does the person who works in battery manufacture can get cancer? I mean working with Mn02, Lithium or other chemical substances cause cancer. Please give us advice.

    Anumber of the chemicals used in MnO2 lithium battery manufacture are hazardous and some are carcinogens. You can contact the Occupational Safety and Health Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor to find out if you company is complying with their worker safety regulations to protect you from exposure in your work environment. Check to see if your company has been inspected. Or call the OSHA Regional Office JFK Federal Building, Room E340 Boston, Massachusetts 02203 (617) 565-9860.

  3. I got an e-mail saying that toothpastes and shampoos have a chemical in them which makes suds. The email said this was toxic. Is this true? What alternatives are there? Every shampoo I’ve seen contains this chemical

    The chemical in question is sodium lauryl sulfate (and sodium laureth sulfate), used for it’s foaming action. The Material Safety Data Sheet on the technical grade (pure form of the chemical) says (

    Causes irritation to the respiratory tract. Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath. May cause allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.

    Large doses may cause gastrointestinal distress, nausea and diarrhea.

    Skin Contact:
    Mildly irritating to skin, causes dryness and a rash on continued exposure. May cause allergic skin reactions.

    Eye Contact:
    Causes irritation, redness, and pain.

    Chronic Exposure:
    Chronic exposure may cause skin effects.

    Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions:
    Persons with pre-existing skin disorders or impaired respiratory function may be more susceptible to the effects of the substance.

    Reproductive Toxicity:
    Has caused mutagenic and teratogenic effects on laboratory animals.

    This is a good example of the confusion in our regulatory process. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is in your children's bubble bath. Unlike shampoo, which contains the same foaming chemicals and is essentially the same thing (it produces foam), bubble bath is regulated by the FDA. Bubble bath is defined by the FDA as "any product intended to be added to the bath for the purpose of producing foam and containing a surface active agent serving as a detergent or foaming agent" and produces "risks" which "have been known for some time". Thus, your children’s bubble bath is required by law to bear the following warning on its label: Caution- Use only as directed. Excessive use or prolonged exposure may cause irritation to skin and urinary tract. Discontinue use if rash, redness, or itching occur. Consult your physician if irritation persists. Keep out of reach of children.”

    Not every shampoo has this chemical, but you’d need to search the web to find the ones who don’t. One example is Avalon (sold at Bread and Circus).

  4. What do you do about decking with CCA treated lumber to protect your home (without replacing the “bad” treated wood)

    CCA stands for copper chromated arsenate. Arsenic is a known carcinogen. Children playing on CCA treated structures should wash their hands before eating or putting into their mouth. On your property, any wood which your children might touch with their hands, chew on, or eat off of should be either replaced or covered. Treated wood should never be burned in open fires, stoves, fireplaces, or residential boilers. Food should not come into direct contact with any treated wood. Use precaution when drilling, sawing or working with CCA wood so that people do not come in contact with the dust and chips, either through inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion.

    In considering a coating: While available data are very limited, some studies suggest that applying certain penetrating coatings (e.g., oil-based, semi-transparent stains) on a regular basis (e.g., once per year or every other year depending upon wear and weathering) may reduce the migration of wood preservative chemicals from CCA-treated wood. In selecting a finish, consumers should be aware that, in some cases, "film-forming" or nonpenetrating stains (e.g., latex semitransparent, latex opaque, and oil-based opaque stains) on outdoor surfaces such as decks and fences are not recommended, as subsequent peeling and flaking may ultimately have an impact on durability as well as exposure to the preservatives in the wood. Talk with your local hardware store about available coatings. Visit:

  5. What are some of the ways you eliminate toxic threats in your home?

  6. What are consequences of chromium intoxication? What will happen if you swim in Waban Lake?

  7. Do the higher cancer rates translate into higher cancer mortality? Is there any consideration that our higher cancer rates relate to higher screening?

  8. Please identify products used by the average consumer that increase the risk of the 4 types of cancer which have elevated rates in Wellesley (breast, prostate, multiple myeloma and leukemia), and which products affect which cancer.  Identify alternative products that do not increase the risk of these 4 types of cancer.