Photo of Emma K. Burton

Emma K. Burton is a counsel in Crowell & Moring's Product Liability & Torts Group. Emma's practice focuses on civil litigation involving product liability, toxic tort, and environmental matters, with a focus on complex health and life science cases regarding alleged injury from exposure to chemical products. Emma is experienced in litigating matters involving particular scientific knowledge, such as developmental toxicology, epidemiology, pharmacokinetics and genetics. Emma also has unique experience in the use of, and challenges to, expert testimony in the fields of science and medicine. She has successfully authored numerous briefs resulting in the exclusion of unqualified and improper expert opinions under Daubert and similar state standards. See Bourne v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 189 F. Supp. 2d 482 (S.D. W.V. 2002);Bourne v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 2004 U.S. App. LEXIS 1161 (4th Cir. 2004); Bowen v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., 2005 WL 1952859 (Del. Super. Ct. June 23, 2005).

Many universities and local governments have installed synthetic turf made with “crumb rubber” – ground up tires – on playing fields and playgrounds in recent years to obtain the advantages of all-season use and lower maintenance costs. In recent months, however, the media and a growing group of critics contend that the crumb rubber used in these fields contains carcinogens and is potentially dangerous to children and other users. While the scientific evidence to date shows no basis for these concerns, the movement against crumb rubber is nevertheless escalating, due in large part to media reports from NBC, ESPN, and others, followed by Members of Congress calling for an investigation by the CPSC and EPA. The article at the link below surveys the crumb rubber debate, the current science and existing health investigations of crumb rubber, and the litigation risk arising from ongoing investigations and media pressure.

http://www.law360.com/articles/737107/turf-wars-the-attack-on-crumb-rubber-synthetic-turf

Burton Microbeads

The number of states who have banned the use of microbeads in personal care products is growing, with California being the most recent to join the trend.  California and New Jersey laws expand their bans to include biodegradable microbeads; Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble both opposed the California law.  The Personal Care Products Council, a trade group for the cosmetics industry, came out in support of several state bills.  The following is a snapshot of current state bans:

 

State Date Enacted Effective date Scope
California October 8, 2015 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Does not allow biodegradable microbeads
Colorado March 26, 2015 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Allows biodegradable microbeads
Connecticut June 30, 2015 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Allows biodegradable microbeads
Illinois June 8, 2014 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Allows biodegradable microbeads; excludes prescription drugs
Indiana April 15, 2015 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Allows biodegradable microbeads
Maine March 11, 2015 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Allows biodegradable microbeads
Maryland May 12, 2015 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Allows biodegradable microbeads.
New Jersey March 12, 2015 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Does not allow biodegradable microbeads.
Wisconsin July 1, 2015 Jan. 1, 2018 (manufacture of personal care products); Jan. 1, 2020 (sale of over-the-counter drugs) Allows biodegradable microbeads ; excludes prescription drugs

 

 

Industry leader Unilever has announced a full stop to the use of microbeads in its products, while Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive, and Johnson & Johnson report an intent to stop use by 2017.  Likewise, many large retailers have already removed microbeads from in-house brands or announced intentions to do so in the near future.

 

At the Federal level, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2014 (H.R. 4895) which would ban sale and distribution of cosmetics containing plastic microbeads, died in Congress; Rep. Frank Pallone re-introduced The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 (H.R. 1321) on March 4, 2015 and it has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

 

Finally, researchers are investigating whether chemicals from microbeads eaten by fish transfer into fish meat, and the potential human health effects, if any, following consumption.