RSS

Tag Archives: body burden

Report: Baby Magic (and others) Contain Formaldehyde and 1,4-Dioxane

Is formaldehyde the "magic" in Baby Magic?

Is formaldehyde the "magic" in Baby Magic?

.

A new report released regarding a study of 48 different baby bath products revealed that 28 of them contained the contaminants formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both of which are known carcinogens.   The report stresses that these substances are not intentionally added and so do not show up on an ingredient list.  They are contaminants in the true sense of the word, a byproduct of the manufacturing and production of certain ingredients, but certainly avoidable.

Among the worst was Baby Magic, which contained the highest levels of formaldehyde, and American Girl products, which were found to contain the highest levels of dioxane.  Consumers beware!  For more information about harmful products may be in your personal hygiene products, visit the Cosmetics Database at EWG.org.

.

**********************

.

U.S. News: Children’s Bath Products Contain Contaminants

U.S. News and World Report, By Amanda Gardner
Published March 12, 2009

THURSDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) — Many baby and child-care products contain the chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, both of which have been linked to cancer and various skin conditions, a new report contends.

But the chemicals aren’t listed on the labels of bubble bath, shampoo and other common products, according to the report from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetic Use.

“Companies can obviously do better, and we need to demand that they do better,” said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetic Use and co-author of the report, released Thursday. “Many companies are already making great products that don’t have any of these chemicals [and] many companies in the natural products industry have reformulated to get rid of that problem. We also know many companies are using preservatives that don’t use formaldehyde.”

According to the authors, the report, called No More Toxic Tub, is the first to document contamination of children’s products with these chemicals. The Environmental Working Group was involved in the analyses.

Both formaldehyde and dioxane are considered “contaminants,” Malkan said.

A contaminant “is a chemical that is not intentionally added to the product but is a byproduct,” she said. “Those are all exempt from labeling laws … Companies don’t even have to know themselves.”

Dioxane is a byproduct of chemical processing and formaldehyde is released from some of the chemicals that are used as preservatives, Malkan said.

John Bailey is chief scientist for the Personal Care Products Council, a national trade association for the cosmetic and personal care products industry. Responding to the report, he said, “These are issues that have been around for many, many years, so it’s not new news. The thing that impressed me was the low levels of dioxane that were found in these products, which indicates to me that the industry is doing its job in keeping this potential contaminant down to a low level.”

Bailey also said there were wasn’t enough information in the report to gauge how accurate the determinations of formaldehyde levels were.

Malkan and her co-authors tested 48 bubble baths, shampoos and other baby and children’s products for dioxane and 28 of those products for formaldehyde.

Among their findings:

* Almost two-thirds of the 28 products contained both chemicals, including Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and Huggies Naturally Refreshing Cucumber & Green Tea Baby Wash.
* Eighty-two percent of products tested contained formaldehyde; the highest levels were found in Baby Magic Baby Lotion.
* American Girl shower products had the highest levels of dioxane among products tested.

“The good news is that there are great products without any of these chemicals,” Malkan said. “The challenge is you have to do some research to find them. It’s not a simple matter of looking at the label.”

According to Malkan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture “organic seal” indicates that none of these chemicals are present.

“The best advice for consumers is that simple is better, products with fewer ingredients overall,” she said. “There are things consumers can do to make better choices at the store but we also need to change regulations and require companies to list all ingredients in the products and to make the safest products they can, especially products for babies.”

Harmful chemicals and contaminants in children’s products is a subject of continuing controversy. Earlier this week, it was announced that baby bottles made with the controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) will no longer be sold in the United States by the six largest manufacturers of the products.

BPA, which is found in a wide range of products, mimics the hormone estrogen and may disrupt the body’s endocrine system. The chemical poses a particular threat to fetuses, infants and children because it can interfere with cell function when their bodies are still developing, public health experts say. The chemical has been linked with diabetes, heart disease, cancer and developmental delays in children.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Produce Consumer’s Best Friend

When shopping for organic produce, what items are 'ok' to buy conventional?

When shopping for organic produce, what items are 'ok' to buy conventional?

.

For those of you who may not already know, one of my areas of interest include the problem of human body pollution, also called the human body burden (* see also the Human Toxome Project).  One of the ways that consumers can help minimize the number of harmful chemicals our bodies are exposed to is by choosing organic products.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG)  has done outstanding work over the past few years raising the awareness of this problem, which I believe is even more pressing than Global Warming.  For example, they have developed a database of consumer hygiene products, which consumers can use free of charge to discover just how toxic or Earth-friendly the product it.

They also have a Produce Shopper’s Guide, listing the dirty dozen of produce – that is, those types of produce that were tested and found to contain high levels of synthetic pesticides and other chemicals.  The list also provides a list of 15 of the “cleanest” produce varieties, in a downloadable and printable business card format for ease in shopping.   I call this the produce shopper’s best friend.   If you can’t afford to buy all organic, or not all varieties are available at your local store, use this guide to help shop for the varieties that are “cleaner” for you and your family.

Stop by and download the newest version, updated this week at EWG.org.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Bittersweet Study Discovers Mercury in Foods Containing High- Fructose Corn Syrup

mercury-warning2

According a new report, fish and other seafood aren't the only dietary sources of toxic mercury.

[Mercury] damages the central nervous system, endocrine system, kidneys, and other organs, and adversely affects the mouth, gums, and teeth.  Exposure over long periods of time … can result in brain damage and ultimately death.  Mercury and its compounds are particularly toxic to fetuses and infants … Mercury exposure in young children can have severe neurological consequences, preventing nerve sheaths from forming properly.

Wikipedia, mercury poisoning

Consumers should take heed of a recent study, which discovered the presence of low doses of the toxic heavy metal, mercury (Hg), in foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Researchers at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP – http://www.iatp.org/) have released the findings of a study performed on 55 foods containing HFCS, which discovered that 31% of the foods tested – 1 out of every 3 samples – contained traces of mercury “several times higher than the lowest detectable limits”.

Mercury was found in minute quantities up to 350 ppt (parts per trillion), a level that food manufacturers and the Corn Syrup Refiners Association say is far below any threshold set by Federal Agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Such exposure is safe, they argue, and to inflate these findings and cause public alarm is “irresponsible” – at least, according to Tom Forsythe, spokesman for General Mills, maker of Yoplait® yogurt.  The FDA seems to share this opinion.

In fact, the Food and Drug Administration was alerted of the presence of mercury in HFCS-containing foods four years earlier, but chose to ignore the information.  In 2005, Renee Dufault, then researcher for the FDA and lead author for Environmental Health journal, conducted tests similar to the IATP’s and highlighted her findings of mercury in 9 of 20 samples in a report given to the agency.   They apparently did nothing to address this toxic threat. Her results were cited in the Environmental Health journal in January 2009 (abstract available).

[High-Fructose Corn Syrup] now appears to be a significant additional source of mercury, one never before considered … [but is a] completely avoidable problem.

IATP January 2009 release

The news caused an immediate stir in the online community, especially among health proponents who have monitored the presence of mercury in vaccines and seafood for the past several years.  Many health advocates warn of the presence of mercury in common products such as canned tuna, vaccine preservatives, and fluorescent light bulbs, as well as the associated risks and negative health effects this particular element has on the human body and the environment.

Mercury, they argue, is a known toxin even at minute quantities – indeed, it is the most toxic naturally occurring, non-radioactive metal on Earth.  It is particularly damaging to developing infants and small children, and, coincidentally or not, children represent the largest consumers of HFCS’s, second to teenagers.

Undoubtedly, this study has enormous implications because it is well-known by the scientific community that mercury – in any form – is extremely toxic and bioaccumulative, meaning that trace amounts of this element accumulate in the tissues and organs of living beings.  Over time, the presence of this toxin wreaks havoc on all bodily systems and can manifest in many different ways.

In this regard, and in my opinion, it is somewhat a moot point to argue that the mercury levels in the sampled foods are safe because they contain only a miniscule quantity of mercury, a position obviously taken by General Mills.  Poisons that accumulate in our bodies simply have no business being in our foods, especially if their presence is completely avoidable.

Why Mercury?

The inevitable question presents itself, “How did mercury get there?”

The answer is simple: certain producers of high fructose corn syrup use “mercury-grade caustic soda” (lye) to separate corn kernels from corn starch, thereby contaminating the corn starch with toxic mercury vapors, which is then further processed into HFCS – a very common sweetener in many processed foods.

Caustic soda can be produced in three ways: by utilizing mercury cells, membrane cells, or diaphragm cells.  These cells are basically vats of aqueous solution containing salt (NaCl).  These vats are electrically charged through a process called electrolysis, which chemically breaks apart the sodium molecules to produce chlorine and caustic soda (NaOH).  As NaOH is produced, it will chemically react with the chlorine unless one of the three cell methods is utilized.

Using the mercury cell process, the sodium ions (Na) are further reduced to a sodium amalgam through the introduction of liquid mercury.  This sodium amalgam is then reacted with water to produce caustic soda.   Lye produced utilizing this method is considered to be the highest-grade available, while the membrane cell method utilizes less electricity.

hgnaohelectrolysis1

This diagram shows the mercury cell process, which is far more technical than the simplified explanation above.

A somewhat dated fact sheet (2002) stated that “approximately 13% of electrolytically produced Caustic Soda in North America is produced” using the mercury cell method.

According to the EH abstract cited above, mercury-grade caustic lye is used to produce sodium benzoate and citric acid – two other potentially contaminated food sources.  One may assume that since corn starch is produced using lye, corn starch itself may also be cotaminated.

What has not been publicly recognized is that mercury cell technology can also contaminate all the food grade chemicals made from it, including caustic soda.

IATP January 2009 Release

The Study

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy obtained 55 samples of foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, manufactured by brand name companies such as Kraft, Hunt’s, Hershey’s and Quaker, as well as one private label store brand, Market Pantry.  The foods sampled included typical foods snacked on by average consumers: soft drinks, snack bars, barbecue sauces, yogurt, chocolate milk, jelly, toaster treats and ketchup, among others.

According to the results of the study, published directly by the IATP in January 2009, 17 of the sampled items contained “elevated mercury levels”, and at least 9 of them had mercury levels between 100 and 350 ppt.   The sampled foods with levels of mercury detected included (mercury amounts expressed in parts per trillion*):

Quaker Oatmeal to Go, manufactured by PepsiCo (350 ppt)

Jack Daniel’s Barbecue Sauce, manufactured by Heinz (300 ppt)

Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup (257 ppt)

Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce (200 ppt)

Nutri-Grain Strawberry Cereal Bars, manufactured by Kellogg Company (180 ppt)

Manwich Bold Sloppy Joe (canned sauce), manufactured by ConAgra Foods (150 ppt)

Market Pantry Grape Jelly, manufactured by Target Corporation (130 ppt)

Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly, manufactured by J. M. Smuckers Company (100 ppt)

Pop-Tarts Frosted Blueberry, manufactured by Kellogg Company (100 ppt)

Hunt’s Tomato Ketchup, manufactured by ConAgra Foods (87 ppt)

Wish-Bone Western Sweet & Smooth, manufactured by Unilever (72 ppt)

Coca-Cola Classic (62 ppt)

Yoplait Strawberry Yogurt, manufactured by General Mills (60 ppt)

Minute Maid Berry Punch, manufactured by Coco-Cola (40 ppt)

Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink, manufactured by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (30 ppt)

Nesquik Chocolate Milk, manufactured by Nestle (30 ppt)

Kemps Fat Free Chocolate Milk (30 ppt)

(see full chart)

Surprisingly, while the typical soda contains 17 teaspoons of HFCS’s (page 6), mercury was not found in the large majority of soft drinks tested besides Coca-Cola Classic.  Among those that fared favorably were: Dr. Pepper, A & W Root Beer, Kool-Aid, Sunny-D, Powerade, Lipton Green Tea, Pepsi Cola, 7-Up, and Hi-C.  Regardless, the IATP’s study reports that teenagers (ages 13-18) consume an average of 85 gallons of soda per year, which translates into 9,180 teaspoons of HFCS just by drinking soda alone!  In fact, the average person consumes about 12 teaspoons of HFCS each and every day – an amount that can significantly increase one’s exposure to mercury if eating typical items like those found in the list above.

How Much Mercury Are We Talking About, And How Much Is Considered Safe?

The FDA has set maximum exposure amounts for mercury in regard to public drinking water and seafood.  The maximum mercury concentration in water is set at 2 parts per billion (ppb), while the maximum concentration in seafood cannot exceed 1 part per million (ppm). The FDA states that the 1 ppm threshold is set at 10 times less than “the lowest levels associated with adverse effects”.

To help visualize the amount of mercury concentration expressed in ppm: the legal limit (1 ppm) is merely one drop in a standard bathtub filled to the overflow.  At that level, the FDA warns that consumers should not eat more than seven ounces of fish per week – approximately two and a half small cans of tuna.  On the other hand, the 2 ppb level set for drinking water is approximately 2 drops in 500 barrels of water.

Finally, to put the above discovered mercury concentrations in perspective, try to visualize 20 Olympic-size pools, each 2 meters deep, stacked on top of one another with one drop of mercury in them.  That represents 1 ppt.  That is an incredibly small amount, for sure, but still a potentially bioaccumulative source of toxic mercury – a source that, according to IATP and health advocates, is entirely avoidable.

Once it’s in the body, mercury can limit normal brain activity and nervous system functions … It is especially dangerous for developing infants and small children and can cause decreased motor skills and learning disabilities at even low levels of exposure.

Linda E. Greer, Ph.D., Director of Natural Resources Defense Council’s Health Program

Adverse Effects of Mercury Poisoning:

Because of mercury’s bioaccumulative nature, excess mercury can collect in the brain, tissues and organs of the affected individual, resulting in a wide variety of symptoms, including psychological disturbances, digestive problems, cardiovascular issues, respiratory problems, loss of speech and neurological problems resulting in mood swings and aggressive behavior.

It has long been established that mercury is destructive to the brain, which gave rise to the phrase, “mad as a hatter” – an accurate label for hatters who used to use mercury to cure the felt in their hats.   Most of these “mad hatters” went insane and/or died at an early age because of mercury poisoning.  This has led many to believe that there is a connection between vaccinations containing the mercury-laden preservative, Thimerosal, and the onset and rising prevalence of autism.  Still others speculate that mercury is a leading cause for such disorders as attention deficit and possibly alzheimer’s.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG – http://www.ewg.org) states that mercury toxicity causes “damage to the brain and nervous system, immune system, enzyme system and genetic system.”  EWG adds that developing fetuses are especially vulnerable to the destructive effects of mercury.  Scientists have shown that mercury destroys the dendrites and axons of neurons, leaving only an empty “nerve sheath” (see video below).

According to research performed by EWG in 2004, ten babies were found to have mercury present in their umbilical cord blood.   Another study in 2006 showed that 72 of 73 individuals tested positive for traces of methylmercury.

Wikipedia lists the effects of mercury poisoning as “excessive timidity, diffidence, increasing shyness, loss of self-confidence, anxiety, and a desire to remain unobserved and unobtrusive”.  These characteristics also mirror  the destruction of personality often present in children at the onset of autism.

Consumers can be sure that the debate over mercury’s presence in our lives will only be ignited by this new study.

Main study conducted by IATP:

http://www.healthobservatory.org/library.cfm?refid=105026

For more information on HFCS:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup

http://www.hfcsfacts.com/ High Fructose Corn Syrup Refiners

Related articles:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/health/chi-mercury-corn-syrupjan27,0,2801323.story

http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2009/1/26/132619/467/?source=most_popular

More information on mercury toxicity:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(element)#Safety

http://www.ewg.org/chemindex/term/470

Videos:

http://commons.ucalgary.ca/mercury/ – This video shows how damaging the presence of mercury is to neurons.  Watch as the dendrites wither, leaving only an empty nerve sheaths.  Scientists have already established that mercury is bioaccumulative, a good portion of which concentrates in organs and in the brain.  What sort of damage are we doing to our delicate nervous systems?

http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-2945_5105_47868-181553–,00.html – This is an outstanding video showing how exposed mercury quickly dissipates into the air, wreaking havoc as an environmental toxin.  This video also shows how difficult mercury is to remove, without causing it to become even more volatile.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ylnQ-T7oi – I found this a couple of years ago regarding silver amalgam fillings.  Thankfully, I don’t have any silver amalgam fillings.  Perhaps this will convince some readers to have theirs removed.  If you do, be sure that all necessary precautions are taken to avoid exposing yourself further or your dentists.

http://www.newmoa.org/prevention/mercury/imerc/video.cfm – This is a short five-minute video showing the cycle of mercury pollution and contamination.

Biomagnification:

http://www.on.ec.gc.ca/community/classroom/millennium/m3-science-assign2-e.html – This simple exercise allows one to see how quickly minute quantities of toxic chemicals like mercury can build up in animals higher up the food chain.  As humans are at the top of the food chain, it would be wise for us to be prudent in our exposure to mercury, especially when it is avoidable.

See also: Bioaccumulation

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

An Environmental Issue More Pressing Than Global Warming

Gas masks: freakish fashion trend of the future? The body burden our children are inheriting might make this an unavoidable accessory.

One of the main issues this blog addresses and one which I regularly speak to friends and family about is the human body burden. The phrase “body burden” refers to the condition of body toxicity that has resulted from the use of largely synthetic chemicals since the early 1900’s. Many of these chemicals are known carcinogens, neurotoxins, hormone disruptors, and wreak havoc on many systems within the body. The health effects range from common to severe, from headaches and mild gastrointestinal problems to cancer, permanent syndromes and even death.

Every human being on this planet shares in this body burden.

Because the previous statement is so important, I’ll repeat it again: Every human being on this planet shares in this body burden.

While I do not want people running around scared and paranoid about toxic chemicals in their body, I also do not encourage ignorance of real problems that confront us because of our collective actions as the human species. Body pollution is one of those serious concerns that should not be ignored. While many people suffer from unexplainable illnesses, the prevalence of cancer is rising, the development of new illnesses and syndromes is on the rise, and many are suffering from hormone imbalances, reproductive problems and mental disturbances, it behooves us as a species to understand that there are explainable causes to all of these.

One major contributor to our deterioration in health and the rise in preventable diseases (yes, preventable) is the presence of up to 700 toxic chemicals in our body and bloodstream.

According to studies released by the Environmental Working Group and the EPA, blood and tissue samples of several random American citizens revealed the shocking truth: all of us, whether or not we work around hazardous chemicals or live near facilities that handle toxins or release them into the atmosphere, are plagued by the presence of these toxins, many of which are bioaccumulative. This means that trace amounts, over time, build up within our bones, our organs and our tissues and produce significant systemic results, including cancer and death.

These chemicals are in the foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the toys we play with, the personal hygiene products we smear on our bodies, the cleaning products we use, the fragrances we douse ourselves with, and the items we use at our workplace. We live in a toxic atmosphere created by the technologies, manufacturing, and industrial endeavors of our species.

Most of this has occurred within the past 100 years and is reversible at this stage. The longer we wait, the more we pollute ourselves and our environment, the more difficult it becomes to reduce our exposure to these chemicals. Future generations will, therefore, have to suffer an even greater burden.

In fact, recent studies of umbilical cord blood in newborns revealed a shocking discovery: our babies are being born with this burden as well!

Research shows that many of these chemicals easily pass through the placenta and concentrate in the developing fetus. Can you imagine what these chemicals can do to such a vulnerable body and brain? While scientists and doctors remain baffled regarding the rise in autism, developmental disorders, mental conditions and other problems, the culprit could very well be the chemical cocktail we serve up on a daily basis in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, churches and workplaces.

Currently, there is a movie in production called 287, which tackles these important issues and will present them to the larger viewing audience. The producers want 287 to be “for your internal environment” what Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth was for the external environment. I have many reservations about Al Gore’s movie and his conclusions, but after spending much time researching the “body burden”, I believe this issue to be even more important than global warming.

According to the Environmental Working Group in 2005, children are born into this world with an average of 287 toxic chemicals in their system. 287 reasons for Americans and citizens of the world to take pause and grapple with this problem. It is not going away, it will not get better if we continue staying the course we are on to our own destruction. Fixing the problem means a radical, personal change on a collective level.

I encourage everyone to read more about our Body Burden at ewg.org. I ask that you help the producers of 287 with any support or assistance you can provide. Frequent the 287 The Movie blog here at WordPress. Find out your own personal Body Burden (this site may take a few moments to load). Use the personal hygiene products database to clean out your medicine cabinet and replace the products with healthier versions. Check back with Toxin Free Now as they develop their website to help you live healthier. Research the common chemical culprits that are widespread in our society. Stand up and fight the bureaucracies that are maintaining our current course. Talk to others about the burden we all share.

Many of these toxins can be removed by our personal and collective choices. As a consumer, you can make a large impact as many of the largest offenders are manufacturers of household cleaning products and personal hygiene products.

What are some things that have I done? It’s not much, but it’s what anyone can do:

Switched to an organic diet. My animals, too.

Eliminated all toxins from the foods I eat (mostly present in processed foods).

Changed and stopped using many personal hygiene products.

Stopped wearing fragrance.

Purify all of my water for drinking and cooking.

Switched household cleaners to “green” versions.

Educate others around me.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

EPA to Eliminate Regulation of Neurotoxin in Drinking Water

Nothing is more plentiful in the world, nor more vital for our existence than water. Water is essential for all functions within the body, but especially for transferring nutrients and eliminating wastes. When drinking water is contaminated, the body is especially vulnerable to accumulated toxins, so it makes sense to have the cleanest drinking water obtainable for optimum health. In my opinion, the decision by the EPA and the Bush Administration to exempt the ubiquitous neurotoxin, perchlorate, from federal regulation and oversight is a step in the wrong direction. Just like earlier decisions to fluoridate public drinking water, putting a known toxin IN the water, this decision just stinks. For those of you who are not familiar with perchlorate or its associated health effects, it is worth your time to check out the information at ewg.org.

Perchlorate is a common additive in rocket fuel, which has known neurotoxic effects on humans.

Perchlorate is a common additive in rocket fuel, which has known neurotoxic effects on humans.

Feds Set to Eliminate Water Regulations for Neurotoxin

Wired, Brandon Keim
Published December 3, 2008

Among the Bush administration’s final environmental legacies will be a decision to exempt perchlorate, a known neurotoxin found at unsafe levels in the drinking water of millions of Americans, from federal regulation.

The ruling, proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency in October, was supposed to be formalized on Monday. That deadline passed, but the agency expects to announce its decision by the year’s end, before president-elect Barack Obama takes office. It could take years to reverse.

Critics accuse the EPA of ignoring expert advice and basing their decision on an abstract model of perchlorate exposure, rather than existing human data.

“We know that breast milk is widely contaminated with perchlorate, and we know that young children are especially vulnerable. We have really good human data. So why are they putting a model front-and-center?” said Anila Jacobs at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “And they used a model that hasn’t yet gone through the peer-review process.”

The ruling is one of dozens planned for the final days of the Bush administration. Others include a relaxing of air pollution standards for aging power plants, and a reduction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s traditional role in evaluating the impact of federal projects on endangered species.

These have received more attention than the status of perchlorate, a chemical found mostly in jet rocket fuel and detected in 35 states and 153 water public water systems. It is known to lower thyroid hormone levels in women; it poses a particular threat to pregnant women and breast-feeding children, whose long-term neurological development can be stunted by youthful hormone imbalances.

As many as 40 million Americans may now be exposed to unsafe levels of perchlorate, and the EPA’s own analysis puts the number at 16 million. The most comprehensive human exposure study, which measured unexpectedly high perchlorate levels and correlated them with thyroid hormone drops, was concluded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2007.

Environmental health advocates saw the study as supporting tightened restrictions on perchlorate levels in drinking water — something the EPA had been loathe to do under the Bush administration. The study was not considered in the anticipated ruling, which could effectively end federal monitoring of perchlorate in drinking water.

“If you used the human studies from the CDC, then you would be forced to regulate it, because we know there are health effects at current levels of exposure,” said Jacobs.

Benjamin Blount, co-author of the CDC’s study, would not comment on the EPA’s decision, but said that infants — who consume, proportional to their body weight, about six times more water than adults — “are thought to have a higher dose than at any other life stage.”

The EPA declined to comment on why they used a model rather than the CDC’s data in deciding that regulating perchlorate would not provide “a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems.”

In a November letter to EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, the EPA’s own Science Advisory Board questioned the model. “Its soundness will not be publicly vetted,” they wrote. Only one of two peer reviews invited by the agency has been received, and that was announced only today on the EPA’s website.

“The Science Advisory Board believes that more time is needed for the decision process and for scientific input,” said Joan Rose, a Michigan State University water researcher and chair of the Board’s Drinking Water Committee.

Even Michael Dourson, a researcher at the nonprofit Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment project who accepts the EPA’s model, doesn’t understand why the EPA favored it over human studies.

“The data is on pregnant women and babies, and these studies are quite powerful,” he said. “If they could spend more time to make their decision, I’d recommend looking at it.”

According to EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones, the agency expects to announce a decision “by the end of the year.” There is little reason to think the ruling will change from its current form.

“This administration has been adamant about not regulating perchlorate,” said Mae Wu, an attorney at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.

If the rulings go through, Congress may still take action. California congresswomen Barbara Boxer and Hilda Solis, both Democrats, have each drafted legislation that would force the EPA to regulate perchlorate, though it could take years to go into effect.

States still have the option of regulating perchlorate on their own — but this is not easy, said Charles DeSaillan, New Mexico’s assistant attorney general for natural resources.

“We have fairly limited resources. Historically we’ve relied on the federal drinking water standards, and adopted those,” he said. “In order for us to adopt our own, we’d have to do all the science, all of the research, hire the experts, and go through a regulatory process which would be opposed by the Department of Defense and Department of Energy.”

New Mexico is home to several prominent military testing facilities, and has the highest average perchlorate exposures in the country.

“It’d be long and difficult. Eventually we may do it. But it’s easier for us to rely on the EPA. This is their job. And in the case of perchlorate, they don’t seem to be doing it,” said DeSaillan.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

That Chemical Cocktail is Killing You: More on Bisphenol-A

A health-conscious consumer has a difficult time avoiding the ever-growing chemical cocktail of food additives and preservatives these days. One particular chemical, Bisphenol-A (or BPA, for short), has been getting quite a lot of bad press lately.

BPA is a synthesized organic compound (far different from the “organic” label you find on certain foods), which has been “suspected of being hazardous to humans since the 1930’s”, but has only recently gained the attention from healthy-food advocates, scientists and medical doctors that it deserves. It is synthesized from acetone (the main ingredient in nail polish remover and paint thinner) and phenol (a known antiseptic also found in Chloraseptic, whose scent is also known as the “hospital smell”), and is used in the production of certain plastics, especially polycarbonate plastics, as well as water bottles, baby bottles, medical supplies, lenses and as a plastic lining in many canned goods.

Bayer, DOW and G.E. are some of the biggest producers of BPA, producing most of the United States’ one million tons of BPA in 2004.

Bisphenol-A has been shown to have negative health effects, acting as an endocrine disruptor and hormone mimicker. Because BPA can mimic hormones such as estrogen at a very low dose, scientists are worried about the bioaccumulative and extended exposure effects of this chemical on developing adolescents. Already, some studies are drawing links between BPA and breast cancer, obesity, “fetal and infant brain development and activity”, decline in testosterone, and increase in prostate size and cancer.

A study performed by the Center for Disease Control, between 1988 and 1994, found BPA in 95% of the urine samples it tested from adults. Another study in 2003 and 2004 confirmed those results, finding BPA in 93% of the samples taken from adults and children. Studies have also shown that BPA can cross the placenta and become concentrated in the developing fetus.

Given the rise in prevalence of prostate and breast cancer, as well as behavioral and developmental issues in children in recent years, it seems prudent to call for a moratorium in the use of this chemical until more is learned regarding its safety.

In the meantime, health advocates suggest limiting your exposure to all plastics, canned soft drinks, and canned tomatoes. In my household, we own a water filtration unit to avoid purchasing bottled water, and we store the water in reused one-gallon glass apple juice jugs. We never heat foods up in plastic, and we do not ever use a microwave. We also avoid soft drinks, canned beer, and buy jarred tomatoes when available. In addition, we only rarely eat out (you never know what foods or additives restaurants use) and instead cook fresh, wholesome, organic meals at home. Finally, we changed all of our cleaning products and personal hygiene products to further reduce the chemical cocktail we are exposed to.

Water bottles like those above often leach BPA

Water bottles like these above often leach Bisphenol-A, an estrogen mimicking chemical responsible for a variety of negative health effects.

Anxieties in a Bottle (or a Can)

U.S. News & World Report, Deborah Kotz
Published September 29, 200

When it comes to household health risks, baby bottles made of hard plastic may already be on your radar screen. But how about canned tomatoes and soft drinks? These, too, contain the worrisome chemical bisphenol A–it’s found in the substance that coats the inner surfaces of metal cans. And some adults, like infants, may be in harm’s way. A landmark study of more than 1,400 adults, published in last week’s Journal of the American Medical Association, found that those with the most BPA in their urine had nearly three times the risk of heart disease and more than twice the risk of diabetes as those who had the lowest levels. “Even those with the highest BPA levels still had levels way below the currently established ‘safe’ level,” says study coauthor David Melzer of the University of Exeter in England.

While the report doesn’t prove that BPA causes these diseases, it adds strength to previous laboratory findings: One study found that elevated BPA levels trigger an excessive release of insulin in mice, enough to lead to prediabetes. Another, on human fat cells, found that BPA suppresses the release of a heart-protective hormone.

Babies are still thought to be more at risk than adults. Through bottles and formula, they get more BPA exposure on a per-pound basis, says Sarah Janssen, a physician and science fellow at the Natural Resources Defense Council. They also can’t metabolize the chemical as quickly, so it accumulates in their bodies, which may pose problems for fragile developing organ systems. The government’s National Toxicology Program recently concluded that there’s enough evidence to express “some concern” over BPA’s detrimental effects on a child’s brain and reproductive organs.

Still in use. So why is BPA still allowed in food packaging? While consumer groups have issued calls to ban it, the Food and Drug Administration has declined to do so, declaring last month that “products containing BPA currently on the market are safe and that exposure levels … are below those that may cause health effects.” This decision astounded environmental health activists who accused the FDA of relying on only two studies, both funded by plastic manufacturers, out of more than 700 that have been published.

There’s talk in Congress of overriding the FDA policy by passing laws to restrict the use of BPA. Industry representatives, however, argue this isn’t the solution: “Acidic foods will corrode the metal of cans, so you have to have a coating in there,” says Steven Hentges, a chemist and BPA expert with the American Chemistry Council, a trade group. “Finding an alternative liner that works as well and is safer would not be easy.”

Some companies, though, have already responded to consumer demand. Born Free makes plastic, BPA-free baby bottles, CamelBak recently switched over its water bottles, and Eden Foods cans its beans with a plant-based liner. People can also substitute beverages, soups, and vegetables packaged in glass or cardboard containers for those packed in cans, says Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst at the Environmental Working Group. She also recommends using powdered infant formula instead of ready-to-serve liquid. A recent report from EWG found that the former contains less BPA.

Related Post:

The Body Burden: Toxic Chemicals in our Bodies

Also See:

The Environmental Working Group – www.ewg.org

Scientific American – Plastic (Not) Fantastic: Food Containers Leach a Potentially Harmful Chemical

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 13, 2008 in Health & Wellness

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Body Burden: Toxic Chemicals in our Bodies

About two years ago, I came across the website, www.ewg.org. At that time, the Environmental Working Group had just finished a comprehensive study of 8 random American adults. Using blood tests specifically designed to look for over 400 different man-made chemicals, the study found up to 300+ chemicals in one specimen! Many of these chemicals are known scientifically to cause: mutations, birth defects, tumors, cancer, hormonal imbalances, hormone disruptions, organ toxicity and much more. Because the cosmetic (and personal hygiene products) industry is not regulated by the FDA or USDA, EWG has been working to raise the awareness of what they termed the “body burden”. Most recently, their efforts have raised the awareness of bisphenol-A, an estrogen copy-cat chemical that is being blamed for a host of reproductive issues, as well as that of dioxane, a particularly nasty carcinogen found in some “natural” and “organic” personal hygiene products.

EWG has compiled a user-friendly database that consumers can use to search for his or her own personal hygiene products. This database includes the ingredients of each product, as well as the known toxic effects of those ingredients and the possible harm that substance may do to your body. Whether you smear lead-containing lipstick on your lips, spike your hair with endocrine disrupting hair gel, or moisturize your skin with cancer-causing, paraben-containing lotion, all of us are unconsciously subjecting our bodies to an onslaught of toxic chemicals. EWG’s studies have concluded that many of these chemicals are bioaccumulative, meaning they are not eliminated naturally by the body, but are stored as toxins in organs and tissues that later may manifest in a number of different diseases and/or afflictions. Did you know that anything containing “fragrance” literally contains hundreds of chemicals, many of which are synthetic, including phthalates, which are known carcinogens, tetragens and mutagens?

Needless to say, since first coming across this website, I have changed all of my personal hygiene products and have convinced those around me to switch to certified organic or all-natural, plant-derived products. For instance, I don’t wear cologne (so I apologize if my odor offends!), don’t use anti-perspirant or deodorant, use non-fluoride all-natural toothpaste, and use only organic plant-based soaps. I don’t use fragrances in my detergents, don’t use air fresheners, and use all-natural, biodegradeable cleaners around the home. Many of these items are readily available at larger HEB’s, at Whole Foods, and a growing number of places. If we demand these products, the manufacturers will produce them and we will be taking steps to alleviate the Body Burden of future generations.

Pollution is a growing problem in newborns

Pollution is a growing problem in newborns

Already, EWG has discovered that newborns share in this burden before they are given a choice. A recent study of the umbilical cord blood from a random sampling of newborns around the country has confirmed the worst: 150+ of these chemicals have already crossed the placenta barrier and are accumulating in the fetus, even before birth. With the onset of so many new allergies, conditions, syndromes and the pandemic rise of things like attention deficit disorder and autism, doesn’t it make sense to look to the chemicals that are known to cause these problems and which we are exposing ourselves to, repeatedly, day after day? Chances are, what’s in your home and vanity cabinet are more toxic to you than the foods you eat – or try to avoid.

If you want to learn more, visit EWG’s website. Or, click these links to learn more about the Body Burden we share, or the Pollution in Newborns.

Better yet, make the change today – visit the cosmetic database and find out how to make your life less toxic.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 25, 2008 in Current Health News, Health & Wellness

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,