Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NTM NEWS BRIEF: Toxic BPA levels increase by a shocking 1200% after eating canned foods

SUMMARY
A recent Harvard study found that eating as little as one canned food item a day (they studied canned soup, but it could also be chickpeas, baby food, or any other canned food  or drink)  is enough to spike your BPA levels by more than 1,200 percent.

The study compared a group of individuals who ate a canned soup a day for 5 consecutive days and compared their BPA levels to a group of individuals who ate fresh soup for the same period of time.

“The magnitude of the rise in urinary BPA we observed after just one serving of soup was unexpected and may be of concern among individuals who regularly consume foods from cans or drink several canned beverages daily." concluded Karin Michels one of the study's senior authors.

The study, titled Canned Soup Consumption and Urinary Bisphenol A: A Randomized Crossover Trial was published in the Journal of American Medicine and is the  first to measure the BPA amounts that are ingested when people eat food that comes directly out of a can.



WHY THIS SHOULD CONCERN YOU
The study's author actually made note that the participants were given amounts of soup that were smaller than what people probably would consume at home. “One serving of soup is a not a lot,” she said. “They were actually telling us that that wasn’t even enough for their lunch.”

BPA can be found in the lining of canned foods and drinks (including most soda cans) as well as clear hard plastics labeled with the number '7' in the recycling triangle and most store receipts.


The article reminds us of the possible toxic side effects that BPA exposure might have on you and your family's health including:
  •  High urinary BPA levels have been strongly linked with heart disease and diabetes risk
  •  Prenatal BPA exposure is connected with a higher breast cancer risk later in life
  • New findings say prenatal BPA exposure can cause aggressiveness in toddlers  and asthma in babies
  • BPA can also impact fertility by damaging sperm health
 To read more on what BPA is and its potential harmful effects on us and our children read my post: The ABC's of BPA


To learn about easy ways to reduce your exposure to BPA read my blog post on How to Decrease BPA at Home: Non-Toxic Munchkin's 123's

Monday, January 30, 2012

Non-Toxic Furniture Guide: Non-Toxic Munchkin 123's


It is a crazy week this week (with my little Munchkin turning 2!!!) BUT we happen to be contemplating making the transition from crib to bed for him.   I also know I have a couple of good friends getting ready to buy nursery furniture for their new babies.   I came across this checklist in one of my favorite and most trusted sites:  Healthy Child Healthy World, and thought this checklist would be very useful (it is for me!).

The reality is that most affordable furniture in the US IS made out of plywood or particleboard and will off gas to a certain extent.   I recently received new furniture from Gilt Home for my bedroom and I love it but it took a while to off-gas (especially the laminated drawers).   So if you cannot afford to buy natural wood furniture -and the price difference tends to be quite substantial- make sure you buy your nursery furniture well in advance so that by the time the baby comes the grunt of the off-gassing has been done (a couple of months at least!).  In my personal opinion,  I would prefer to spend the money on an organic mattress.  If money is no issue then it is definitely worth investing in good non-toxic nursery furniture!

What to look for when buying new furniture? Here is the list, compliments of Healthy Child Healthy World.

What to Look for When Buying New Furniture

  • Avoid furniture made of laminated wood, pressed wood, plywood, and particleboard, chipboard, which contain formaldehyde, a probable carcinogen, allergen and irritant. Particleboard looks like wood shavings glued together with no visible grain. Plywood is fairly thin with a grain. Unfinished edges reveal that a number of layers have been stacked and glued together.
  • Ask for independently certified wood furniture, a guarantee that the wood was harvested sustainably. If you are having custom made furniture, its also worth asking for "reclaimed" or "recycled" lumber, wood that’s been salvaged from old buildings. "Reclaimed" or "recycled" wood is often quite charming in its appearance.
  • Buy unfinished wood furniture if possible. You can have it finished with less toxic low-VOC and water-based polyurethane stains and sealants, or with tung oil and beeswax that, although aromatic when applied, are quite safe once dry.
  • Since it's not always possible to avoid plywood or particleboard in furniture, apply a finish to the exposed, bare wood to keep fumes from being released into the air.
  • Apply sealants outdoors or in a well-ventilated area by someone who is not pregnant, and keep young children away until the furniture is completely dry.
  • Avoid plastic, especially polyvinyl chloride (PVC) furniture, which is linked with many adverse health effects, including birth defects, immune system disorders, reproductive health disorders, endocrine and nervous system abnormalities, and cancers.
  • Have sofas, loveseats and chairs custom-made with organic cotton and wool fill. Wool is naturally flame retardant.
  • Avoid futons with foam cores. Purchase 100 percent cotton futons instead.
  • Allow time and space for offgassing for all newly purchased furniture.
  • Room dividers should let light and air circulate through both sections of the room, be firmly attached so your children cannot pull it over, and made of, and painted or finished with VOC-free materials. Japanese shoji screens are a good choice because they’re traditionally made of non-toxic materials.
  • When cleaning furniture, use environmentally friendly cleaners .
A couple of companies that make some stylish non-toxic furniture (with some models not being too expensive) are:
Argington Ayres (twin beds and some of their cribs)
Oeuf
Kalon Studios (their Caravan Crib)
ETSY also has great furniture designers that can make cribs and furniture from raw wood... however these tendo to be more expensive!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lunchbots stainless steel food containers on sale!

Lunchbots Stainless Steel Food Containers, which are a cool, functional and non-toxic alternative to store food in  your munchkin's lunchbox, are on sale on GILT until Friday Jan 27th!


Why is stainless steel better than plastic?  Read my posts on :
The ABC's of BPA
Phthalates ABC's

Sunday, January 22, 2012

HOW TO REDUCE TRIS FLAME RETARDANT EXPOSURE AT HOME: Non-Toxic Munchkin's 123's


(What are flame retardants and what is TRIS?  Why should I be concerned?  Read my post on TRIS FLAME RETARDANTS: Banned in pj's but allowed in cribs?)



    1.     Avoid furniture and baby products with polyurethane foam, and seek alternatives containing cotton, wool or polyester.  If the foam products has a label that specifies TB117,  avoid it as this means it has likely been treated with toxic flame retardants.
    2.    Choose a safer mattress, ideally made without polyurethane foam. Wool is the best option; cotton and latex are runners up. This is especially important when buying a crib mattress for your newborn as babies spend more hours sleeping than awake.
    3.    CLEAN: Regularly use a wet mop to clean and remove dust particles and to keep them from being inhaled or ingested .  Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean your home
    4.    Companies and products that do not use TDCPP include: Boppy, BabyBjorn, Baby Luxe Organics and Orbit Baby

TRIS Flame Retardant : BANNED IN PJ's BUT ALLOWED IN CRIBS?

Flame retardants are chemicals that help decrease flammability in consumer products.  What most people don’t know is that they are found in most of our furniture and many children’s products we  have at home. Everything from upholstered furniture,  (couches, upholstered chairs, futons, pillows, car seat cushions etc) to mattresses and electronic equipment ( tv’s, remotes, cell phones, lighting, wiring) are treated with flame retardants.  As are children’s  pijamas,  crib mattresses, car seats, baby gyms, changing pads and strollers.

There are various different types of fire retardants, but today we will talk about TRIS; specifically the TRIS that goes by the acronym of TDCPP.   Tris has had a rebirth of sorts recently, as it was voluntarily removed from children’s products in the 1970’s when it was found to cause to be a ‘weak mutagenic’ (i.e.: it caused changes in DNA and lead to cancer) .  Today, it is once again being found in common baby products in large quantities.

TRIS FLAME RETARDANT (TDCPP)
What is it?
Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate also known as chlorinated TRIS or  TDCPP,  is a flame retardant added to  polyurethane foam. This is the foam most commonly found in  furniture and baby products.

Why should I be concerned?
The history behind TRIS in the US is truly, unbelievable. TRIS was going to be banned in children’s clothing in 1977 (over 34 years ago!), after a 2 year study  conducted by the National Cancer Institute showed that TRIS causes cancer in animals.  The Institute, back in 1977, found that “the chemical could be absorbed by children through the skin or by "mouthing" Tris-treated children's clothing” .   Before TRIS was banned, the manufacturers unanimously agreed to voluntarily removed it from children’s clothing after the study was published. 

TODAY?  Today TRIS  is the go-to replacement for another flame retardant of concern, PBDE,  in children’s foam products like nursing pillows, changing pads, bassinet pads, car seats, portable cribs and sleep positioners.  A recent study found  80% of new baby and children’s products tested positive for  Tris.  It is no surprise that researchers  have found  that infants who use these products (foam products with TRIS) have higher exposure to the chemical than the government recommends.

 OUTRAGEOUS.

How do we ingest TRIS?
  • The problem with Tris  is that it doesnt bind to the products it is placed on... instead it can easily leach out of the clothes or the furniture, and accumulate in household dust. 
  • The dust in either inhaled by a passerby or falls onto a toy, food, floor, bed sheet etc. 
  • The contaminated dust in then touched by us or our children and later ingested by eating with our hands or by placing the contaminated toy or fingers into our mouths...as you would expect young children are the most likely to be exposed because of their tendency to put toys and their hands into their mouths. 
Besides dust, Tris has also been found in indoor air, waterways, and breast milk.

Americans have been found to have  20 times higher blood levels of fire retardants than in Europe.  The European Union has designated this chemicals as a substance of very high concern because of evidence it could impair fertility.  Children in the US have been found to have 7 times the level of flame retardants in their blood as do children living across the border in Mexico, where retardants are less prevalent. ( April 2011 UC Berkeley)

Possible Heath Effects
Among the health effects possibly associated with high levels of fire retardants, including TRIS?

What Products Contain TRIS?
Products that contain toxic flame retardants are not labelled because it is considered a trade secret under U.S. Freedom of Information laws, but this specific flame retardant is usually found in products that contain  polyurethane FOAM,  This includes (but is not limited to):
  • car seats
  • nursing pillows
  • portable cribs
  • changing table pads
  • sleep positioners
  • upholstered furniture

The Good News
Some states, such as Washington State and Conneticut, have recently recognized how bad this substitute flame retardant is and are trying to pass state legislation that would ban this fire retardant  in products intended for children under 12.   New York banned TCEP (the group of chemicals that includes Tris) in baby products earlier last year (the ban goes into effect December 1, 2013)  In California,  it is classified as a known carcinogen.

 More good news? There are GREAT products for children and babies that do not contain flame retardants, including TRIS.  Read below for some recommendations.

The Bad News
Tris use has increased steadily in the last 2 decades in the United States, as industry has been seeking an alternative to the other flame retardant PBDE

 Oh yeah, and products that do not contain Tris or other flame retardants tend to be more expensive.


It's really easy to reduce your and your family's exposure to fire retardants, like TRIS, at home.  Follow this link to read my  Non-Toxic Munchkin's 123's : EASY STEPS TO REDUCE TRIS FLAME RETARDANT EXPOSURE AT HOME

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Potato Project: The Importance of Organic

I had to share this video which so simply yet eloquently proves the point of why organic food is so much healthier for us and the impacts of pesticides on our food.

Please watch this elementary school aged girl explain it!




Monday, January 16, 2012

HOW TO DECREASE BPA AT HOME: Non-Toxic Munchkin's 123's

HOW TO AVOID or DECREASE EXPOSURE TO BPA

It is pretty clear that BPA is yet another toxic chemical found in  everyday items that we should try to avoid (What is BPA? Why should I be concerned? Read my post on BPA: Non-toxic Munchkin's ABC's).  Everyone would benefit from avoiding it,  but special attention should be placed on pregnant women and young children.  Every day it seems that it is harder and harder to avoid BPA since it keeps on showing up in so many every day items,  but here are some easy to follow tips:

1. Limit use of plastics:  choose glass, porcelain or stainless steel.  Try to store food in glass containers.  BPA falls under the ‘7’ in the recycling triangle code, so avoid plastics labeled with a ‘7’.  If you want to be extra cautious, when possible, avoid plastics all together since even ‘BPA free’ labeled products have chemicals that are substituting BPA that have never been tested on humans before.

2. Never microwave or dishwash plastic containers

3. Avoid using plastic or aluminum water bottles (as these tend to have an epoxy resin interior lining).   Purchase stainless steel or glass water bottles.  I like: LIFE FACTORY  (they have baby bottles too) or KLEEN KANTEEN

4. Limit your consumption of canned foods, favor buying foods that come in glass container.  According to the breast cancerfund.org canned foods to avoid to reduce BPA exposure:
  • coconut milk
  • soup
  • meat
  • vegetables
  • meals (ie ravioli in sauce)
  • juice
  • fish
  • beans
  • fruit

5. Try not to purchase foods packaged in plastic (this can prove QUITE a challenge as often stare in disbelief at my recycling container that gets filled with unnecessary plastic packaging where my bread, fruits, crackers etc come in).  Some foods that are easy to opt out of plastic are: peanut butter, jellies, tomato sauce, soups, fruits.

6. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching thermal store receipts.  If you dont need the receipt, dont ask for it!  Careful where you place it, as the  BPA can spread from receipt to fruits,  or your children’s hands, for example, if it/they comes in contact with it.

7. While it is important to wash your hands, avoid hand sanitizers. A recent Swiss study found that people who used triclosan sanitizers then handled receipts absorbed more BPA into their skin than people who washed their hands before handling receipts.

8. Parents beware:  polycarbonate bottles containing BPA are still legal to sell and even though in the US it might seem like all baby bottles say BPA free ... make sure it it labeled as so, same for your sippy cups! if glass is an option, opt for glass!

THE ABC's of BPA

WHAT IS BPA AND WHERE IS IT FOUND?

BPA stands for Bisphenol A.  BPA is used to produce clear, shatter-proof,  hard plastics known as polycarbonate. Polycarbonate plastics are used for lots of things, including food storage containers, baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles ( For example, most 5 gallon water jugs are polycarbonate plastic), as well as some toys. 

BPA is used in epoxy resins. Epoxy resins are used as lining in virtually all canned foods and beverages (including baby formula cans) in the United States.   Epoxy resin can also be found inside water supply lines and, ironically, inside many of those cool looking aluminum water bottles we carry around trying to avoid the plastic ones.

BPA is found in most store receipts and some paper products including some foreign currency (but not in Japan who phased-out BPA in 2001).  A new study recently discovered that BPA is present in even more paper items than previously thought, including products most of us touch every day, including toilet paper, paper towels, newspapers and business cards.

Just about every single person in the world (and certainly everyone in the modern world) has traces of BPA in their system...this includes unborn babies!  We are exposed to BPA when it leaches into our food from the can linings, or from polycarbonate plastic, particularly when the plastic is heated, hot food is added, or when harsh detergents are used.  We are also exposed to it by simply touching the thermal receipts so many stores hand us on a daily basis.  


WHY SHOULD I BE CONCERNED?


According to studies (hundreds around the world) , even at very low doses, BPA exposure has been linked to a number of adverse health effects, including breast and prostate cancer, early puberty, infertility, obesity, and behavioral problems,  lowered sperm count, miscarriage, diabetes, and altered immune system.

As an estrogen mimicking chemical, constant BPA exposure through a long period of time will disrupt the endocrine system.  Estrogen has been linked to breast cancer and thus the belief is that if a baby girl is exposed to estrogen from the moment of conception and throughout her childhood and life, this excess estrogen could potentially make her more likely to develop breast cancer.  

Other reasons you should be concerned:

- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  and the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health concur that there is “some concern” about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children.  The FDA has gone as far as to recommend that parents should take “reasonable steps” to reduce their infants’ exposure to BPA.  Many scientists and researchers,  urge complete avoidance of BPA in food and food contact items, especially for fetuses (pregnant mothers) and infants.

- The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently acknowledged BPA has a “biological plausibility” for causing breast cancer, adding that “A breast cancer association with bisphenol A (BPA),... is biologically plausible,  but research assessing the risk in humans is lacking. The same is true of pesticides and ingredients in cosmetics and dietary supplements, most of which aren't tested before going to market.

- Another study, released  in the Journal Molecular Endocrinology, adds to a growing body of evidence showing that small amounts of  BPA, “alters mammary gland development and that this may increase the predisposition of the breast (to cancer)”

- Canada became the first jurisdiction in the world to declare bisphenol A toxic in 2010.  In the summer of 2011 China joined the ranks of the European Union, and Canada, in recognizing that BPA is linked to a number of harmful health effects and  banned companies in China from manufacturing, importing or selling baby bottles containing BPA.

Why wont our government move towards a ban of these potentially harmful chemicals or at least from products meant for children, as is the case in Japan, China , Canada and the EU?  Well, in the US, most chemicals are “innocent until proven guilty” so they prefer to wait for hard science to establish the unequivocal link between environment and health before banning a chemical (not to mention how strong and affluent the Chemical industry is.  In February  2008 the FDA revealed to Congress that their pervious stance that BPA levels in baby products were safe were based on  two industry studies sponsored by the American Plastic Council!!!  ).  In the meantime, we as parents and consumers must decide whether we want to take the risk of exposing our children to these potentially toxic chemicals or try to reduce them.

The good news? Even though the US has not taken steps to ban or decrease the use of BPA in the country,  not even in baby bottles or baby canned formula, at a Federal level,  individual states (over 11!)  have passed local legislature banning the chemical in baby and child products.   Major retailers including Wal-Mart and Toys R Us have also phased-out BPA-containing baby bottles.  Some companies like, Avent, Disney First Years, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Playtex and Evenflow – have agreed to stop using BPA-based plastic in baby bottles made for the U.S. market.


It's really easy to reduce your exposure and your family's exposure to BPA at home.  Follow this link to read my  Non-Toxic Munchkin's 123's : EASY STEPS TO REDUCE BPA EXPOSURE AT HOME

Monday, January 9, 2012

HOW TO REDUCE PESTICIDE EXPOSURE AT HOME AND IN OUR DIET: NON-TOXIC MUNCHKIN 123'S

Why should we try to avoid pesticides? Click here for PESTICIDES IN OUR FOOD: Non-Toxic Munchkin's ABC's

While we can’t eliminate pesticides completely from our diet (sadly even organic rice can even have traces of dangerous chemicals : "organic" doesn’t necessarily mean "pesticide-free," )  a 1996 study on children’s exposure to pesticides found that “an organic diet provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to organophosphorus pesticides that are commonly used in agricultural production “

Here are some suggestions from Mt Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center for reducing pesticides in our diets.

1. Buy organic when available and affordable.  Look for the USDA Certified Organic

2. Buy Local produce – If organic produce is unavailable or exorbitantly priced ( Food that
must be transported large distances is often picked unripe, chemically ripened and loaded
with preservatives for trip to its final destination)

3. Not all fruits and vegetables are created equal when it comes to absorption of pesticides.  Fruits with thick skins are safer to purchase non organic.  According to the Environmental Working Group, produce that does not have to be organic:
- onions
-sweet corn (frozen)
- pineapples
- avocados
- asparagus
- sweet peas (frozen)
- mangoes
- eggplant
- US grown Cantaloupe
- Kiwi
- cabbage
- watermelon
- sweet potatoes
- grapefruit
- mushrooms

4. Fruits you definitely want to buy organic (those that absorb the highest rates of pesticides) are (in order of highest levels of pesticides to lower): 
-apples
- celery
- strawberries
- peaches
- spinach
- imported nectarines
- imported grapes
- sweet bell peppers
- potatoes
- US grown blueberries
- lettuce
- kale

5.  When cleaning fruits and vegetables use running water instead of soaking!  Who knew, but running water apparently  will remove most surface waxes and pesticide residues,
along with dirt and bacteria. Peeling fruits and vegetables also removes surface
residues (note: peeling will not remove pesticides in fruits that have absorbed them!).

6. Another great alternative, if you have the space and time, is to grow some of your own fruits or vegetables... this way you can make certain they remain pesticide free and affordable!



THE ABC's of PESTICIDES IN OUR FOODS

NON-TOXIC MUNCHKIN'S ABC'S:  PESTICIDES 
WHAT ARE PESTICIDES?
Pesticides are a series of chemicals that are used to prevent or destroy pests.   They include insecticide, herbicides, fungicides.   Although for the purpose of this post, we will be focusing on pesticides used in agriculture, it is important to mention that pesticides are often used at home (cockroach, rat, flea, tick sprays or poisons,  pet collars, products that kill mold or mildew) and even on our children (insect repellents) and on the areas where they most often play (some lawn and gardening  products such as weed killers).  


Organophosphorus pesticides, which account for up to 70% of the insecticides used in agriculture in the United States, are found in many conventionally grown foods. The bad news?  They are very toxic to humans, the good news? they are less persistent than other pesticides and can actually break down fairly quickly and can be reduced by simply stopping the source of exposure (ie: switching to organic produce).

Unfortunately, other pesticides linger in the environment and land where they are placed without breaking down  for extremely long periods of time and can thus contaminate crops (and affect us) for decades, even long after some have been banned in use for food.

There are new pesticides being developed by chemical companies each year, and unfortunately the US government mostly considers them ‘innocent until proven harmful... making US, the people ingesting the pesticides,  the guinea pigs.  The government does not require long term studies, however the EPA is finally stepping up and requiring all pesticides approved before 1984 to Re-register with them so that the agency can take a second look at potential health risks they might have.  The process is slow but hopefully will result in more consumer protection.

Pesticides can be absorbed by humans through: eating pesticide  treated foods, living near treated agriculture lands (dust, over spray), young children playing in pesticide treated lawns  and placing hands and toys in their mouths as well as drinking contaminated water (in the US the Us Department of Agriculture estimates that 50 million people’s drinking water is potentially contaminated  by pesticides


WHY  SHOULD I BE CONCERNED?

Pesticides were developed to protect crops from pests that can destroy them, however they are also toxic to species beyond those originally targeted..including us humans.

Eating one or two or three  or even 20 apples that have been treated with harmful pesticides will not give us cancer or cause us great harm ... However if you think of the cumulative effects of eating pesticides treated foods every single day of our lives, if you think of all the strawberries or apples (or apple juice or apple sauce) or peaches your son or daughter eats in the course of 5 years, it definitely adds up. 

When humans are exposed to pesticides, through ingesting pesticide treated foods,serious health effects could occur, that range from damage to the brain to cancer.  Other pesticides (such as those used in homes and lawns) have been linked to birth defects, endocrine disruptions and asthma.

NEUROLOGICAL EFFECTS  
A 1998 study of two groups of neighboring children in Mexico (one living in an agrarian region were pesticides are commonly used, and another living in the nearby foothills where pesticide use is avoided) found that pesticide exposed children demonstrated decreases in stamina, gross and fine eye-hand coordination, 30-minute memory, and the ability to draw a person.


CHILDHOOD CANCERS
There are numerous small case studies linking pesticides exposures (during childhood and pregnancy) to childhood cancers, but more studies need to be completed to definitely establish the specific links.  However, according to the National Cancer Institute, “many of the cancers associated  with pesticides among children,, such as leukemia, brain cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease, are the same cancer’s that are repeatedly associated with pesticide exposure among adults, suggesting that a role among children is highly plausible”.


As with all other toxic chemicals, the effects on the small developing bodies of our munchkins can be exponentially worse.

A 1989  analysis by the National Resources Defense Council on pesticide residues in foods commonly eaten by children , identified 66 potentially carcinogenic pesticides in foods that are commonly found in children’s diets.  In the study they explain that high exposure to pesticides in the first 6 years of life (which an average child can achieve by eating a diet rich in conventional fruits as is the norm) can cause more long term damage that exposure later in life   Also estimating that at least 17% of the preschool population, or three million children, receive exposure to neurotoxic organophosphate insecticides just from raw fruits and vegetables that are above levels the federal government considers safe, potentially leading to nausea, convulsions, coma and even death.

Other reasons why we, as parents, should be especially careful with the levels of pesticides ingested by our munchkins:

-The "maximum acceptable levels"of pesticides allowed by government agencies in foods are based on adult eating habits and adult weights. We all know that children's eating habits are different from those of adults (they tend to eat much more fruit and sometimes refuse to eat anything other than , say, apple sauce, for 2 days in a row) and thus could be eating proportionally more contaminated food on a volume-per-weight basis than adults.

- Some pesticides have been implicated as being neurotoxins.  Our children’s brains are still in full development, and thus, their brain could be more easily affected by pesticides

- The liver is in charge of breaking down toxins for elimination, however an infant's liver is less mature and may have less capacity to detoxify chemicals such as pesticides.

- Pesticides are stored in fat. Our cute chubby babies  tend to have proportionally more body fat than adults do.


IN THE NEWS
In New Jersey this week, the "Child Safe Playing Field Act"is up for a State Senate vote.  This bill would prohibit the use of most lawn pesticides on public and private school playgrounds, recreational fields and day care centers making it the most far-reaching ill of its type in the nation. Both New York and Connecticut  have passed similar bills but limited to school playgrounds.

In late December the Department of PEsticide Regulation in California published their most recent numbers that showed an  increase in pesticide use in California in 2010 after declining for four consecutive years . Most of the growth was in agriculture, where applications increased by 12 million pounds, which translates to a total of 75 million acres  treated with pesticides in 2010.


Click here for NON-TOXIC MUNCHKIN'S 123'S:  EASY WAYS TO REDUCE PESTICIDE EXPOSURE







Monday, January 2, 2012

How To Avoid Dyes in Food: Non-Toxic Munchkins 1,2,3's

Easy Steps to Take to Avoid Dyes in Food



1. If your munchkin has a temporary blue stain in his mouth and around his lips after eating something try not to include this in his/her daily diet!

2. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has a list of dyes found in food you might want to limit or avoid (you can also report chemical sensitivities to food dyes in your child here to)

3. Look for foods that use natural dyes/colorants such as: beet, carotenes, annatto or capsanthin (a paprika extract).
 4. Avoiding the word “flavored”.   Strawberry flavored  milk  doesn't have any strawberries in it, nor do many cereals that claim to.  I recently read the list of ingredients in a frozen cookie mix and read “chocolate flavored chips”.  Many fruit flavored yogurts and ice creams don’t have real fruits, it is the dyes that give them the fruit color.

5. When in doubt, buy organic (look for the green and white USDA’s Organic certification label)

6. Foods that contain dyes, in general, are better avoided.  But dont stress if you want to have a Coke every now and then or want to treat yourself or your kids to some M&M’s... just dont make it a daily routine.

Why are dyes bad for our children and us? Read the Non-Toxic Munchkin's A,B,C's on food dyes

THE ABC's of FOOD DYES

How many of us list eating healthier as a new years resolution?  Undoubtedly it is one of the most common new year resolutions!   But, what about eating a healthier and non-toxic diet?  In a world full of processed foods, easy pre-prepared meals, ingredient lists that only a PhD can decipher and tight budgets it can seem really difficult to make healthy choices but, in fact, it is not as complicated as it may seem.  The first step is to understand HOW your food might be harming you and your family’s health and WHY it is important to eat organically as part of a non-toxic life.



In honor of the New Year I will be dedicating this month to tips on eating healthier.... first up:  how to avoid Food Dyes.

FOOD DYES
WHERE ARE THEY AND WHY ARE THEY BAD?
Packaged food as diverse as macaroni and cheese, cereal, juices, coca cola, yogurt and M&M’s (and all candies, for that matter) all have one thing in common:  the presence of dyes.   Read the ingredient list and you will se “yellow #6   , red # 40  , caramel color etc.   These dyes, so common in food marketed to children, have recently been linked to  hyperactivity in kids (ADHD), cancer and serious food allergies.

 A study  conducted at the University of Southhampton, in the United Kingdom, set out to test whether intake of artificial food color and additives affected childhood behavior.  They tested 3 year olds and 8/9 year olds and found that, indeed, “artificial colors or a sodium benzoate preservative (or both) in the diet result in increased hyperactivity.”

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, in the US,  conducted tests and found that the following dyes all caused possible tumors in lab rats:
- Green 3, or Fast Green,  (not as common but still found in candies, beverages, dessert powders, ice cream, sorbet, and other foods, as well as ingested drugs, lipsticks, and externally applied cosmetics)
- Red 40 (by far the most used dye,  It is approved for use in beverages, bakery goods, dessert powders, candies, cereals, foods, drugs, and cosmetics)
- Yellow 6, or Sunset Yellow, ( FDA- approved and used to color bakery goods, cereals, beverages, dessert powders, candies, gelatin desserts, sausage, and numerous other foods, as well as cosmetics and drugs)

Additionally, Yellow 5  (the second most used dye also known as Tartrazine,  found in numerous bakery goods, beverages, dessert powders, candies, cereals, gelatin desserts, pet food, and many other foods, as well as pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics) showed genotoxicity and hyperactivity in children, while Blue 1 (or Brilliant Blue) was found to possibly cause kidney tumors in mice.

“Caramel Color” found in Colas, baked goods, pre-cooked meats, soy and Worcestershire sauces, chocolate-flavored products and beer is often produced using ammonia.  The ammonia containing caramel color contain 2 contaminants (2- and 4-methylimidazole) that were labeled as “possibly carcinogenic to humans" by the World Health Organization.  

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