Tuesday, August 6, 2013

New Study: Your Body Absorbs More BPA Than Previously Thought



Its been a while since I last wrote.... mostly because we now have a new munchkin at home!  A two month old that has kept me quite busy.... reminding me how little time we moms have to research products and figure out what is healthy or what could be exposing our kids to nasty chemicals.  Even less time to search for the latest studies and news being published.  There just is no free time - especially now with 2 munchkins at home!  

Slowly I hope to carve out a bit of time to continue writing, but in the meantime, I am going to limit myself to share the latest news in the non-toxic world by linking to studies and not necessarily writing a lot  of original pieces. 

Which brings me to the latest news regarding BPA

A new study has found that tiny blood vessels under our tongue absorb BPA, bringing this hormone mimicking chemical directly into our bloodstream instead of first to the gut (where it would have been broken down before reaching our bloodstream in a less potent form).  The result?  Our bodies absorb much more BPA than previously thought, and its estrogen mimicking qualities linger longer in our bodies.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
 BPA in food or drinks that come in canned or plastic containers, as well as stray BPA on our fingers from touching cash register receipts " can be completely absorbed directly into the bloodstream from the mouth,  and remaining biologically active for an extended period of time"... and thus, doing more harm


WHY IS BPA BAD FOR US AGAIN?
"BPA has been linked to all types of health problems, including breast cancer, obesity, poor dental health, and behavioral problems in children, among other ills. The results of this research, also raises concerns about BPA-containing dental sealants, which could be leaching directly into the bloodstream."

HOW CAN I AVOID BPA EXPOSURE
It's really easy to reduce your exposure and your family's exposure to BPA at home.  

The main steps to take are:
1.  Choose glass  or stainless steel over plastic (even if it says "BPA free"  because the replacement chemicals have not been tested for safety and are suspected to be just as bad).  This goes for food containers, baby bottles and toys, toddler cups, water bottles and especially anything being heated in the microwave.
2.  Choose fresh food instead of canned food
3. Don't ask for the receipt.  If a receipt is handed to you make sure you wash your hands thoroughly.

For more information, follow this link to read my  Non-Toxic Munchkin's 123's : EASY STEPS TO REDUCE BPA EXPOSURE AT HOME

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Are Antibacterial Soaps Doing You More Harm Than Good?



Are you an antibacterial gel junkie? Do you carry it around in your purse or car and use a bit on yourself and your kids a couple of times a day? Do you buy antibacterial soap at home or antibacterial cleaning products to make sure you are getting rid of all the germs at home?  Well, there are increasingly more reasons why you might want to reconsider your habit and opt fo 'dirty' hands or plain soap and water....

IN THE NEWS

After years of scientific studies showing potential harm from the antibacterial chemical Triclosan, the FDA is finally reviewing the chemical’s safety.  Their study will determine whether triclosan can continue to be used is many of the most common products in households across America. 

In 2010 the European Union banned its use in products that come into contact with food.


WHY YOU SHOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT TRICLOSAN 

As an endocrine disruptor, triclosan can alter the levels of thyroid hormones and reproductive hormones (estrogen and testosterone) potentially resulting in increase risk of infertility,  (decreasing levels of testosterone and sperm production) early puberty and other hormone related problems.

Additionally, some experts argue that constant use of triclosan based products  are contributing to surges in drug resistant  germs (superbugs) immune to antibiotics.

WHAT PRODUCTS HAVE TRICLOSAN? (hint:  it is not ONLY in those antibacterial gels!) 

Triclosan has been used for more than 40 years so its pretty mainstream.  The main reason this news is such a big deal is that triclosan is being used on a DAILY basis (countless times) in many office spaces and households.   People -including children-are scrubbing their hands and bodies throughout the day with products containing triclosan.   

Visit any hospital or doctors office and you will find plenty of antibacterial gel and soap for use throughout the entire establishment.   Even more worrisome for me? These products are quite frequently found in schools and day cares too.   In fact, it can be found in numerous products beyond antibacterial gels and soaps! It is in your cleaning products, body wash, soap, toothpaste, makeup (including lipsticks and foundation), deodorant,  knives, cutting boards, and even your baby’s basinet bedding and toys.... 

Some companies, including Johnson and Johnson,  have pledged to remove triclosan from all of its products.  J&J claims that none of its baby products contain triclosan and they have also pledged to remove triclosan from all of its other products by the end of 2015

For a detailed list of products (including brands and specific names) containing triclosan visit the Beyond Pesticides website.  


HOW TO AVOID TRICLOSAN

  • try to avoid any product that claims to have “antibacterial” or “antimicrobial” properties.    in more than 75% of cases the main ingredient will be triclosan
  • use soap and water for hand and body washing.   By training yourself and your family to lather up for 20 seconds with normal soap you will be killing the same germs. Studies have found that antibacterial soaps with triclosan  were no more effective at preventing illness or reducing bacteria than plain soap.
  • use vinegar:    vinegar's antibacterial properties have been used to clean for decades.  A natural disinfectant,  is strong enough to handle most germ killing jobs around the house - just use a 50% vinegar 50% water based solution.  No need to opt for antibacterial cleaning wipes containing triclosan and other harsh chemicals.
  • hand sanitizers are NOT out of the question. In fact, I agree that there are occasions when you really can benefit from them (ie: playgrounds or when people come visit your newborn and you know they dont wash for 20 seconds! among others...)  Avoid those that list triclosan and try to use those that use alcohol  to kill germs if soap and water is not available.  

Some triclosan-free alternatives: 
  • CleanWell
  • Dr Bronner'sMagic Organic Fair Trade Hand Sanitizing Spray Lavender
  • The Honest Company Hand Sanitizer



REMEMBER
Triclosan’s review reminds us that the way that the use of chemicals in the US works is as follows:  they are all considered safe and allowed to be used until proven harmful.  Triclosan has been in the process of being reviewed by the FDA for over 4 decades. (Richard Nixon was president when the FDA started evaluating triclosan!!!) .. and we are still waiting for a final decision (which they have vowed will happen very very soon).  Meanwhile its made it into a great amount of US homes, exposing countless adults and children cumulatively over the years, in the US.... even while mounting evidence  seemed to point at its harmful effects.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How Dirty Are Those Diapers?




(updated :  October 2016) 


As moms we know that a dirty diapers is no fun.  Most babies quickly let us know when they need a clean diaper, but did you know that the new ' clean' diaper you were placing on your munchkin actually has a handful of chemicals never tested before for safety on babies?
 


Todays diapers are far from the diapers we grew up using. New and improved? Perhaps.... But at what cost?


Yes, it is true, just about every mainstream diaper brand we have grown up hearing about and trusting (Huggies, Pampers, Luvs etc)  now uses a handfull of potentially toxic chemicals in their ' leak guard' formulas. Unfortunetley for parents, diaper companies need not disclose the ingredients they use in their diapers... an unfortunate reality, considering that the average baby goes through 5,000 - 8000 diapers before being fully toilet trained! That is a whole lotta diapers and a whole lot of potential exposure to an unknown list of chemicals you are exposing your infant to 24 hours a day. 

  
The most common chemicals of concern found in conventional diapers ( Huggies, Luvs, Pampers etc)  are:

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

IS MELAMINE SAFE FOR MY MUNCHKINS?



Because of the health dangers of BPA in plastic and of substitute chemicals used in BPA free plastics, I -like many other moms- have turned to melamine as a safer alternative when buying plates and cups for my toddler.  I have even have given them away as birthday favors!

I try to use ceramic and glass when he is sitting at the table but when he was younger and enjoyed throwing his plate on the floor from his high chair, it was a bit risky.  Even now, I prefer to give him  melamine cup than a glass one or a plastic one to have around the house.

A new study from Taiwan, however, has me thinking twice before using my son’s pirate melamine tableware.   

 In the new study, two groups of healthy young adults were asked to eat hot noodle soup from bowls; one group used bowls made with melamine resin and the other group used ceramic bowls.   A couple of weeks later the 2 groups switched bowls. The study found that the group using  the melamine bowls had higher levels of the chemical in their urine, and remained high for up to 12 hours.

Being a small study, the researchers did not probe further and look at wether the higher urine levels would lead to any long-term medical problems or if participants' bodies were storing any of the chemical.  Undoubtedly, the study does raise questions about  what the consequences of long term melamine exposure might be.   


IS MELAMINE HAZARDOUS TO MY MUNCHKINS HEALTH?

At very high dosis, melamine has been associated with kidney stones and renal failure in small animals and infants. Most melamine dinnerware contains small amounts of formaldehyde, a potent carcinogen.

Infants are particularly vulnerable to the chemical since they have very low kidneys functions to begin with.   as you might remember, in 2008, large doses of melamine were found is baby formula in China and resulted in  six baby deaths and over 50,000 thousands sick infants with kidney damage.  

The good news is that the amount of melamine that was found to leech from melamine plates in the Taiwanese study seems low and most probably will cause no ill effects on our children’s health.  the bad news? No studies have been made about the long term implications of being exposed to small amounts of melamine over a long period of time ... so if you are going to continue using melamine plates and cups, using them CORRECTLY is probably a safe bet.


SHOULD I THROW OUT MY MELAMINE TABLEWARE?

Not necessarily... just make sure you are using it correctly. 

You can continue to use your melamine plates and cups, however avoid exposing it to high temperatures
  • do not microwave melamine tableware
  • do not wash in dishwashing machines at high temperatures
  • Opt to serve  cold foods in them (ie: cereal, sandwiches, etc).    When serving hot meals (like soup, pasta, fish or anything coming straight from the oven or stovetop) opt for a ceramic or glass bowl or plate.  If you dont trust your tot with a ceramic or glass bowl buy a silicon sleeve like the one that Boon sells to protect your bowl.
  • melamine may also leach out of tableware if the food or drink is especially acidic so try to avoid orange juice and such
  • Finally, if scratched or damaged, toss it out

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A NON-STICK MESS: FINDING AN ALTERNATIVE TO TEFLON PANS





One of my readers recently asked me what I thought about the new non-stick technology that is promising to replace Teflon in the cooking world. 

Teflon pans are usually one of the first things I suggest you get rid of at home.... But they are also one of the hardest things to get people to stop using! 

I know people who cook their (expensive) organic food in Teflon pans, not realizing that they are pretty much eating up a toxic meals thanks to the Teflon from their pans.

Why is it so hard to stop using nonstick Teflon pans? Well, the reality is that they work really well and the alternative (at first) is usually very messy and sticky! I get it.... and would probably let it slide and leave my friends or clients with their teflon pans, since my philosophy is to make small changes in your life and not to live in a nontoxic bubble, BUT here is the thing; teflon is really bad. So bad that the chemical company that makes it has been forced to "eliminate the need to make, buy or use PFOA by 2015." 


WHAT AND WHERE IS TEFLON FOUND
When talking about the dangers of Teflon, we are referring to the chemical that gives it its slippery non-stick property;  Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).   PFOA is present in trace amounts in up to 98% of Americans.  It is not only used in Teflon coated non-stick pans but also in products that claim to be stain and grease proof like furniture, carpet, clothing and food packaging (like Stainmaster fabric protection). 



DANGERS OF PFOA

Monday, January 28, 2013

Flame Retardant in Your Soft Drink and Carcinogens in Laundry Detergent ?


Some good news this week!
Thanks to public pressure two multinational corporations announced plans to eliminate harmful chemicals from very popular products!

GATORADE TO STOP USING FLAME RETARDANTS IN THEIR INGREDIENTS

Yes, you read correctly:  currently there is a high probability that your fav Gatorade drink has an ingredient used as a flame retardant.  The good news?  The company has agreed to take it out...

THE BACK STORY
Back in November of last year (2012) the news broke that Gatorade, athlete's everywhere (and of all ages) choice drink,  contained an ingredient called 'Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO).  A high schooler noticed the ingredient listed in her Gatorade and did some research and found out that  BVO is a flame retardant banned in countries like Japan and the European Union.  Research has shown links between  BVO and impaired brain development, reduced fertility and altered thyroid hormones.  It is also a chemical that stays in your body for a long time, thus lengthening the period of time it is in your body potentially harming it.

The student decided to start a petition on Change.org asking Pepsico to remove the toxic chemical from all Gatorade drinks.  Over 200,000 people signed the petition.
   
PepsiCo, the company that makes Gatorade, quickly explained that they use small levels of BVO to keep artificial flavoring evenly distributed and assured the public that at low levels BVO is safe.  It was used in the citrus  versions of the sports drink.  Ironically (but to no surprise since this is common practice), PepsiCo produces the same Gatorade drinks without the chemical in other countries where it is banned... but has chosen to keep it in the US.

THE GOOD NEWS- CHANGE!
Last Friday PepsiCo announced that it would eliminate BVO from all of the Gatorade drinks it sells in the US.  BVO will be replaced by "sucrose acetate isobutyrate" almost immediately.  Basically, as soon as existing supplies of Gatorade with BVO sell out, the new ingredient will hit the market

Great news for Gatorade drinkers BUT be aware, BVO is still being used in some other common soft drinks like Mountain Dew , Diet Mountain Dew, some flavors of Powerade and Fresca as well as Squirt and Sukist Peach Soda.  


TIDE FREE & GENTLE: NOT QUITE AS FREE of CHEMICALS AS THEY CLAIMED?


THE Backstory
One of my go-to-sources for  all things non-toxic living, Women's Voices for the Earth, published a study last year called Dirty Secrets:  What's Hiding in your Cleaning Products?      

The report found high levels of the cancer-causing chemical 1,4-dioxane  in (among other products) Tide® and Tide Free & Gentle laundry detergents.  

According to the EPA,  1,4-dioxane is classified as a probable human carcinogen.  It has been linked in animal studies to increased risk of breast cancer. Absolutely nothing is known about any potential effects of any level of 1,4 dioxane on children or fetuses since this has never been studied.  

As is the case with a number of cosmetics and products, this chemical doesn’t appear on the Tide product label or on the product website.... so it is virtually impossible for us as consumers to know if it is in the products we are using.  

Particularily troublesome with this specific product?  The fact that  Tide Free & Gentle®, was being marketed to mothers as a 'green' and 'eco safe' alternative to use for their family's laundry.  

Procter and Gamble, the company that produces Tide products, responded by stating that the "levels of 1,4 dioxane found in the product are well below currently accepted safety standards, and that it does not plan to reformulate its detergents".  

Following the report, As You Sow, a nonprofit that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility, filed a lawsuit against Procter & Gamble for " violating Proposition 65, a California law that states " that businesses must provide a “clear
and reasonable” warning before knowingly and intentionally exposing anyone to a chemical on the state’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm".   

Ironically, P&G is quite familiar with this California law, because a couple of years back its Herbal Essences shampoos were reformulated to avoid being forced by a court to carry a warning label!

THE RESULTS:  Small steps forward
Following As You Sow's lawsuit, last week,  Procter & Gamble agreed in court to  reformulate its detergents to reduce levels of 1,4 dioxane substantially.  Now, Tide Free & Clear is a bit closer to being free and clear of toxic chemicals.

For alternatives to a healthier less toxic alternatives in the laudry room read our post


and

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

... Who's The Most Non-Toxic Car Seat of Them All?







December 2016:  Thanks to numerous chemical conscious parents that have commented below and contacted me directly, I have written an updated post on this topic, since a new studyhas been released that tested 15 car seats for flame retardant chemicals.   To read the results,  read our blog post ' FLAME RETARDANTS CHEMICALS STILL USED IN ALL BUT ONE CAR SEAT BRAND TESTED (NEW STUDY) for more on this topic and feel free to comment or contact me directly!






This week I have been researching car seats. Living in New York City, without a car, we have been using a very basic car seat that the hospital gave us when my munchkin was born. However, since we have increasingly been renting cars and making day trips it is time for us to upgrade.





Car seats, as readers of my blog might remember, are infamous for being amongst the most toxic of childhood items, thanks mostly to the flame retardants and PVC ( plastic) used in their manufacturing. This weeks challenge? Find a safe car seat without any of these nasty chemicals.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Closet full of formaldehyde?



Do your eyes light up when you find a shirt for yourself or your hubby that reads 'iron free' or 'wrinkle free'? 

Do you seek out those "easy care"  bed  linens that come out of the dryer looking so much neater than the wrinkled mess the normal linens do? Yes! One less thing to iron! .... But did you know that anti wrinkle finish comes from a resin that releases formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde?   In your clothes?  In your children's bed linens?

Happy New Year!



Happy New Year 2013!   

It is still January so I can still say this... although, admittedly, I am a bit late!  

As many of you have noticed I have been absent for a couple of months.  The good news?   I have a little munchkin in the oven :-)   The last months have been busy busy busy with the holidays and morning (or can we say all day?) sickness.   But slowly things are getting back to normal and I hope I will be back to writing my weekly articles!

With a munchkin coming soon, I am remembering all those issues and questions that come up during pregnancy and early childhood.  Feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions, as I love hearing from everyone!   I look forward to sharing all the news and shortcuts for non-toxic living that I continue to come across in 2013!!!!  Here is to a happy and healthy year!