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


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