Monday, April 27, 2015

Could the FDA Finally Start Regulating the 126 Chemicals You Use On Your Body on Any Given Day?

Photo Credit: Ariasystems.com

How many personal care products do you use on yourself on any given day?  According to The Environmental Working Group "on average, respondents use nine products daily. These contain 126 unique ingredients. One man in 100 and fully 25 percent of women surveyed apply 15 or more products each day."

What about your children? Sunscreen, diaper cream, shampoo, body wash and lotion?

Most people seek comfort in reasoning that "if a personal care product is on the shelf in stores it must be regulated and tested for safety".  Unfortunately, this is not true.   Right now, in the US, no one is in charge of overseeing the safety of thousands of beauty products.  No one tests chemicals in cosmetics, no one requires safety testing before products reach the consumer market, and no one in the US government has the power to recall beauty products with proven toxic ingredients.

In fact, over10,500 unique chemical ingredients are used in personal care products sold in the US- and some of these ingredients are known or suspected carcinogens, toxic to the reproductive system or known to disrupt the endocrine system.  I kid you not.   LEAD has been found in numerous mainstream lipsticks......as an example.

The EU has banned 1,100 chemicals in cosmetics, while in the US,  the Food and Drug Administration has banned only 11.

 Basically, every time you use a product - on your hair, your body, your face, your hands, your baby,
your kids - day in and day out you are essentially a guinea pig because no one knows what - if any- dangers exposure to hundreds of chemicals (the EWG estimates 126 unique ingredients) may have on your health today, tomorrow or in the future.

Until now- well maybe.  

This week the buzz has been about a proposed amendment to the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act  that would give the Food and Drug Administration  some power ad oversight to regulate chemicals we use all over our bodies every day.  The amendment, introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, is called the Personal Care Products Safety Act.  It might actually pass since it has the support of both some large environmental consumer advocacy groups (EWG among them) as well as the support of some large corporations including Revlon, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Estee Lauder, among others


Among the promising changes:

- Companies would have to provide "cosmetic ingredients statements" which includes more specifics on the category classified by so many as 'fragrance' (which traditionally has been associated with phthalates a known endocrine disruptor) 

- If the FDA determines that a product "has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans" it may suspend the registration of the facility... wich essentially would make the product illegal to sell (Section 607)

- Starting in 2016 the FDA will choose 5 ingredients to personally review for safety.  The first 5 ingredients have already beed established and include Lead acetate, formaldehyde (commonly used in hair straighteners) and  Propyl paraben (very common preservative in a large list of popular cosmetics and cremes. (section 608)

- the FDA shall require labeling of cosmetics that are not  appropriate for use in the entire population, including warnings that vulnerable populations, such as children or pregnant women, should limit or avoid using the product. (Section 614)

Is this bill perfect?  Not really, BUT it is definitely a long overdue step in the right direction.  At the very least it grants the FDA the tools it needs to protect consumers from  some toxic ingredients in their cosmetics.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It's Earth Day! 5 Tips That Will Reduce Your Chemical Exposure AND Help Our Planet Too!

In honor of Earth Day, here are 5 tips that will reduce you and your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals, and help the Earth too!

1. Stop using plastic bottled water.

Instead, invest in a water filter and in glass or stainless steel water bottles.   Although some water filtration systems can seem expensive at first (others are quite affordable, like PUR or BRITA style water filters), the cost of bottled water adds up, as does the amount of plastic bottles piling up in landfills.  Plastic bottles can leech endocrine disrupting chemicals like phthalates into the water you are drinking.  Stop using them and switch to safer, less toxic alternatives.



2. Buy in bulk at the supermarket.  

Plastic containers are found all over the supermarket, look at what you bring home and just about everything is wrapped - sometimes 3 times- in different plastics... Our food (and thus everyone who eats the food) is constantly in contact to plastics and to a number of chemicals that have been associated to everything from breast cancers, behavioral problems to diabetes etc. Another good option is to choose glass containers (think:  tomato sauce, ketchup: soups) over plastic or canned foods.  Buying in bulk is better for your wallet, your health and the environment -  reducing how much plastic your food comes in contact with is a win, win, win situation. You can even bring your own jars and not use any plastic at all!




3. Switch to non-toxic house cleaners- or even better, make your own

What happens to the cleaning products that are filled with toxic chemicals after you use them at home? They are poured into sinks, flushed down toilets, and dumped into landfills. When put into landfills or incinerated, the noxious ingredients from the cleaning products seep into soil and water, causing harm to people, animals and the planet.  

What happens to the same chemicals in conventional cleaning products at home?   you spray them in the air and breath in  toxic chemicals that have been linked to increases in asthma, you clean the floor and your baby touches everything and places his hands in his mouth and you scrub your bathtub and then the warm water opens your pores and your skin absorbs even more toxic chemicals.

What can be found in any given conventional cleaning product?  carcinogens, heavy metals, endocrine disruptors and nervous system depressants that contribute to allergy problems, respiratory issues, and even cancer

Switch to non-toxic house cleaners or, even better, use vinegar, baking soda and water to clean and disinfect around your house,  Good for you, good for the planet.



4. Use less product.  On your body.  On your face

By using less products (body lotion, soap, shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner, hair styling products, face moisturizer, eye cream, makeup etc) you not only expose your body to less chemicals, you use less containers.  Once again - less truly is more when it comes to beauty products.



5. Just say no:  to store receipts.  

Today’s thermal store receipts are coated in BPA- each time you or your kids touch them you leave with elevated BPA levels on your hands which migrate into your bloodstream which scientists are concerned could lead to dangerous hormonal and neurological disruptions.  By requesting receipts be emailed, or simply not taking them, you are not only not exposing yourself unnecessarily to BPA, but you are wasting less paper which is always good for the planet!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Human Experiment: New Documentary: Watch. Learn. Become Empowered


How do you feel about you and your children being used as guinea pigs in a human experiment to see what effects daily low grade exposure to thousands of untested chemicals  have on your health? Would you sign up? 

Unfortunately, this is the reality that pretty much every person on the planet is living: we have all become unwitting guinea pigs to constant chemical exposure.  

We constantly mention the facts here at Non-Toxic Munchkin:  80,000 chemicals used in commerce in the United States, only 200 have been tested for safety on an adult males (not  woman or children), only five have been regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, babies are now born with 200 chemicals in their bodies .

Our homes, our offices, our schools, our parks:  we live in a lab of contant chemical exposure and the results are starting to become very evident: rising rates of everything from cancer to infertility, behavioral problems to diabetes.  

From Oscar® winner Sean Penn and Emmy® winning journalists Dana Nachman and Don Hardy, The Human Experiment is a new documentary that  tells the personal stories of people who believe their lives have been effected by chemicals and takes viewers to the front lines as activists go head-to-head with the powerful and well-funded chemical industry.

These activists bring to light a corrupt system that’s been hidden from consumers, and that we have mentioned on Non-Toxic Muchkin constantly.

It is important to watch documentaries like these to understand what the reality we are living in is and to become empowered and stop being unknowing victims. 

Watch the trailer, see the film, and learn how you can protect yourself and your family! - The film has started showing in a couple of theaters around the country.  It will premiere in Los Angeles on April 17 (yes, I will be there!) as well as in New York, Alexandria, Bellingham and Providence.

Not playing  in a theater near you?  Not to worry, the film will be simultaneously released on all major Video On Demand platforms nationwide on April 17!  This included Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, iTunes, Sony PlayStation, Vudu and Xbox Video.  It can also be preordered on Itunes