Posts Tagged ‘Adult Health’

Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate safe?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a very common ingredient in nearly all shampoos, soaps, and even many toothpastes. You can even find it in Angel Food cake mixes. This is the ingredient responsible for the foaming action of the product. But, is it safe?

Until about a year ago, I thought the answer to this was yes. I had not yet done research on this chemical, but just in reading a few comments online, it seemed some people were OK with it and others were not.

When I finally had time to research SLS, I was surprised to learn it was contaminated with 1,4 dioxane.  This is a cancer causing by-product of the ethoxylation process, a process that makes otherwise harsh ingredient gentle. However, because it is not an original ingredient, this by-product is not listed on the ingredient list.

In this article by Dr. Mercola, he further explains the health risk with using SLS, and its cousins Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES, and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS), citing some of the over 16,000 studies showing toxicity. The Environmental Working Group gives SLS a moderate hazard rating for cancer, organ system toxicity and others. So it’s not the worst, but not the best.

Should you avoid SLS?
Anything you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and goes directly to your organs. It’s also important to note that 1 incidence of using SLS is likely OK, but the cumulative effect is what is worry-some.  While the amount in your shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, hand soap, etc. may be ‘safe’ amounts when used alone, using them all at one time could cause your exposure to jump into the unsafe level zone. But the cumulative effect has never been studied.

We do our best to avoid it in our house due to the cancer link. If you can’t avoid it entirely, limit your exposure by using less of the product containing it. Most people use twice as much soap product as needed.

How to avoid SLS
Read labels! Know what to avoid, as SLS can have other names, including Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sulfuric acid, Sodium salt sulfuric acid. I use Dr. Bronner’s  bar soap in the shower and make my own foaming hand soap, which also makes a great foaming body wash. For shampoo I am currently using Kiss My Face, Frequent Use which is SLS and paraben free and I love it.

RELATED ARTICLES
Kiss My Face hair care review
Dioxanes found in popular organic body care products
California Baby product review
Badger Sunscreen product review

Seeking safer packaging to eliminate BPA

According to a new study, not many companies are seeking alternatives to replacing BPA in their packaged foods.

The survey was conducted by sending letters to 20 leading publicly-traded packaged food companies to inquire on the actions they are taking to address concerns over BPA. Fourteen companies responded and the scores were determined based on these responses.

The main findings of the study concluded:

(Excerpt)
• All companies surveyed use BPA and are taking insufficient steps to move toward alternatives.

• Hain Celestial, Heinz, and Nestlé received the top scores because all three companies are involved in researching and testing of alternatives to BPA and all have plans to phase out the chemical in some products.

• Heinz stands out as a leader as it is the only company surveyed that is currently using an alternative to BPA in some of its can linings.

• Three of the companies that responded to our questions, Del Monte, Hershey, and J.M. Smucker, are not taking action beyond monitoring the industry to identify or implement alternatives to BPA as a packaging material. 

Eden Foods is privately held so was not listed in the surevy, however, all their canned foods are BPA-free with the exception of tomatoes which are too acidic for any BPA alternative.

Green Century Capital Management and As You Sow conducted the study and they provide acceptable alternatives to BPA in food packaging. Read the entire article.

 What can you do?

Arm yourself with information.

Avoid companies who are not doing anything on the BPA issue, and write letters to them letting them know you will not buy from them until they offer BPA free products

Support companies who are moving to alternatives to BPA by purchasing their BPA-free products

If you need canned foods, opt for Eden Foods, which are BPA free (except tomatoes)

Ditch canned foods and opt for fresh or frozen

View my lists of BPA-free cups, dishes, bottles and more

Never microwave plastic as it could still leach BPA

Write your congressmen and encourage them to support the call to ban BPA altogether.

Related Articles
Harmful plastics with BPA
The Real Story Behind BPA
BPA Free bottles, sippy cups and food storage

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Safer Sunscreens 2009

It’s that time of year again — planning for beach trips, the pool, biking, or whatever outdoor activities interest you.

california-baby-spf-30-natural-sunscreen

Last year, the folks at the Environmental Working Group published a report on the effectiveness of sunscreens. They studied 952 common sunscreens and found 4 out of 5 do not do their job.  Additionally, 53% of sunscreen make claims on the bottle that are simply inaccurate and are terms the FDA has said are unacceptable terms or misleading. 

They also found zinc and titanium based formulas to be the most effective.

What to avoid. Avoid ingredients like those with anything “–paraben” in the name, fragrance (likely contains phthalates), PEG compounds, polyethylene, oxybenzone,  triethanolamine, BHT,  benzyl alcohol, and others. This is not a complete list, just some of the ones you may find. Definitely consult the EWG’s Cosmetic Databse for more information on specific ingredients.

Again, read those labels and remember formulas frequently change!

Here is a little summary on the EWG website, plus their recommended top 10 sunscreens that are safe and effective. They also offer a list of “common brand names” and specifically which product in that line is safe and effective. **A little disclaimer though about the cosmetic database.** I have personally found discrepencies in the ingredients they have listed in their database than what is actually listed on the bottle. This is because formulas change frequently and it’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with each and every product. So definitely still consult the databse as a guide, but as always read the labels before you buy!!

EWG’s recommended Top 10 sunscreens (and their hazard rating. Rating is based on level of hazard, 0 being safest, 10 being highest hazard)
1. Keys Soap Solar Rx Therapeutic Sunblock, SPF 30   0
2. Trukid Sunny Days Facestick Mineral Sunscreen UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, SPF 30+  0
3. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+   0
4. Badger Sunscreen, SPF 30       0
5. Marie Veronique Skin Therapy Sun Serum    1
6. Lavera Sunscreen Neutral, SPF 40     1
7. Vanicream Sunscreen, SPF 35      1
8. UV Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+      1
(there is also a Baby version)
9. Sun Science Sport Formula, SPF 30     1
10. Soleo Organics Sunscreen all natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+  1

From 10 Common Brands (and their hazard rating. Rating is based on level of hazard, 0 being safest, 10 being highest hazard). If more than 1 product is listed for that entire brand’s line, I put the range, so be sure to get the ones specified below)
** Please note, these are safer common brands (meaning easier to find), does not mean they are free of harmful ingredients. Other than California Baby, I would personally NOT recommend any of the below or use these for myself or my family.
1. Blue Lizard anything without oxybenzone    (1-7)
2. California Baby anything with SPF 30+     (0-2)
3. CVS with zinc oxide       (2-7) 
4. Jason Natural Cosmetics Sunbrellas Mineral Based Sunblock  (1-7)
5. Kiss My Face “Paraben Free” series     (2-7)
6. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunblock     (2-7)
7. Olay Defense Daily UV Moisturizer (with zinc)    (2-7)
8. SkinCeuticals Physical UV Defense     (2-3)
9. Solar Sense Clear Zinc for Face      (1-2)
10. Walgreens Zinc Oxide for Face, Nose, & Ears   (1-7)

Personally, I am a HUGE fan of TruKids and California Baby. TruKids is a little less expensive. My husband and I both used it last year during our traditional week at the beach and I use California Baby on my then 2 year old. She enjoyed using the TruKids face stick on all 3 of our faces! None of us got burned, and our relatives who used Bull Frog did get burned.

Related Articles

California Baby Sunscreen: Product Review
TruKid Sunny Days Suncreen: Product Review
Add Sun Protection to You Clothes

BPA may linger in body longer than we thought

New research shows that BPA may linger in the body much longer than we previously thought. Researches thought BPA was purged by the body in 24 hours, but that was based on limited research.

BPA is everywhere: in PVC pipe, in polycarbonate drink containers, in the plastic that lines food and soft-drink cans, and even in dental sealants. It’s also in our bodies. Virtually everyone has detectable levels of BPA in his or her body.

Now there’s evidence that BPA might be in our water as well as in our food, and that it lingers in our fat tissues. If confirmed — and the current findings are very preliminary — it could mean BPA is a bigger problem than thought.

University of Rochester researcher Richard Stahlhut, MD, MPH, analyzed data on 1,469 U.S. adults from the CDC’s huge 2003-2004 NHANES study. That study gave fasting people one-time BPA tests, and also collected extensive dietary data.

“After 10 to 15 hours of fasting, there shouldn’t be anybody with any detectable levels of BPA,” Stahlhut tells WebMD. “But it just hangs there like the London fog. You do see a subtle downward trend, but what you don’t see is it falling off the map. And by 24 hours it’s still there.”

And FastCompany pulled this quote from the study.
Not wishing to weigh the argument unscientifically, the research paper even states that, “Whether BPA can cause human health effects is a matter of some debate; the potential for harm to infants and the fetus is currently considered more likely than harm to adults.” But the piece concludes: “In our data, BPA levels appear to drop about eight times more slowly than expected – so slowly, in fact, that race and sex together have as big an influence on BPA levels as fasting time.”

The study was not perfect, the subjects in the study could drink tap water, black coffee and diet soda (hopefully not from cans lined with BPA). However, there was more BPA detected in the body that still gives us reason to be concerned.

These findings suggests that BPA may linger in the body longer, or that BPA may come from other sources like tap water (where BPA leaches from PVC pipes). Another theory is that BPA may be stored in body fat.

This is interesting because BPA may play a larger role in disease that we thought.

A 2008 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that people with higher urinary BPA levels have more medical disorders. Another intriguing study from 2008 showed that BPA — at normal levels of exposure — disrupts a hormone involved in insulin sensitivity and diabetes. And a 2007 study showed that obese people are much more likely to suffer insulin resistance if they have high fat levels of organic pollutants.

“Imagine if what we think is caused by obesity is actually caused by persistent organics in the fat of obese people,” Stahlhut says. “If they don’t have the organics, they don’t have the diabetes. That would be huge.”

See my lists of BPA free items for children and some for mom too.
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and food storage
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles
 
BPA free dishes, utensils, snack containers and food storage

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Sources
WebMD
FastCompany

Related Articles
Harmful plastics with BPA
Lead and PVC-free lunch boxes
Non-Toxic Toys for Christmas 
The Real Story Behind BPA

BPA mimics estrogen and phthalates block testosterone

This article sums up pretty much what we already know, but it does a good job of showing how BPA acts like estrogen and phthalates block testosterone. I did learn that BPA exposure to babies in the womb have a greater negative effect on girls than boys, causing more reproductive harm than I thought.

Mice that were exposed to BPA as fetuses developed abnormalities of the ovaries, uterus, and vagina, Dr. Taylor said. Other murine studies found genetic abnormalities in eggs, an increased risk of mammary cancers, and early puberty in females.

The list of problems was shorter for male mice exposed to the chemical, with reduced sperm production and increased prostate size at the top.

And for phthalates…

Studies in male animals have found reduced sperm production, undescended testes, hypospadias, decreased testosterone production, and reduced anogenital distance.

The chemical’s effects on female reproduction were far fewer, with murine studies linking it to delayed or premature puberty.

They touch on the FDA’s stance that BPA is safe, where the FDA states they did not have sufficient evidence. However, human studies would be difficult. For one, a human study on either substance would be difficult since the entire population is exposed to both chemicals. Also, subjecting humans to high levels of this stuff would be unethical.

“Sometimes you just have to make decisions based on ‘inadequate’ evidence,” Dr. Lustig said regarding the FDA’s investigation of BPA, and potentially phthalates. “You just [make them] based on the right thing to do.”

Amen to that.

Read the entire article here.

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See my lists of BPA free items for children and some for mom too.
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and food storage
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles
 
BPA free dishes, utensils, snack containers and food storage

Related Articles
Harmful plastics with BPA
Lead and PVC-free lunch boxes
Non-Toxic Toys for Christmas 
The Real Story Behind BPA

Dioxanes found in popular organic body care products

study released in March 2008 commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a watchdog group, analyzes leading “natural” and “organic” brand shampoos, body washes, lotions and other personal care products for the presence of the undisclosed carcinogenic contaminant 1,4-Dioxane. A reputable third-party laboratory known for rigorous testing and chain-of-custody protocols, performed all testing.

Excerpt which describes the process of how 1,4 dioxane makes its way into body care products:
Ethoxylation, a cheap short-cut companies use to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical Ethylene Oxide, which generates 1,4-Dioxane as a by-product. 1,4-Dioxane is considered a chemical “known to the State of California to cause cancer” under proposition 65, and has no place in “natural” or “organic” branded personal care products. 1,4-dioxane is also suspected as a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant and respiratory toxicant, among others, according to the California EPA, and is a leading groundwater contaminant. Although previous studies have revealed 1,4-Dioxane is often present in conventional personal care products, this new study indicates the toxin is also present in leading “natural” and “organic” branded products, none of which are certified under the USDA National Organic Program.The group is calling for the mislabeling of organic products. 1,4 dioxanes have no place in true organic products.

 

Some of the Leading Brands Found to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:
JASON Pure Natural & Organic
Giovanni Organic Cosmetics
Kiss My Face
Nature’s Gate Organics.

Brands Found not to Contain 1,4-Dioxane:
All USDA Certified brands tested in this study were 1,4-Dioxane-free, including:
Dr. Bronner’s
Sensibility Soaps
(Nourish)
Terressentials

All German Natural “BDIH” Certified brands tested were found to be 1,4-Dioxane-free:
Aubrey Organics 
Dr. Hauschka

How to avoid 1,4 dioxane
To avoid 1,4-Dioxane, the OCA urges consumers to search ingredient lists for indications of ethoxylation including: “myreth,” “oleth,” “laureth,” “ceteareth,” any other “eth,” “PEG,” “polyethylene,” “polyethylene glycol,” “polyoxyethylene,” or “oxynol,” in ingredient names. In general, the OCA urges consumers to avoid products with unpronounceable ingredients. “When it comes to misbranding organic personal care products in the US, it’s almost complete anarchy and buyer beware unless the product is certified under the USDA National Organic Program,” says Cummins.

The products/brands tested can be found here with the level of 1,4-Dioxane detected, if any, along with ethoxylated ingredients listed on the label. Note, only certain products of these lines were tested, not all products in the line and certainly not all natural and organic products were tested.

Here are the products from the study that were found to be FREE of 1,4 dioxane. However, one still needs to read labels to avoid parabens and synthetic fragrance (due to the possibility of the presence of phthalates). All dish soaps  tested were found to have 1,4 dioxanes present. Surprisingly, so were a couple conditioners. And oddly enough, some brands, like Kiss My Face had 1,4 dioxane present in their body wash tested, but not the shampoo.

1,4 Dioxane Free Products
Alba Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel (Island Citrus) (EWG rates a 4, contains fragrance and parabens)
Aubrey Organics Natural Baby & Kids Bath Soap 
Aubrey Organics Swimmer’s Normalizing Shampoo 
Avalon Organics Nourishing Shampoo
Burt’s Bees Body Wash 
Circle of Friends Buenas Noches Bubble Bath (EWG ranks a 6, contains fragrance)
Desert Essence Body Wash  
Desert Essence Organics Hair Care Lemon Tea Tree Shampoo 
Dr. Bronner’s and Sundog’s Magic Orange Lavender Organic Lotion
Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Organic Fair Shikakai Conditioning Hair Rinse
Dr. Bronner’s Magic All-One Organic Fair Trade Shikakai Soap 
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps 18-in-1 Hemp Almond Pure Castile Soap
Dr. Hauschka Apricot and Sea Buckthorn Shampoo  
Dr. Hauschka Body Wash Fresh
EO All Purpose Soap
EO Nourishing Shower Gel 
EO Volumizing Shampoo
Head Organics Clearly Head Shampoo 
Kiss My Face Obsessively Organic Whenever Shampoo 
Lamas Soy Hydrating Shampoo for Chemically Treated, Dry or Damaged Hair 
Nature’s Gate Organics Fruit Blend Shampoo 
Nourish Food for Your Healthy Skin Organic Chai Vanilla Body Wash from Sensibility Soaps 
Nourish Organic Vanilla Yogurt Body Butter 
Origins Ginger Up Aromatic Conditioner
Pure Basic Natural Bath & Body Wash Wild Banana Vanilla (contains fragrance) 
Shikai Natural Everyday Shampoo 
Shikai Natural Shampoo 
TerrEssential Organic Baby Wash 
TerrEssential Organic Body Wash Organic Cool Mint 
TerrEssential Organic Fragrance-Free Facial Cleanser 
TerrEssential Organic Sultry Spice Pure Earth Hair Wash 
Zia Fresh Cleansing Gel with Sea Algae
Zia Skin Basics Daily Moisture Screen SPF 15 with Cucumber  
 
Hand soap
Avalon Organics Glycerin Hand Soap 
Burt’s Bees Citrus & Ginger Root Hand Soap 
Method Hand Wash 
TerrEssential Organic Real Soap for Hands Jammin’ Spice with Organic Tea Tree Oil

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Dangers of BPA, phthalates and a host of other substances 
Do your cosmetic and beauty products contain toxic ingredients? 
California Baby line product review 
Aubrey Organics Kids line product review

Environmentally friendly Zero VOC paint

Traditional paints contain VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), which is the “smell” in paints and are toxic to humans and the environment. VOC’s contribute to air pollution and global warming; and can contaminate ground water and soil. It becomes a problem in homes where VOC’s can be present at as much as 1000 times greater than out door air (typically after painting or paint stripping)!

The EPA says this about the health effects of VOC exposure:
Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans.  Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.

The ability of organic chemicals to cause health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors including level of exposure and length of time exposed. Eye and respiratory tract irritation, headaches, dizziness, visual disorders, and memory impairment are among the immediate symptoms that some people have experienced soon after exposure to some organics. At present, not much is known about what health effects occur from the levels of organics usually found in homes. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans.  For more information on health effects, see EPA’s Substance Registry System on VOCs.

We recently painted several rooms in our house using a low-VOC paint. And zero VOC paint is becoming more popular and accessible. We actually used Benjamin Moore’s Harmony paint, which is zero-VOC but because we did color-matching, the tint added a small amount of VOCs. So watch for this if you truly want a zero VOC paint. The great thing was the odor was very minimal and we easily slept in our room the night it was painted! It was actually odd not having days of over-powering paint smell. We still ventilated the areas we painted.

These paints are just as good and durable as traditional paints. There are only 2 cons: there can be limited paint options because the colors are premixed which is how they are able to produce a zero VOC paint. Low-VOC paints can do color-matching. The other con is it is a little more expensive. A gallon is typically $35-$50.

Zero VOC paints include:
Bio Sheild 
Yolo Colorhouse (premixed colors)
Mythic
Harmony by Benjamin Moore
Natura by Benjamin Moore (available on the west coast, nation-wide in Spring 2009)
Freshaire Choice, available exclusively at Home Depot 
Olympic has a zero-VOC line

Low-VOC paints include:
Aura by Benjamin Moore

GreenSeal is an organization that certifies zero- and low-VOC paints. You can view their list here:

Earth Easy has an even wider list of zero-, low- and eco-friendly natural paints.

The Today Show did a segment on green painting this morning. Check it out here.

Besides in paint, VOC’s are found in many common household products including paint strippers, and other solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleansers and disinfectants; moth repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; dry-cleaned clothing.

Related Articles
Popular green products test positive for toxicant
Cloned meat, it’s what’s for dinner
Is Horizon milk really organic?

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