Posts Tagged ‘Children’s 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.

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BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes for back to school

Lead as you know is toxic to children (and adults for that matter), so it’s important that the place their lunch is stored in is lead-free. PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead. Lead can also be ingested from your child touching the bag and then their food. And BPA is the hormone disrupting chemical found in plastics whose toxic effects have been hitting the news and blogs for the last several years. crockcreekcountries

Before purchasing a lunch box for your child, read the label. Make sure it is not made of PVC. Nylon, polypropelyne or cloth are much safer materials. Look for tags that say PVC-free. You also want to avoid BPA if you are purchasing a water bottle or food storage containers.

Crockodile Creek Countries lunch box.

Here is a list of BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes.

The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free.

Crocodile Creek. These are SO CUTE, and my favorite of the bunch. I saw these at Whole Foods and they are very well-made and have very cute traditional style, zippered lunch box and kid-friendly designs like dinosaurs, the solar system, horses (purple for girls) , trucks/vehicles (boyish), girls from around the world, flowers, countries with animals, farm animals  and a sunflower.

Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food.

LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free.  They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.

The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. They also offer a lunch buddy which is more of a traditional lunch box style.

Mimi the Sardine has cute cloth lunch totes that are PVC and lead free. There are several designs such as the ladybug, monkey/elephant/flower pattern, bugs and mice (my favorite).

Munchlers look like zoo animals and they fold out into a placemat, also very cute. They are insulated and come in several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. My daughter has the white dog.

ZAK Designs offers several licensed character insulated lunch boxes that are lead free and lined with PVC-free material. Note, they just mention “PVC-free lining” so leads me to believe the entire lunch box may not be PVC-free. Some of the characters available include: iron man, Wall-E, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Spongebob Square Pants, Diego, Spiderman and many others. Wal-Mart and Target carry Zak lunch boxes.

California Innovations is a nice lunch bag that Wal-Mart carries. It’s stylish no-nonesense bag and free from any characters or crazy prints.

Lunchopolis is another zippered, traditional style, no-nonesense lunch box.

Citizens Pip is a new one available only online from what I can tell. The cool thing is you can customize your lunch box with accessories — separate food compartments, stainless steel bottle, cloth napkins, fork/spoon set, and of course the lunch bos itself!

Kid Konserve is a similar to Citizens Pip’s customizable lunch box system and available on their website.

Thermapod is another similar concept to the laptop lunch. However, it is one piece with 4 sections, which may not be desireable for some.

ReusableBags.comhas a whole section also dedicated to lead, PVC, and BPA-free lunches. I bought two ACME lunch bags — one to carry bottles in for my son to daycare (it fits three Dr. Brown bottles) and one for me for the milk I pump for him at work (it fits six medela bottles).

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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.

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

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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

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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

High Fructose Corn Syrup contains mercury

A new study shows half the samples tested contained mercury. This includes 1/3 of 55 popular name brands where HFCS is the first or second ingredient.

Mercury contamination is very harmful and toxic in all forms. It should be avoided. Pregnant women are advised to avoid certain fish because of high levels of mercury.

High fructose corn syrup is a synthetic sweetner that has replaced sugar in many items. It’s much cheaper than sugar, so is used by many companies in all types of foods and all kinds of brands. 

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

The use of mercury-contaminated caustic soda in the production of HFCS is common. The contamination occurs when mercury cells are used to produce caustic soda. So the good news is HFCS can be produced without caustic soda, the bad news is us consumers do not know if the HFCS containing products we are consuming are produced using caustic soda or not.

What can you do? Avoid HFCS. Read the labels, if it contains HFCS, put it back on the shelf. This is what I have done, even before knowing about the mercury contaimination.

We try to avoid sythetically produced ingredients in our house, opting for the safe and natural stuff. HFCS has also been linked to behavioral problems, but not sure anything has been proven there. Though I know several kids who were taken off HFCS and their behavior improved drastically with this change alone. Proof enough for me. 

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Kids Lungs Benefit from Longer Breastfeeding

I thought this study was very interesting. In a nutshell, the study concluded that children breastfed exclusively for at least 4 months, had greater lung capacity and airflow than those children who were bottle fed. The study surveyed 1033 10 year olds, in 3 different groups. One was exclusively breastfed, the other exclusively bottle fed and the last group a mix of breast and bottle.

The greatest benefit was among those who were breastfed the longest and no benefits was shown for those breastfed less than 4 months.

The interesting part is the benefit is not believed to be from the breastmilk, but from the act of suckling since it takes more effort to extract milk from the breast than the bottle.

“The physical exercise caused by suckling at the breast – about six times daily on average for more than 4 months — may result in increased lung capacity and increased airflow in breast-fed children compared with bottle-fed children,” Dr. Ikechukwu U. Ogbuanu told Reuters Health.

Read the entire article here.

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