Posts Tagged ‘environmental’

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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PVC and Lead-Free lunch boxes for back-to-school

Updated post found here.

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. Lead can also be ingested from your child touching the bag and then their food. For a list of manufacturers who have agreed to produce lead-safe lunch boxes, check out the CEH’s website.

PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead. The Center for Health, Environment and Justice offers a downloadable guide to PVC-free school supplies.

Safe Mama has a great review/listing of lead and PVC-free lunch boxes for back to school (or even for work!) Here are the ones she mentions, plus some others that I found:

The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free. They offer over 50 designs, so you are bound to find something you like. They also claim the product will last for years, which is also a good thing!

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 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. All are PVC, lead and phthalate free. These are a soft lunch box, they have a mesh pocket in back, a zipper pocket in front and the main compartment is insulated. And as mentioned, these look very durable. I want one for myself!

Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food. The containers are made of polypropylene (#5) so are BPA-free and they each have lids made of polyethylene (#2). The set also includes a stainless fork and spoon with plastic handles.

LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free. They have designs with a butterfly, a gecko, panda and several others. They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.

The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is PVC-free but NOT 100% lead-free, but does exceed California standards for lead and other toxins, so are “considered” lead-free according to the company. It is also a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. Since it’s not completely lead-free, I probably would not buy it. 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 made of polypropylene. There are several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. They also have a wearable tote, but it fits like a backpack, so not sure how this would work if your child is already carrying a backpack.

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. I am emailing the company though. Some of the characters available include: iron man, Wall-E, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Spongebob Square Pants, Diego, Spiderman and many others.

Here is another list I found of PVC-free lunch bags, though I do not know if they are lead-free.

The site also offers 6 tips for a healthier and safer lunch tote:
• Check for “lead safe,” or even better, “lead free” labels.
• Check for “PVC-free,” “Vinyl-free” or “phthalates-free” labels
• If you find none of the above, avoid soft vinyl bags and avoid bags with additional chemicals such as anti-bacterial claims (Microban is one of them), this includes statements like “keeps food fresh longer.”
• If your chosen bag offers no labels, store or wrap all your child’s food individually to avoid contact with the interior lining. Remind your kids to wash their hands before and after lunch.
• To reduce waste, choose re-usable containers and use your own silverware and napkins.
• Don’t refill disposable water bottles. The best choices are stainless steel reusable water bottles.

Related Articles
BPA-free bottles, sippy cups and more!
Non-toxic back packs
BPA-free dishes
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers

Popular ‘green’ products test positive for toxicant

Well, this just sucks. Guess I have to change my soap and shampoo again. Ugh.

Popular ‘green’ products test positive for toxicant

A cancer-causing chemical is found in almost half of 100 such goods studied.

By Marla Cone, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 14, 2008

New tests of 100 “natural” and “organic” soaps, shampoos and other consumer products show that nearly half of them contained a cancer-causing chemical that is a byproduct of petrochemicals used in manufacturing.

Many items that tested positive for the carcinogen are well-known brands, including Kiss My Face, Alba, Seventh Generation and Nature’s Gate products, sold in retail stores across the nation.
 
The findings of the Organic Consumers Assn., a consumer advocacy group, are sending a jolt through the natural products industry. Gathering today in Anaheim for a national trade show, many leaders worry that the test results will taint the industry in the eyes of the public.

Of the 100 products tested, 47 had detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane, which the Environmental Protection Agency has declared a probable human carcinogen because it causes cancer in lab animals.

Most traditional soaps and shampoos contain 1,4-dioxane. But the discovery that the chemical is present in many housecleaning and personal care products, including some for babies, that are advertised as being natural, organic or “green” comes as somewhat of a surprise.

“For companies to knowingly or even carelessly put a carcinogen into commerce in this day and age is barbaric, I think, particularly products that have the moniker of natural or self-proclaimed ‘organic,’ ” said consumer advocate and author David Steinberg, who directed the study.

“We need standards,” he said. “Consumers walk into a health-food store or natural-product supermarket with the expectation that the product they purchase will be natural or safer than what they could purchase at the drugstore or supermarket.”

The compound is not intentionally added to products; it is a byproduct of a process used to soften harsh detergents. It is formed when foaming agents, or surfactants, are processed with ethylene oxide or similar petrochemicals.

Said Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation Inc.’s director of product and environmental technology, “The natural world is filled with things that can harm. . . . All we can do is work as hard as we can to keep the levels as low as possible and keep our products as safe as possible.”

Hain Celestial Group, the Boulder, Colo.-based owner of four of the tested companies — Alba, Jason, Avalon Organics and Zia Natural Skincare– said Thursday that it would reevaluate all of its products. Two Alba and three Jason products contained 1,4-dioxane, but the chemical was not detected in tested Avalon and Zia products.

“We are committed to selling products without detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane . . . and will review all formulations accordingly,” said Lisa Lehndorff, Hain Celestial’s director of corporate consumer relations.

No one knows exactly what amount of the compound may be unsafe. In scientific studies, lab animals that had been fed 1,4-dioxane for many weeks developed nasal, liver and gall bladder cancers. But scientists do not now know what, if any, cancer risk humans face from years-long use of products containing the chemical.

The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates cosmetics, has set no standards for 1,4-dioxane. The agency has occasionally tested products for the compound since the late 1970s and says levels of it have substantially declined since then. The FDA says the current levels “do not present a hazard to consumers,” although it has advised the industry to reduce amounts in cosmetics as much as possible.

Many companies in the “natural” business have been striving for years to eliminate 1,4-dioxane. They use coconut or other plant oils as surfactants, and they have reformulated products and added a process called vacuum-stripping. But traces still remain, in the parts-per-million range.

Josef Koester of Cognis Corp., a Cincinnati-based chemical company that caters to manufacturers seeking “green” compounds, said most companies can avoid 1,4-dioxane but that it “typically requires a higher price point and sometimes performance restrictions for the product. How green the formulators want to go — it is their choice.”

Some organic company owners said it is deceptive for many products to be called natural when the carcinogenic compound indicates that petrochemicals are used in their manufacture.

No standards govern the words natural or organic for personal care products. But a few companies, including TerrEssentials, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and Sensibility Soaps Inc., which makes the Nourish brand, have certified their products as organic under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food standards.

“It makes it really difficult for us to communicate real organic when our little voice gets lost in this sea of products that are all claiming to meet the [USDA organic] standard when, in fact, they don’t,” said Diana Kaye, co-founder of TerrEssentials, a small Maryland company. All six TerrEssentials soaps and other products tested were free of 1,4-dioxane.

Other brands, including Burt’s Bees, Desert Essence and EO, are not certified to meet organic food standards but still contained no 1,4-dioxane in the tests.

But because the vast majority of shampoos, soaps and other consumer goods do not carry the USDA organic seal, it’s nearly impossible for buyers to know whether the ones they use contain 1,4-dioxane because the chemical is not listed on ingredient labels. Products most likely to contain the compound usually list polyethylene glycol or compounds with the syllables PEG, short for polyethylene glycol, -eth or -oxynol-,according to the FDA.

Method, a San Francisco-based company whose products are sold at Target, intentionally does not call its products “natural,” said co-founder Adam Lowry. Instead, the labels say “naturally derived” because the plant oils have been processed with ethylene oxide to make them better cleansers.

Three of its products were tested, and two — its ultra-concentrated dish soap and a hand soap — contained 1,4-dioxane.

“For us there are no alternatives that are still effective,” Lowry said. “Unless you can have a high-performance product, if you have a green product or a natural product, then what’s the point of having one that doesn’t work?”

Method’s creamy hand soap, which had 7 parts per million of 1,4-dioxane in the tests, has been reformulated and now contains none, Lowry said.

“We 100% believe that our products are completely safe and there’s zero risk,” he said.

Whole Foods on Thursday declined to say whether the test results would prompt any changes in products sold at its stores. Three of four products tested in Whole Foods’ own product line, 365 Everyday Value, contained 1,4-dioxane.

Dishwashing liquids are particularly hard to keep free of 1,4-dioxane because they require surfactants that are powerful grease cutters.

Seventh Generation uses coconut oil in its dish soaps, which although it is processed with a petrochemical and vacuum-stripped, still contains almost 2 parts per million of 1,4-dioxane. Wolf said the only way to remove all traces would be to use another surfactant that irritates skin, which the Burlington, Vt.-based company considers unacceptable.

Seventh Generation is “working with several surfactant manufacturers to look for alternatives to this process to modify coconut oil,” Wolf said. “We’re not there yet. We have more work to do.”

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