Posts Tagged ‘non toxic plastics’

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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Is it safe to microwave plastic?

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Sentinel conducted a study on the safety of microwaving plastics. Surprisingly, BPA (bisphenol-A) was found to be leaching from many types of plastic, not just polycarbonate. And these plastic containers are labeled “microwave safe,” a claim that is commonly used yet not regulated.

Excerpt:
“The amounts detected were at levels that scientists have found cause neurological and developmental damage in laboratory animals,” the paper reports. “The problems include genital defects, behavioral changes and abnormal development of mammary glands. The changes to the mammary glands were identical to those observed in women at higher risk for breast cancer.”

Makes me glad I recently ditched my plastic for glass, and I usually remove the plastic lid before putting in the microwave and ensure no plastic is touching food in the microwave.

BPA was also found in the plastic trays of microwavable meals, microwavable soup containers and plastic baby food packaging. Even in plastics labeled #1, 2 and 5, which are generally considered safe and typically BPA-free.

This researcher simply states
“There is no such thing as safe microwaveable plastic,” said Frederick vom Saal, a University of Missouri researcher who oversaw the newspaper’s testing.

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Bisphenol A Linked to Metabolic Syndrome in Humans

The University of Cincinnati has used human tissue for their study on “average” BPA exposure. Their findings, though not surprising, supports other independent research that BPA does affect human health.

Excerpt:
In a laboratory study, using fresh human fat tissues, the UC team found that BPA suppresses a key hormone, adiponectin, which is responsible for regulating insulin sensitivity in the body and puts people at a substantially higher risk for metabolic syndrome.
 
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of risk factors that include lower responsiveness to insulin and higher blood levels of sugar and lipids. According to the American Heart Association, about 25 percent of Americans have metabolic syndrome.  Left untreated, the disorder can lead to life-threatening health problems such as coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
 
Nira Ben-Jonathan, PhD, and her team are the first to report scientific evidence on the health effects of BPA at environmentally relevant doses equal to “average” human exposure. Previous studies have primarily focused on animal studies and high doses of BPA.

How was the study conducted?

…the UC team collected fresh fat tissue from Cincinnati patients undergoing several types of breast or abdominal surgery. These samples included three types of fat tissue: breast, subcutaneous and visceral (around the organs).
 
Tissue was immediately taken to the laboratory and incubated with different concentrations of BPA or estrogen for six hours to observe how the varied amounts of BPA affected adiponectin levels. The effects of BPA were then compared to those of estradiol, a natural form of human estrogen.

What were the results?

They found that exposing human tissues to BPA levels within the range of common human exposure resulted in suppression of a hormone that protects people from metabolic syndrome.
 
“These results are especially powerful because we didn’t use a single patient, a single tissue source or a single occurrence,” she adds. “We used different fat tissues from multiple patients and got the same negative response to BPA.”

Again, very interesting findings. This does support other independent research, yet the FDA still claims the safety of BPA. I am really not all that surprised, yet I am in shock. I cannot believe with all this mounting evidence, they can stand by that claim.

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BPA impairs brain function in monkeys

Well, well, well… yet another independent study comes out that shows BPA is harmful at low-levels. This particular study, conducted at Yale, used monkeys, not rodents. Because primates are human’s closest relative, you can draw the conclusion that results in humans would be quite similar.

Excerpt:

“They also used lower levels of the chemical than in past studies. ‘Our goal was to more closely mimic the slow and continuous conditions under which humans would normally be exposed to BPA,’ said study author Csaba Leranth, M.D., professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences and in Neurobiology at Yale. ‘As a result, this study is more indicative than past research of how BPA may actually affect humans.’”

How was the study conducted:

Over a 28-day period, Leranth and his team gave each primate 50 micrograms/kg of BPA per day, adjusted for body weight, the amount considered safe for human consumption by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The team also administered estradiol, the major form of hormonal estrogen that modulates nerve cell connections in the brain. Best known as one of the principal hormone products of the ovary, estrogen has also been shown in past studies to be synthesized in the brain, where it aids the development and function of the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.

And the results?

The team then used an electron microscope to count nerve cell connections in the brain. They found that BPA inhibits creation of the synaptic connections in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, areas of the brain involved with regulation of mood and formation of memory.

 “Our primate model indicates that BPA could negatively affect brain function in humans,” said study co-author Tibor Hajszan, M.D., associate research scientist in Yale Ob/Gyn. “Based on these new findings, we think the EPA may wish to consider lowering its ‘safe daily limit’ for human BPA consumption.”

Hajszan said that although daily exposure of an average person to BPA usually does not reach the level that was applied in this study, human exposure to BPA is not limited to a single month, but rather is continuous over a lifetime. “The negative effect of BPA may also be amplified when estradiol levels are naturally lower than in healthy adults. That is why exposure to BPA may particularly be risky in the case of babies and the elderly.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but the more studies such as this that are released, I am losing more and more confidence in the FDA, who are STILL claiming BPA is safe for human consumption. Obviously, they are still siding with the plastics industry and relying on biased research to draw their conclusion. Thanks to manufacturers taking things into their own hands, at least us parents who want BPA-free alternatives can get them readily. Hopefully thought the FDA will wake up, ban BPA, making our purchasing decisions much easier.
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Feds concerned about bisphenol-a (BPA)

It seems this “debate” will never end. Today the National Toxicology Program released a report sharing their findings of the safety of BPA.

“They concluded that current human exposure to the chemical, which is used in many polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, is of “some concern” for effects on development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children.”

This is no surprise to those of us who have been looking at the independent research, rather than relying on biased-industry research.

“As to how consumers should use this information, Michael Shelby, director of the program’s Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction said in a press release, ‘Unfortunately, it is very difficult to offer advice on how the public should respond to this information. More research is clearly needed to understand exactly how these findings relate to human health and development, but at this point we can’t dismiss the possibility that the effects we’re seeing in animals may occur in humans.  If parents are concerned, they can make the personal choice to reduce exposures of their infants and children to BPA.’”

The report also expressed minimal concern for BPA accelerating puberty in females and negligible concern that pregnant women exposed to BPA can result in fetal or neonatal mortality, birth defects or reduced birth weight and growth in their offspring. There is also negligible concern that BPA causes reproductive effects in non-occupationally exposed adults and minimal concern for those adults exposed to higher levels at their job.

And what does the dear FDA think about this?

“’We are pleased to see the finalization of the NTP report,’ said Frank Torti, the Principal Deputy Commissioner and chief scientist at the FDA. ‘The FDA will consider this final report in our role as a regulatory agency and joins NTP in the call for additional research in this important area.’”

In other words – just a bunch of hogwash. The FDA continues, time and time again, to protect the industries, not the American public. I have pretty much decided that if the FDA has approved something and declares it “safe,” then avoid it. I try to look at the EU and other agencies who actually care about the health and well-being of its citizens. Any faith I have had in the FDA is lost.

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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.

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BPA and Phthalate Free Pacifiers

Several have asked about BPA pacifiers, I have asked myself since I am 26 weeks pregnant and will be needing new pacis as well. I’ve done a little digging and these are what I found. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list, just the ones I have found. New BPA-free products are coming out all the time and it’s getting hard to keep up, which is a good thing! If you are aware of another product that is BPA free and not listed here, please let me know and I will certainly add it!

As far as I know there are not any BPA-free Avent or MAM pacifiers. The bulky part that sits on the baby’s mouth contains BPA, not the nipple. Silicone and latex nipples on bottles, sippy cups and pacifiers do not contain BPA. 

And since phthalates will be found in teethers, bath toys and rubber duckies for the next 6 months, I am working on lists for those too, so check back for more lists!

BPA & Phthalate Free Pacifiers

Born Free: 0-6 month Day and Night version and the 6+ month Day and Night version
Evenflo: Mimi Soft Touch, Mimi Premium, Mimi Neo One-Piece, Vizion, Fuzion, and Illuzion
Gerber: NUK Original, NUK Classic, NUK Nautical
Gumdrop Silicon Pacifiers
Happy Baby Soothers
Natursutten Natural Rubber Paci
Playtex: Playtex “Binky” (one piece silicone pacifier), Binky Most Like Mother Latex Pacifier, Binky Most Like Mother Silicone Pacifier, Binky Angled Pacifier, Ortho-Pro Pacifier  
The First Years: Soothies Silicone, Teething Pacifier,  Safe Comfort, Ultra Kip
Vice Versa Binky w/ Case

Please check back for more lists, coming soon!

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