Posts Tagged ‘toxic plastics’

Chemical Industry Decides Public Health Really IS Better Than Private Profits

Guest post by Janelle Sorensen

In a turn of events not even Nostradamus could foresee, Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), today announced that the millions of dollars the industry trade group has been using to lobby against policies that protect public health will now be used instead to research and develop safer chemicals.

“We’ve been focusing so much on maintaining the status quo and protecting our profits, that we neglected to notice how our bottom line really relies on the health of consumers,” Dooley said at a press conference outside the ACC headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. “If people have to spend the bulk of their income on health care or are working less due to chronic health conditions, they don’t have money left to buy our products. We’ve decided to make products that are safe and healthy for consumers, because it’s simply better for everyone.”

The ACC has also started their own national campaign to overhaul the outdated chemical regulatory system, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and has promised Congress and the Obama Administration that their member corporations will shoulder any tax burdens involved with increasing research, monitoring, and regulatory oversight. Parents, public health professionals, and environmental advocates across the country were speechless and unable to comment. This moment is simply too good to be true. No, really, it is. April Fools!

Unfortunately, the ACC is still only concerned about maintaining their deep pockets at our expense. But, they really are trying to fool the American people into believing they care about public health. In fact, according to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families:

On the eve of Congressional action, and after years of insisting that the status quo was just fine, organizations like the ACC are suddenly announcing their support for reforming our nation’s toxic chemical policy. What changed? For starters, states are beginning to ban toxic chemicals like BPA. Even worse, consumers are snubbing products that contain toxic chemicals.

Understanding that they can’t fight this trend, the chemical industry has launched a PR campaign trying to appear green and clean; luring in supporters with Web sites designed to look like ours. But if you look past the fluff, you will find that our coalition and chemical industry reps still have very different ideas about what real TSCA reform should look like.

Below are some of the fundamental differences between Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ vision of reform and that of the chemical industry:

What Public Health Advocates Want

  • Public disclosure of safety information for all chemicals in use
  • Prompt action to phase out or reduce the most dangerous chemicals
  • Deciding safety based on real world exposure to all sources of toxic chemicals

What the Chemical Industry Wants

  • Limited testing of a handful of chemicals, leaving us in the dark about safety hazards
  • More lengthy and costly studies of chemicals already proven to be dangerous
  • An assumption that we are only exposed to one chemical at a time, and from one source at a time

Don’t Be Duped! Learn more and tell everyone you know. 

  1. Sign the petition to Congress
  2. Sign-up for the Healthy Child Healthy World newsletters so you know exactly what’s going on and when it’s most important for your voice to be heard. 
  3. Share the video, “A Wake-Up Story,” so people can understand why TSCA reform is so important.

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.

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

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Link between Autism and vinyl floors?

Certainly more research is needed, but a Swedish study concluded that an infant/toddler with vinyl flooring in their bedrooms were twice as likely to have autism 5 years later than those with wood or linoleum flooring. For parents who smoked, autism rates were also twice as those who’s parents did not smoke. More research is absolutely needed, but interesting nonetheless. 
Vinyl can emit phthalates, which are chemicals used to make soft plastic that have also been connected to allergies and asthma. The scientists, lead by Carl-Gustav Bornehag of Karlstad University in Sweden, call the data “far from conclusive” and say further studies with a larger group of children are needed to confirm a link.

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FDA to continue to studies on BPA

Taking heat from, well everyone outside the FDA and the plastic industry, the FDA has stated they will continue to study BPA. Scientists and other government health agencies have linked BPA with health issues, stating infants are most at risk. But the FDA maintains it’s safe.

Blah, blah, same story different day. But I guess their “goodwill” gesture to continue the study on the substance is better than nothing.

Read the entire article here.

Some toys with banned substances will stay on market

As always, there are loopholes in legislation that appears to be a good thing. In August, President Bush signed into law a ban on lead, cadmium and phthalates in products marketed to children under 12 years of age.

The reduction in the amount of lead that will be considered safe on Feb 10, 2009 will remain in place and any children’s product with lead levels higher than the safe amount on Feb 10 will be treated as a hazardous product.

So what about phthalates? For some reason, these will be treated differently. That reason is purley an economical one. But products containing the banned phthalates will still be found on shelves and legally sold as long as the product was produced prior to the Feb 10, 2009 date.

Read the entire article from the Washington Post.

So what is a parent to do?

1. Avoid plastic toys, especially vinyl ones where phthalates are typically found.

2. Read labels. Some manufacturers may label the product phthalate-free. If not, don’t buy.

3. Visit my safe toys list and find manufacturers who no longer use phthalates.

4. Opt for safer personal care products, like California Baby to avoid phthalates in the bath.

5. Look for a manufacturing date on the product before you buy it. If one is not listed, do not buy it.

Related Articles
California Baby line product review
Safe toys for Christmas
BPA and phthalate free teethers
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers

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.

Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippies and food storage
Baby products packaged in PVC
Canada bans baby bottles with BPA
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