Posts Tagged ‘toxins’

Can your cell phone give you cancer?

samsung_impression

The Samsung Impression a877 had the lowest radiation level

According to a new 10-month long research study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the answer is maybe. One thing is definite, cell phone do emit radiation, and at levels that concern scientists for possible cancer risks. Whether or not cell phone radiation poses a health risk remains uncertain, however, several studies have suggested increased risk of brain and mouth cancers, as well as an increase in children’s behavior problems, among frequent cell phone users.

The EWG studied over 1,000 cell phone sold in the US and rank the top 10 best (low radiation) and 10 worst (high radiation) cell phones. You can search the EWG’s cell phone radiation database to see how your phone rates.

What about the little chip that promised to diffuse radiation away from your head? According to the research, they do little if any good because it weakens the phone’s signal making it work harder, thus uses more radiation to do so.

What can you do to limit exposure?
There are ways to reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation. The EWG has a printable guide for reducing exposure to cell phone radiation.  

Send a message to manufacturers by purchasing phones with the lowest level of radiation.

You can also get involved by telling the FCC and the FDA to modernize cell phone radiation standards to the lowest level possible.

For more info: Read the entire Cell Phone Radiation Report.

Create an eco-nursery; County bans BPA baby bottles and Rubber mulch is toxic

Something new: Link Round up!

It’s difficult to post even weekly now with 2 kids and working full time, so I decided when I have several interesting topics at once, I will give a smaller summary and post the link to the article.

Eco-proof the nursery this is a great little article highlighting common concerns for today’s new parents (or new again). It shows how parents are concerned about the expense of raising a “green” baby and offers tips on how to go free for free or for very little money.

One NY County Bans BPA Baby bottles Hats off to them! I hope this catches on, though with manufacturers stopping the production of them and national retailers stopping the sale of them, bottles made with BPA will be hard to come by soon enough.

Rubber mulch is not non-toxic and contains metal fragments. And Obama just used it on his girl’s White House playground. Hopefully he will replace it. While it seems like a great idea to turn used tires into mulch for playgrounds and landscapes, it really is not non-toxic or safe for kids or the environment. Plus, rubber is highly flammable and difficult to extinguish once on fire.

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

Canada says BPA is toxic; bans baby bottles with BPA

Canada is the first country in the world to declare BPA a toxic substance. What does the FDA say? They claim it’s safe, of course! Though last week, several articles alluded to the fact the FDA may have been bribed in coming to the conclusion BPA is safe. I have to still post that article, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, read more about the ban here.

Related articles:
BPA Free bottles, sippy cups and food storage
BPA and Phthalate free pacifiers 
Lead and Phthalate free toys for Christmas 
Cloth baby wipes showdown 
US Government says BPA is harmful 
Pregnant women told to avoid BPA 
Canned foods and BPA 
BPA is found in infant formula 
Gerber baby food containers 
BPA and other plastic safety 
Breastmilk contains stem cells

Government says no more lead in toys — but not until after the holiday season

All children’s products must be compliant with the new govermental standards for lead content by Feb 10, 2009, so a little late for safe and confident Christmas shopping.

This means companies can still seel their lead-containing toys until Feb 10, but they must be removed from the shelves in the US after that. Now, I wonder who will monitor that? Honor system? We know how well that worked…

Anyway, what many may not know about the law is this:

The new lead limit is part of a sweeping product safety measure that became law Aug. 14. The law stipulates that by Feb. 10, children’s products can not have a total lead content above 600 parts per million. Six months later, that limit drops to 300 ppm and then to 100 ppm in three years if feasible.

So this year, buy with caution. Read the entire article here from the Washington Post.

Please check back for more on this topic and where to find safe toys this Christmas season.

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Lead and phthalate free toys for Christmas
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
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BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles

Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
Toxins found in crib mattresses may cause health problems

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.

Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
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BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles

Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
Avent introduces BPA free bottle
BPA in canned food
How to avoid BPA
BPA in infant formula

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.
Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
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BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles

Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
Avent introduces BPA free bottle
BPA in canned food
How to avoid BPA
BPA in infant formula

Have we found the cause of SIDS?

I recently bought the book Raising Baby Green by Dr. Alan Greene. I found his brief information on infant crib mattresses to be very interesting and a little disturbing. I researched more online and then found the number of chemicals used in crib mattresses to be alarming. Then I found a study that actually LINKED these toxins in crib mattresses to infants who died of SIDS. This is alarming.

I found this article summarizing a study done on crib mattresses and SIDS. In short, Dr. Spoutt believed that crib death was caused by toxic gases released from the crib mattress. If a baby breathed or absorbed a lethal does of these gasses, the central nervous system would shut down, stop breathing and stop heart function. All this without struggle or waking the baby. A normal autopsy would not reveal signs of poisoning.

New Zealand for the past 11 years has had a 100% success rate in preventing crib deaths with an ongoing campaign by advising parents to wrap the mattress in a special cover that prevents leaching of toxic gasses. Over 100,000 infants slept on protected crib mattresses and not a single SIDS case has been reported by this group using the special mattress cover. Prior to the wrapping campaign, New Zeland had the highest SIDS rate in the world at 2.1 deaths per 1000 live births. Since the campaign, SIDS rates have dropped 70%.

I highly recommend reading the entire article. It’s very fascinating and educational. Certainly makes me feel better about wanting to spend 2-3 times as much on an organic mattress for our new baby, due in November.

It’s terrible that more parents do not know about this. The cover is inexpensive, at about $35. Who would not spend at least that to protect an existing mattress? So it’s not about parents not wanting safer alternatives, it’s that our government is keeping this information from us.

The best solution is to purchase a new 100% organic crib mattress. HealthyChild.com seems to be gung-ho about the NaturePedic line of organic crib mattresses.

Organic Crib Mattresses

Naturepedic: all have 100% organic cotton filing
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Classic $259
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Ultra $359
2 in 1 Organic Cotton Ultra $399
Quilted Organic Cotton Deluxe (note, does not have a waterproof cover) $339 
Port a crib pad $149 

Natural Mat
Latex Mat $385 Made of organic latex, organic lambswool and double organic cotton cover 
Mohair Mat $625 (mohair is from horsetail, which naturally springs back to its original shape). Also made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton. 
Coco Mat $375 Made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton.

Pure Rest
Organic Crib Mattress Innerspring with Edge Supports
Organic Innerspring Crib Mattress (Cotton & Wool) $299 242 coils, organic cotton filling, organic wool batting.

Eco Baby has a variety of mattresses ranging from $299 – $399

Pixel Organics
REFILL mattress is an interesting product in that it recycles food grade plastic bottles into filling for this crib mattress. Also uses organic cotton and wool. $170
Natural Rubber and Organic Wool $150
100% Organic 510 Coil Inner Spring Crib Mattress $342
100% Organic Natural Rubber Crib Mattress $490. Also uses organic cotton and wool.

Related Articles
Toxic chemicals found in infant crib mattresses can cause health problems
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalare free teethers and rattles
Toxins in cosmetics and beauty products
President Bush Signs Product Safety Bill to protect children

Toxins found in infant crib mattresses cause health problems

For many new parents, finding a good crib mattress seems to be a trivial thing. You just need to make sure the mattress is firm, not soft and fits snugly in the crib, right?

Well, there are a whole lot of reasons to dig a little deeper and ditch the conventional crib mattresses. When we bring home our new bundle of joy, we want to put them in a safe environment. But crib mattresses are loaded with toxic chemicals, many of which can leach and outgas, having possible negative health effects. And considering infants spend most of their young lives asleep in their beds, it’s certainly a very important and critical element to consider.

Scientists also recently discovered the chemicals in traditional crib mattresses may cause SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). One reason why the back-to-bed campaign has been so successful at reduces the instances of SIDS, is that babies faces are no longer directly against the mattress breathing higher concentrations of the toxic chemicals.

Common toxins in conventional crib mattresses are:

PVC – polyvinylchloride found nearly everywhere in our environment. releases toxins such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats.
Phthalates – a synthetic substance just banned in children’s products by the US government. It’s associated with asthma, reproductive issues and cancer.
DEHP - the most common phthalate used in crib mattresses has been banned in Europe for years.
Polyurethane foam – a highly flammable, cheap substance highly treated with a host of chemicals to make it flame retardant. Not only does it easily ignite, it releases deadly gases when it is ignited. 
pentaBDE – The most common chemical fire retardant used to made polyurethane foam flame retardant, is a toxin associated with hyperactivity and neuro-behavioral alterations. PentaBDE is not bound to the foam, and leaches out into the surrounding air. It’s been banned in Europe for many years and in California since 2006.
Antimony – used as a flame retardant
Pesticides and boric acid – used to treat cotton in the mattress
Latex treated with pesticides

HealthyChild.com also offers detailed information on why traditional crib mattresses post significant health risks to infants and toddlers.

“… EPA has determined that infants up to age two are, on average, ten times more vulnerable to carcinogenic chemicals than adults, and for some cancer causing agents are up to 65 times more vulnerable… children accumulate up to 50 percent of their lifetime cancer risk by their second birthday… many chemicals linked to mutagenic activity are commonly used in consumer products and can contribute to children’s exposure to carcinogens.”
(Children’s Health Policy Review: “EPA Cancer Policy Revisions Highlight Risks to Children.” 3 Mar. 2003.
Environmental Working Group. www.ewg.org/issues/risk_assessment/20030303/index.php)

 

But never fear, there are safe, organic mattresses on the market that are free of these substances. Organic wool is naturally flame resistant so no chemicals are needed. It’s also naturally resistant to dust mites, mold, mildew and bacteria. Organic cotton is also a great alternative because it gives better air circulation allowing the baby to breathe better.

Do read the fine print and ensure the mattress is 100% organic and no where on the labeling or website does it list any of the toxins mentioned above. You can also call the Organic Consumer’s Association to get a list of stores that carry all-organic mattresses.

Here is a snippet from another article, it’s very disturbing, and once again proves how our government organizations are not protecting us from toxins:

“According to the CPSC risk assessment, they state that EVERY night, the average person (and infant) will absorb the following chemicals:
.802 mg Antimony (similar to arsenic – a known poison)
.081 mg Boric Acid (the active ingredient in Roach Killer)
.073 mg DBDPO (also known as DECA, a suspected carcinogen)
However, the CPSC stands by its controversial decision and says, this is level of chemical absorption is safe and poses no known health risks.

However, they excluded children under five years of age from their risk assessment by assuming all these children will be protected by a vinyl sheet over their mattresses, due to bedwetting problem. Their assumption is that this vinyl covering will protect them from the FRC’s in their mattress.

However, antimony has been proven by European researchers to leech through vinyl covers, and has been found in high concentrations in infants livers, who have succumbed to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Fearing a possible link, these same researchers looked at all cases of SIDS in their country and were able to statistically link this to the high levels of antimony in the crib mattresses. In fact, high levels of antimony were found in the livers of dissected human infants killed by SIDS.

For this reason, Europe has been moving away from using flame retardants in their mattresses and requires them be proven safe before being used. Many countries in Europe have even banned them. As a result, SIDS deaths have decreased over much of Europe.

Even New Zealand has virtually eliminated most cases of SIDS by preventing these mattress toxins from being absorbed by the infants, via a special mattress covering. They instituted a nationwide policy in 1994 to “wrap” crib mattresses with a special blanket to prevent the mattress toxins from poisoning the infants. It has been demonstrated that no infant has ever died of SIDS when sleeping on a “wrapped” mattress.”

Pretty infuriating isn’t it? For these reasons, I am getting an organic mattress for my son, who’s arrival is expected in just 12 weeks. My daughter also sleeps on a standard crib mattress in her toddler bed, and I likely will replace hers as well. I hate to think she has been exposed to these toxins for nearly 2.5 years.

I have researched and found these mattresses that are 100% organic. Please note this is not a comprehensive list! If you know of other 100% organic mattresses, please let me know and I will add them to this list. 

Naturepedic: all have 100% organic cotton filing
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Classic $259
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Ultra $359
2 in 1 Organic Cotton Ultra $399
Quilted Organic Cotton Deluxe (note, does not have a waterproof cover) $339 
Port a crib pad $149 

Natural Mat
Latex Mat $385 Made of organic latex, organic lambswool and double organic cotton cover 
Mohair Mat $625 (mohair is from horsetail, which naturally springs back to its original shape). Also made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton. 
Coco Mat $375 Made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton.

Pure Rest
Organic Crib Mattress Innerspring with Edge Supports
Organic Innerspring Crib Mattress (Cotton & Wool) $299 242 coils, organic cotton filling, organic wool batting.

Eco Baby has a variety of mattresses ranging from $299 – $399

Pixel Organics
REFILL mattress is an interesting product in that it recycles food grade plastic bottles into filling for this crib mattress. Also uses organic cotton and wool. $170
Natural Rubber and Organic Wool $150
100% Organic 510 Coil Inner Spring Crib Mattress $342
100% Organic Natural Rubber Crib Mattress $490. Also uses organic cotton and wool.

Related Articles
Lead and phthalate free toys for Christmas
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalare free teethers and rattles
Toxins in cosmetics and beauty products
President Bush Signs Product Safety Bill to protect children

Do your cosmetic and beauty products contain toxic ingredients?

The answer is probably “yes.” I have a very difficult time finding a product I can purchase off the shelves that does not contain toxic ingredients. Even products from Arbonne, Mary Kay, Avon, etc. are not free of toxins. Makes me mad that Arbonne touts the whole “Pure. Safe. Beneficial.” slogan, because it’s simply not true.

One lady has set out to educate the public on toxins in beauty products and has created her own website called OrganicDivas.com.

Another organization has started a Campaign for Safer Cosmetics www.safecosmetics.org, where cosmetic and beauty care companies sign a compact that their products do not contain certain toxic ingredients. They are a coalition working to protect the public health by calling for the elimination of chemicals used in the cosmetics industry linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems.

They look at several factors when evaluating companies including global compliance with the EU cosmetics directive (strictest standards in the world for cosmetics), fully disclosing all ingredients, have a safe rating in the EWG’s cosmeticsdatabase.com, among other things.

You can download their PDF of campaign signers. Unless you already have eliminated such toxins from you home, it’s unlikely you will recognize many, if any, of these companies. Many of these are small companies who were started by mothers, women and other consumers who wanted safer products and were not able to find them. Some people had medical conditions that were aggravated by traditional skincare products, thus they created their own.

Organic Diva’s Fave Brands

Suki facial cleansers and foundations
UV Natural sunscreens (they have a baby version too)
Zum soaps and lotions
• Afterglow lipstick and blush
• Wee soaps, lotions and sunscreens for babies

Diva’s Dirty Dozen

Here’s a list of synthetic cosmetic ingredients known to cause or strongly suspected of causing cancer, birth defects or endocrine (hormone) disruption, as compiled by nutritionist and author Ann Louise Gittleman for the Organic Diva website.
• Methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl paraben
• Imidazolindyl urea
• Diazolindyl urea
• Petrolatum
• Propylene glycol
• PVP/V copolymer
• Sodium lauryl sulfate
• Stearalkonium chloride
• Synthetic colors
• Synthetic fragrances
• Phthalates
• Triethanolamine

Related Articles
Aubrey Organic Kids line product review
California Baby line product review
TruKid Sunny Days sunscreen product review 
California Baby sunscreen product review

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.

Related Articles
BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalate free teethers and rattles

Lead and PVC free lunch boxes
Avent introduces BPA free bottle
BPA in canned food
How to avoid BPA
BPA in infant formula

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