Posts Tagged ‘pesticides’

Organic Milk vs Hormone Free Milk

Alison asked if hormone-free milk was as good as organic.

As for as Organic milk vs hormone free, neither will have the hormone added, but the hormone “free”-only will still have pesticide residue. Organic milk comes from cows fed an organic diet – grain or grass. In most cases, organic cows are treated better (more room per cow, most organic cows graze in an open pasture), while conventional cows don’t have much room to move around. So that to me even means healthier milk since cows treated better tend to be healthier anyway, thus not needing antibiotics, etc.

art_rbst_free_milk_cnn

Hormone free vs organic – cows naturally produce hormones, so the milk is not entirely hormone free, however no synthetic hormones are added (which to me is still better than conventional milk). However, it seems as though “hormone-free” is more of a marketing term.

CNN also reported on this topic pointing out research has shown there is no difference in milk from cows treated with rbST and cows that were not. However, the author echos many who feel “science” and the FDA has let us down before and consumers are questioning the safety of, well everything.

But then again, Natural News debunks that and gives a glowing review of why adding hormones is not good, including pus getting into the milk from these cows who often get mastitis due to the overproduction of milk and these cows are then given antibiotics to treat the mastitis infection. Now, who wants all that in their milk?

Benefits of Organic Milk
Here is another very good article showing the benefits of organic milk vs conventional milk. Such benefits include less pesticide contamination, more vitamins and antioxidants, improves the quality of breastmilk and helps prevent asthma and eczema in children. Read the entire article for more benefits.

SFMilk-FamilyAs for as choosing a good organic milk, first things first – Horizon milk is not really organic, which is really sad considering it is the best selling brand of organic milk. There are several links on there, one of which is a link to thorough research of many organic brands of milk rated on how “organic” they really are. So if you choose to stay/go organic, you can choose a good brand. Also, you can usually sign up on the manufacturer’s website and get coupons — for example, Stonyfield Farm or Organic Valley may send out coupons in a newsletter.

We eat the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies (mostly these are the ones where the outer skin is exposed like peaches, grapes, strawberries, potatoes, apples…) these are the ones that will have the most pesticides and bananas for example, do not have near as many pesticides since it is protected by a thick peel. So I get organic apples, but not bananas. I say that to give you an example that there are tradeoffs. You don’t have to go 100% organic on everything. To me, milk is one of those areas where the benefit definitely shows organic to be better.

Certainly cost is a factor. I get our milk from Whole Foods. If you drink a lot of milk or you have room in your freezer, Whole Foods gives you 10% off if you purchase a case of milk (4 gallons). We go through that in about 10-14 days, so I do this sometimes, but it’s a little hard to drink that much milk when we still give our 3 year old whole milk. And I am not sure about freezing milk, have not tried it, but know people who have with great success. And as mentioned, you can usually sign up to get newsletters which may contain coupons.

Related Articles
Food manufacturers confess they have no idea if their food is safe
Grass-fed beef is healthier
Is your organic food really organic?

National Healthy Schools Day

header_hsn_nhsdayaltNational Healthy Schools Day
What you can do to make sure no child’s health is left behind
 
by Janelle Sorensenjanelle
 When my husband and I first toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet. 
 
I didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was (and still is) prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs (in addition to her brain). For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.
 
While air quality is a significant issue in schools (the EPA estimates that at least half of our nation’s 120,000 schools have problems), parents are also increasingly concerned about other school health issues like nutrition and the use of toxic pesticides. Many schools are making the switch to healthier and more sustainable practices like green cleaning, least toxic pest management, and even school gardening. What they’re finding is that greening their school improves the health and performance of students and personnel, saves money (from using less energy, buying fewer products, and having fewer worker injuries among other things), and also helps protect the planet. It’s truly win, win, win.teacher_students_classroom
 
To highlight the issue, the Healthy Schools Network coordinates National Healthy Schools Day. This year, over three dozen events will be held across the country (and more in Canada) on April 27th to promote and celebrate healthy school environments.
 
What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:
·      Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Quality as a policy for your School;
·      Distributing information related to Green Cleaning or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ);
·      Writing a letter or visiting your Principal or Facility Director to ask about cleaning products or pest control products;
·      Walking around your school: looking for water stains, cracks in outside walls, broken windows or steps, and overflowing dumpsters that are health & safety problems that need attention. Use this checklist.
·      Writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper on the importance of a healthy school to all children and personnel.
 
You can also help support the efforts of states trying to pass policies requiring schools to use safer cleaners. (Or, initiate your own effort!) There are good bills pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. According to Claire Barnett, Executive Director of the Healthy Schools Network, the key pieces to promote on green cleaning in schools are:
·     Not being fooled by ‘green washing’ claims—commercial products must be third-party certified as green (to verify claims);
·     Understanding that green products are cost-neutral and they work; and,
·     Learning that “Clean doesn’t have an odor.”
 
She encourages parents and personnel to tune into one of the archived webinars on green cleaning (like the first module for general audiences) at www.cleaningforhealthyschools.org.
 
The fact of the matter is that whether you’re concerned about the quality of food, cleaning chemicals, recycling, or energy use – schools need our help and support.  Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, it’s time to help do what’s right – for our children, our schools, and our planet.
 
What are you going to do? There are so many ideas and resources. Find your passion and get active on April 27th – National Healthy Schools Day.
 
Additional Resources:

 
·      Creating Healthy Environments for Children (DVD): A short video with easy tips for schools and a variety of handouts to download and print.
·      Getting Your Child’s School to Clean Green: A blog I wrote last year with advice based on my experience working with schools.
·      Healthy Community Toolkit: Healthy Child Healthy World’s tips and tools for being a successful community advocate and some of our favorite organizations working on improving child care and school environments and beyond.
·      The Everything Green Classroom Book: The ultimate guide to teaching and living green and healthy. 
 
Janelle Sorensen is the Senior Writer and Health Consultant for Healthy Child Healthy World (www.healthychild.org). You can also find her on Twitter as @greenandhealthy.

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Does organic milk come from grass fed cows?

Not now, but it very soon could be a requirement. The USDA is considering requiring that all dairy cows used in producing organic milk be grass-fed during grazing season.

I think this is a great step. Currently, these cows are fed grain that is not treated with pesticides. Grass is what cows naturally eat and what their bodies know how to process. Grain is not as easily digested and because of this, cows fed grain often have stomach ulcers, indigestion and other issues. Because of this unnatural diet, grain fed cattle are often treated with antibiotics to help prevent diseases common among grain fed cattle.

Certainly would be a great step for all — healthier for the cows and for our consumption. Read the entire article here.

Related Articles
Is Horizon milk really organic?
How to save money at Whole Foods

Grass fed beef is healthier
Is your organic food really organic

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.

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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
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BPA and phthalare free teethers and rattles
Toxins in cosmetics and beauty products
President Bush Signs Product Safety Bill to protect children

Safe, ‘Green’ Insecticides Can Reduce Chemical Exposure in Homes and Gardens

Awesome! I have been looking for a safe alternative for pest control. I hate paying Terminix. One because they are expensive and two because I hate spraying harmful chemicals around. Additionally, these chemicals cannot be sprayed in homes with young infants (usually less than 6 weeks) which is also a concern. I will definitely check out this product, it sounds pretty good and right up my alley!

Safe, ‘Green’ Insecticides Can Reduce Chemical Exposure in Homes and Gardens
 
ATLANTA, April 1, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — With organic food and eco-friendly cleaning supplies now widely available, being ‘green’ at home is getting easier. When it comes to killing bugs, however, most people still reach for chemical insecticides because they are not aware that safe and effective botanical alternatives exist.

“Most Americans don’t realize that they can kill household insects without using conventional pesticides that leave behind a harmful chemical residue,” said Steven Bessette, the president of EcoSMART Technologies, which makes organic insecticides that are safe to use around children and pets, and are recommended by the non-profit group Healthy Child, Healthy World.

EcoSMART’s university-tested botanical pesticides kill bugs as effectively as synthetic pesticides, but their formulation is based on the centuries-old natural defenses that plants and trees use for their self-protection against insects and pathogens — essential oils. EcoSMART’s unique blends of essential oils block specific neural pathways in insects that regulate insect movement, behavior and metabolism. This results in instant immobilization and/or knockdown followed by the insect’s death. Because these neural pathways do not exist in mammals, the formulations are completely safe to use around children, animals, birds and fish.

“There are many smart and affordable ways to create a safer, healthier environment for children,” said Christopher Gavigan, CEO / Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy World, which offers free information and expertise to help create healthy environments for families and children.

At its website, http://www.healthychild.org, parents can find tips such as these for healthier pest control:

    –  Prevent pests through good sanitation and food storage habits

    –  Remove shoes and wash hands immediately after playing outside to

        prevent tracking dirt indoors.

    –  Seal cracks and install door sweeps

    –  Use or fix window screens

    –  Manage outdoor lights to prevent insects gathering

    –  Eliminate moisture problems to keep the home dry

    –  Properly store all food

    –  Use non-toxic products

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recent reports indicate at least one pesticide product is used indoors by 75 percent of U.S. households each year and that 80 percent of the average person’s exposure to pesticides occurs indoors EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pesticid.html.

The active and inert ingredients in EcoSMART products are exempt from EPA registration and are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These oils are commonly used to add flavor and aroma to many cosmetic, beverage and food products.

The new 14-ounce aerosols, available in Wal-Mart, Albertsons and other large retailers, include Ant & Roach Killer, Flying Insect Killer and Wasp & Hornet Killer. Consumers can also buy EcoSMART products online at http://www.ecosmart.com.

“EcoSMART has made it easier to protect children by reducing their exposure to harmful chemical pesticide residues while keeping homes clean and bugs under control,” Gavigan said.

In the spring of 2008, EcoSMART will also launch a highly effective 6 oz personal insect repellent that provides 2-3 hours of protection against mosquitoes, gnats, biting flies and no-see-ums. It is DEET-free and safe for kids.

For more information, visit http://www.ecosmart.com or call (877) 667-0006.
 

Are Organic Foods Healthier?

Yes, and significantly so. The organic food market is one of the fastest growing industries because people are not only concerned about their health, but for the environment as well. And really, whatever affects the environment, eventually affects your health. Now there are more reasons than ever to eat organic foods. When you eat organic food, you are not only reducing your exposure to pesticides, but you also increase your intake of nutrients.

In 1998, a review of 34 studies comparing organic and conventional foods found organics to have higher protein quality 100% of the studies, higher levels of vitamin C in 58% of studies and 5-20% higher mineral levels for all but 2 minerals. In some instances, mineral content in organic foods were significantly higher compared to conventional foods, and iron content was three times higher!

“A review of 41 studies comparing the nutritional value of organically to conventionally grown fruits, vegetables and grains, also indicates organic crops provide substantially more of several nutrients, including:
• 27% more vitamin C
• 21.1% more iron
• 29.3% more magnesium
• 13.6% more phosphorus” (ref 1)

Additionally, lab tests show that conventional means use chemicals that may have the ability to cause certain mutations leading to the development of cancer.

Organics and Children’s Health
Studies have been done on the pesticide levels found in children in the US. These studies concluded that millions of American children are exposed to levels of pesticides through their food at levels exceeding what is considered safe.

“Some of these pesticides are known to be neurotoxic, able to cause harm to the developing brain and nervous system. Additionally, some researchers feel that children and adolescents may be especially vulnerable to the cancer-causing effects of certain pesticides since the body is more sensitive to the impact of these materials during periods of high growth rates and breast development.” (ref 2)

See my other article on this topic.
Is Organic Food Better for You? 

References:
Popularity of Organic Foods (1)
Why Organic Foods are better for your health (2)
Everything you need to know about Organic Foods
Environmental Working Group’s website on Organic Food

Welcome to My Blog!

Hello and welcome to my blog! This is my first entry so let me explain why I decided to start a blog. Over the years, more and more studies have shown that many products we interact with everyday contain harmful chemicals that have been linked to all kinds of diseases and disorders. I can’t remember exactly how it started, but I think with learning that aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. So off I went to Google some information. Since I have found out many things about pesticides on our food, antibiotics and growth hormones used in animals, chemicals used in baby bottles, animal by-products used in skincare products, preservatives used in skincare products and food, harmful chemicals used in cleaning products, baby wipes and diapers being whitened with bleach, and many other astounding things.

I am amazed at how oblivious we are to what is in the products we use everyday. What’s even more amazing is that in the US, these companies are under no obligation to provide a full ingredient list or list the possible risks associated with ingredients or components used to make their product. I find this unacceptable. And the only way for me to find out the truth is to research. And through this blog I intent to share what I learn.

I do have 2 children so I am very concerned for them. Babies are so small and these harmful chemicals, pesticides, by-products, etc., affect their systems much more quickly and at even smaller amounts than they would adults. 

Not to say that I will not get cancer, but by avoiding products whose ingredients are PROVEN to cause cancer, I can at least minimize my risk and hopefully save my family from the same. Cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzhiemer’s and other debilitating diseases are on the rise, so are the amount of chemicals we encounter everyday (and most of the time do not know it!)

By having this blog, I hope get people to think about what is in the products they use and how it affects their health. Hopefully it will encourage you to think about these things and make a few changes in your life. I also hope that companies will start being more responsible and at MINIMUM publish a full ingredient list (including those that may be created during processing) and also potential risks associated with them. We have a right to know what we are putting in or on our bodies. My greatest hope is that the government will step in to protect its citizens from these hazardous chemicals.

Thanks for reading and come back soon!

Trisha

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