August 16th, 2011
By: Anthony Gucciardi
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to launch an investigation into the effects of bisphenol A (BPA) after a number of highly-publicized studies have found that the estrogen-mimicking hormone is a threat to human health. According to the EPA’s report on the subject, the environment is contaminated each year with over 1 million pounds of BPA. Canada has already taken the initiative in banning BPA as a toxic chemical back in December of 2010 after it was found in 91% of Canadian citizens. The EPA’s discussion of investigation is a direct response to public outcry for regulatory action, but BPA has already found its way into countless products in the U.S. and elsewhere.
BPA has been found in 18 of the 20 most popular food cans, dental fillings and sealants, most plastic water bottles, and even baby bottles. Some states have banned the presence of BPA from baby bottles due to its destructive nature. These states include Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Washington. Due to its estrogen-mimicking nature, it leads not only to the onset of female development, but also to a major decrease in male fertility rates. It has also been found to ‘feminize’ men as regular estrogen does when administered to males. By upsetting the hormonal functions of the body, feminine traits are developed in males such as the development of breasts and certain emotional changes.
“A number of concerns have been raised about the potential human health and environmental effects of BPA,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, according to UPI.
“The data collected under the testing the EPA is considering would help the EPA better understand and address the potential environmental impacts of BPA,” Owens finished.
Even if the EPA goes after BPA and bans it as a toxic substance, the amount of human exposure is so great that there will be repercussions for decades to come. With so many household items containing BPA, a hormonal armageddon is already sweeping through the nation. Just as with artificial sweeteners, GMOs, and other toxic ingredients, government organizations will sit idly by until the absolute last second before intervening. BPA has also now become an environmental issue just like the genetic modification of crops worldwide. With 1 million pounds released in the environment, BPA is poisoning nature in a very eery way. Peaceful action and legislation is necessary to put an end to the extreme poisoning of the planet that is now happening on a daily basis. The EPA’s possible investigation is indeed a step in the right direction as it will raise awareness about BPA’s harmful effects on both humans and the environment.
March 14th, 2011
By: David Gutierrez
The majority of sunscreens are toxic, environmental groups have warned.
“You want to look out for sunscreens with oxybenzone,” said Jane Houlihan of the Environmental Working Group.
Research has implicated oxybenzone as a likely carcinogen, as well as a chemical that is probably absorbed into the body.
Another concern is spray-on or powdered sunscreen.
“When you spray a sunscreen, or you’re using a powder sunscreen, you’re very likely inhaling small particles and that may or may not be safe,” Houlihan said.
And while you can hold your breath while applying such sunscreens, it may be safer to forego them entirely.
A seal from the Skin Cancer Foundation does not mean that a sunscreen is safe either, EWG warns, as the foundation will place its seal on any sunscreen that has an SPF rating higher than 15, or on the product of any company that donates $10,000.
EWG recommends using sunscreens made with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, which are believed to be less dangerous than newer chemicals.
Unfortunately, warns Friends of the Earth, the majority of such sunscreens are made with nanoparticles — particles 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Because particles of this size behave in fundamentally different ways than they do on the more familiar, macro-scale, even a safe metal may be unsafe on the nanoscale.
Evidence suggests that nano-sunscreens are in fact dangerous. Friends of the Earth cites studies showing that nanoscale zinc oxide can kill colon cells and brain stem cells, as well as penetrate the skin and travel throughout the blood and urine. The group also cites studies linking nanoscale titanium dioxide to genetic changes, Alzheimer’s disease, autism and epilepsy. Nanoparticles have even been observed to cross the placental barrier in pregnant mammals.
“These nanomaterials are being added without appropriate labeling or reliable safety information, so the public has no way of making informed purchasing choices,” Ian Illuminato of Friends of the Earth said.
December 2nd, 2010
By: Jonathan Benson
Parents who give their children over-the-counter medicines need to be highly cautious when doing so, say researchers from the New York University School of Medicine. Many children’s cough and cold medications, as well as analgesic and gastrointestinal medicines, are often inconsistently labeled and packaged which leads to confusion and overdoses.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends — but not requires — that children’s medicines include measuring cups or spoons with their products so that parents can easily figure out how much to administer. But according to reports, many of these products either do not come with such measuring devices, or they come with ones that do not match the dosage levels indicated in the instructions.
The significant increase in overdoses due to packaging inconsistencies led the FDA to issue new guidelines back in 2009 for how to properly package and label such medicines. Many manufacturers still sell the dubiously-labeled medicines, but authors of the study hope that their investigation into the matter will result in improvements.
Children’s medicines are responsible for landing thousands of children in the emergency room every year for overdoses. A recent report found that when manufacturers stopped selling children’s cold and cough medicines labeled for children under age two, the number of admitted children to the ER dropped by more than 50 percent.
And last year, the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) flat out told parents to stop giving their small children such medicines because they are not safe and often do not even work. Many of them are also loaded with toxic ingredients like corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, food colorings, stabilizing agents, and preservatives.
By: Ethan A. Huff
A California lawsuit is accusing several fish oil supplement manufacturers of selling fish oils that contain unsafe levels of polychlorinated biphenyl compounds, also known as PCBs. The state’s Proposition 65 requires products that may contain toxic ingredients above safe levels to have warning labels for consumer safety.
Five supplement companies, CVS and Rite Aid drug stores, and Omega Protein, Inc., the world’s largest producer of omega-3 fish oil, are all named in the suit, which the plaintiffs hope will bring light to fish oil contamination problems. They also hope to see more accurate labeling of fish oils that includes specifics about contaminants like PCBs; that way, consumers will be able to make better decisions about which kinds are safe to buy.
The PCB chemical family consists of 209 different chemical compounds, all of which were tested for in the lawsuit by a California lab. That same lab also tested each of the product samples for 12 of the most toxic PCB compounds. It then evaluated each sample in terms of daily exposure to PCBs overall, and daily exposure to PCBs in terms of toxicity.
The brands tested included Nature Made, Twinlab, Now Foods, Solgar and GNC. Each brand included various types of fish oil, including cod liver, shark liver and salmon. Those that tested the lowest for PCBs contained one-70th the amount of those with the highest levels, indicating a significant difference in contamination among various brands, and types, of fish oil.
According to David Roe, the man who filed the lawsuit in San Francisco’s Superior Court, the oils that tested highest exceed California’s daily limit for PCBs by a factor of ten in terms of cancer risk. On the same token, some of the oils tested very low, and are not of particular concern to consumers.
Both Nature Made and Twinlab issued immediate responses to the lawsuit in defense of their respective brands’ safety. Erin Hlasney from the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a supplement industry trade group, also came to the defense of fish oils in general, explaining that they have been used safely for decades.
But the plaintiffs contend that it is not enough to simply say that a product meets guidelines; consumers have a right to know how a product actually tests for contaminants once it arrives on store shelves. Many brands claim that their fish oils have been purified and treated to reduce or remove contaminants, but few actually explain to what extent these toxins have been removed.