Chemicals


Water supplies for more than 7 million Americans in 27 states are contaminated with an industrial chemical at levels higher than what federal scientists say poses a minimal lifetime risk of cancer, according to a new analysis by Environmental Working Group (EWG). In addition to being a drinking water pollutant, 1,4-dioxane is an unwanted impurity in many personal care products, including shampoo, body wash, bubble bath, foaming hand soap, cosmetics, deodorant and skin lotion. It is also often found in laundry detergent, dishwashing soap and household cleaners.

Most 1,4-dioxane contamination of drinking water comes from leaking underground storage tanks at hazardous waste sites, or discharges from manufacturing plants. Once it makes its way into sources of drinking water, it tends to stay there, because it does not break down easily. Because manufacturers don't have to report discharges of 1,4-dioxane, tracing contamination to its source is difficult. When a source is identified, the lack of enforceable standards means regulators have no legal grounds to stop contamination.



The dirty truth is that conventional laundry detergent isn’t all that clean. The most toxic chemicals that you definitely want to nix? Surface active agents AKA surfactants, like sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium laureth sulfate (which can cause skin, eye, and lung irritation) and nonylphenol ethoxylate (an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen and can affect your body’s hormonal balance), and 1,4-dioxane (a likely carcinogen).

Plus, most laundry soaps also contain fragrances and perfumes, which studies have found contribute to skin irritation, exacerbate asthma, and cause headaches. And because manufacturers aren’t required to list all ingredients on a product label, it’s difficult for even eagle-eyed consumers to know what exactly is in their detergent.



Monday's study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, analyzed saliva and urine samples from long-term e-cigarette and NRT users as well as smokers, and compared levels of key chemicals found in their bodies. It found that smokers who switched completely to e-cigarettes or NRT had significantly lower levels of toxic chemicals and carcinogens compared to people who continued to smoke tobacco cigarettes.

Those who used e-cigarettes or NRT but did not completely quit smoking did not show the same drop in toxin levels. This underlined that a complete switch was needed to get the long-term health benefits of quitting tobacco, the researchers said. E-cigarettes, which heat nicotine-laced liquid into vapor, have grown into an $8 billion-a-year market, according to Euromonitor International - more than three times that of NRT products. They are, however, still dwarfed by a tobacco market estimated by Euromonitor to be worth around $700 billion.



"Aluminum phosphide is listed in the Toxicity Category I by the Environmental Protection Agency -- the highest and most toxic category. Specifically, the EPA points to the "acute effects via the inhalation route." The substance is used to kill insects and burrowing rodents, especially in grain stores. When mixed with water it produces toxic phosphine gas."



Elevated lead levels were found in several drinking fountains and sinks in two Jefferson County elementary schools, officials said Thursday. Parents who are concerned about the safety risk posed to their children are encouraged by the district to set up a lead exposure screening with the family’s primary doctor. The letter also suggests that parents feed children healthy foods high in calcium, Vitamin C and iron to “help keep lead out of the body.”

The lead in these two schools was found after elevated lead levels were discovered in Arvada Headstart a few weeks ago.

“This situation and the fact that 69 percent of JPS facilities are 29-68 years old, prompted the JPS environmental services department to be proactive,” the release said.



Today, a group of leading scientists are expressing their concern over the spread of a class of chemicals called poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are commonly found in non-stick cookware and food packaging. The group has published their opinion in Environmental Health Perspectives, and the document—referred to as the Madrid Statement—carries over 200 scientists’ signatures.

The list of health problems potentially linked with highly fluorinated chemicals is quite long. It includes obesity, liver malfunction, ulcerative colitis, testicular and kidney cancers, low birth weight, and decreased immune response to vaccines. In animal studies, these chemicals have been found to cause liver toxicity, endocrine and immune problems and tumors in multiple organ systems.



"The health effects of exposure to wood dust are due to chemicals in the wood or chemical substances in the wood created by bacteria, fungi, or moulds. Toxic woods contain chemicals that may be absorbed into the body through the skin, lungs, or digestive system and cause effects in other arts of the body. Health effects can include headaches, giddiness, weight loss, breathlessness, cramps, and irregular heart beat. Toxic woods are typically hardwoods such as yew, teak, oleander, laburnum, and mansonia (BC Research, 1985). None of the native woods harvested in Alberta are known to be toxic or poisonous."









A team of scientists examined government data from thousands of public drinking water supplies. The water samples had been collected by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The scientists were looking for several types of chemicals from a class of fluorinated substances used commonly in firefighting foam.

The chemicals showed up more often near sites where these firefighting chemicals are common, such as airports or military bases. "During firefighting practice drills," says Arlene Blum, a study co-author from the University of California Berkeley, "large volumes of these chemicals wash into surface and ground waters and can end up in our drinking water." They are also found often near sites where the chemicals are manufactured.

These chemicals, called poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, have been in use for decades and are very persistent once they're out in the environment.



"Stephen Esmond became paralyzed in March 2015 soon after checking into a condo on St. John that was located above another unit in which Terminix exterminators had sprayed an odorless neurotoxin called methyl bromide. The Environmental Protection Agency banned methyl bromide for residential applications in 1984. But an investigation by U.S. authorities in the Virgin Islands found the chemical was used at 12 residential units in St Croix and another one in St. Thomas between September 2012 and February 2015. It also was used at the Sirenusa Condominium Resort in St. John last year.

Federal authorities also are investigating the use of methyl bromide in Puerto Rico. Earlier this month, the EPA filed complaints against a pest control company and two businessmen in that U.S. territory."



Benadryl, Tylenol PM, Advil PM, ZzzQuil, etc.




Artificial Food Coloring




Safe Clothing Tips
  • Wash and dry synthetic fabrics three times before wearing them.
  • Do not use conventional dryer sheets, as they are loaded with toxic chemicals.
  • Avoid dry cleaning your clothing, as perchloroethylene, the chemical most widely used in dry cleaning, is a VOC known to cause cancer in animals. There are environmentally friendly dry cleaners that do not use this chemical.
  • Wash your clothing in non-toxic detergent, which is non-caustic and free of petroleum solvents, fragrances and dyes.



While other studies have investigated exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals from processed food in general, this is the largest study looking at exposure specifically from fast food meals. The two phthalate metabolites identified in this particular study were:
Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP), a highly lipophilic (fat-soluble) chemical that is loosely chemically bonded to the plastic, allowing it to leach out into other fat-containing solutions in contact with the plastic. Animal studies show that exposure to DEHP can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system, particularly the developing testes of prenatal and neonatal males.

Di-isononyl phthalate (DiNP), a commonly used plasticizer in flexible PVC products. While DiNP has been considered harmless from a health and environmental perspective, more recent research suggests it may in fact have similar effects as DEHP and other phthalates. For example, a 2015 study linked both DEHP and DiNP to increased insulin resistance in adolescents.



In a curious case in which a petition to the government actually succeeds in achieving its aims, the FDA entered into the Federal Registry a final rule that will, barring any weird complications, ban a few chemicals commonly used in pizza boxes and other food packaging. These chemicals, related under the perfluoroalkyl ethyl family, are used primarily in the food industry as water and oil repellents; they’re used in coatings to prevent wet, greasy, and/or delicious foods from soaking through paper or cardboard containers.

There have also been a handful of studies in the past decade or so examining the potential toxicity and danger of these substances; the EPA has actually compiled a brief that lists these and similar substances as “emerging contaminants,” meaning there’s a pretty fair chance these are not totally safe. The substances seem to have potentially damaging effects on the serum, liver, and kidney, and there’s also a possibility of them causing developmental problems in youngsters."



"Despite the fact that we are all exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of chemicals, chemical compounds are largely assessed and regulated individually. Increasingly, there is evidence that exposure to multiple chemicals, even low level exposure to those considered benign, could lead to human health effects. In this report, Exposure and Interaction: The Potential Health Impacts of Using Multiple Pesticides, the Sustainable Technology & Policy Program (STPP) at UCLA explores this issue through a case study of three commonly used pesticides in California, chloropicrin, 1,3-dichloropropene (Telone®), and metam sodium."






"While shopping [for green laundry detergents], I kept an eye out for the nasty stuff — the surfactant nonylphenol ethoxylate or NPE, an endocrine disruptor and estrogen mimic; phosphates, which help remove minerals and food bits but cause harmful algal blooms in waterways (these have been phased out by U.S. companies); and bleach, which gets it white, but doesn’t treat your lungs right. I also decided to go with detergents “free and clear” of dyes and perfumes, because why bother with possible irritants and allergens if you have the option? A number of the bottles proudly announce that their contents are biodegradable or petroleum-free."

» SafeMama: Cheat Sheet for Dishwashing Detergents




"Researchers at Stanford University and the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health say school-prepared meals may contain unsafe levels of bisphenol A, or BPA. Often found in canned foods and plastic packaging, the widely used chemical can mimic human hormones. Research has shown it can harm the developing brains and bodies of fetuses, infants and children.

Jennifer C. Hartle, a postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford and former fellow at Hopkins' Center for a Livable Future, acknowledged that under this study, the most BPA a student might get from a single meal was far below the threshold set by the federal government. But that standard was set by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1988, the study noted, and more than 100 studies since have found health effects in animals from much lower doses of BPA. The EPA safe-intake limit is 50 micrograms per kilo of body weight. But this year, reacting to recent research, the European food safety authority lowered its limit to 4 micrograms per kilo."



"Alkyphenols disrupt endocrine systems, acting estrogenic in fish, birds and mammals. Alkylphenols are widespread in wastewater effluent because wastewater treatment plants simply were not designed to handle such compounds. Michigan researchers found that crayfish had severe developmental problems when exposed and concluded that the compounds pose a 'serious risk to future crayfish populations and consequently food webs.' In trout, four common alkylphenols stimulate gene expression and the growth of breast cancer cell lines, according to research from the UK’s Imperial Cancer Research Fund.

There is some research into bolstering removal rates of such compounds. Hornback said that reverse osmosis, which cleans water by pushing it through membranes, seems to work best at removing emerging contaminants like alkyphenols. However, reverse osmosis is prohibitively expensive for most plants."



"Two Medical College of Wisconsin researchers writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association criticized the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency for remaining “mute” on methylene chloride’s ability to trigger a heart attack. Year of publication: 1976.

The EPA says it does intend to take action. It is working on a rule—expected to be proposed early next year—that could stiffen warning labels on paint strippers containing the chemical, add certain restrictions, or ban the products. But any regulation would come more than 30 years after the agency first considered such possibilities for methylene chloride."







Thomas Paine's Common Sense galvanized radical sentiment in the early days of the American revolution; Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe roused Northern antipathy to slavery in the decade leading up to the Civil War; and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, which in 1962 exposed the hazards of the pesticide DDT, eloquently questioned humanity's faith in technological progress and helped set the stage for the environmental movement.

Rachel Carson anticipated these questions about the threats posed to reproduction by chemicals in the environment. "We are subjecting whole populations to exposure to chemicals which animal experiments have proved to be extrememly poisonous and in many cases cumulative in their effects. These exposures now begin at or before birth and - unless we change our methods - will continue through the lifetime of those now living."



British and American entomologists reviewed the [DDT] patents with a mixture of hope and some scepticism. Of immediate concern to them, because of the millions of Allied army and navy personnel deployed around the world, was the possible use of DDT for the control of several insect borne diseases: malaria (carried by Anopheles mosquitoes), typhus (carried by body lice) and dysentery and typhoid fever (both carried by houseflies). With growing desperation they had been searching for a substitute for pyrethrum, a contact insecticide extracted from Chrysanthemum flowers that was imported chiefly from Japan. War with Japan had cut off the major source of supply just as the demand for pyrethrum soared.



"Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) are the major pesticides used worldwide. Converging evidence suggests that GBH, such as Roundup, pose a particular health risk to liver and kidneys although low environmentally relevant doses have not been examined. To address this issue, a 2-year study in rats administering 0.1 ppb Roundup (50 ng/L glyphosate equivalent) via drinking water (giving a daily intake of 4 ng/kg bw/day of glyphosate) was conducted. A marked increased incidence of anatomorphological and blood/urine biochemical changes was indicative of liver and kidney structure and functional pathology. In order to confirm these findings we have conducted a transcriptome microarray analysis of the liver and kidneys from these same animals. Our results suggest that chronic exposure to a GBH in an established laboratory animal toxicity model system at an ultra-low, environmental dose can result in liver and kidney damage with potential significant health implications for animal and human populations. "



"In total, 85 examples of chemicals were reviewed for actions on key pathways/mechanisms related to carcinogenesis. Only 15% (13/85) were found to have evidence of a dose-response threshold, whereas 59% (50/85) exerted low-dose effects. No dose-response information was found for the remaining 26% (22/85). Our analysis suggests that the cumulative effects of individual (non-carcinogenic) chemicals acting on different pathways, and a variety of related systems, organs, tissues and cells could plausibly conspire to produce carcinogenic synergies. Additional basic research on carcinogenesis and research focused on low-dose effects of chemical mixtures needs to be rigorously pursued before the merits of this hypothesis can be further advanced. However, the structure of the World Health Organization International Programme on Chemical Safety 'Mode of Action' framework should be revisited as it has inherent weaknesses that are not fully aligned with our current understanding of cancer biology."



Monsanto says not to worry, because "when the company doused dirt with RNA, it degraded and was undetectable after 48 hours," Antonio Regalado reports. But he adds that Monsanto "wants to develop longer-lasting formulations," noting that another RNAi spray it's developing for trees was shown to persist for months. "What's more," Regalado notes, "Monsanto's own discoveries have underscored the surprising ways in which double-stranded RNA can move between species"—not exactly a comforting aspect of a technology Monsanto hopes to see widely used on farm fields. A Monsanto geneticist told Regalado that the company hopes to get its first RNAi spray, one targeting potato beetles, into the market by 2020.



"Before it became a weed killer, glyphosate was used as a chemical descaler, cleaning mineral deposits out of pipes and boilers. The metal chelating properties of glyphosate have invited speculation as a possible cause of a mysterious kidney disease attacking farmers in Sri Lanka, India and parts of Central America. Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown etiology — called such because its cause is a mystery — has killed more than 20,000 in Sri Lanka alone and has been on the rise for decades.

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health posits glyphosate is to blame. Glyphosate bonds with heavy metals like arsenic and cadmium, and it smuggles them through the liver and into the kidney. There the bonds break, and together the toxins destroy the kidney. The study suggests that high use of Roundup in an area where arsenic and cadmium are known to exist could be causing the epidemic."



"In the US, many vineyards use a fluoride pesticide called cryolite. As a result, the levels of fluoride in US grape juice and wine (particularly white grape juice and white wine) are consistently elevated. Indeed, in 2005, the USDA reported that the average level of fluoride exceeded 2 ppm for both white wine and white grape.

The levels of fluoride in red wine are also elevated (1 ppm), and so are raisins (2.3 ppm). If you buy grape juice and wine, or if you are a heavy consumer of raisins, buy organic. In the case of wine, if you don't want to spend the extra money on organic, consider purchasing a European brand, as Europe uses far less cryolite than the US."



"The Madrid Statement, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is a series of statements and recommendations made by more than 200 scientists and various other health and safety professionals about a common class of manmade chemicals known as PFASs, which stands for, alternately, polyfluoroalkyl substances and perfluoroalkyl substances, and which are otherwise known as highly fluorinated chemicals.

“In animal studies,” reads the Madrid Statement abstract, “some long-chain PFASs have been found to cause liver toxicity, disruption of lipid metabolism and the immune and endocrine systems, adverse neurobehavioral effects, neonatal toxicity and death, and tumors in multiple organ systems.” And because the bonds are so strong, PFASs take millions of years to break down in the environment, finding their way into water, dust, food and even the air."



  • 81% of the products tested (133 of 164) contained at least one hazardous chemical above levels of concern compared to existing voluntary toy standards and mandatory toy, packaging and electronics standards.
  • 38% of the products tested (63 of 164) contained the toxic plastic PVC (vinyl).
  • 32% of vinyl products tested for phthalates (12 of 38) contained levels of regulated phthalates above the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) limit for children's products.
  • At least 71% of the products tested from each dollar store chain contained one or more hazardous chemicals above levels of concern.



» Center for Science in the Public Interest: Overview of Food Additives



"Oxygen bleach is nontoxic, doesn't produce harsh fumes, and is color- and fabric-safe. It removes all food and grease stains with no or minimal scrubbing. The oxygen ions attack the stain molecules, breaking them into pieces that rinse away with little effort.

To clean floor tiles, mix any high-quality oxygen bleach with warm water and stir it until it dissolves. Then pour the solution onto the floor tile so the grout lines are flooded with the solution. It's best to apply the oxygen-bleach solution to dry grout so it soaks deeply. Let the solution sit on the grout for at least 15 minutes. If it completely soaks into the grout, add more solution, making sure there is always plenty of the cleaning liquid on the grout."



"Environmental Working Group, the nonprofit that released the report, is trying to persuade food manufacturers to stop using azodicarbonamide, or ADA, which acts as a kind of baking powder in the making of rubber, plastics, and ceramics, making them lighter and more elastic. Food producers took to using the same chemical to soften the texture of baked goods."



"For more than a decade, scientists have known that acrylamide forms when potatoes, cereal grains and some other plant foods are browned through frying, baking or roasting. That means it shows up in fries, chips, breakfast cereals, toasted bread, cookies, crackers and even coffee. Studies show the chemical can cause cancer in rodents at high doses. In humans, the cancer risk remains unclear, but health agencies around the world are concerned and calling for more study."



"CEH has purchased the shampoos and other products containing cocamide DEA and commissioned an independent lab to determine the total content of the chemical in the products. In many cases, products contain more than 10,000 ppm cocamide DEA... California listed cocamide DEA in June 2012 as a chemical known to cause cancer based on the assessment by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which evaluated skin exposure tests on animals."



"HealthyStuff.org tested 106 beaded products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine, chlorine, cadmium, arsenic, tin, phthalates and mercury. Two-thirds of the Mardi Gras beads tested exceed 100 part per million (ppm) of lead, which is the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) federal safety limit for lead in children’s products. While Mardi Gras beads are not classified as a children’s product, children certainly can come into regular contact with the beads."

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