Why Children are More Susceptible to Harmful Chemicals

49f3cefb2ed9ae2a7f15996f803254cd.jpg

Babies are especially susceptible to harmful chemicals in everyday products because they are in a major stage of development and growth known as a window of susceptibility. This means that certain chemicals can be safe for adults and not for children.

Products from baby wipes to baby shampoo can all have the possibility of containing harmful chemicals. “EWG found that the average child is exposed through body care products to 27 chemicals a day that have not been found safe for children, including some associated with cancer, brain and nervous system damage, allergies and hormone disruption.” (EWG, Nov 2007).  

In fact, children's shampoos aren’t always tested for children’s safety. While children are more vulnerable to these harmful chemicals, there aren’t the necessary safety guidelines to protect them. The FDA isn’t required to test cosmetics and personal care products so they often go unnoticed while containing possibly dangerous chemicals.

Besides being in developing stages, children even have skin that is 30% thinner than adults and babies have not fully formed their blood brain barrier until they are six months old. All of this can add up so, it is important to read labels and use resources such as EWG’s Skin Deep Database to see what chemicals are actually in your products.

By Sara Frawley

Caution Cellphones

IMG_2767.JPG

In recent months, many studies have been released that prove the harmful effects of cellphone radiation. As the newest users of these untested products, people had no idea that these phones would give off radiation that could harm them. Before the science could come out, cell phones have ended up in the hands of the majority, including children.

These wonderful devices that revolutionized communication have now been linked to both heart and brain tumors by a recent Italian study. In fact, these results aren't the first. This study supports the results of a previous study provided by the National Toxicology Program which showed that male rats exposed to cell phone radiation had a higher chance of developing cancerous brain and heart tumors. Other studies showed sperm damage, sleep disruption, and lowered brain metabolism.

These studies prove the long term effects of cellphone radiation, however these worrying effects are not limited. Another study proved that pregnant women exposed to short term cellular radiation had a threefold chance of miscarriage.

So, how can you use your cell phone while avoiding these effects? Well, EWG provided helpful guidelines which include : “Use a speaker, hold your phone away from your body, text more than calling, call when the signal is strong, limit children’s cell phone use, and skip the radiation shield”. Simply holding your phone further away from you and putting it across your room at night can aide in limiting your exposure. While, many opt for radiation shield cases, certain types can lower connection which in turn promotes radiation.

These findings should be taken into special consideration for children and teens. As with many harmful things, growing bodies are far more susceptible. Important parts of their bodies are forming rapidly and these small things can have larger effects.

Although throwing away your phone is probably not an option, making a few of these changes can limit your exposure to radiation, and in turn limit your chance of getting certain harmful symptoms. As with everything we explain, a small change in just a few things can make a great difference for your future.

By Sara Frawley

Bottled Water Isn't Always Better

bottle-of-water.jpg

Plastics have leached into almost every part of our environment, especially our water. A recent study found that plastic particles are even present in bottled water. In fact, these particles were found in even higher amounts than tap water that was tested in previous studies.

These bottles had an average of 325 plastic particles per liter and only 17 of the bottles didn't have plastics. These plastics can enter water at the original site, in the factory, or from the water bottle itself.

Of 259 bottles tested, 90% had microplastics. This is extremely concerning because on top of the high expectations for bottled water, plastics can be harmful to one's health. In this study polypropylene was the most commonly found plastic even though it is often considered safe due to its heat resistant qualities which keep it from getting into products. However, common plastics such as BPA and phthalates can be harmful as they are known endocrine disruptors. This means they disrupt our hormone systems because of their abilities to mimic hormones.

So, you may be wondering what you should do as there is controversy over tap water vs bottled water. You can often find full water reports of your bottled water and can use EWG’s Tap Water Database to find out how safe your local tap water is. By doing this you can see what water filter might work best for you. Additionally, even switching from a plastic water bottle to a glass or stainless steel bottle can be beneficial to your health in the long run.

By Sara Frawley

Lethal Lead

file0001875322762.jpg

Lead is a heavy metal that has well known harmful effects on every part of our bodies. However, it is still found in many everyday items such as drinking water and even the paint on your walls. Avoiding it where possible can greatly help your health in the future. 

Lead is linked to a variety of diseases because of the way it can effect every part of our body. Exposure to lead has been linked to  permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and nervous system problems. In fact, it has also been found to alter both reproductive and stress regulating hormones. This is due to its endocrine disrupting effects meaning it interferes with our bodies natural signaling system by mimicking hormones. 

So how can you avoid lead? Well, lead is found in crumbling paint and even water. By simply keeping your house clean and avoiding lead based paints, you can reduce your exposure in your home. Purchasing an appropriate water filter can be beneficial as well. Luckily, this process has been made easier with the help of EWG's clean water guide.

Lead is obviously linked to a variety of illnesses. Overall, making even one of these changes can be beneficial to your health in the long run.

By Sara Frawley

Pets and Pesticides

file000637911508.jpg

With 70% more households having more dogs or cats than children, it is important to consider the effects of pesticides on pet health. Similarly to children, pets can be exposed to pesticides while playing outside on lawns. Additionally, just like people, dogs can get illnesses such as cancer and they can actually help to inform ourselves of health risks.

In a study by EWG, dogs and cats were exposed to 48 out of 70 harmful chemicals tested. And, 43 of these chemicals were found in much higher levels than in humans. Dogs and cats roll around outside on lawns coated in pesticides and after doing so they often lick themselves clean. This means they can be exposed to pesticides through both their skin and mouth. Even indoor pets that eat food off the floor can be exposed to pesticides that get tracked inside the home. Their exposure levels are very similar to those of infants and toddlers who often play on the floor and stick many things in their mouths.

These pesticides (and even flea repellents) have been proven to cause many different types of cancers in dogs.  Pesticides can sometimes have endocrine disrupting chemicals which means they can disrupt hormone system and contribute to the development of disease. Hormones are our body's messengers, and when these chemicals get into our body, they mimic these messengers, causing unwanted reactions. With shorter lifespans and smaller windows of vulnerability, they develop health problems at much faster rates.

Overall, pets are much more vulnerable to pesticides than people, and therefore can, unfortunately, demonstrate the harmful effects of pesticides. Some types of pesticides can have harmful chemicals so switching to organic brands can help both your pets and your own health in the long run.

By Sara Frawley

Understanding Phthalates

file2811238852158.jpg

Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that are found in a variety of things from plastics to personal care products. They are often used in plastics to make them more flexible. However, they are even used in products that contain synthetic fragrance. So, what exactly is this chemical, why is it used so often, and what harm could it be doing?

Well, phthalates are added chemicals which are used to make plastic more flexible and harder to break. This means they are not necessary to the quality of many of your products besides the packaging or smell. They are in things such as toys, vinyl flooring and wall covering, detergents, food packaging, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products. In the case of fragrance, they can sometimes be sneakily added to your products under the code word fragrance. However for the most part phthalates can be avoided by avoiding plastics with the recycling number 3.

Phthalates are dangerous because they are endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors cause problems by mimicking or altering the amounts of hormones in your body. By acting as hormones, your bodies natural signals, it can confuse your body into sending the wrong responses. Phthalates, for example, have been shown to alter hormones, lower sperm count, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities.

To avoid phthalates, try replacing your plastics with glass or stainless steel bottles. Also, avoid plastics with the recycling numbers 3 and 5 4 1 2 because these are also harmful plastics. These numbers can often be found on the bottom of your plastic containers and can be strong indicators of what chemicals were used to form your plastics. By simply changing something such as your water bottle or to a product without fragrance, you can greatly benefit your health in the long run.

By Sara Frawley

Polluting PFCs

file0001211860395.jpg

PFCs also known per- or perfluorochemicals are a group of chemicals which can be dangerous to our health. They are often recognized for being used in non stick pans but they are also used in a variety of other products as well.They make products water-, grease-, and stain-resistant which is why they are used so often. However, this widespread use has lead to an almost universal finding of PFCs in people's blood stream as well as in the environment.

PFCs have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, birth and developmental defects, and even immune suppression. Because they are so prevalent, it can be beneficial to reduce some areas of exposure that you can control, such as the clothes you buy or pans you use.

“They’re used in the coatings on carpets and clothing, in microwave popcorn bag and fast food wrappers. Most waterproof or stain repellent clothing....PFC coatings remain common in the marketplace.” (EWG’s Guide to Avoiding PFCs). In fact, they can even be found in the water because they can degrade over time and get into our water supply.

To avoid PFCs, avoid PTFE and nonstick kitchen supplies by replacing them with stainless steel or cast iron pans instead. Also look for products without PTFE and FLUORO ingredients and clothes without the words stain or water repellent. If you are worried about your water, detection has been made easy with EWGs tap water database which can help advise you to find safer water filters which are more fitted to the chemicals in your area. Making even one of these changes can have a great and easy impact on your future health.

By Sara Frawley

Tricky Triclosan

file801244167702.jpg

Triclosan is an antibacterial chemical found in many personal care products. It can be dangerous to both people and the environment because of its harmful qualities. Even though its dangers are known and triclosan-free products work just as well, it is still used often. In fact, a study by the CDC showed 75% of people tested had the chemical triclosan in their bodies. So what exactly is this chemical and how can one avoid it?

Triclosan is a endocrine disrupting chemical meaning it can disrupt our hormones. This is dangerous because hormones control many bodily functions. When they are disrupted mixed chemical messages can lead to diseases later in life. For example, triclosan is linked to liver and inhalation toxicity. Even low levels of exposure to triclosan can disrupt thyroid function. As well as harming people, it can also disrupt the environment by getting into water sources and harming animals as well.

It is often listed as “antibacterial”, “antimicrobial”, and “odor-fighting”. Triclosan can be found in body washes, conditioner, deodorants, soaps, lotion, shampoos, shaving creams, toothpaste, and even the lining of shoes. Imagine how many times you brush your teeth throughout your whole life. If your toothpaste contains triclosan then all those exposures can build up. Luckily, there have been studies which show that by eliminating products with this chemical allows it to quickly leave your body in a matter of days.

To avoid this harmful chemical look for the word triclosan under the active ingredient section on your products label. Also avoid antibacterial soaps as normal soap has been proven to work just as well. By switching out a product as simple as your toothpaste for another that does not contain triclosan could have a great benefit on your health in the long run.

By Sara Frawley

Bad Bread

file8091292337595.jpg

Many commercially baked foods contain the food additive potassium bromate. Although it is usually seen in white breads, it has also been found in other baked goods and products. This is added to the flour to strengthen the dough by allowing it to rise and be white. However, it has recently been linked to cancer. 

Even though it has been proven to be harmful, it is still in many of our foods. It was found to be a possible human carcinogen in 1999 by the International Agency for Research on Caner. And although it has been banned as a food additive in countries such as Canada and the European Union, it is still allowed in the United States. It was found to increase tumors in the thyroid, kidneys, and other organs. It was also found to damage the DNA in some cells. Basically, there is a obvious correlation between potassium bromate and damage.

Despite the correlation, companies have still be able to use it. To get around these claims, companies claimed the harmful chemical potassium bromate gets altered in the baking process, but this was found to be false as it sometimes remains in the food. So far, there are few regulations in the United States. However, California has set the tone to be proactive by putting warning labels on foods that contain potassium bromate.

So, it can obviously be beneficial to avoid this dangerous chemical by reading labels, And this label reading process has been made even easier because of sources such as EWG's Food Scores Database and app which can help you find if your food contains the chemical and offers alternative foods. To be even more proactive and follow in California's footsteps, you can contact your congressional members to urge them to make changes.

By Sara Frawley

Sickening Straighteners

Haircut 6.jpg

In recent years, pin straight hair trends have led to the creation of extreme chemical hair straighteners and dangerously hot blow outs. These straighteners don’t just cause your hair to be straighter, they also have been linked to severe allergic reactions, massive hair loss, rashes, blistered scalps, and many health problems. So what causes these dangerous effects? Formaldehyde. 

Formaldehyde is a dangerous known carcinogen that disrupts our hormone systems causing many illnesses. It is a colorless odorless gas that can cause cancer in large amounts. However it is used in many products including chemical hair straighteners. However, even though it is known to be dangerous, brands claim to have low formaldehyde levels as a positive. And these were tested by EWG and 15/16 were found to have high amounts. Some even omitted the ingredient from its labels, further keeping buyers in the dark because of formaldehyde’s known dangers, often recognized for being in cigarette smoke. 

Formaldehyde is also dangerous for hairdressers because as these hair products are heated, the formaldehyde becomes airborne and more dangerous. Many hair salons were warned but there is still very little action on this problem. This is because there are no set levels on the amount of the dangerous chemical, formaldehyde, allowed in so many of our products. 

Luckily you can search your personal care products on EWGs Skin Deep Database to make staying informed easy. Additionally, the EPA is continuing their research and bills have been in effect to try and set limits on formaldehyde in products.

By Sara Frawley

Parabens Now Found in Food!

_MG_0407.JPG

We've talked about the dangers of Parabens in our personal care products, but did you know that they can even be found in food? Propyl Paraben is a dangerous chemical that has recently been found in foods and is even "Generally Recognized as Safe" even though it has been shown to be harmful.

Propyl Paraben is a harmful chemical that is found in certain muffins, tortillas, and even food dyes. It can be added on purpose or as a result of packaging, but either way, it can still be harmful. It is so harmful that the European Union banned it's use, but it is still used and accepted as safe in many common snacks throughout the United States.

Studies found that Propyl Paraben is an endocrine disrupting chemical. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are chemicals that disrupt our hormone system by mimicking our hormones. When they mimic our hormones they can create unintended responses that can lead to diseases in the long run. For example, Propyl Parabens have been linked to decreased sperm counts in rats. It has also been linked to an increase of breast cancer cells and impaired fertility in women. Obviously, it shouldn't be recognized as safe.

So, to help your health in the long run, try to avoid foods containing the ingredient Propyl Paraben. Usually, it is found in pre-packaged foods with lengthy labels so to make this task easier you can use resources such as EWGs Food Scores to check your foods safety. By just switching a few foods in moderation, you can avoid many possible illnesses.

By Sara Frawley

Misleading Labels

coconut-soap-kz.jpg

Many personal care product brands, from makeup to shampoo, print the words "natural" and "organic" across their products to make them seem safer, but these products may be just as bad for you. With so many different claims like "plant-based" and "free of", how can we know what they actually mean?

Well, the word "natural" doesn't even have any legal basis in the personal care industry. This means that many companies will use it to describe unsafe products. They can use natural ingredients that are very unhealthy and use the word natural to give off the connotation of a healthier product, misleading those with the best intentions! The label "natural" shouldn't be relied on as reading the actual label is much safer. For example, companies can use clays full of toxic metals instead of a safer synthetic ingredient, but the word natural makes it seem okay. And, even with the label "natural", recent studies found undisclosed carcinogenic petrochemical ingredients in a large percentage of "natural" products. Even products that claimed to be "100% natural" still had synthetic ingredients in them.

Although Organic products are much safer than their chemical-filled counterparts, labeling can be deceiving. Organic products usually have the USDA organic seal meaning they are legitimately organic. However, in personal care products, companies don't have to use this seal and can make false claims about products. They can write "Organic" and "Organic Ingredients" without the personal care product being truly organic. So, to avoid this, always look for the green USDA Organic seal instead of the claims simply written across the product.

Overall, the best way to make safe decisions about the products you use is by reading the label on the back instead of the loose claims stamped on the front of our products. Try to avoid ingredients such as fragrance (a code word for 3,100 chemicals!), parabens, sulfates, and triclosan. Although this seems like a difficult task, there are resources such as EWG's Skin Deep Database to look up your products and see how safe they really are.

By: Sara Frawley

Malignant Makeup

IMG_2251.JPG

EWG’s Skin Deep guide ranks personal care products based on the safety of their ingredients. Sadly, many products targeted for Black Women ranked poorly on this scale. This is a significant amount of products because Black Women account for 22% of personal care products sold. Even more worrying, there are not many options for women of color when deciding which personal care products to use.

In an analysis of the ingredients of 1,177 beauty products, one in 12 were found to be highly hazardous and one in four were found to pose a low health hazard. Many of the worst rated products are hair relaxers, hair colors, and bleaching chemicals. Chemical hair relaxers can do more than just relax. They can cause baldness and even growths in the uterus and all of the relaxers EWG tested had dangerously bad scores. However, even lipsticks concealers and foundations were found to be dangerous and only more broadly used products such as bar soaps, body oils, and moisturizers were found to have higher safety ratings.

By hazardous, I mean that these were found to be endocrine disrupting chemicals. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are very dangerous to one’s health because they can enter our bodies through our largest organ, the skin and then disrupt our hormones by mimicking them. Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers so they are very important for our health. When these messages are disrupted, it can cause illnesses in the future. These can include  cancer, hormone disruption, developmental and reproductive damage, allergies and other adverse health effects.

In fact, one study found that Black Americans have on average a higher concentration of Parabens and Retinyl Palmitate which are commonly used dangerous chemicals that should be avoided as much as possible. Some other chemicals to avoid are Formaldehyde-releasing chemicals such as DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea and Imidazolidinyl Urea. You should also look out for Methylisothiazolinone and Fragrance.

If you would like to consider new products and safer alternatives you can search your products using EWG's Skin Deep Database. You can also call your Congressman to urge them to pass bills for further regulations on personal care products. You can also switch your products in moderation by switching products such as your foundation while keeping your favorite moisturizer.

By: Sara Frawley

Tainted Toys

file000318365927.jpg

Children's toys are some of the lesser known products that can have adverse effects on children's health in the long run. They can contain harmful plastics and even asbestos. Although there was an attempted ban on Asbestos over 20 years ago, they are still found in many products, including crayons.

So what exactly are asbestos? Asbestos is a classification for six unique types of strong insoluble silica fibers. Even other fibers such as Talc Fibers can act similarly to asbestos and all of these can have damaging health effects. This is because the small fibers can enter our bodies and harm our lungs and organ linings.

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure even though they can be found in many products. In fact, asbestos can lead to cancer in the lining of organs, lung cancer, and lung problems as a result of breathing in the fibers. It is even considered to be more deadly than skin cancer. Even talc, which is formed from similar parent rocks, can cause ovarian and lung cancer. However, although more than 50 countries have banned asbestos, the US still allows them. You can be exposed to them through the products you buy and even possibly the insulation in attics.

Some of the toys that were found to contain asbestos by EWG are certain crayons brands and kids crime scene fingerprint kits. These products are marketed specifically towards kids with characters from favorite TV shows even though children are more susceptible to the damaging chemicals and fibers. They are more susceptible because their bodies are still developing and they often stick crayons in their mouths and eat them. Although the dangers are known, there has been no attempt to ban them. 

Currently it is difficult to know which of your children's toys contain asbestos or talc. Luckily, there is a bill underway in Congress known as the READ Act. This bill would allow parents to ensure that the toys their children are playing with would not contain harmful chemicals because currently Connecticut is the only state that bans it. You can also see what crayon brands contain asbestos by viewing EWG’s website.

By Sara Frawley

 

Lead in Lipstick

_MG_5260.JPG

Lead is a common metal that is especially dangerous to children. It can harm almost every organ in our bodies and can even disrupt our endocrine systems because of its toxicity. Recently, lead has been found in lipsticks and even our drinking water

In recent tests by two different LA TV shows, they found levels of lead in lip stick that are two to four times the limit of lead allowed in candy. In fact, lead was even more prevalent in red lipsticks. Although the European Union bans its use and Canada limits its use, there are no current bans on lead in lipstick for America.This is a problem because people often ingest the lipstick they use daily. This is especially dangerous for pregnant women because lead can cross over to the baby and have harmful effects before it is even born. So, especially if you are pregnant, you should limit your use of lipsticks or switch to safer alternatives using EWG's Skin Deep Database.

Lead can also be found in water because of aging pipes. In Washington DC, a study conducted between 2001 and 2004 found that the main source of lead in children was from their water. In fact, they had levels that had risen four times previous amounts. Luckily after two major publications, the lead levels have decreased by 90%. However, it is still found in many states so it is important to use EWG's Tap Water Database to find which water filter is best for your area.

Lead is linked to many negative health effects. These include "permanent brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and nervous system problems." (EWG's Dirty Dozen). Lead can even cause you to become more stressed because it interferes with your hormone system by mimicing the hormones in our body.

Overall, lead is found in many everyday products and can wreak havoc on our bodies. By controlling these such as the lipstick and water filters, lead exposure can be significantly reduced. These simple changes can have very positive impacts on one's health. Even small changes such as eating healthier has helped lower amounts of lead in peoples bodies because their body can absorb and remove it faster.

By: Sara Frawley

Sources: https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2009/01/study-links-tap-water-high-lead-levels-washington-children#.WjaUriOZMdU

https://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors#.WjmrUyOZMdU

https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2017/02/pucker-dose-lead#.WjaV2SOZMdU

Detestable Detergent

file2721284825282.jpg

1-4 Dioxane is a cancer causing chemical found in many items we come in contact with daily. It is found in everything from laundry detergent to cosmetics and even the air we breathe. It is often created as a byproduct of industrial processes and chemical reactions and is even found in perfume!

This chemical gets into our bodies through the air we breathe, food and water we consume, and skin contact. Because it is created as an unintentional byproduct, many companies don't have to label it as an ingredient. You probably don't have to worry about it being in your food because the FDA regulates its existence in your food. However, the FDA does not regulate 1-4 Dioxane in products we use daily such as laundry detergent or personal care products.

Dioxane can be found in shampoo, liquid dishwashing soap, baby lotion, hair lotions, bath foam, and other cosmetic products. Although your body can break down Dioxane, it can still have harmful effects on our body because we are exposed to it multiple times, daily. 

It can have both long term and short term negative effects on our health. Short term exposures can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation. Long term exposures can lead to: liver damage, kidney damage, and possibly cancer. Even though it is a probable carcinogen, it is still used in many products. So, it is very important to take careful consideration of the products you use every day. Luckily, there are many safer and healthier alternatives for the products we use everyday. Because it is easily broken down, the most important thing you can do is reduce your exposure by switching what products you use. To check how safe your products you can use EWG's resources such as EWG's cosmetics guide, which allows you to search your specific products.

By: Sara Frawley

These Plants Can Remove Toxins from the Air

Clean air is a very important part of keeping healthy in the long run. Nevermind air filters and fans, these air plants can clean your home's air and are easy to take care of. On top of cleaning your air, they can be great decorations.

Indoor air polutants are one of the top risks for public health because stagnant air allows pollutants to build up over time. A direct result of this is "sick building syndrome" characterized by headaches, dizziness, and eye and ear irritation. Things we encounter daily such as furniture and cleaning materials can emit many harmful chemicals, including formaldehyde. Luckily, research by NASA has shown that adding plants to a room can reduce air particulates and pollutants. This occurs because when plants take in carbon dioxide from the air, they also absorb microorganisms. 

According to NASA's study these are the top nine plants that are hardest to kill with the most health benefits, compiled by Greatest:

  1. Garden Mums
    1. Garden Mums can remove ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. 
  2. Spider Plant
    1. These removed formaldehyde and xylene and are extremely easy to grow.
  3. Dracaena
    1. Draceana's are great plants because they remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. However, pet owners should buy a different plant because they can be toxic to cats and dogs.
  4. Ficus/Weeping Fig
    1. Ficus's remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
  5. Peace Lily
    1. Peace Lily's are great for smaller spaces and remove ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
  6. Boston Fern
    1. Boston Ferns can remove formaldehyde and xylene.
  7. Snake Plant/ Mother-in-Laws Tongue
    1. This plant may be one of the easiest on this list because it only requires occasional waterings. It removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene.
  8. Bamboo Palm
    1. Bamboo plants can be purchased at small sizes or let grown to four-feet tall! They remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene.
  9. Aloe Vera
    1. Aloe Vera is great at removing formaldehyde. On top of that, it has antibacterial and antiinflamatory properties which make its juices perfect for wound healing and reducing sunburns.

By: Sara Frawley

The Dirty Clean

DSCN8864.jpg

    It is often hard to find out how dangerous our products really are. Many companies that sell household cleaning products hide chemicals in their products and use the label natural as a mask. In fact, a majority of companies don’t even label all of their ingredients and give vague code words instead.  In a recent report by EWG, EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, it was found that there are many hazardous chemicals lurking in the products that we use daily. Only 7% of the products tested were found to adequately label their ingredients. That means that almost all of your cleaning products can have potentially harmful ingredients that you aren’t aware of.

Cleaning products, unlike food and drugs which are regulated by the FDA, are not required to have a label. Instead they are allowed to list their ingredients separately on their website even though these chemicals can still affect our health. This is because many of the chemicals themselves are not regulated. The most recent regulation is from 1976 ignores more than 60,000 chemicals whose effects on our health are unknown. Think about the nice smell that some cleaning products use and the strong stench of others, both of these can indicate your product may be harmful. Additionally, many of these chemicals are spread onto surfaces that we eat off of, allowing them further access to our bodies. Even antibacterial products can be dangerous for our health and are unnecessary when compared to regular soap which cleans just as well.

Cleaning products can be linked to diseases such as asthma in people who didn't previously use them. Additionally they can cause allergies, and even cancer as there are many carcinogens in cleaning products, such as dioxane and formaldehyde. There are also health risks for the children of those who use dangerous cleaning products. A 2010 study by the New York Department of Health found increased birth defects in children of mothers who held cleaning jobs while pregnant.

Luckily you can find how good or bad your cleaning products really are by using EWG’s database which allows you to search your product which it rates on a multitude of scales. It is also recommended to try to avoid air fresheners, antibacterial products, and fabric softeners because these can contain harmful chemicals and are not necessary.

In conclusion, there are many harmful hidden chemicals in the products we use on a daily basis, including household cleaning products. These chemicals are unregulated and often not listed on the product. By switching to safer products with the help of EWGs search, you can reduce your risk for cancer, asthma, allergies, and reduce the risk of birth defects in your children.

By Sara Frawley

Stinky Situation

deec18f03e1362588b51d8b9e45ed226.jpg

Many people have a signature scent that they love and don't question, however these scents can cause many problems for our health because of the chemicals encompassed in the code word fragrance.

Fragrance is a word that encompasses 3,100 chemicals. The use of a code word allows companies to put chemicals in our products without our knowlege. Because there are so many possible chemicals, many of these chemicals are secret and untested. These chemicals can be linked to allergic reactions and even hormone disruption which in the long run can create a variety of illnesses.

In the past, scents were natural and came from the musk dear, but today these scents are produced in labs. Two of the thousands of chemicals that are hiding in fragrance are phthalates and dioxane. Phthalates are found in 70% of perfumes tested. They are linked to  obesity, asthma, behavioral problems, genital changes in boys and early puberty in girls. In fact, when you get exposed to small amounts every day, they can build up in your body. In a recent study, pregnant women who used perfume were found to have phthalate concentrations that are 167 times higher than in non users. This is why it is important to switch to natural perfumes that use oils, plants, or perfumes that specifically don't use phthalates.

Another one of these chemicals, Dioxane, is found in many fragrances. This chemical can wreak havoc on our hormone systems as well. Dioxane is often found in products that write natural on their labels so it is important to do further research into these products. These chemicals are also found in other products besides perfume such as shampoo or lotion. In fact, Dioxane is contained in many baby shampoos.

Overall, is the hormone disruption caused by these products worth it when there are safer alternatives? The thousands of chemicals in fragrance are linked to allergic reactions and hormone disruption. By simply switching to perfumes that are natural and don't contain fragrance made in labs, you can lower your chance of disease greatly in the long run. Luckily, you can utilize resources such as ewg.org to search how safe your personal care products really are.

By: Sara Frawley

Sources :

https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2010/05/something-stinks-secrecy-and-health-hazards-courtesy-fragrance-industry#.WhBThLaZN-U

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14875/how-perfume-messes-with-your-hormones-even-if-you-dont-wear-it.html

Thanksgiving Turkey Tips

EmXUwn6E.jpg

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, how can we make the best choices based on our food?

Conventional turkeys are almost always raised to be big, kept in crowded conditions, treated with antibiotics and growth-boosting hormones, and probably injected with salt solutions and preservatives. These antibiotics and added hormones can be very dangerous to our health in the long run. Additionally, the way some food labels are marketed can be very deceiving when making the right choices.

Meat can be harmful to our health because of the way the animals are kept. They are often raised in pesticide filled areas. These chemicals get into our food and can disrupt our hormone system. Some pesticides such as atrazine can even make male frogs develop female characteristics. So, imagine what they can do to our bodies. They don’t only affect the animals, but also hurt us because when we consume meat they get into our bodies. This is why it is important to buy meat from organic farms. Organic meats come from animals that don't eat GMO feed, antibiotics, or growth hormones.

Another cause for concern is the high amount of hormones the turkeys are given so they will grow larger. Once given to the turkeys, these hormones can get into our bloodstreams when we eat them. The added hormones in combination with other exposures may cause harm, such as early puberty and cancer because your body is given incorrect signals. This can also be avoided by eating organic or by eating Heritage or Heirloom turkeys which are traditionally smaller because they don’t have added growth hormones.

Thirdly, labels such as Sustainable, Natural, and Free Range can be very deciving. Sustainable doesn't have a standard definition so there is no way to know what this actually means in terms of the farmer. Natural is slightly better because it means the turkeys can't be injected with preservatives however added flavors can still be used. Free range is another deceiving label because these turkeys actually get more indoor time instead of outdoor time. To confirm animals get outdoor time, which usually means less antibiotics in turn, look for animal welfare certifications.

In conclusions, knowing where your turkey is from can help change your health for the better. Turkeys, and other animals, are often raised in subpar conditions. When looking for better turkeys, consider buying organic or heritage turkeys and on top of that check for the conditions in which they were raised.

By: Sara Frawley