cancer

Lead in Lipstick

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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

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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

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    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

The Problem with PBDE's

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Many of the items we encounter everyday can affect us. One example of this is flame retardants. The flame retardants used on many household items could actually be making you susceptible to illness such as cancer in the long run. Flame retardants are used on furniture, carpets and even baby toys. They contain polyurethane (PBDE) and this chemical has even started showing up in people's bodies.

PBDEs are endocrine disruptors and have been labeled as a possible human carcinogen with "more research needed". However it is important to take action to protect those who are especially exposed. Children are more susceptible though their age in the fact they are still developing. Also, they are exposed to PBDEs through breast milk as children and through the chemicals found in toys and dust that they might put in their mouth.

These PBDE's are being used less in more recent products but are still present in older products that could be in your household. Even worse, the PBDE's don't stay contained. PBDE's can move into the air, water, and soil and even settle in your home as household dust. It is important to be especially careful of flame retardants because they are easily transferable and young children often put products, such as toys, that contain PBDE's in their mouths.  PBDEs have been found in human fat, blood, and breast milk.

To prevent exposure to them: buy flame retardant free products, vacuum and mop household surfaces, wash hands, dispose of contaminated items, and replace flame retardant cushions with flame retardant free cushions. Something as simple as keeping your house dust free can make a huge difference in protecting yourself in the long run.

By: Sara Frawley

Sources: http://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2016/08/flame-retardants-why-they-re-our-homes-and-how-avoid-them

https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tf.asp?id=900&tid=94

The Squeeze on Sunscreen

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Long days on the beach usually consist of slathering on a high SPF sunscreen and hoping you don't get burnt. But is this the best thing we can do to prevent melanoma? Although sunscreen is meant to prevent skin cancer, some sunscreens contain so many chemicals that they can actually be harmful. So with more than being 3,000,000 people diagnosed with skin cancer yearly, what should we do?

Firstly, there is no proof that sunscreen can even prevent melanoma successfully compared to other methods. There are two types of rays that can be harmful to our skin. UVB rays are what cause burns and nonmelanoma skin cancers while UVA rays penetrate deeper and are responsible for suppressing the immune system and creating a higher risk for melanoma. Although UVA rays are the culprit, they are harder to prevent and are often less protected against with sunscreen compared to UVB rays.

Aside from sunscreen offering limited protection, they can also contain harmful chemicals. Sunscreens can be ingested in many ways. Whether this is through spraying in the air or applying to lips. Additionally they are often made to last longer and adhere to the skin better, making them powerful skin penetrators. So it should be no surprise when these chemicals can be found in blood urine and breast milk.

Many of these UV filters such as oxybenzone can actually mimic hormones. These chemical filters are often not tested for the hazardous results they can cause. This is because the FDA uses a grandfathered clause from the 1970s (47 years ago). The most worrisome of the filters is oxybenzone. It is found in 65% of non mineral sunscreens and is a weak estrogen and antiandrogen. This means it is linked to lowered testosterone levels in teen boys and men. It is also linked to endometriosis in women and causes skin allergies. This is very scary considering it is also found in 96% of the population. Luckily, it is easy to reduce your exposure by using mineral sunscreens that don't contain oxybenzone.

Other ways to reduce your exposure while still preventing melanoma are by wearing hats or swim shirts, finding shade, using sunglasses, avoiding the sunniest times of the day, and considering the UV index and ingredients in the sunscreen you use.

Clearly, it is always important to consider the ingredients in any product you use. Avoiding sun burns is essential in preventing melanoma so while it is important to use sunscreen, there are healthier alternatives. By using a mineral sunscreen with a high UV index, you can prevent damage to your hormone systems.

By: Sara Frawley

What's in YOUR Drinking Water?

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We are made of 70% water. So what happens when our main sources of water are polluted with harmful chemicals? Long Island water can be affected by chemical plumes from a variety of sources.

From litter that gets pulled into the oceans, to soaps being poured on the streets, or pesticides used on farms, there is a wide variety of chemicals that can affect us. Long Island water in particular gets its' drinking water from underground water sources called aquifers. Because we get our water from the ground, we are highly susceptible to chemicals that have been dumped on the ground.

The even scarier part is that although the chemicals found in our drinking water have been proven to have harmful effects, they are still allowed to a certain extent. One of these chemicals is chromium-6. This chemical is often a product of industrial processes. It is a cancer causing chemical that can cause reproductive and liver problems from low exposures. It is monitored by the EPA and allowed in low quantities but these low quantities may still be too much. You can be exposed to it by breathing it in, ingesting it through food and water and EVEN THROUGH CONTACT WITH YOUR SKIN. And it is found in 90% of water samples on long island. If we are drinking these chemicals everyday, how safe can they really be?

In very low levels of .02 parts per billion it causes cancer in one out of one million people. And when raised slightly higher to 10 parts per billion it caused cancer in 500 out of a million people. Long Island water has .4 parts per billion on average. And it doesn't just affect Long Island. It has contaminated 200 million people's water sources throughout the US.

So, although your water may be clear, it doesn’t mean there is nothing in there. That is why it is important to avoid daily exposures as much as possible. Instead of stopping drinking tap water all together, you can avoid these chemicals by using effective water filters such as reverse osmosis filters. Because everyone’s water could be polluted with differing amounts of chemicals, you can use sources such as EWG’s national tap water database and water filter guide to help find what filter would be best for you.

By Sara Frawley

Source: https://patch.com/new-york/commack/cancer-causing-chromium-6-found-1-247-1-417-long-island-drinking-water-samples

Resources: https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/#.Wav7Xq2ZN-U  

https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/water-filter-guide.php#.Wav7k62ZN-U

Poisonous Pregnancy

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It used to be thought that the womb was an impenetrable shield made for protecting babies, however it is actually susceptible to many chemicals that mothers use on a daily basis. In a time where we are exposed to 5,000-30,000 more chemicals than our grandparents, it is very important to be conscious of what these chemicals can do.

We often chose our products because they smell good or are vibrantly colored, however it is important to consider what is actually inside of them- especially because we cover ourselves with them everyday. While it is important to always be aware of what your are exposing yourself to, it is especially important to stay aware when you are pregnant. This is because fetuses are highly sensitive to much smaller amounts of chemicals, as they are at a point in their lives known as a window of susceptibility. So, even though you as a mother may not be facing any adverse reactions or changes, your baby could be.

Many of the chemicals in our personal care products are endocrine disruptors. This means they mimic natural hormones in our body, disrupting our hormone system. Hormones are chemical signals that are sent around our body. Imagine how detrimental this can be to a fetus who is only beginning to develop!? They could be receiving the wrong signals.  

These chemicals are so common because they are often used to scent, color, or preserve a product. If you look at the label on a product you might see many strange words such as triclosan, parabens, sulfates, or  triethanolamine. These are easy to glance over because we don’t hear them everyday. But, we do use them everyday. From deodorant to shampoo, they are easily hidden in many products. Luckily by switching your personal products for more natural products, you can help your health in the long run.

By using natural, paraben free, sulfate free, and fragrance free products, you can help to make the right decisions for you and your child during a time when they are very susceptible. Even if you aren’t pregnant right now, it is important to keep this message in mind because prevention is an easy cure for everyone.

By Sara Frawley

Transgender Frogs

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What would you do if you were a boy that started to grow eggs in your testes? This probably sounds strange, but this is happening to frogs that are exposed to one of the most widely used herbicide, Atrazine.

Pesticides and herbicides are full of chemicals made to kill certain things- whether it be plants or bugs. If they’re able to kill weeds, imagine what they could be doing to us. Pesticides and herbicides can run off from farms into nearby streams and rivers and end up in our water. In fact, you've probably been exposed to this chemical when eating, drinking water, or even playing sports. Atrazine is often used for killing weeds and is even found on turf. It is so widely used in the United States, that it is the most commonly found pesticide found in drinking water.

Atrazine is very harmful because it is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it disrupts the hormones in your body which send signals to your cells. This finding that atrazine can change frogs' genders is so significant because frogs are an indicator species. They indicate the true effects that a chemical can have in high amounts. So if frogs are suddenly growing eggs in their testes, imagine what this could be doing to humans.

In humans, Atrazine causes hormonal disruption, harmful effects on the reproductive system, and is linked to an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer. Also, even though Atrazine is so widely used, recent analysis prove that they are not that significant in maintaining plant growth and would result in less than 1% of yield losses. So, is that extra 1% worth our health?

Clearly, Atrazine causes harmful changes, but luckily it can be easy to avoid. Buying Organic products and supporting local farmers ensures your own health and allows organic farmers to continue farming naturally. Also, you don’t need to buy all your foods organic. Some foods such as EWG's Clean 15, are less susceptible pesticides. Even if you can’t buy everything organic, even the smallest changes can have a great impact.

By Sara Frawley