chemicals

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

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