science

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

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

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