Sickening Straighteners

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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!


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


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


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


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


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


Detestable Detergent


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


    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


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 to search how safe your personal care products really are.

By: Sara Frawley

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Thanksgiving Turkey Tips


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

Rocket Fuel in our Bloodstream


What do rocket fuel, missiles, bleach, and fertilizers all have in common? Perchlorate.

Perchlorate is a widely used chemical that is often found in our water, soil, and plants. When littered in the environment, it can get into our bodies. It has worked its way up the food chain from our food to just about every humans bloodstream. This is a problem because it can have many damaging effects on the body.

Perchlorate is produced as a byproduct of aerospace, pharmaceutical, and weapon industries. When released into the air, it settles in our soil and water. However, it doesn't just dissolve and disappear. Instead, it remains in our food and water. Perchlorate actually moves up the food chain and gets stored in our bodies fatty tissues and blood stream. In fact, just about every human has been found to have perchlorate in their blood stream.

This is such a big problem because perchlorate can disrupt your hormone system. Hormones are the chemical signals that tell your body what to do. When disrupted, your body can send too many or too little signals. This can cause many illnesses in the long run. Most prominent for perchlorate are thyroid disorders, however perchlorate can even be linked to cancer.

So, what can we do? Many states such as California have limits that are not low enough to protect our health. California actually ALLOWS it in water to amounts that have been considered unsafe, especially because it builds up over time. This is because many regulations don't take multiple exposures into account. Using water quality guides such as found on, you can find out if you live in an area where perchlorate is allowed at high levels. If so, it is important to buy a good water filter to prevent exposure to this chemical.

Overall, because this chemical is so widely found in the environment, it is important to take the steps possible to limit your exposure. You can do this by purchasing a water filter. This simple solution can prevent a variety of illnesses in the long run.

Fast Food or Fast Track to Cancer

There have been many studies proving that fast food itself is harmful to your health, but how many consider the containers and wrappers your food is stored in? It has been proved that the high amounts of salt, sugar, and saturated fat associated with fast food can be catastrophic to your health by multiple studies and even documentaries such as "Super Size Me". However, the shiny wrapper your food is stored in can be harmful too.

 Many fast food companies use wrappers that are coated with grease resistant compounds such as perflourinated chemicals, or PFCs. PFCs are nonstick, water resistant chemicals that have been used since the 1950s. These chemicals can get into your food from its wrapper when the hot fatty oils heat the paper.

 For a long time the harmful effects of PFCs have been known, but Fast Food companies still continue to use them. This chemical is similar to Teflon, which was taken off the market because it became a well known harmful carcinogen. With the help of many scientists and volunteers, samples of fast food wrappers were taken to test for chemicals. Of these samples, 40% contained PFCs. While PFOA, a type of PFC was banned, many new types of PFCs are still used.

The FDA has allowed these chemicals to be used to coat cardboard and wrappers but these chemicals have not been adequately tested to find the true effects on our health. Even worse, PFCs have been found in virtually all of humans blood and can pass from mother to child in breast milk. PFCs are so dangerous because some types have been linked to testicular and kidney cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol.

Although it is hard to know which companies use PFCs in their wrappers, you can use EWG's data in the link below for further resources. You can also reduce your exposure by avoiding paper tableware and microwave popcorn. Another way to reduce your exposure is by preparing your meals at home and eating fresh foods. The extra fifteen minutes spent making something fresh can have a very positive impact on your health in the short and long term.

By Sara Frawley

Poison Polish


Many of the chemicals in the personal care and beauty products we use daily contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals don't always get tested because the FDA isn't required to test them. 

One of these harmful chemicals, TPHP, is often found in nail polishes. TPHP is a chemical added to nail polishes to make them more flexible and durable. Think about any long lasting nail polish you've used and imagine how many chemicals are needed to make them last so long. Additionally, different colors of nail polishes can have different amounts of harmful chemicals and this chemical is used primarily in clear nail polish.

These chemicals are such a problem because they are found in so many products. TPHP is found in 49% of tested 3,000 nail polishes by EWG. And, because these products aren't regulated by the FDA, this chemical doesn't have to be listed in the nail polishes ingredients. In a study by Duke, 25% of the nail polishes tested that had TPHP did not list TPHP in their ingredients list. Luckily, using the EWG database, you can search for how safe your nail polishes and other beauty products are.

TPHP is a suspected endocrine disrupting chemical that is even found in flame retardants and foam couches. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are chemicals that disrupt our body's hormone system. Our hormones send signals to the rest of our body, so when these are disrupted, you can face many harmful effects. For example, in animal studies, TPHP was linked to reproductive and developmental abnormalities. In humans, it can even be linked to obesity!

Even though your nails are thick, these chemicals are still absorbed into our body's. This is especially dangerous because many companies make their products without realizing how harmful they can actually be. This is dangerous for everyone including pregnant women. It is so harmful for pregnant women because TPHP is stored in breast milk and can therefore be given to newborn children, predisposing them to a variety of diseases in the future.

Overall, it is very important to consider all the ingredients in the products you use because they can be absorbed into your body. Thankfully, there are great resources such as which allow you to search for the products you use to find out how safe they really are.

By: Sara Frawley

The Basics on BPA


BPA, one of the most dangerous and common endocrine disruptors that we face on an every day basis. But what exactly is it? Why is it dangerous? And how am I exposed to it?

BPA stands for bisphenol A. It is a chemical found in many plastics and resins that is used for creating hard clear plastics. It has been used since the 1960s and has been proven to have negative effects on people's health, but it is still used in every day items.

It was first introduced for making baby bottles, but is now used in everything from plastic water bottles to canned foods. It is also used in: toiletries, feminine hygiene products, thermal printer receipts,CDs and DVDs, household electronics, eyeglass lenses, sports equipment, and dental filling sealants. However these chemicals don't just stay in the walls of your container. Research has shown that they can actually leak into your food and water. How many times have you left a plastic water bottle in the sun or car and come back to find it boiling hot? Not only is your water heated, but the heat causes the plastic to breakdown faster and puts more chemicals in your water.

BPA imitates estrogen and is linked to cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty, and heart disease. It causes all these illnesses because it is a hormone mimicker that disrupts your endocrine system. By acting as hormones, your bodies natural signals, it can confuse your body into sending the wrong responses.

Try using BPA-free products or replacing plastics completely with glass or stainless steal products. Another way to check if your plastic has BPA is by reading recycling numbers. Products with the numbers 3 and 7 should be avoided. These numbers can often be found at the bottom of you bottles. However make sure to check your BPA-free bottle doesn't contain BPS or BPF- two chemicals that act simmilarly to BPA. 

In conclusion, BPA is a dangerous endocrine disruptor found in many everyday items. It is linked to a variety of illnesses but is still allowed in the US. However, other countries such as the EU have banned its use. Luckily, you can reduce your exposure by switching to glass and stainless steal products.

By: Sara Frawley

Colorful Catastrophe


It's that time of year again. As the holidays roll around and the weather gets colder, we consume more and more candy and colorful treats. However, these colors can have a variety of unwanted side effects for something that doesn't even change the way your food tastes.

Being a child in today's world means eating foods in many colors. From bright blue to light purple, there isn't a color we haven't consumed. And even when our foods aren't neon green, there is still a high chance they have been colored. Everything from mac and cheese to ice cream can contain them.  So what exactly are these colors and what are they doing to our bodies?

While some European countries have placed regulations on food dyes, the United States has not made these changes. Every year the US pours 15 million pounds of food dyes into our food- especially in kids food. These dyes are split into eight varieties: blue #1, blue #2, citrus red #2, green #3, red #3, red #40, yellow #5, and yellow#6. 

Artificial colors can act as endocrine disruptors. This means they can disrupt our hormone system leaving us susceptible to many diseases and even cancers in our future. This is especially dangerous for children who are still growing and are therefore the most susceptible. Many of these colorful foods are targeted towards them. Food dyes are linked to tumors of the bladder and brain in studies and even allergic reactions. A particular culprit, Yellow #5, is linked to hyperactivity and behavioral changes in children such as ADHD. 

Luckily, these harmful chemicals are easy to avoid. By sticking to foods that are naturally colored you can lower your risk greatly. While it is good to have many natural foods that are a variety of colors in your diet, man made colors don't fill these needs.

By: Sara Frawley

The Problem with PBDE's


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


The Squeeze on Sunscreen


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?


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



Poisonous Pregnancy


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