March 6th, 2013 - Jill Ettinger
California Governor Jerry Brown is facing a lawsuit from a coalition of chemical companies attempting to stop the inclusion of BPA (bisphenol-A) in the state’s list of substances known to cause birth defects.
Read More:Chemical Companies Sue California Over “Blacklisting” BPA
March 3rd, 2013 - Jill Ettinger
Surprising news for organic food lovers in the recent issue of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology: a University of Washington study found high levels of plastic in the bodies of people who refrained from eating food that had been packaged in plastic containers.
Read More:Organic Food (Yes, Organic) Linked to High Chemical Exposure Risk
October 8th, 2012 - Jill Ettinger
New research published in the recent issue of the journal Epidemiology finds evidence of a connection between pregnant women exposed to certain solvents and an increased risk of birth defects.
Read More:Labor Pains: Common Workplace Chemicals Increase Risk of Birth Defects
August 9th, 2012 - Jill Ettinger
Jigmi Thinley prime minister of Bhutan, the small Himalayan country situated between China and India, has announced that the nation is planning to convert all its agricultural land to organic farms, reports Rodale.
Read More:Leave Your Chemicals at the Border: Bhutan Going 100 Percent Organic
June 24th, 2010 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Admittedly, going up to the bar and ordering an organic brewski isn’t as cool as a dry martini or a Jack and Coke, but that hasn’t stopped the organic beer industry from growing, especially in Portland, Oregon.
Tomorrow Portland hosts the 6th annual North American Organic Brewers Festival, a three-day celebration of certified organic beer.
And the festival has seen its attendance grow every year; over 15,000 people showed up for last year’s hoedown.
The interest in organic beer has sky-rocketed since the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) put into practice organic standards in 2002, growing into a $19 million market.
Organic beer is booming overseas too. In New Zealand, Mike’s Organic Brewery has seen a major up tick in sales as many young beer drinkers are looking to try more sophisticated brews. It would be tacky to funnel organic beer, right?
Oregon is leading the charge in organic beer because many local breweries started concocting organic versions of their popular craft beers. Craft beers are great. They’re microbrews and can come in all sorts of weird flavors. I’ve had some colored with beet juice or flavored with chocolate. Awesome!
For a beer to be organic, the USDA requires that 95% of its ingredients must be organically grown, so no chemicals, pesticides, or genetically engineered ingredients. It’s hard to make beer 100% organic because organic hops are hard to come by.
Organizers of the North American Organic Brewers Festival will showcase more than 50 fully certified beers and are predicting over 20,000 attendees this year.
I may be moving to Portland in the fall, so if you find me passed out in the street, surrounded by empty organic beer bottles, don’t be surprised.
Image credit: Stuff Educated Latinos Like
Read More:Organic Beer is Exploding in Oregon
June 4th, 2010 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Bad news if you’re a smoker – actually, more bad news. On top of smoking heightening risk cancer and other health problems, like heart disease, U.S. cigarettes have been found to contain higher levels of dangerous chemicals compared to foreign smokes.
When Americans puff, we inhale more bad stuff than cigarettes made in places like Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
But don’t run out and buy non-native cigarettes, experts warn ALL cigarettes contain junk you don’t want in your body, not just the smoke.
Writing in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, researchers analyzed the urine and saliva of cigarette smokers – eek, I don’t want that job – and discovered higher concentrations of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in cigs manufactured in the United States.
But, oddly enough, the “American blend” of tobacco contains less nicotine than cigarettes from Australia and Canada. Wow, less buzz, more death. Yeehaw!
Some of the cigarette brands tested were U.S. made Marlboro and Camel, Australia’s Winfield, and Players from Canada.
I don’t smoke, you shouldn’t either – if you do, shame-shame on you – but a dimly lit, smoke filled bar is still one of the coolest cinematic landscapes ever. Sigh.
Image credit: Today’s Seniors Network
Read More:U.S. Cigarettes among the Highest in Harmful Chemicals
April 30th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Buy tickets for Disney’s Oceans, and you’ll see sobering footage of a shopping cart on the ocean floor—a sure sign of consumerism run amok.
This simple image conveys an incredibly important message: We’re destroying our environment. Climate change may garner more headlines, but ocean pollution remains a considerable concern.
What can you do to reduce your impact?
- Don’t Litter. Litter is a huge contributor to ocean pollution because it ends up in storm drains that eventually empty into rivers and streams. Even if you live miles away from the ocean, your litter will likely contribute to water pollution.
- Follow the Three R’s. How committed are you to the environmental mantra reduce, reuse, recycle? Your answer has a direct effect on the health of our oceans. Failure to embrace the three R’s leads to ocean pollution and mile-high landfills.
- Increase Your Sewage Awareness. Anything that goes down your dishwasher, washing machine, toilet and sink drains will eventually make its way into the ocean. This often leads to oxygen depletion that harms marine life, as well as nutrient loading, which occurs when excessive nitrogen and phosphorous are deposited into the ocean’s ecosystem. Sewage also increases ocean bacteria and parasites, creating a ripple effect that endangers the fishing and tourism industries.
- Understand the Dangers of Toxic Pollutants. Arguably, nothing is more detrimental to the world’s oceans than toxic pollutants, which have been linked to birth defects in wildlife and may contribute to cancer in humans. Lead and mercury collect in marine animals’ tissues, causing reproductive problems and nerve damage. World Wildlife Federation researchers have found that other wildlife, including polar bears and frogs, have experienced decreased fertility, thyroid dysfunction and demasculinization (in males)—a result of exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals. Other toxic ocean pollutants include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are typically used to manufacture electrical equipment and have been known to cause reproduction problems in marine life. Genetic abnormalities have also been seen in marine animals exposed to polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are caused by burning wood and coal, as well as oil pollution.
- Participate in Community Cleanup Programs. Many seaside communities offer volunteer beach clean-up programs to keep their beaches clean and safe. By volunteering for such programs, you’re not only doing your part, but you’re also giving yourself an excuse to spend a day at the beach.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage
Read More:5 Ways to Help Save Our Oceans
April 12th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) called for the Food and Drug Administration to investigate the safety of Triclosan, a chemical found in everything from socks to soap to toothpaste. The European Union has banned the chemical, and according the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Safety Database, Triclosan has been linked to cancer, developmental toxicity, skin irritation, and endocrine disruption. Markey said in a statement, “Despite the fact that this chemical is found in everything from soaps to socks, there are many troubling questions about triclosan’s effectiveness and potentially harmful effects, especially for children.”
Markey went further: “I call upon the federal government to ban the use of triclosan in consumer soaps and hand-washes, products intended for use by children, and products intended to come into contact with food. In addition, I will soon introduce legislation to speed up the government’s efforts to evaluate and regulate other substances that may pose similar public health concerns.” Rep. Markey has shown a lot of courage in standing up to big chemical companies.
If you want to get ahead of the pack and ditch this dangerous chemical before the government bans it, check out our 5 Easy Green Cleaning Tips that Use Vinegar. If you want to learn about other household chemicals that you might want to avoid, read our article on the connection between Cosmetics and Breast Cancer.
Read More:Rep. Ed Markey Urges FDA to Investigate Triclosan
March 24th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
[caption id="attachment_6650" align="alignright" width="160" caption="Photo courtesy of jinglejammer"]
Are you serious about getting healthy? You better ditch that hand sanitizer.
New research suggests that germophobia is bad for the heart. A study by scientists from Northwestern University shows that infants who were exposed to more dirt, germs, and even animal feces grew up to have healthier hearts than those raised in more sterile environments. The study, which took place in the Philippines over the past two decades, tracked the health of 1700 Filipinos from birth to 21 years of age. In particular, the study focused on the C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a sign of heart inflammation and disease.
These findings contradict government advice and common sense. Just last spring, the Centers for Disease Control was strongly urging Americans to wash and sanitize their hands to protect against the H1N1 flu virus. Ever since scientists first developed the germ theory of disease in the 19th Century, people saw dirty hands as hazardous to good health. Now, with asthma and allergies more common than the plague and polio, it seems like it’s time for us to shift our focus to helping children develop healthy immune systems by letting them play in the sandbox every once in a while.
Read More:Health Tip of the Day: Play in the Dirt
January 27th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Skin irritations caused by chemicals found in toilet-seat cleaners appear to be making a comeback in pediatricians’ offices, according to a prominent Baltimore researcher.
“Toilet-seat dermatitis is one of those legendary conditions described in medical textbooks and seen in underdeveloped countries, but one that younger pediatricians have not come across in their daily practice,” says Bernard A. Cohen, MD, director of pediatric dermatology at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
“If our small analysis is any indication of what’s happening, we need to make sure the condition is on every pediatrician’s radar,” he says.
The causative culprits are harsh chemicals like phenol and formaldehyde, as well as exotic wooden toilet seats. Phenol has been associated with dermatitis and both second- and third-degree burns, while formaldehyde is a known health hazard and carcinogen.
Wooden seats—especially those covered with varnishes and paints—are a returning trend in bathroom décor, note Dr. Cohen and his colleagues in the February issue of Pediatrics.
Children can develop irritation after repeated use of a wooden seat or ongoing exposure to chemical residues. Dr. Cohen urges pediatricians to ask parents about home and school toilet seats and cleaners when treating a toddler or young child with irritated buttocks or upper thighs.
While dermatitis is relatively benign, many pediatricians may treat it incorrectly if they fail to pinpoint the source. This, in turn, can lead to persistent or worsening inflammation, with painful, itchy skin eruptions. Chronic skin irritation is also vulnerable to bacteria and may lead to more serious infections that require oral antibiotics.
“Some of the children in our study suffered for years before the correct diagnosis was made,” says lead investigator Ivan V. Litvinov, PhD, of McGill University in Montreal.
To prevent toilet-seat dermatitis, Dr. Cohen and his colleagues recommend:
- Use of paper toilet-seat covers in public restrooms, including hospital and school restrooms
- Replacing wooden toilet seats with plastic ones
- Cleaning toilet seats and bowls daily
- Avoiding harsh store-brand cleaners, which often contain skin irritants
Read More:Chemicals in Toilet-Seat Cleaners Linked to Skin Problems