I find it very weird that for the week I’m on vacation I haven’t had one day with cold hands. I’ve been fighting this now for weeks almost on a daily basis. So what’s the difference? There’s been a lot of talk recently about the effects of Bisphenol A and how it’s easily found in plastic water bottles. When I’m at work, I drink at least two litres of water a day with a store bought plastic water bottle. Since I’ve been on vacation, I haven’t been drinking any water. I drink mostly milk or juice from a mug.
Health Effects of Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A has low acute toxicity, with an oral LD50 of 3250 mg/kg in rats, but it is an endocrine disruptor. Low doses of bisphenol A can mimic the body’s own hormones, possibly causing negative health effects. There is thus concern that long term low dose exposure to bisphenol A may induce chronic toxicity in humans.
Drink your water in glass, not plastic
By Dr. Colleen Huber, NMD
Plastic polycarbonate bottles such as Nalgene are still popular as drinking water bottles. However polycarbonate releases a chemical known as bisphenol A also know as BPA. Whereas plastic industry safety studies find no significant health effects from typical daily doses of bisphenol A, a full 90% of government studies found harmful health effects especially to children and expecting moms, but also for male sexuality and reproduction as well.
The problem is that bisphenol A acts as a “xenoestrogen,” which just means it’s like the female hormone estrogen, except for two things: 1) it’s foreign to the body, which is what “xeno” means, and 2) it is way more harmful than our natural estrogen for everyone, male and female. Breast cancers are much more of a risk in women who carry a high burden of xenoestrogens, and both sexes are subject to a huge range of other harmful health effects. The most far-reaching effects are birth defects and miscarriages. Another effect is a disruption of beta cell function in the pancreas, which creates a pre-diabetes type condition of high blood insulin and insulin resistance.
We have previously warned our readers never to leave a plastic water bottle on a hot car seat, because the phthalates used in the manufacture of plastics leach into the water that you then drink. Phthalates are another xenoestrogen. However, with the polycarbonate bottles it has been found that even at room temperature, bisphenol A leaches into the water, and more so with increased temperature. Also with repeated use of plastics, you may notice the fine line scratches that you see on an old plastic container. These increase the surface area exposed to the liquid inside and release more of the xenoestrogens into the water.
“Current international standards are based on fish instead of air-breathing animals.” Brutal… that’s all I’ve got to say…
Toxins in humans go unrecorded
Elaine O’Connor, The Province
Published: Monday, July 16, 2007
We may be more toxic than we think.
Researchers at Simon Fraser University have found methods used to calculate chemical levels in humans may seriously underestimate our true toxic loads.
That’s because current international standards are based on fish instead of air-breathing animals.
As a result, thousands of chemicals — from pesticides to perfumes — are likely not being measured properly, leading to lower estimates of our environmental toxin load.
“The study is a red flag to show that there are numerous chemicals out there with these properties that could potentially accumulate in these animals,” said lead author Barry Kelly, a post-doctoral student.
“Some of these chemicals are not being scrutinized. The main goal is to try to broaden our approach in the risk-assessment stage before chemicals can be approved,” said the environmental toxicologist.
Kelly explained that while the fish method was effective years ago when the most dangerous toxins were PCBs and DDT, new chemicals have different properties and the old standard doesn’t apply.
Environment Canada, Health Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and United Nations use fish-based models.
According to co-author Frank Gobas, a professor in the school of resource and environmental management, the consequence is that “about a third of all industrial chemicals are currently wrongly assessed in terms of their potential effects in mammals, birds and humans.”
The research is published in Friday’s issue of the academic journal Science. It was a joint project between SFU, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Institute of Ocean Sciences.
The researchers hope their study will encourage agencies to add new tests to improve their toxin measurement standards.
The proof food additives ARE as bad as we feared
By SEAN POULTER
Last updated at 08:52am on 9th May 2007
Parents have been warned to avoid artificial additives used in drinks, sweets and processed foods amid a link to behaviour problems in children.
A study funded by the government’s Food Standards Agency(FSA) is understood to have drawn a link with temper tantrums and poor concentration.
There are also concerns about allergic reactions such as asthma and rashes.
The findings are potentially explosive for the entire food industry, which faces the need to reformulate a vast array of children’s products.
Vyvyan Howard, professor of bio-imaging at Ulster University and an adviser to the FSA, called on parents and manufacturers to protect children.
He said: “It is biologically plausible that they could be having an effect.
“Parents can protect their children by avoiding foods containing the additives. I personally do not feed these sorts of foods to my 15-month-old daughter.”
He called on manufacturers and supermarkets to remove the additives on a precautionary basis.
He said: “It is the right thing to do to remove these additives from children’s foods. They have no nutritional value, so why put them in?
“There are very tight restrictions banning these additives from foods designed for children under the age of one.
“But why stop there? Children’s brains and nervous systems are developing beyond the age of one.”
Prof Howard is not a member of the FSA committee assessing the latest research, however he did advise on how the study should be conducted.
Experts on the FSA’s Committee on Toxicity(CoT) are expected to say that parents who want to minimise any risk of an adverse reaction should avoid these additives.
Some leading companies have already responded to mounting evidence of harm caused by chemical additives, particularly the vivid colours used to dress up products.
Smarties has dropped artificial colours with the result the blue variety has been axed.
Sainsbury’s recently announced a ban on artificial colours and flavours from 120 own label soft drinks. This follows similar moves by Marks & Spencer and the Co-op.
The research, carried out by a team from Southampton University, appears to confirm earlier studies suggesting additives can cause reactions, either individually or as a cocktail.
The colours, tested on groups of three-year-olds and eight-to-nine year olds, were tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129).
The team also looked at the effect of the preservative sodium benzoate (E211), which is commonly used in soft drinks.
Precise details of the research findings are being kept secret until they can be peer reviewed and published in a scientific journal.
However, a source at Southampton University told the food industry’s magazine, The Grocer, that their results are in line with earlier findings, published in 2004.
The original research, which took place on the Isle of Wight, involved giving fruit drinks to children aged three. In some weeks, these were laced with additives.
Parents reported changed behaviour when the youngsters were given the additives.
However, the original findings were questioned because they relied on anecdotal reports from parents while the fact the children were so young made it difficult to measure their behaviour in a meaningful way.
Because of these doubts, a second tranche of research was commissioned following advice from an expert committee, which included Professor Howard.
The Founder of the Hyperactive Children Support Group, Sally Bunday, said there is good evidence that artificial additives can have a harmful effect.
She said: “The consequences can be very serious for both children and adults who are sensitive to these artificial colours.
“The reaction in children can be horrendous in terms of mood swings with crying, screaming, inability to sleep. There can also be physical reactions such as difficulty in breathing on skin rashes.
“For a young person there is also a risk of quite angry mood swings.”
The founder of the organic brand Organix, Lizzie Vann, has been campaigning for a ban on all artificial additives from children’s food.
“The use of artificial additives in children’s foods means we are conducting a long-term experiment on our children’s health” she said.
“If the Government is serious about improving children’s nutrition the ban on artificial food additives must be a priority.”
The Food & Drink Federation, which speaks for manufacturers, said the colours and chemicals used by the industry are proven to be safe.
“The use of food additives is strictly regulated under European law” it said.
“They must be approved as safe by the appropriate European scientific committee before they can be used…Consumers’ intake of food additives is also closely monitored.
“A recent European Commission report on ‘Dietary Food Additive Intake’ indicated that consumption of all types of additives was within the strict safety limits set by the legislation. Particular attention was given to consumption by children.”
The FSA and Southampton University refused to comment until the research has been officially published.
Study shows higher levels of potentially toxic chemical in some bottled water
OTTAWA (CP) – A new study into bottled water has found that concentrations of a potentially harmful chemicals increase the longer water is stored in plastic containers.
The research, by a Canadian scientist now working in Germany, involved 132 brands of bottled water from 28 countries produced in containers made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. About 20 brands came from Canada.
In a paper to be published early next year, William Shotyk of the University of Heidelberg found that the concentration of certain chemicals, such as antimony, increases the longer the water sits in the plastic bottle. Shotyk’s study measured concentrations for a period of up to six months.
“It’s increasing over time because (the plastic) is leaching chemicals,” said Shotyk in an interview during a recent visit to Ottawa, where he lectured on his findings.
Shotyk was cautious about the implications for human health, saying more research is needed.
Antimony is a white metallic element that in small doses can cause nausea, dizziness and depression. In large doses, it can be fatal.
“Antimony is similar chemically to lead. It is also a potentially toxic trace element,” said Shotyk.
Most of the Canadian bottle samples had initial antimony levels of about 160 parts per trillion, but six months after sitting in plastic the level had doubled.
However, the levels are still well below the drinking-water standard set by Health Canada at 6,000 parts per trillion. The World Health Organization recommends a standard of 20,000 parts per trillion.
Samples from other countries were found to have antimony levels as high as 2,000 parts per trillion or more.
Elizabeth Griswold, executive director of the Canadian Bottled Water Association, said the study should not raise concerns among consumers about harmful chemicals in bottled water.
“The bottled water in Canada is perfectly safe for human consumption and there is no threat to health in regard to antimony,” Griswold said.
Shotyk said more research is needed about how high the level of antimony can go as water is stored even longer than six months.
“If you bottle water in Europe and ship it to Asia, what is the antimony concentration in that water by the time somebody buys that water and drinks it?” he said.
Shotyk said he plans to test the samples again in a year.
The Polaris Institute, an advocacy group that launched a bottled-water awareness campaign last year, says about 20 per cent of Canadians drink bottled water. The Canadian Bottled Water Association says the bottled water industry’s revenue was $652 million in 2005.
How toxic is your body?
By ANGELA EPSTEIN
Last updated at 08:34am on 31st October 2006
Bethan Jones, 14, has 17 gender-bending chemicals in her blood. She’s just a teenager and lives in the country – but Bethan already has 17 different gender-bending chemicals in her blood. As our disturbing tests reveal, many adults have TWICE that…and it’s common household products that are to blame:
They seem innocuous but many everyday household products – from face creams to computers and even carpets – contain chemicals that could seriously damage our health. Several studies have recently linked gender-bending chemicals to genital malformation, infertility and cancer.
Last week a study for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) suggested that they could account for the rise in breast cancer – over the past 30 years the number of cases has risen by 81 per cent.
These chemicals are known as hormone disruptors or EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals). They upset the delicate hormonal development of an embryo, fooling targeted cells into behaving differently. Or they act as a blocker, preventing natural hormones such as the male sex hormone testosterone from functioning properly.
Both men and women can be affected by exposure to such chemicals, both inside the womb and later in life. The worry is that some chemicals can bio-accumulate (build up in body fat).
There may only be a small amount in the environment, but they accumulate through the food chain. They get into our water supply, are ingested by fish and are passed on to humans. With each step in the chain more chemicals are passed on. We are, therefore, potentially exposed to a huge amount.
EDCs also settle in fatty tissue such as breast tissue, which could explain the rise in breast cancer, says Dr Andreas Kortenkamp, director of the Centre of Toxicology at London University’s School of Pharmacy, who produced the latest study for the WWF.
‘It is well-known that natural hormones play a role in the development of breast cancer,’ says Dr Kortenkamp. ‘This raises the question whether chemicals that mimic hormonal activity could be a cause, too.’
He says that, in isolation, many EDCs may not pose a dramatic health risk. ‘The concern is that there are so many of them in circulation in our environment and no one yet knows the long-term effect of this cocktail of chemicals.’ The WWF is pushing for a precautionary approach and is campaigning for strong EU chemicals regulation.
In the meantime, experts suggest we limit our exposure. Some of the more worrying chemicals are:
• ORGANO-CHLORINE PESTICIDES (OCPs): many pesticides have been banned in the UK because of their toxic effects, but they can remain in the environment for up to 50 years.
Some pesticides have been linked to cancers, such as breast and ovarian. A study of 159 women in Occupational And Environmental Medicine found women with breast cancer were five times more likely to have the banned pesticide DDT in their blood.
• POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENYLS (PCBs): once widely as coolants and lubricants. Now banned, they are still leaked into the environment from old building material, lighting and appliances. They also enter our food chain via small organisms and fish.
A Dutch study found girls exposed to higher levels of PCBs tended to engage in masculine play, and boys in feminine play. Other research suggests babies who ingested PCBs in their breast milk were more likely to show low levels of physical and mental development.
• BROMINATED FLAME RETARDANTS: used to make products fireproof, found in carpets, foam-filled cushions, TV and computer screens and plastics.
Linked to breast cancer and cause sterility in mussels and marine snails, as well as rats to miscarry. They are released into the atmosphere where they are inhaled, and also mingle with house dust and settle on food.
• PHTHALATES: found in plastics, perfumes and toiletries. A recent American study linked exposure to phthalates to a higher risk of genital abnormalities in baby boys. Some experts believe that women may also be vulnerable.
Children can be exposed by chewing older PVC toys as phthalates leak into saliva. Phthalates can also be transferred from plastic packaging into meat and dairy products.
• PERFLUORINATED CHEMICALS (PFCs): exposure to perfluo-rinated chemicals such as PFOS and PFOA may cause birth defects, damage the immune system and disrupt thyroid function, which can lead to develop-mental problems in pregnancy.
A 2005 Greenpeace study found PFCs in umbilical cord blood from newborn babies. PFCs are used in non-stick pans, stain removers, floor waxes, and fast food packaging.
The only way to assess your individual exposure is by having a special blood test, which will reveal if you have any of these gender-bending chemicals.
Here three people have their levels checked. Professor Richard Sharpe, of the Medical Research Council’s Human Reproductive Unit, comments on the results.
Although there is no set guideline as to what is a ‘dangerous’ level, Professor Sharpe explains: ‘The problem is we don’t know their long-term effect so you don’t really want any in your system.’
BETHAN JONES, 14, lives on a farm in Welshpool, Wales, with her parents Enid, 53, and Arwel, 46, and her brother Alwyn, 11.
CHEMICAL TEST RESULTS OCPs: 2
Flame retardants: 3
BETHAN SAYS: I have always been a bit of a tomboy. I love playing football and doing sport and I don’t bother with make-up. So I was shocked when I heard about a study which said that girls with high levels of PCBs in their blood preferred masculine-type games.
Eleven types were found in my blood. I’ve been told this is lower than the adult testers, but then I’m half their age and it’s not the same as not having any there at all. It was weird to think these chemicals could influence the way I play.
I don’t understand how all these chemicals could get into my bloodstream. I live a healthy outdoor life.
I’m always helping on my parents’ farm and my mum cooks great home-made meals every night. We eat lots of meat such as lamb and beef, with vegetables from our farm or local markets.
My mum stopped using a microwave because she was worried about the possible effects on our health. She also stopped using nonstick pans, and instead of air fresheners we keep the windows open as much as we can.
Our farmhouse is quite old and the furnishings are very old-fashioned so I was surprised to find I had flame retardants in my blood.
The only toiletries I use are shampoo, conditioner and soap – nothing fancy, but it’s scary to think that the phthlates could have come from such ordinary products.
Dad does use some kind of chemical spray on some of the fields but I’m never nearby when he does. Anyway, the pesticides found in my blood have been banned for many years – which shows how long they stay in the environment.
The fact that I had two pesticides in my blood when I noticed that one of the other testers Matt, who doesn’t live on a farm, has three, suggests that living nearby has nothing to do with it. It seems these things are everywhere.
It’s horrible to think that some of these chemicals could affect my health or the health of any children I have in the future. It’s a long way off, but it is a worry just the same.
Bethan’s results really brings home the effects of exposure to environmental chemicals. She’s a young, growing girl but already has many chemicals in her blood.
Bethan is almost 30 years younger than Beth, yet had an equal number of phthlates. Phthlates can be risky for the developing foetus – they can get into breast milk and could be passed on to any children that Bethan may have.
Bethan should try to limit her exposure now. And especially when the time comes for her to plan a family. We don’t know what role they will play in her future.
BETH WILLIAMS, 42, an ecology lecturer, lives in Stourport, Worcestershire, with her partner Andrew Sharkey, 43, an operations director and their children Shamus, 15, and Connie, 13.
CHEMICAL TEST RESULTS
OCPS (pesticides): 2
Flame retardants: 3
Beth says: In my late 20s I was diagnosed with cancer in the soft fatty tissue of my right leg. I had liposarcoma, which is extremely rare.
Although I was successfully treated with surgery and radiotherapy, it did make me think about what could have triggered the disease.
I then found out that there is a potential connection between lip-sarcoma and pesticides – the chemical residues can build up in fatty tissues.
I realised that ordinary fruit and vegetables could have put my health at risk – which is why for several years we have grown our own fruit and vegetables organically. That’s why I couldn’t believe that my blood contained two types of OCPs – or pesticides.
I imagine that some of the chemicals come from food packaging. I lead a busy life, juggling family and work life and we can eat ready-made or takeaway meals four times a week.
I also sit in front of a computer – which exposes me to brominated flame retardants in the dust coming from the machine – for a few hours every day. I’d never thought about this but now I’m terribly worried.
I was also surprised by the presence of flame retardants. We live in an old Victorian terrace with few modern appliances and around 50 per cent of the house is tiled.
Even more alarming was the discovery of a phthalate in my blood – I already knew that the ese had gender-bending properties and I deliberately don’t use many cosmetics, so where did this come from?
The results of the blood tests shocked me. They made me realise how exposed we are on a daily basis to potentially hazardous che hemicals.
As a result, I’m now going to make some changes to my routine. If I needed to buy a new sofa I’d get one second-hand because the level of flame retardants would be much lower. I use chemical-free shampoos. But I still have no control over the gender-bending chemicals in the environment.
I’m particularly worried about the link between these chemicals and breast cancer. I have several friends in their 40s fighting the disease. As a child I don’t remember any of my mother’s friends having the disease at that age.
We are clearly doing something very wrong to ourselves, to our bodies and the environment.
OCPs and PCBs were banned many years ago so the fact they’re in Beth’s blood now is a potent illustration of how persistent these chemicals can be.
They accumulate in fat in the food chain – such as in milk and animal products – and build up over the years. That is a major worry for all of us, including Beth.
I am surprised that only one phthalate was found since they are absolutely everywhere.
The greatest threat they pose is to a developing foetus, so thankfully Beth isn’t at the stage in life where she is planning to have a family.
Some of the other chemicals in Beth’s blood may be connected to breast cancer, so Beth should carry out regular self-examinations.
MATT FARROW, 32, a website manager, lives in Goldaming, Surrey with his partner, Jackie Drennan, 32 and their 12-week-old daughter, Molly.
CHEMICAL TEST RESULTS
Flame retardants: 6
MATT SAYS: I’ve always strived to live a really healthy life. I don’t smoke and I like to exercise regularly: I go running, use the gym, and cycle to work.
I’m a vegetarian and even with a new baby in the house, we always make sure that we eat freshly-cooked meals every evening. We also try to use environmentally-friendly household products such as Ecover as well as hypoallergenic soaps and shampoos.
So I was really angry when I received the results of my blood testing. It seems that despite my efforts to live a blameless life my body is still exposed to and absorbs potentially hazardous chemicals.
I seem to have a lot of flame retardants – I wonder if they come from the new mattress and sofa that I bought this year. It has certainly made me think twice about buying any new furnishings for the house.
I do sit in front of a computer for long periods of time – up to 12 hours a day – so maybe that has caused my exposure.
I was also surprised by the PCBs since I believe they often get into the body through contaminated fish — and I’m a vegetarian. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, only around 50 per cent of which are organic. But this is now going to have to change as there were pesticides in my blood, too.
It took us six months to conceive our first child. Looking back, I wonder if chemicals could have played a part?
Now that I am a father I worry how much this could compromise my baby’s health in the future. She is being breast fed at the moment but some chemicals can get into breast milk. At some point she will go onto formula milk, yet Bisphenol A has been found in babies’ bottles. She is at such a vulnerable stage of her life.
While we do everything we can to limit her exposure it seems this chemicals are everywhere.
EXPERT’S VERDICT Matt can’t directly transfer chemicals from his body to his daughter’s in the same way as a breast-feeding mother. But his partner could have similar results and that is worrying.
Chemicals found in Matt’s blood might have caused DNA damage to sperm – he mentioned that it took six months to conceive.
He also has a high level of PCBs which – because of the rising rates of testicular cancer and their potential link to chemicals – means he should regularly check himself.
It is the unknown of the effect of any of these chemicals in any amount in our blood that is troubling so even though Matt’s results seem better than the those of the others, he may not be safe.
Chemical cocktail blamed for soaring breast cancer rate
By FIONA McRAE
Cocktails of gender-bending chemicals, found in everyday products from CD cases to babies’ bottles, may be to blame for soaring rates of breast cancer, scientists have warned.
Experts fear the chemicals, used in pesticides, cosmetics, electrical goods and plastics, have the power to trigger the cancer which claims the lives of more than 1,000 British women a month.
The warning follows official figures which show the number of cases of breast cancer has almost doubled in a generation.
Almost 37,000 women in England and Wales were diagnosed with the disease in 2004 – 10 per cent more than in the previous year and 80 per cent more than in 1971.
Less than half of cases can be explained by genetics and lifestyle factors such as diet, leading to fears manmade chemicals may also play a part.
A report by the World Wildlife Fund points the finger at synthetic oestrogens – common chemicals with structures similar to that of the female sex hormone oestrogen.
Oestrogen, a key ingredient of the contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy, is already thought to fuel breast cancer, sparking fears manmade chemicals with a similar structure or action may have the same effect.
Among the chief suspects is bisphenol A.
Found in CD cases, lunchboxes, sunglasses, water bottles and babies’ bottles, and in the plastic lining inside tin cans and food packaging, the compound is a building block of many plastics.
Present in more than half of the cans of food on sale in British supermarkets, it is likely most of us have at least a little of it in our bodies.
Studies have linked it to a host of health problems, including breast and prostate cancer and birth defects.
It has also been implicated in infertility, miscarriage and diabetes.
Other suspects include polychorinated biphenyls or PCBs and pesticides such as DDT. Now banned, these industrial chemicals continue to contaminate our soil and are food.
Also of concern are artificial musks, used to scent perfumes, shampoos, shower gels and washing powders, and the aluminium compounds used to block the sweat glands and found in almost all spray and roll-on deodorants.
It is known that synthetic oestrogens affect the environment, leading to fish changing sex and snails’ reproductive systems going into overdrive.
Experts in pollutants say even small amounts of the chemicals could do untold damage to the body -and warn that no one knows the effect of a combination of chemicals.
It is thought puberty and the months before birth – both periods in which the breast tissue is developing – could be critical for exposure.
Studies have so far failed to either prove or rule out the possibility that the pollutants cause the cancer.
However, research shows that just one in 20 breast cancer cases are inherited. Even taking into account other factors such as diet and alcohol, only half of breast cancer cases can be explained.
Dr Andreas Kortenkamp (CORR), head of London University’s Centre of Toxicology, said: “The role of chemicals in breast cancer requires urgent attention and precautionary action is warranted to limit exposure.”
Elizabeth Salter Green (CORR), of the WWF, called on the Government to strengthen legislation on the use of chemicals.
In the meantime, women can cut their exposure by reducing their reliance on canned foods and heavily fragranced cosmetics.
“I have got no real synthetic fragrances in my house at all,” she said.
“Bisphenol A is in the linings of tin cans of baked beans and tomatoes and I choose not to use those.”
More than 20% of fruit and vegetables sold in Canada show traces of pesticides
TORONTO (CP) – More than 20 per cent of federally-tested fresh fruit and vegetables sold in Canada show traces of pesticide contamination, according to the latest data, but manufacturers of the chemicals say the numbers prove there’s no need for consumer concern.
In a new analysis being released Monday, which is hotly disputed by environmentalists and some health experts, CropLife Canada says there’s no reason for consumer concern because in almost all cases, the pesticides found on food are well within the safety limits set by Health Canada.
Just a tiny fraction of foods tested by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency were found to have contamination in violation of the maximum residue limits, with domestic fresh foods faring better than imports.
“People think that their food, unless they buy organic, is laced with pesticides” said Peter MacLeod, executive director of CropLife Canada, an industry association of pesticide manufacturers and distributors. “The truth is that they’re not.”
Federal inspections in 2004-05 turned up chemical residue in just over 22 per cent of both domestic and imported fresh produce, but at levels lower than the maximum residue limits, the analysis concludes.
Only 0.65 per cent of domestic and 1.1 per cent of imported fresh produce exceeded those levels.
What’s important, said MacLeod, is that even when residues were found, they were detected in minute quantities – in the range of parts per million or lower.
While environmentalists and health advocates agree the amounts are tiny, they say it’s impossible to be definitive in asserting they pose no health risk, especially when it comes to children.
Some experts worry that some chemicals are unsafe at any level, that many safety standards are out of date, and that Ottawa doesn’t test for all chemicals in use.
A key worry is how the toxic cocktail of pollutants interact.
“We are concerned about the health effects of low levels of many different chemicals in a person’s body” said Sarah Winterton of the group Environmental Defence.
“We really don’t know the health impacts of low-level exposure, particularly within the context of how many different chemicals we are exposed to every day.”
Results of a study released by Environmental Defence last month detected a wide array of toxins in the bodies of seven children and six adults from five families living in different parts of Canada.
The chemicals, among them pesticides, PCBs and flame retardants, are known carcinogens, hormone disrupters and neurotoxins.
The disturbing findings prompted Health Canada to announce it would study 5,000 people for signs of pollution-related toxins.
“Pesticides are among the most widely used chemicals in the world, and also among the most dangerous to human health” according to the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
“They are a leading cause of poisonings here in Canada and have been estimated to account for thousands of deaths each year globally.”
But MacLeod said Canadians can be confident that Ottawa is closely monitoring residue levels and their health is being protected.
“Even if they hit that maximum residue limit level, there’s still a 100-fold safety factor in there before any health effect would ever be shown” MacLeod said.
“So (these are) very, very conservative numbers showing a high degree of safety for our food supply.”
NDP Leader Jack Layton Gives Blood for Toxic Chemical Tests
Environmental Defence testing blood of federal politicians for harmful chemicals
Toronto , Ontario – NDP Leader Jack Layton gave a blood sample today as part of ongoing work by Environmental Defence to measure the contamination of Canadians by harmful chemicals.
Layton is the first federal politician to give blood to be tested for toxic chemicals. Environment Minister Rona Ambrose, Health Minister Tony Clement and Liberal Environment Critic John Godfrey have also volunteered to have their blood tested. Environmental Defence has requested blood samples from Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe.
Layton ’s blood samples will offer a snapshot of his exposure to a broad range of chemicals, some of which persist in the environment and build up in our bodies. Many of the chemicals are found in everyday products, such as furniture, TVs, food packaging, cleaning products and clothing. The chemicals have a range of potential health effects and are associated with cancer, developmental and reproductive damage, respiratory illnesses, hormone disruption and damage to the nervous system.
“It’s astonishing how many MPs still refuse to make the connection between the products we use today and enduring health effects,” said Layton. “The NDP has taken the lead on protecting communities by proposing Parliament outlaw cancer-causing pesticides. This blood-test challenge goes a long way to raise awareness for all Canadians especially law-makers and those responsible for producing products that lead to health problems.”
In total, Layton’s blood will be tested for 102 compounds that fall under seven broad categories: PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls); stain repellants and non-stick chemicals (known as PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals); organochlorine pesticides (such as DDT); organophosphate insecticide metabolites (such as the breakdown products of malathion); heavy metals (such as mercury and lead); air pollutants called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons); and, flame retardants (PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers).
As part of its national Toxic Nation campaign, Environmental Defence has measured the levels of toxic chemicals in the bodies of two groups of people – adults from across Canada, and family members ranging in age from 10 to 66. Results from those two rounds of tests found Canadians are contaminated no matter where they work, play or go to school, how old they are or where they live.
“Kids, parents, grandparents across the country are all polluted with a range of harmful chemicals,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. “We expect that our tests of MPs will turn up similar levels of contamination as all other Canadians. But, it remains to be seen which MP will be the most toxic.”
Layton ’s blood samples will be sent to two independent laboratories for analysis, and results of all of the politicians’ blood tests will be available in the fall.
I google Dr. Riina Bray tonight just to see if I can find any recent news articles and I come across a transcript from the Legislative Assembly in Ontario.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
Monday 6 June 2005
The Chair (Mr. Bob Delaney): Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the standing committee on the Legislative Assembly. We are here to consider Bill 133, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act in respect of enforcement and other matters.
Mr. John Wilkinson (Perth-Middlesex): Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning.
Your subcommittee on committee business met on Thursday, June 2, 2005, to consider the method of proceeding on Bill 133, An Act to amend the Environmental Protection Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act in respect of enforcement and other matters, and recommends the following:
(1) That the committee meet for the purpose of holding public hearings on Bill 133 at Queen’s Park as follows: Monday, June 6, 2005, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, subject to witness requests and the direction of the Chair.
(2) That the clerk of the committee post notice of hearings as soon as possible on the Ontario parliamentary channel and on the Internet.
(3) That the deadline for receipt of requests to appear be 4:00 p.m. on Friday, June 3, 2005.
(4) That the following be invited to appear before the committee as witnesses: David Donnelly, Environmental Defence Canada; Chris Hodgson, Ontario Mining Association; Robert Wright, Sierra Legal Defence Fund; Paul Muldoon, Canadian Environmental Law Association; Mark Mattson, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper; Faith Goodman, Canadian Petroleum Products Institute; Dr. Riina Bray, Ontario College of Family Physicians; Lisa Kozma, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters or Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers\’ Association; Honourable Perrin Beatty and David Surplis, Coalition for a Sustainable Environment.
(5) That notice of the hearings be provided to the witnesses that previously appeared before the committee on Bill 133.
(6) That the length of presentations for witnesses be 10 minutes.
(7) That each of the three parties be allowed to make an opening statement of up to four minutes, subject to availability of time and at the direction of the Chair.
(8) That the committee clerk, at the direction of the Chair, be authorized to schedule witnesses.
(9) That the deadline for written submissions be 12:00 noon on Monday, June 6, 2005.
(10) That proposed amendments to be moved during clause-by-clause consideration of the bill should be filed with the clerk of the committee by 2:00 p.m. on Monday, June 6, 2005.
(11) That clause-by-clause consideration of the bill commence at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, June 6, 2005.
(12) That the clerk of the committee, in consultation with the Chair, be authorized prior to the adoption of the report of the subcommittee to commence making any preliminary arrangements to facilitate the committee’s proceedings.
Dr. Bray: My name is Riina Bray. I’m a family physician, assistant professor at the Environmental Health Clinic at Sunnybrook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre. I’m also chair of the environmental health committee at the Ontario College of Family Physicians.
I much appreciate the opportunity today to address this committee on the important issue of Bill 133.
In its final report on spills, the government’s Industrial Pollution Action Team dispelled any myths about Ontario’s international leadership in this arena by concluding, “It was our impression that Ontario’s regulatory system has not kept pace with progressive jurisdictions elsewhere in the world, which employ a more diverse management tool kit and a risk-based approach.”
The action team’s report also stated that there is a need for substantive change in Ontario’s environmental management framework, and that “despite its best intentions, the current system does not encourage pollution or spills prevention.”
These spills are often referred to as “environmental contaminants,” but please remember that they are also human contaminants. Physicians tend not to use such terms, so I’d like to speak plainly about the topic at hand. What we’re talking about in most cases here are poisons, and it’s important not to forget that.
In his submission to this committee, Dr. David Colby, the medical officer of health for Chatham-Kent, told you that Bill 133 is essential to improving the health and safety of his community. There is certainly an immediate impact on southwestern Ontario because of the preponderance of spills, but this bill affects or has the potential to affect our patients throughout the province.
Much has been made of the inequitable financial burden that environmental penalties place on industrial facilities, but although physicians’ primary interest is in the health of our patients, it is important for you to know that there are two sides to this cost argument as well.
As the action team’s report stated, “Downstream communities are not recouping the full costs of spills.”
When public health warnings such as boil-water advisories are issued, expenses are immediately incurred. Even when there are no such warnings, parents, concerned for their children’s well-being, take precautionary measures, like drinking only bottled water, when there is news of a spill or when spills are frequent. They too incur immediate costs. It is also likely that a populace more fearful of environmental contamination is more costly to government because they more frequently seek medical attention from their physicians and other health care providers.
In addition to this, there’s a huge hidden cost that will present itself later on with the impact of contaminants on unborn children, pregnant women and young children who experience exposures which can manifest later with neuro-behavioural problems, costing billions of dollars to the nation. This has been shown in many scientific reports that are available.
Also, cancers from chronic exposure to contaminants in the young and in the old obviously pose a huge health care cost to our country.
Also, we must consider the immuno-compromised, the infirm, the elderly and those suffering from reproductive problems, and the link that has been shown there with contaminants.
On the topic of added governmental costs, it is certainly the case that significant improvements to spills notification systems and response systems, which have predictive capacities to identify specific public health vulnerabilities, all cost a lot of money, too. Tracking health threats once they exist is absolutely important, but it is certainly better and cheaper to prevent spills in the first place.
I learned a long time ago that preventive medicine is a much healthier approach than waiting to develop a treatment strategy once the threat has been introduced, be it a disease or a chemical contaminant. It’s also much cheaper.
Honourable committee members, we understand that the government is required to balance the interests of many when making legislative decisions. Just to clarify, that is not to say that we think health interests are special interests, as some would suggest; although it is my view that health interests should be treated more specially than some industrial interests.
To the business at hand: It is obvious that some companies are not complying with Ontario’s environmental laws. As well as threatening their surrounding communities and potentially those far downstream, this non-compliance gives the lawbreakers an unfair advantage over their competitors who do comply. Environmental penalties send the message to those who haven\’t gotten it yet that compliance is the bare minimum of acceptability and that there is a cost and a consequence for not living up to the law.
As a physician, I cannot claim to be an expert in legal compliance issues, but it is clear to me that enforcing compliance is a move in the right direction toward protecting the health of our patients.
We think that the current amendments to Bill 133 from the second reading last week are a reasonable balance of interests, and I would like to support the bill in its amended form.
As Dr. Colby reminded this committee, spills cannot be the cost of doing business; protecting the health of Ontarians must come first.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.
The Chair: Thank you for coming in. We should have an opportunity for a question from each caucus to you, beginning with Mr. Marchese.
Mr. Marchese: Thank you, Dr. Bray, for coming.
The Chair: Mrs. Van Bommel.
Mrs. Maria Van Bommel (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex): Thank you, Chair, and thank you for coming in. I hope that you catch your breath. You still sound a bit out of breath.
You mentioned the Industrial Pollution Action Team and the recommendations that they made. One of the things that we’ve heard since then are concerns that industries in the Sarnia area have expressed about having to comply and the comments that they’ve made about having to leave the area if they have to comply with certain restrictions. They’re talking about moving to other jurisdictions, including other provinces in Canada. With that comes the concerns about jobs. How would you address that kind of thing?
Dr. Bray: I get a lot of dialogue coming from Sarnia with regard to environmental contaminants and illness and disease. If they want to move elsewhere, then kudos to them.
I think we need to think of the health care costs, because if you look at the epidemiology right now and the illness that is hitting Sarnia — I don’t know if you know, but Sarnia is it’s a particularly sick community. We get patients who are very, very disabled coming from that area. There are studies showing that childhood illness and cancers are much higher geographically than the rest of Ontario. It’s a sick community, and I would say that, dollar for dollar, you’re going to save money in the end.
Jobs are important, but when you think of the future generations and the unborn etc., I really don’t think we should be making a comparison there. If you want to, I would say that I think we need to put the health of people first, and jobs will come second. Otherwise, people are going to have jobs and then they’ll have to go on disability or they’re going to lose loved ones. The cost of suffering is going to be huge. There have to be alternatives for them.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Mr. Miller.
Mr. Miller: Thank you for coming in today. You mentioned at the beginning of your talk, the report of the Industrial Pollution Action Team. In that report it said, “Despite its best intentions, the current system does not encourage pollution or spills prevention, or the regular updating of technology and operating systems.”
I think that you also went on to say that you believe in preventive medicine, if I heard you correctly.
We\’ve also heard from industry here today that they would like to see more science-based and risk-based provisions in this bill.
Do you think we should be doing more to encourage spills prevention and pollution prevention plans?
Dr. Bray: Yes, I do. I think you can do more studies, I think more studies are always warranted, but you have to be careful and consider the precautionary principle. It doesn’t require too much thought when you have a mass balance and you look at what’s going into the environment. It has to go somewhere, and you just sort of follow it through.
I think that scientific investigation shouldn’t be an excuse to continue doing what they’re doing. It shouldn’t be something that prevents them from making the correction sooner than later. I think of the precautionary principle again here.
The Chair: Thank you very much for coming in. I’m sorry that you had a wicked commute, but you did have the last word today.
Dr. Bray: Thank you, and I hope I’ve been helpful.
The Chair: This committee stands in recess until clause-by-clause consideration of Bill 133 today at 4 p.m. in this room.
Wow! I wonder what is making people sick in Sarnia? I use Google Earth to get an overview of the city and there is one section of the town that looks like an oil refinery. Yup, Imperial Oil. And it’s so big it’s almost half the size of Sarnia itself!
When the Sarnia refinery was commissioned in 1897, it was the largest refinery in Canada, with a capacity of 900 barrels of crude oil processing a day. Today, the refinery is one of the most complex in Canada. Since the mid-1980s, significant improvements at a number of process units have increased the refinery’s ability to process a wide range of crude oil into quality petroleum products.
Imperial’s Sarnia operation is the most integrated fuels, lubricating oil and chemicals manufacturing and petroleum research facility in Canada.
Why on earth would anyone want to look like a bronzed Egyptian statue? She’s not fooling anyone… It doesn’t look natural AND she’s bright orange for god’s sake!!!! I also love the fact that she is posed on a “beach” in full sun.
Water, Dimethyl Ether, Witch Hazel (Hamamelis Virginiana), Water, Ethoxydiglycol, Dihydroxyacetone, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Dipropylene Glycol, Isoceteth-20, Methyl Gluceth-20, Glycereth-7, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben,Sodium PCA, Citric Acid, Fragrance.
Let\’s face it, this is a product for women. One of the listed ingredients “Propylparaben” is a known toxic chemical with the following risks:
INGREDIENT REPORT: PROPYLPARABEN
1) Classified as toxic
2) Immune system toxicants (allergies, sensitization)
3) Estrogenic chemicals and other endocrine disruptors
Concern: Potential breast cancer risks
Description: Potential breast carcinogen
Concern: Endocrine disruptor
Description: Potential endocrine disruptor, raising concern for impaired fertility or development, and increased risks for certain cancers
Concern: Skin sensitizer
Description: Sensitizer – can instigate immune system response that can include itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin
Chemicals that can cause Breast Cancer in a product aimed at women. While everyone is running for the cure, people are spraying themselves to look pretty. Unbelieveable…
Urge Canada to Strengthen Regulations of Toxic Chemicals!
Sign this petition to urge Minister of the Environment Rona Ambrose to strengthen the regulation of toxic chemicals in Canada by strengthening CEPA. I signed the petition without any hesitation.
“It’s painfully obvious to me that with so many people dying of cancer and other diseases that somewhere along the way our environment has been contaminated with toxic chemicals in our surroundings, in our food, and in our drinking water.
It has become a concern of epidemic proportions and we need our federal government to take an active leadership role and put forth strict regulations against the use of toxic chemicals in our environment.
I have been personally effected by toxins in my environment and the health care system is painfully unaware of the effects it can have on the human body. Only when I turned to alternative methods did I find the answers I was looking for.
The health care industry in this country can only help you after your health condition has progressed too far and this is unacceptable.
Environment Minister Rona Ambrose has accepted the challenge to be tested for toxins. From everything I’ve read so far, I have a feeling I’ll know what the results will be already…
Children ‘being poisoned’ by chemicals
Jun.1, 2006. 05:21PM
OTTAWA — Environment Minister Rona Ambrose has accepted a challenge from an environmental group to have her blood and urine tested for toxic contamination.
Ambrose agreed to be tested at the request of Toronto-based Environmental Defence, which has been raising alarms about contamination of Canadian children.
On Thursday, the group released results showing that the bodies of seven children tested are contaminated by a cocktail of toxic chemicals ranging from PCBs to flame retardants.
“The minister cares about that and that’s why she’s going to take up the challenge,” Ryan Sparrow, a spokesman for Ambrose, said in an interview.
The study found an average of 23 known or suspected toxins — including carcinogens, hormone disrupters and neurotoxins — in the bodies of the children tested.
The researchers tested 13 individuals from five families, six adults and seven children. The families live in Vancouver, Toronto, Sarnia, Montreal and Quispamsis, N.B.
“Our children are being poisoned every day by toxic chemicals that surround them at home, school and play,” said Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence.
He said Ambrose will be tested using the same methodology, and results should be available in the fall. Health Minister Tony Clement and NDP Leader Jack Layton have also volunteered to be tested.
Smith said the study was intended to change the pollution issue from “a theoretical, abstract debate to a highly personal discussion of health,” said Smith.
He said most environment ministers in Europe have been tested, and this has contributed to a strong push to control toxic chemicals.
The adults in the Canadian study were contaminated by 32 chemicals, and had higher concentrations of some products no longer in use, such as DDT and PCBs.
But the children had higher levels of newer chemicals such as brominated flame retardants (PBDEs) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used in stain repellents and non-stick coatings.
“It is common to expect adults to be more contaminated by harmful chemicals than children because they have had a longer time to accumulate chemicals in their bodies,” says the report.
“The results of this study, however, show that this is not always the case.”
A decreased presence of banned chemicals in children is evidence that bans do work, says the report. But effects linger long after a chemical is removed from use — DDT was banned years ago but can still be detected in children as young as 10.
Health Canada responded to the findings by promising a national study in which 5,000 people will be monitored for toxic contamination over a two year period from 2007 to 2009.
“The government of Canada takes very seriously the exposure of Canadians to environmental chemicals,” said Health Canada spokeswoman Carolyn Sexauer.
She said children are at greater risk of contamination than adults because of their physical size, immature organs, physiology, behaviour, curiosity and lack of knowledge.
Vivian Maraghi, a study volunteer from Montreal, said she was astounded to learn she had 36 industrial chemicals in her body.
“But when I saw the toxic chemicals in my son’s body, I was angry. Our children deserve better protection.”
Environmental Defence says Canada’s regulation of toxic chemicals is weak and ineffective. However, similar levels of contamination have been found in the United States.
Many chemicals now on the market were never screened for health effects because they were introduced before awareness of the hazards of industrial pollution.
Toxic tally alarms family
Chemicals found in parents, kids: Watchdog group conducted study
- Jun. 2, 2006. 01:00 AM
- NANCY J. WHITE
- LIFE WRITER
Ada Dowler-Cohen, age 10, wasn’t shocked when she saw the list of poisonous substances in her body: 18 carcinogens, 14 chemicals that disrupt hormones, 19 that affect reproduction and development and 9 toxic to the brain and nervous system.
Rather, the girl was angry.
“There are chemicals in my blood that have been banned since 1977,” says the Toronto Grade 5 student. “How fair is that?”
Blood and urine samples showed that Ada, an avid swimmer, badminton player and music lover, was carrying around traces of nine types of PCBs, the highly toxic chemicals banned nearly 30 years ago, as well as substances used in pesticides, flame retardants, stain repellents and fuel additives.
“I’m dismayed at the extent of heavy metals that showed up in her,” says the girl’s mother, Barri Cohen. “And I’m even more dismayed that she has higher levels than I do in some chemicals.”
Ada and her mother are part of a study, Polluted Children, Toxic Nation, released yesterday by Environmental Defence. The Toronto watchdog group had five Canadian families six adults and seven children tested for 68 toxic chemicals. On average, they found 32 of the chemicals in each parent and 23 in each child.
While the parents tended to have more exposures and higher concentrations of the chemicals, the youngsters as a group were more polluted with several chemicals, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). It’s the chemical used in non-stick coatings on cookware and as a stain repellent on clothing, carpets and upholstery. It’s a suspected carcinogen.
The children also showed a higher median concentration for the group of chemicals widely used as flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). They’re commonly used in mattresses, upholstered furniture, computer and television casings and have been found in breast milk and house dust. In animal studies, they caused liver tumours, interfered with hormone function and affected behaviour. Some researchers wonder if they are linked to attention deficit disorders.
“The bottom line,” says Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence, “we are poisoning our children.”
This method of sampling human tissues and fluids, known as biomonitoring, is being used increasingly by environmental groups and governments to get a sense of the chemicals our bodies are absorbing through air, water, food, soil and consumer products. Next year Health Canada will start its first large-scale biomonitoring testing on about 5,000 volunteers, some as young as 6.
Environmental Defence published its first Toxic Nation study last year, testing 11 adults for 88 harmful chemicals. This year’s follow-up study focused on families, the youngest children age 10, and was done at expert labs in Quebec and British Columbia at a cost of $2,000 per person.
The Canadian Chemical Producers’ Association points out that not all biomonitoring studies are equal, that some are comprehensive while others are carried out primarily for advocacy purposes and may be less robust.
With relatively small numbers of volunteers, Environmental Defence studies are intended to illustrate that a serious problem exists, not offer a full diagnosis, explains Smith.
`There are chemicals in my blood that have been banned since 1977. How fair is that?’
- Ada Dowler-Cohen, 10
While traces of chemicals can be detected in the volunteers, no one knows exactly what it means to human health. People’s susceptibilities differ depending on their genetic make-up. And people are exposed to thousands of various chemicals at different concentrations and at different times in their lives.
“It’s so incredibly complicated, I’m not sure we’ll ever get there,” says Miriam Diamond, a University of Toronto professor in the geography department who specializes in environmental science. “But we shouldn’t wait. We should act in a precautionary way.”
Children tend to be more vulnerable to chemical exposure because they’re still developing and growing, says Diamond. They also take in proportionally more pollutants than adults. Per kilogram of body weight, they eat more, drink more, breathe more.
The good news from the study, according to Smith, is that the children had much lower levels of banned substances, such as PCBs and DDT, than their parents. “It’s a clear indication that when government does act, the levels of poison do decrease over time.”
The bad news is that they show up in kids at all. It points to the need for government to act quickly to ban other harmful chemicals, says Smith. “The longer we wait, the more generations of children will be affected.”
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act is up for review this year. Environmental Defence wants to see it amended to make industry more accountable for the safety of its chemicals and to include an immediate ban on the most dangerous ones with timelines for the elimination of other toxic substances.
Pointing to toxin reduction laws in many American states and in Europe, Smith says Canada is falling behind. “Unless the federal government acts, Canada risks becoming the market of last resort for poisonous products that are illegal to sell in other parts of the world.”
A proposal from Health Canada and Environment Canada to ban six of the seven groups of PBDEs is currently being considered by the new government in Ottawa. “We expect a decision fairly soon,” says Paul Glover, director general of the safe environment program at Health Canada.
The Toxic Nation volunteers are left trying to figure out how to reduce exposures in their lives. Cohen, a documentary filmmaker in her early 40s, was shocked to learn she had above-normal levels of cadmium, a carcinogen associated with cigarettes, even though she smokes rarely. She also had the greatest levels of mercury among all the study participants. She intends to cut down on her frequent consumption of fish, some species of which have high levels of the heavy metal.
Her daughter, Ada, showed an above-normal level of manganese, a suspected toxin to the respiratory, reproductive and nervous systems that’s used in fuel additives. Cohen wonders if that result has something to do with the school bus that her daughter rides for about an hour every weekday.
Cohen also plans to buy more organic foods and resist the convenience of fast foods. Ada had a higher concentration than her mother of PFOA, which is often used in candy-bar and fast-food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags.
Rummaging through her cupboard, Cohen examines the individually wrapped cereal and yogurt bars and bags of pita chips that would often go in Ada’s lunch and wonders about the packaging. “It’s all so pervasive,” she says. “I’m not sure where to even begin.”
I mentioned to a friend of mine about my allergies to plastic chemicals in a toothbrush. Am I supposed to stop brushing my teeth all together? He tells me about a natural toothbrush that is used in muslim religion called a Miswaak and he can get me one.
Miswaak: An Oral Health Device
Preliminary Chemical and Clinical Evaluation
A variety of oral hygiene measures have been used since the dawn of time. This has been verified by various excavations done all over the world, in which toothpicks, chewsticks, tree twigs, linen strips, bird feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills were recovered.
Those that originated from plants are tasty twigs and although primitive they represented a transitional step towards the modern toothbrush. It has been stated that about seventeen plants could be enumerated as natural sources for several of these oral hygiene devices.
The most widely used tree twigs since early times is the Siwak or Miswaak. The stick is obtained from a plant called Salvadore Persica that grows around Mecca and the Middle East area in general. It is widely used among Muslims after Prophet Mohammed realised its value as a device which should be used by Muslims to clean their teeth. In this respect he is considered the first dental educator in proper oral hygiene.
Advantages of the Miswaak:
1. Miswaak strengthens the gums and prevents tooth decay.
2. Miswaak assists in eliminating toothaches and prevents further decay.
3. Miswaak creates a fragrance in the mouth.
4. Miswaak is a cure for illness.
5. Miswaak eliminates bad odors and improves the sense of taste.
6. Miswaak sharpens the memory.
7. Miswaak is a cure for headaches.
8. Miswaak creates lustre (noor) on the face of the one who continually uses it.
9. Miswaak causes the teeth to glow.
10. Miswaak strengthens the eyesight.
11. Miswaak assists in digestion.
12. Miswaak clears the voice.
Benzyl Butyl Phthalate can be found in our toothbrushes. Something that we are supposed to use three times a day contains a chemical that can cause Allergic Rhinitis…
Chemical substances in toothbrushes
As a part of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency’s survey of chemical substances in a number of consumer products, knowledge of which substances are contained in and migrates from the toothbrushes is requested. The project Survey and migration of chemical substances in toothbrushes is carried out in four phases. The examination includes survey of the market, qualitative and quantitative analyses and health evaluation of possible harmful effects from substances, which migrate from the toothbrushes.
Phase 1 concerns examination of the toothbrush market in Denmark. This information has been procured from four sources:
- Search via the Internet
- Purchase of toothbrushes in groceries and specialist shops
- Through contact to suppliers and producers, whose identity appeared from the packaging
- Through contact to a range of relevant shops and organisations
Approx. 8 million toothbrushes are sold in Denmark yearly, of these approx. 80% are one of the following three brands:
They are primarily sold in groceries throughout the country.
According to the producers’ information most of the common toothbrushes are made of thermoplastic, e.g. polypropylene, SAN (Styrene-Acrylic Nitrile-copolymer) or other styrene copolymers. The bristles are made of polyamide. Furthermore, they inform that the dye used when manufacturing the toothbrushes is approved for foodstuff use, and they all have a policy not to use materials or packaging containing phthalates.
Phase two deals with qualitative analyses of constituents in toothbrushes. The following analyses have been carried out:
Screening by means of FT-IR for identification of antioxidants, types of polymer, phthalates and – to a certain extent – inorganic pigments of all 26 types of purchased toothbrushes GC-MS and ICP-MS for analysis and identification of antioxidants and organic pigments in order to evaluate the migration of substances from the toothbrush to artificial saliva on 10 types of toothbrushes chosen on the basis of information gained in Phase 1 and in the screening by means of FT-IR
Determination of calcined residue followed by an ICP-screening for identification of the possible inorganic pigments on the same 10 chosen types of toothbrushes, on which GC-MS analyses have been carried out
The results of the FT-IR-screening showed that the majority of the toothbrush handles are made from polypropylene, homopolymer or copolymer. At some of the handles smaller amounts of additives are identified in the polypropylene material. The brushes of all the examined toothbrushes are made of polyamide, which are evaluated to be identical – according to the FT-IR analysis.
At a subsequent GC-MS screening of 10 chosen toothbrushes almost 80 different compounds are identified. Of special interest for further quantification were 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone (toothbrush M-005), carvone (B-004 and B-005), 2-methyl-benzene sulphonamide (B-004 and B-006), 4-methyl-benzene sulphonamide (B-004 and B-006) and benzyl butyl phthalate (M-005). The selection is based on the classification of the substances and description of effects that potentially may cause concern to the consumer, if the concentration of the migrated substances from the toothbrushes is found to be too high.
Compared with the results from the FT-IR screenings, at which a high amount of chalk has been identified, a high amount of calcium has been found at the ICP-MS-screenings. In most cases also a high amount of magnesium has been identified. The deposit of calcium and/or magnesium in the toothbrushes probably derives from the use of chalk or dolomite as fillers. Titanium has been found in most cases and derives from titanium dioxide used as a white pigment. A high amount of aluminium derived from aluminium oxide could serve the same purpose or may have an opal effect.
In some cases a high amount of copper, nickel and zinc and traces of manganese has been found. These elements presumably derive from metal thread or otherwise for fastening the brushes on the toothbrush or from the mechanical parts in electrical toothbrush heads.
Phase 3 deals with screening for possible harmful effects from substances, which migrate from the toothbrushes. A screening has been made of the substances, which have been identified by the GC-MS-analyses. The screening is based on a literature survey in order to secure that the substances focused on at the quantitative analyses are the most relevant.
It was suggested to select 5 toothbrushes for a quantitative analysis. The suggested selection was based on the identified substances and the found descriptions of effects, which might be important for the consumer’s use of the toothbrushes.
Phase 4 deals with the quantitative analysis of substances migrated from the toothbrush during use under normal conditions (these substances are selected based on the results found in the first 3 phases of this project), and the evaluation of health effects of migrated substances and health risks from daily use of toothbrushes.
The health assessment was based on a specific quantitative analysis of the amount of the following migrated (released) substances from the 5 selected toothbrushes:
- 2-Butoxyethyl acetate
- Benzyl butyl phthalate
- 2-Methyl-benzene sulphonamide
- 4-Methyl-benzene sulphonamide
Based on the measured concentrations of the 13 substances found migrated from the 5 toothbrushes and by the use of the suggested exposure scenario, it was concluded that none of the substances were found in concentrations exceeding the used values for tolerable daily intake. These reference values were based on established or suggested ADI, TDI or RfD values.
The evaluation does not comprise sensitive consumers (allergic or the like), who might experience problems using some of the toothbrushes. Overall it was concluded that the evaluated migrated substances do not constitute a health risk for the consumer of toothbrushes.
To assist recycling of disposable items, the Plastic Bottle Institute of the Society of the Plastics Industry devised a now-familiar scheme to mark plastic bottles by plastic type. A recyclable plastic container using this scheme is marked with a triangle of three “chasing arrows”, which enclose a number giving the plastic type.
The resin identification codes:
- PETE: Polyethylene Terephthalate – Commonly found on: 2-liter soft drink bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars.
- HDPE: High Density Polyethylene – Commonly found on: detergent bottles, milk jugs.
- PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride – Commonly found on: plastic pipes, outdoor furniture, shrink-wrap, water bottles, salad dressing and liquid detergent containers.
- LDPE: Low Density Polyethylene – Commonly found on: dry-cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners, food storage containers.
- PP: Polypropylene – Commonly found on: bottle caps, drinking straws
- PS: Polystyrene – Commonly found on: packaging pellets or Styrofoam peanuts, cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, take-away food clamshell containers.
- OTHER: Other – This plastic category, as its name of “other” implies, is any plastic other than the named #1â€“#6, Commonly found on: certain kinds of food containers and Tupperware.
If using plastic containers in a microwave is a such a health risk, why do they make them?? The term “Microwave safe”only means it won’t melt in a microwave oven and has nothing to do with the safety of people’s health.
Chemicals in plastic
Several research studies have found that when plastic comes in contact with certain foods, molecules of the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the food or beverage. Certain characteristics of the food item can make it more likely pick up plastic molecules.
The more liquid a food is, the more it touches the plastic, so the more opportunity it has to pick up plastic molecules. Acid foods, such as tomato sauce, appear to be particularly interactive with plastic. If you heat a food item in a plastic container—even if the container is microwave safe—the transference of plastic from the container to the food is even more likely.When molecules of plastic—or more properly, molecules of the chemicals that get added to plastics during manufacturing—get into our bodies, it’s not a good thing. They can cause unwanted effects in the human body; for instance, some of the chemicals mimic estrogen. Estrogen, of course, is a normal, essential human hormone; but having too much of it (or the molecules that mimic estrogen) has been associated with breast cancer and other health problems. In general, chemicals that fool the body into thinking they are estrogen or other hormones are called endocrine disruptors.
So, what would a better food-storage solution look like? The primary characteristic you want in a container material is inertness—that is, you want a material that holds tightly to its own molecules and does not let them go floating off into the food or drink touching it. On this score, glass and porcelain arethe best choices. Companies do make some storage containers with glass or porcelainbottoms and plastic tops. Some of them are oven-safe and large enough to cook in; in those cases, you can simply store the leftovers in the same thing you cooked in. Although these “combo containers” are designed to be air- and liquid-tight, they often don’t seal quite as tightly as the best all-plastic wares. But given the health advantages of food-on-glass storage vs. food-on-plastic storage, the tradeoff seems more than acceptable. The glass and porcelain containers are usually microwave-safe, too, though it’s usually best to microwave the dish covered with a plate or paper towel rather than the plastic lid.
And after fifteen years of Allergic Rhinitis, Doctor Google may have found the answer when no other doctor could. A chemical called Benzyl Butyl Phthalate. Very interesting reading but I really don’t eat a lot of microwaved food in plastic but something to think about for sure.
Plastic Chemicals Linked to Asthma, Allergies
Oct. 6, 2004 — Certain chemicals commonly added to plastics are associated with asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and eczema, according to a new study.
The findings come from researchers including Carl-Gustaf Bornehag of the Swedish National Testing and Research Institute in Boras, Sweden. The report appears in the October issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Bornehag and colleagues compared 200 Swedish children who had persistent allergy or asthma symptoms with a similar number of kids without such symptoms.
Doctors screened the children for common allergens (substances that can trigger an allergic reaction or asthma symptoms) such as certain tree pollens, cat dander, dust mites, and mold.
Affected children had at least two incidents of eczema (an allergy-related skin condition), wheezing related to asthma, or hay fever symptoms (runny nose without a cold) in the past year. At the study’s end, they had at least two of three possible symptoms.
Researchers took dust samples from the moulding and shelves in the children’s bedrooms.
Samples containing higher concentrations of chemicals called phthalates were associated with symptoms of asthma, hay fever, and eczema.
PVC flooring in the children’s bedrooms was also associated with symptoms.
Phthalates are commonly added to plastics as softeners and solvents. They’re used in a wide variety of products including nail polish and other cosmetics, dyes, PVC vinyl tile, carpet tiles, artificial leather, and certain adhesives.
By leaching out of products, phthalates have become “global pollutants,” say the researchers. More than 3.5 million metric tons of phthalates are produced annually.
Phthalates aren’t new, but they have become more common in recent decades. Towards the end of World War II, only “very low levels” of phthalates were produced.
In fact, phthalates are now so widespread that they are hard to avoid.
Asthma and allergies have also increased in the developed world during the last 30 years, prompting some experts to wonder if environmental changes are responsible, since genetic shifts might not be seen as quickly.
This study concentrated on three common phthalates: BBzP, DEHP, and di-n-butyl phthalate.
BBzP was associated with rhinitis and eczema and DEHP was linked to asthma; di-n-butyl phthalate was not associated with any symptoms.
The dust samples didn’t have outlandish concentrations of the phthalates. Levels fell within the range of what is normally found in indoor environments, say the researchers.
“Given the phthalate exposures of children worldwide, the results from this study of Swedish children have global implications,” they conclude.
So with the new information, I went back to the site with the effects of microwaved water to find out if the water was microwaved using plastic…and it was!
We have seen a number of comments on this, such as what was the water in the microwave boiled in. The thinking is that maybe some leaching took place if it was in plastic. It was boiled in a plastic cup, so this could be a possibility.
Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns
Tests show 287 industrial chemicals in 10 newborn babies
A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood. Environmental Working Group, July 14, 2005
In the month leading up to a baby’s birth, the umbilical cord pulses with the equivalent of at least 300 quarts of blood each day, pumped back and forth from the nutrient- and oxygen-rich placenta to the rapidly growing child cradled in a sac of amniotic fluid. This cord is a lifeline between mother and baby, bearing nutrients that sustain life and propel growth.
Not long ago scientists thought that the placenta shielded cord blood — and the developing baby — from most chemicals and pollutants in the environment. But now we know that at this critical time when organs, vessels, membranes and systems are knit together from single cells to finished form in a span of weeks, the umbilical cord carries not only the building blocks of life, but also a steady stream of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides that cross the placenta as readily as residues from cigarettes and alcohol. This is the human “body burden” — the pollution in people that permeates everyone in the world, including babies in the womb.
In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.
This study represents the first reported cord blood tests for 261 of the targeted chemicals and the first reported detections in cord blood for 209 compounds. Among them are eight perfluorochemicals used as stain and oil repellants in fast food packaging, clothes and textiles — including the Teflon chemical PFOA, recently characterized as a likely human carcinogen by the EPA’s Science Advisory Board — dozens of widely used brominated flame retardants and their toxic by-products; and numerous pesticides.
Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The dangers of pre- or post-natal exposure to this complex mixture of carcinogens, developmental toxins and neurotoxins have never been studied.
Chemical exposures in the womb or during infancy can be dramatically more harmful than exposures later in life. Substantial scientific evidence demonstrates that children face amplified risks from their body burden of pollution; the findings are particularly strong for many of the chemicals found in this study, including mercury, PCBs and dioxins. Children’s vulnerability derives from both rapid development and incomplete defense systems:
A developing child’s chemical exposures are greater pound-for-pound than those of adults. An immature, porous blood-brain barrier allows greater chemical exposures to the developing brain. Children have lower levels of some chemical-binding proteins, allowing more of a chemical to reach “target organs.”
A baby’s organs and systems are rapidly developing, and thus are often more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposure. Systems that detoxify and excrete industrial chemicals are not fully developed. The longer future life span of a child compared to an adult allows more time for adverse effects to arise.
The 10 children in this study were chosen randomly, from among 2004’s summer season of live births from mothers in Red Cross’ volunteer, national cord blood collection program. They were not chosen because their parents work in the chemical industry or because they were known to bear problems from chemical exposures in the womb. Nevertheless, each baby was born polluted with a broad array of contaminants.
U.S. industries manufacture and import approximately 75,000 chemicals, 3,000 of them at over a million pounds per year. Health officials do not know how many of these chemicals pollute fetal blood and what the health consequences of in utero exposures may be.
Had we tested for a broader array of chemicals, we would almost certainly have detected far more than 287. But testing umbilical cord blood for industrial chemicals is technically challenging. Chemical manufacturers are not required to divulge to the public or government health officials methods to detect their chemicals in humans. Few labs are equipped with the machines and expertise to run the tests or the funding to develop the methods. Laboratories have yet to develop methods to test human tissues for the vast majority of chemicals on the market, and the few tests that labs are able to conduct are expensive. Laboratory costs for the cord blood analyses reported here were $10,000 per sample.
A developing baby depends on adults for protection, nutrition, and, ultimately, survival. As a society we have a responsibility to ensure that babies do not enter this world pre-polluted, with 200 industrial chemicals in their blood. Decades-old bans on a handful of chemicals like PCBs, lead gas additives, DDT and other pesticides have led to significant declines in people’s blood levels of these pollutants. But good news like this is hard to find for other chemicals.
The Toxic Substances Control Act, the 1976 federal law meant to ensure the safety of commercial chemicals, essentially deemed 63,000 existing chemicals “safe as used” the day the law was passed, through mandated, en masse approval for use with no safety scrutiny. It forces the government to approve new chemicals within 90 days of a company’s application at an average pace of seven per day. It has not been improved for nearly 30 years — longer than any other major environmental or public health statute — and does nothing to reduce or ensure the safety of exposure to pollution in the womb.
Because the Toxic Substances Control Act fails to mandate safety studies, the government has initiated a number of voluntary programs to gather more information about chemicals, most notably the high production volume (HPV) chemical screening program. But these efforts have been largely ineffective at reducing human exposures to chemicals. They are no substitute for a clear statutory requirement to protect children from the toxic effects of chemical exposure.
In light of the findings in this study and a substantial body of supporting science on the toxicity of early life exposures to industrial chemicals, we strongly urge that federal laws and policies be reformed to ensure that children are protected from chemicals, and that to the maximum extent possible, exposures to industrial chemicals before birth be eliminated. The sooner society takes action, the sooner we can reduce or end pollution in the womb.
I was talking to my mother tonight about Wendy Mesley’s program and she happen to mention about the neighbour who died recently of some kind of neurological disease. Now this is only pure speculation but she thought it was related to the fact that he rented a tank of weed killer and sprayed his lawn every year. She never saw him use a face mask or use gloves when using the chemicals.
By complete coincidence I came across this article in the Toronto Star:
Health study underlines weed killer concernsApr. 25, 2006. 01:00 AMOTTAWA ”The most commonly used weed killer on Canadian lawns and gardens is known only as 2,4-D and is “persuasively linked” to cancer, neurological impairment and reproductive problems, a new study says.
The report in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health contradicts a recent re-assessment of 2,4-D by the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency, which found it does not cause cancer and can be used safely on lawns if directions are followed.
Found in many pesticides, it’s been controversial for decades.
The study appeared the day MP Pat Martin (NDP-Winnipeg Centre) tabled a private member’s bill to ban pesticide use for cosmetic reasons.
Martin says more than 50 million kilograms of pesticides are still used in Canada each year.
His bill would require pesticide makers to prove their products are safe before being placed on the market, rather than regulators being required to prove the products are dangerous.
Authors of the new study say the federal re-assessment is largely based on animal studies, which cannot predict consequences in humans. They say many are confidential, supplied by pesticide makers.
“The (agency) 2,4-D assessment does not approach standards for ethics, rigour or transparency in medical research,” said medical writer Meg Sears, speaking for co-authors Robin Walker, Richard van der Jagt and Paul Claman.
Van der Jagt chairs the Canadian Leukemia Studies Group. Walker is past president of the Canadian Pediatric Association. Claman is a University of Ottawa professor of reproductive medicine.