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6 posts from November 2011

11/23/2011

Trouble in Toyland Report Finds Lead and Phthalates

By Meredith Salmi-Bydalek, The Arc Greater Twin Cities

Trouble-in-toyland_20111122152529_320_240Shopping during the holiday season can definitely be stressful, and nowadays parents are often left with the challenge of not only finding the perfect gift, but also navigating through a sea of unregulated toxic toys to get there.

Unfortunately, a recent report by the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) Education Fund reiterates that we still need to be extra cautious when picking out toys off the shelf.

The annual Trouble in Toyland report investigates safety of toys currently on the market. Researchers visited national toy stores, malls and dollar stores looking for toys that could pose a potential risk to young children, from exposure to toxic chemicals to choking hazards. Despite recent efforts to limit the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products, what researchers found might surprise you.


What did they find?

Though banned since 1978 in products marketed to children, lead, a known neurotoxin affecting children’s development, can still be found in imported toys. From October 2010 through November 2011, almost 200,000 toys were recalled in the United States due to lead content that exceeded federal limits. Researchers found that a handful of toys investigated exceeded current federal limits and several others exceeded standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Phthalates were also found to be used in alarming rates in toys. Phthalates are additives used to improve the flexibility of products including toys. Exposure to phthalates in the womb or during development has been linked to reproductive harm. The current federal standards sets the maximum amount of three different phthalates at 1,000 parts per million (ppm). Researchers found toys that had 42,000 ppm and 77,000 ppm of various phthalates.

How you can avoid troublesome toys:

Even though dangerous chemicals still exist in some children’s toys, your holiday season doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. The report also releases these tips so that you can be a discerning consumer.

Unfortunately, there’s no sure-fire way to completely avoid toxics in consumer products until Congress passes the Safe Chemicals Act, legislation that will require chemical manufacturers to demonstrate that their products are safe before they end up on store shelves. So give the gift that keeps on giving and take action to support the Safe Chemicals Act today!

11/17/2011

The Dirt on Cleaning Products

Dirty-Secrets-240x300Today Women's Voices for the Earth released a new report detailing test results of the secret ingredients contained in cleaning products manufactured by five major companies: Clorox, Proctor & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Sunshine Makers, and SC Johnson and Son.

The results? That all-purpose cleaner might have all sorts of harmful chemicals in it. Here's a summary of what WVE found:

  1. Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk.
  2. Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.
  3. Allergens were found in products marketed as fragrance-free.
  4. None of these chemicals were listed on the product’s label.

Consumers have a right to know about what chemicals are in the products they buy, especially if they have been linked with harmful health effects. And what's more, we should have laws in place that protect us from these exposures by ensuring that products are safe before they hit the shelves.

You can read the full report and you can also take action now by heading to the WVE website and asking your representative to support the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act.

    Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk.

    Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.

    Allergens were found in products marketed as fragrance-free.

    None of these chemicals were listed on the product’s label.
    Some products contained reproductive toxins such as toluene and phthalates, carcinogens like 1,4-dioxane and chloroform, and a hormone disrupting synthetic musk.

    Several known allergens were also detected in these products, the highest levels of which appeared in fragranced air fresheners.

    Allergens were found in products marketed as fragrance-free.

    None of these chemicals were listed on the product’s label.

11/15/2011

Who invited BPA to Thanksgiving Dinner?

Jerad_MCCBy Jerad Morey, Minnesota Council of Churches

Thanksgiving is a time to pause and reflect. What blessings have you received this year? What do you have to be grateful for? Pastors often ask parishioners to think with joy upon what God has done in their lives as they look around a table of gathered generations of friends and family.

While we may be blessed with health, food, friends and family, how are we treating these blessings? We believe that through sharing table and food we are building and strengthening our community and expressing our gratitude for life. But have food manufacturers tainted our thanks?

According to today’s report, "BPA in Thanksgiving Canned Food", those of us who use canned green beans, pumpkin, or other popular canned Thanksgiving products to express gratitude or to celebrate abundance may actually be giving a toxic gift to ourselves and those we love. These canned foods contain high levels of BPA, a hormone disruptor linked to early puberty, obesity and cancer. It is especially dangerous in the bodies of infants, children and pregnant women.

We couldn’t have been expected to know about the accidental chemicals we were feeding the ones we loved most! The groceries tested in this report don’t sit on a shelf next to warning labels saying “Contains BPA.”  We won’t find “hormone disruptors” in the nutrition information label. Thankfully, this report can help us prepare a meal that truly expresses joy for our family and friends without stuffing them full of artificial toxins.

This Thanksgiving, make sure your table centerpiece is a horn-a-plenty filled with blessings, not a cornucopia of carcinogens. Read the report. Shop accordingly. And let canned food manufacturers know that your holiday wish is for BPA-free food. Next year safer food might be one more blessing you can be thankful for.

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Editor's note: This blog previously mentioned that canned cranberries may contain BPA. We want to clarify that the testing results in the new Breast Cancer Fund report found that OceanSpray Jellied Cranberry Sauce had non-detectable levels of BPA.

11/08/2011

Ready, Set...Stroller Brigade!

Today, moms and kids across the country are taking to the streets with their strollers and demanding that their senators support the Safe Chemicals Act, a bill introduced by Senator Lautenberg that will reform the broken and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act.

 Comprehensive chemical policy reform will benefit us all, and these Minnesotans are letting us in on just a few of the many reasons we need to get toxic chemicals out of our lives!

Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families will be live all-day on Facebook, dishing out non-toxic living tips and we'll be there to join in the fun. Join us!

You can also track the stroller brigades on twitter by searching #StrollerBrigade.

11/03/2011

Chemical Nightmare: Toxins in Crib Mattresses

MattressMatters-72dpi-stickerEarlier this year we reported on the presence of toxic flame retardants in children's products containing polyurethane foam and today a new report has been released that finds a significant portion of the crib mattresses in the U.S. market contain one or more chemicals of concern.

The Mattress Matters: Protecting Babies While They Sleep, published by our colleagues at Clean and Healthy New York, and the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, lays out the results of a market study on crib mattress manufacturing in the U.S.

Mattress pie chartWhat did they find?

  1. 52 percent of mattress models surveyed were made with conventional materials, including toxic chemicals.
  2. 20 percent of mattress models surveyed were made without chemicals of concern, but contained potential allergens.
  3. 8 percent of mattress models surveyed were made without chemicals of concern or allergens.

The Minnesota Priority Chemicals list

The Priority Chemicals list puts some of the worst of the worst chemicals found in children's products on record. They are are known or suspected developmental or reproductive toxins, endocrine disrupters, or persistent, bioaccumulative toxins and are found in the human body, the home environment or in nature. They are also produced in excess of one million pounds per year.

Two of the chemicals on the list, decaBDE and HBCD, are both toxic flame retardants that may be used in textiles and foam products. Additionally, three different phthalates and lead also made the cut. They are often added to vinyl, and since 40% of the surveyed mattresses included vinyl covers, some of all of them may be present in these products.

What's in a mattress? It's not always easy to find out

IStock_000012222942SmallThe report authors investigated 28 different crib mattress manufacturers by checking product tags, websites and making calls to the different companies. In this process, 17 manufacturers disclosed all of their ingredients (though only two, Soaring Heart Natural Bed Company and Naturepedic,  provided full disclosure on their websites). Another ten companies provided some information but either gave proprietary name information or refused to provide information on the use of flame retardants, waterproofers and/or antibacterial methods. One company refused to answer any questions about their products.

The good news

Parents should rest assured that this report will help them to make informed decisions about purchasing a crib mattress. The report found that 14 mattress models from 3 different manufacturers did not contain any chemicals of concern or potential allergens.

However, these choices should be available to everyone without having to conduct a research project and that's why what we really need is to reform the broken and outdated Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which has failed to require this information and to keep harmful chemicals off the market for the past 35 years. Add your voice to the campaign for safer chemicals by asking your senators to support the Safe Chemicals Act!

 

11/02/2011

Baby's Tub is Still Toxic, New Report Finds

J_J baby shampooA new report released this week by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics finds that two years after it found a  chemical that releases formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, in Johnson and Johnson's Baby Shampoo, the company is still using the formaldehyde-releasing ingredient.

What's more, the company is currently selling the same baby shampoo, without this problem chemical, in other countries around the world.

Johnson and Johnson released a statement saying it is no longer introducing new products with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives and has reduced its use of the chemical by 60 percent in the U.S. market and 33 percent globally over the past few years.

While this is important progress, we know that this product can be made without the formaldehyde-releasing chemical, quaternium-15, and now is the time to send a letter to Johnson & Johnson telling them to move quickly to remove this chemical from all formulations of their baby shampoo.

For the new analysis, entitled Baby’s Tub Is Still Toxic, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics purchased and reviewed labels of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in 13 countries to see if the products contained quaternium-15, a chemical preservative that kills bacteria by releasing formaldehyde.

The analysis reveals that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo sold in the United States, Australia, Canada, China and Indonesia contains quaternium-15, while Johnson’s Baby Shampoo formulas sold in Denmark, Finland, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K. contain non-formaldehyde preservatives.

 

 

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