Tuesday, January 20th:
in·au·gu·ra·tion (ĭn-ô’gyə-rā’shən): A formal beginning or introduction.
The perfect time to begin something new. Something meaningful. Something like spending Tuesday mornings with me at SBCC track. 8:30. Bring mat, water and your inaugural speech 🙂
Tuesday Cosmetic Clean-Up:
Hairspray. It’s much more than a musical. The chemical story of hairspray needs to serve as a red flag for our wariness of the cosmetics industry and its relationship with the chemical industry.
Before 1958, hairspray used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a propellant, until CFCs were banned for ozone depletion. Enter vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) as a replacement. Six years later, in 1964, concerns were being raised about the safety of VCM. By 1971 chemical companies had definitive proof that VCM exposure caused tumors. But ANOTHER 4 YEARS passed until they made their information public, which immediately triggered a federal ban of it’s use in cosmetics, drugs and pesticides. What was going on during those years? Internal documents at BF Goodrich and Union Carbide, two VCM manufacturers, show that they were weighing risk vs. reward, as can be seen in this Chemical Industry Archives report:
According to internal chemical industry documents, when VCM makers were finally forced to acknowledge to themselves that vinyl chloride was unsafe, they said nothing publicly to “can fillers” or beauticians, but simply stopped promoting it as a propellant and raised the price to discourage its use. The documents show clearly that chemical companies did so not out of concern for public health, but because the “unlimited potential for product liability claims” outweighed “the limited commercial value of the aerosol propellant market.” (You can read the full story here)
Although VCM is no longer in hairspray, other harmful chemicals remain a concern, especially as the spray delivery exposes you to inhalation issues. Methylparaben and “Fragrance” are often found in hairspray. As you will recall, “Fragrance” is an allowable euphemism for a bunch of chemicals, often including pthalates. Like pthalates, The Parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl) can mimic hormones, disrupting endocrine balance.
A new study finds that the sons of hairdressers, who obviously have a high exposure to hairspray, were twice as likely to be born with a genital defect.
Researchers from Imperial College in London identify the defect as hypospadias, a condition where the urinary opening is on the underside of the penis. It can be repaired with surgery although the condition can sometimes lead to infertility and dysfunction. In their study, 471 women were interviewed whose sons had the defect. They were compared to a control group who had children without the disorder.
Women were found to have a two to three-fold increased risk of having a son with hypospadias when they are exposed to hairspray in the first trimester of pregnancy.
This study is published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, and can be seen here.
Looking at the bigger picture, the larger concerns of chemical companies marketing chemicals with unknown safety issues to cosmetics companies leaves us, the consumers, with moisturizer in one hand and a question mark in the other. The FDA only steps in when known concerns become statistical. And do you know what makes up those statistics? Case histories of people like you and me. To quote the conclusion of the Chemical Industry Archive report:
More than 25 years later, many beauty products, from nail polish to shampoo, still contain chemicals that either lack rigorous, independent health testing for safety or are allowed in beauty products despite known hazards to human health.
So, check your hairspray, or any other potentially inhaled product, right away. Then move on to all your other products that can be inhaled or come in contact with any part of your body. See if they are listed on Cosmeticsdatabase.com. and how they rate.
Tuesday Help Tip:
Does it ever irk you when you get your phone bill and you see what they’re charging to call 411? Google has a free answer for you. Call 1-800-GOOG-411 and you’re connected to a free computer 411 service. You can be specific (Macy’s in Santa Barbara, CA) or general (pizza delivery in Westwood, CA), and get some options from which you can choose. Load the GOOG-411 number into your cell phone under “Info” and never pay 411 charges again. See the video tutorial below.
Tuesday Green Tip:
I never really got the point of “organic” cotton clothing or bedding. I figured, how much of any pesticides would actually survive the manufacturing process and affect me? Then, like most things, I realized….. it wasn’t about me.
I will go with the most conservative number I could find and share with you this fact:
Cotton uses 25% of the world’s pesticides. And I have seen much higher numbers than that.
OK, so they now have my attention. Without getting geekish and boring you with pesticide reports, let it suffice to say that that is a hell of a lot of pesticides. Problem is, much of the pesticide components are showing up in nearby water. Here is a statistical summation of the problem, and the benefits we can reap by buying organic cotton:
- Of all insecticides used globally each year, the estimated amount used on traditional cotton: 25%.
- Five of the top nine pesticides used on cotton in the U.S. (cyanide, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifluralin) are KNOWN cancer-causing chemicals. All nine are classified by the U.S. EPA as Category I and II— the most dangerous chemicals.
- In the U.S. today, it takes approximately 8-10 years, and $100 million to develop a new pesticide for use on cotton. It takes approximately 5-6 years for weevils and other pests to develop an immunity to a new pesticide.
- 600,408 tons of herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, fungicides, and other chemicals were used to produce cotton in 1992 in the 6 largest cotton producing states. (Agricultural Chemical Usage, 1992 Field Crops Summary, USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service)
- Number of pesticides presently on the market that were registered before being tested to determine if they caused cancer, birth defects or wildlife toxicity: 400. (US EPA Pesticide Registration Progress Report, 1/93)
- Amount of time it takes to ban a pesticide in the U.S. using present procedures: 10 years. (US EPA Pesticide Registration Progress Report, 1/93)
- Number of active ingredients in pesticides found to cause cancer in animals or humans: 107.(After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
- Of those active ingredients, the number still in use today: 83.(After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
- Number of pesticides that are reproductive toxins according to the California E.P.A.: 15. (After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
- Most acutely toxic pesticide registered by the E.P.A.: aldicarb (frequently used on cotton). (After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
- Number of states in which aldicarb has been detected in the groundwater: 16. (After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
- Percentage of all U.S. counties containing groundwater susceptible to contamination from agricultural pesticides and fertilizers: 46%. (After Silent Spring, NRDC, 6/93)
- The Sustainable Cotton Project estimates that the average acre of California cotton grown in 1995 received some 300 pounds of synthetic fertilizers or 1/3 pound of fertilizer to raise every pound of cotton. Synthetic fertilizers have been found to contaminate drinking wells in farm communities and pose other long-term threats to farm land.
- One of the commonly used pesticides on cotton throughout the world, endosulfan, leached from cotton fields into a creek in Lawrence County, Alabama during heavy rains in 1995. Within days 245,000 fish were killed over 16 mile stretch. 142,000 pounds of endosulfan were used in California in 1994.
- In California’s San Joaquin Valley, estimates are that less than 25% of a pesticide sprayed from a crop duster ever hits the crop. The remainder can drift for several miles, coming to rest on fruit and vegetable crops, and farm- workers. One year more than one hundred workers fell ill after a single incident of such drift onto an adjacent vineyard.
- In California, it has become illegal to feed the leaves, stems, and short fibers of cotton known as ‘gin trash’ to livestock, because of the concentrated levels of pesticide residue. Instead, this gin trash is used to make furniture, mattresses, tampons, swabs, and cotton balls. The average American woman will use 11,000 tampons or sanitary pads during her lifetime.
- The problems with clothing production doesn’t stop in the field. During the conversion of conventional cotton into clothing, numerous toxic chemicals are added at each stage— silicone waxes, harsh petroleum scours, softeners, heavy metals, flame and soil retardants, ammonia, and formaldehyde— to name just a few.
Benefit of Organic
Organic agriculture protects the health of people and the planet by reducing the overall exposure to toxic chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, and that are associated with health consequences, from asthma to cancer. Because organic agriculture doesn’t use toxic and persistent pesticides, choosing organic products is an easy way to help protect yourself and others from chemical exposure.
So, I am looking for organic cotton options when I buy cotton. Just thought you might, too.
Tuesday Nutrition Fun Fact:
Mushrooms may hold a lauded place in the pharmacy of our future. Penicillin was just the beginning. Recent research is uncovering some important information about these delicious fungi (numbers in parentheses indicate footnotes referencing the original studies, which I have not included here):
Fungi and animals are more closely related to one another than either is to plants, diverging from plants more than 460 million years ago.(10) Diseases of plants typically do not afflict humans, whereas diseases of fungi do.(11) Since humans (animals) and fungi share common microbial antagonists such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, humans can benefit from the natural defensive strategies of fungi that produce antibiotics to fight infection from microorganisms.
Hence, it is not surprising our most significant anti-bacterial antibiotics have been derived from fungi. In a recent in vitro study, extracts of more than 75 percent of polypore mushroom species surveyed showed antimicrobial activity and 45 percent of 204 mushroom species (polypores and gilled mushrooms alike) inhibited growth of a wide variety of microorganisms.
So eat up for some natural antibiotics.
Tuesday Brain Game: Cognitivelabs.com has a series of tests that challenge visual skills, reaction time, perception, etc. Try them here. (Click Play on the first page and then you will have an opportunity to move through a number of different tests.)
Every Tuesday Matters:
I just did this one… it’s a great idea.
From “Every Monday Matters”, Monday 3- Have AMBER ALERTS sent to you
- AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response” and was created as a legacy to 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, then brutally murdered.
- 76% of abducted children who are murdered are dead within 3 hours of the abduction and 88.5% are dead within 24 hours.
- 336 children have been reunited with their families because of AMBER Alerts.
- 70% of cell phones are able to receive wireless AMBER Alerts as text messages.
- 100% of computers can have the AMBER Alert Ticker downloaded onto them.
- AMBER Alerts are active in all 50 states.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
- Pay attention to AMBER Alert signs on the freeway or on TV.
- Sign-up to receive AMBER Alert text messaging on your cell phone.
- Download the AMBER Alert Ticker onto your computer. (SADLY, NOT FOR MACs, WINDOWS ONLY)
- If you see or receive an AMBER Alert, don’t take it lightly. The perpetrator might be closer than you think.
Protecting children from abduction and locating those who have been abducted is the twofold purpose of AMBER Alerts. They increase the number of people who can help locate an abducted child or deter predators, and they have caused perpetrators to release the abducted child after hearing or seeing the AMBER Alert. Remember, those first three hours are everything to that child and his or her family. Your eyes and action could mean the difference between a life lost and a life saved.
Tuesday Fun Stuff: