Guest blog by Rick Smith, author of "Toxin Toxout"
When Bruce Lourie and I first began speaking to people about toxic chemicals after our first book, "Slow Death by Rubber Duck" was released five years ago; the world was a very different place. We would quite often ask “Who has heard of BPA? Of phthalates?” and not a single hand would go up in the audience.
How times have changed.
In the past few weeks, as we’ve spoken to very similar audiences about our second book “Toxin Toxout”, consumer awareness is considerably higher. Many people now know that of the 80,000-odd chemicals currently in commerce, most have never been adequately tested for safety. They know that countless consumer products that Americans use every day are full of these toxic ingredients, and they are quite concerned that their health – and that of their families – is being negatively impacted as a consequence.
They want solutions. They want to get these chemicals out of their bodies and their lives. And that’s what “Toxin Toxout” is all about.
Let’s face it: the toxic chemical issue is hard to get your arms around. The chemicals in question have long, often unpronounceable names. And with every men’s and women’s health magazine claiming to have the new definitive detox treatment it’s hard to figure out which chemicals to worry about and how to take effective action. “Toxin Toxout” tries to answer these questions head on.
Through a series of direct experiments on ourselves and other intrepid volunteers we tease apart fact from fiction. As one example, we show that eating organic food can dramatically lower levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the bodies of children. We experiment on two cosmetics industry insiders and demonstrate that using greener cosmetics can quickly alter body levels of parabens (linked to breast cancer) and phthalates. Because there is nothing we won’t do in service of science we even sit in a new car for a day, breathing in the off-gassing, to shine a light on the chemical effects of the “new car smell.” Along the way we also delve into the whole weird world of detox therapies and discover that many of the potions and cleanses on offer are nothing more than modern-day snake oil. The book concludes with a handy “Top 10” list of simple, everyday, actions that are guaranteed to reduce levels of toxins in the body.
In both our books we are honored to be able to feature the work of the Breast Cancer Fund. A true pioneer in the effort to investigate the links between toxic chemicals and rising rates of breast cancer, the Breast Cancer Fund continues to lead the way in defense of human health and the environment
Because of the perseverance of the Breast Cancer Fund and others, over the past year major companies like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Avon and Walmart have all announced that they are moving to eliminate toxic chemicals from their products and their inventories. Jurisdictions around the world are making progress to eliminate chemicals from different aspects of our lives, such as the recent California crackdown on toxic flame retardants, and the US FDA’s new study of the health effects of triclosan. And millions of consumers across the US are getting educated like never before.
Fundamentally, “Toxin Toxout” is an optimistic book. Though it may be true that the toxic chemicals we have created are driving increased rates of serious disease such as breast and prostate cancer, the solutions to the crisis are within our grasp. Five years ago, audiences stared at us blankly when we asked them if they had ever heard of BPA. Now, every hand in the audience shoots up in answer to the same question. That’s progress!
So please check out “Toxin Toxout”, support the Breast Cancer Fund, and let’s keep the momentum going. Together, we’re winning!
RICK SMITH is co-author of the new book TOXIN TOXOUT: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World (St. Martin’s Press) and of the international bestseller SLOW DEATH BY RUBBER DUCK: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things. A prominent Canadian author and environmentalist, he is executive director of the Broadbent Institute and was the executive director of Environmental Defence for almost 10 years.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on May 05, 2014 at 06:14 PM in Air & Water, Bisphenol A, Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Eat & Live Better, Food, General Public Health, Green Our Chemical System, Household Products, News article, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: BPA, Broadbent Institute, Environmental Defence, FDA, Johnson & Johnson, new car smell, Rick Smith, Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Danger of Everyday Things, St. Martin's Press, the US
When we make protecting Mother Earth from toxic chemicals a priority, we are also prioritizing prevention of breast cancer and numerous other health issues. Many of the things you can do to protect you and your family from toxic exposures are also good for the planet.
1. Find safe ways to fight germs.
These days it seems like everything claims to be antibacterial—soaps, toothpaste, clothing, bedding, band-aids, toys, cutting boards—you name it. Chances are, these products contain triclosan, an antimicrobial agent that is suspected of interfering with the hormone systems of humans and wildlife. There’s no evidence that triclosan is more effective than soap and water, so trade in the toxics for some good, old-fashioned elbow grease.
2. Cut down on personal care products, and use Think Dirty to find safe alternatives.
When it comes to personal care products, simple is best. Decrease your exposure to toxic chemicals in cosmetics by using fewer products and choosing those with simpler ingredients. What you put on your skin can end up down the drain, entering rivers and streams, and disrupt ecosystems. For products you can’t live without, find a safe alternative using Think Dirty. The app, which contains a database of more than 94,000 personal care products (with more added every day!), will give you easy-to-understand info about products, ingredients, and cleaner options.
3. Go fresh, organic and hormone-free.
When possible, choose organic foods and hormone-free meat and dairy. Buying products grown organically reduces pesticide use, which is good for families, farmworkers, and the environment.
4. Dispose batteries, electronics and light bulbs properly.
When trashed, these items, which all contain chemicals linked to breast cancer and other health concerns, end up in landfills. From there, chemicals like cadmium and mercury can leach into soil, lakes and streams. What to do? Look for special battery or electronics recycling/disposal centers in your community, return compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) to your local hardware store and return electronics to returning them to the store or manufacturer.
5. Reduce your carbon footprint by walking, biking or taking public transportation. This also helps reduce exposures to other components of exhaust linked to breast cancer, because car exhaust releases carcinogens known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (known as PAHs). If you’re in the market for a car, choose a clean, fuel-efficient vehicle using the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on April 23, 2014 at 01:39 PM in Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, Food, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Household Products, Make Our Products Safe, Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
In her latest Huffington Post article, Breast Cancer Fund President and CEO Jeanne Rizzo explains the urgent need to protect pregnant women—the next generation’s first environment—from toxic exposures, starting with BPA.
"We shouldn't place yet another burden on pregnant women by giving them the nearly impossible job of avoiding chemical exposures. Yes, women who are pregnant should avoid canned food, but that's not enough. The science shows us that the first 11 weeks of gestation may be the most critical window, and we all know that many women don't even realize they're pregnant until well into or even after this period."
Read on in the full article.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on September 23, 2013 at 04:05 PM in Bisphenol A, Chemicals policy reform, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, Food, General Public Health, General Science, Household Products, News article, Protect Your Family, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
An article on RodaleNews.com offers a digestable overview of the Breast Cancer Fund's recent report, Disrupted Development: the Dangers of Prenatal BPA Exposure, emphasizing that a baby's exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical, bisphenol A (BPA) in the mother's womb during the first 11 weeks of pregnancy can damage development that will only show up years or decades later.
Our program and policy manager, Gretchen Lee Salter, is quoted in the article and drives home the message that cans are pregnant women's number-one route of exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical:
"To protect every woman who's pregnant or may become pregnant, the only logical solution is to remove BPA from all canned foods."
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on September 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM in Bisphenol A, Chemicals policy reform, Eat & Live Better, Food, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, News article, Protect Your Family, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Last December, I read an article about a survey of 2,600 obstetricians and gynecologists in which most reported that they don’t warn their pregnant patients about the dangers of exposure to chemicals in food, consumer products or the environment.
I wasn’t surprised.
When I was pregnant with my daughter three years ago, no one in my doctor’s office mentioned anything about the potential risks associated with chemical exposures, nor did they mention anything about the steps I could take to avoid these exposures. Now in my second pregnancy, not only did my OB-GYN not mention this issue, she dismissed my concerns as a “long-term” problems. Since I plan on being a mother long-term, I’m disappointed that my concerns were brushed aside.
It isn’t as though the information isn’t out there. It is. The Program for Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California, San Francisco has been warning women about the dangers of toxic exposures for years. But, sadly, most women are still in the dark about the dangers associated with prenatal exposure to certain chemicals.
That’s why the Breast Cancer Fund teamed up with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the March of Dimes to draft legislation in California requiring that this information be made available to pregnant women.
Senate Bill 460, authored by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), a longtime friend and supporter of the Breast Cancer Fund, would mandate that information about environmental health be provided to women during their prenatal care. Existing law requires that medical professionals in California provide pregnant women with a pamphlet on prenatal testing. If SB 460 passes, this pamphlet would include an insert about toxic chemical exposures. The bill would also encourage OB-GYNs and midwives to discuss environmental health with their patients.
It’s a simple bill and an idea that is long overdue. And the state legislature seems to agree. In May, the bill passed the state Senate with unanimous support, and this week it was approved by a key Assembly committee, again with unanimous support.
The bill will be up for a full vote in the Assembly in the next few weeks, where it is expected to pass. Then it is on to Gov. Brown for his signature. We’ll keep you updated on its progress.
In the meantime, I intend on keeping myself and my doctor informed about the risks and, hopefully, in the near future, my doctor and thousands of others will be the ones initiating these conversations with patients.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on August 15, 2013 at 10:30 AM in Air & Water, Bisphenol A, Chemicals policy reform, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, Food, General Public Health, General Science, Health Care, Make Informed Health Care Choices, Protect Your Family, Protect Yourself & the Environment, State Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Outdoor Retailer's blog featured an interview with Jim Osgood, CEO and Chairman of the Board at Klean Kanteen, as part of a blog series on sustainable business leadership.
In the interview Jim mentioned Klean Kanteen's longstanding relationship with the Breast Cancer Fund, explaining how we were working to create a BPA-free market before it was even trendy:
"Another of our strategic partners is the Breast Cancer Fund. It is committed to the science and research behind environmental causes of cancer. Klean Kanteen is committed to bringing healthy and safe consumer products to the market and was working with Breast Cancer Fund long before the general public was even remotely aware of the effects of BPA and other hormone or endocrine-disrupting chemicals."
Read on in the full blog post.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on August 15, 2013 at 09:25 AM in Bisphenol A, Eat & Live Better, Food, General Public Health, Household Products, Make Our Products Safe, News article | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Rodale joined other news organizations last week, such as the Philadelphia Inquirer and The Hill, in reporting on FDA's official ban on the toxic chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, for baby-formula packaging.
The Rodale article provides a direct link to the Breast Cancer Fund website and quotes Janet Nudelman, our director of program and policy:
"This is another milestone in the people-powered movement to get BPA out of our food. Consumers demanded BPA-free baby formula, and manufacturers finally did the right thing."
The article acknowledges the fact that baby formula manufacturers have already stopped using the chemical.
"Gretchen Lee Salter, expecting mom and leader of the Breast Cancer Fund’s 'Cans Not Cancer' campaign, said that while she’s heartened by this small step toward banning BPA, it’s still not enough.
'If BPA isn’t safe for babies, then it’s certainly not safe for my 2-year-old or even for me during my pregnancy,' said Lee Salter in the fund's press release. 'It’s frustrating that we’re still having this conversation. None of us—not babies, not kids, not pregnant moms—should be exposed to this toxic chemical.'"
The Hill, an online news organization covering Capitol Hill, reported on the ban and also quoted Janet Nudelman.
While any news about prohibiting BPA is good news, the FDA's announcement only codified reality: The infant-formula industry had already stopped using BPA. Can the canned food industry be far behind? We’re working on it!
The Breast Cancer Fund was one of the first organizations to report on the ban. Check out our full press release here.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on July 15, 2013 at 01:59 PM in Bisphenol A, Chemicals policy reform, Eat & Live Better, Food, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Household Products, News article, Protect Your Family | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
We co-wrote a Huffington Post article with the Oakland-based non-profit Food First, which explains how food deserts disproportionately expose people of color to toxic chemicals like BPA in food packaging.
"People living in underserved communities have been found to have higher levels of BPA in their blood relative to the rest of the population. One possible explanation is greater reliance on canned foods that are often less expensive and more readily available."
Statement by Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy, Breast Cancer Fund.
As U.S. states, manufacturers, and governments around the world reject the use of the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA), Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) took the challenge to the U.S. Congress, introducing the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2013 (BPA Act) to prohibit the use of BPA in food and beverage containers. Since 2008, Markey has taken the lead in the House of Representatives to banish BPA from food packaging, a major source of exposure to the chemical, due to rising health concerns. In the Senate, Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has been the champion against BPA in food packaging, and is also likely to introduce new legislation this month.
The more that is understood about BPA, the more urgent it becomes to eliminate this chemical from food packaging and consumer products. Nearly 200 scientific studies show that exposures to even low doses of BPA, particularly during pregnancy and early infancy, are associated with a wide range of adverse health effects later in life, including increased breast cancer risk. Studies show that BPA exposure can make non-cancerous breast cells grow and survive like cancer cells, and can actually make the cells less responsive to the cancer-inhibiting effects of tamoxifen, a drug used in the treatment of breast cancer.
BPA has been found in blood and urine of pregnant women, in the umbilical cord blood of newborns and in breast milk soon after women gave birth. These data indicate that pregnant women exposed to BPA can easily pass this chemical to their children during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Yet most people are exposed to BPA every day. The Centers for Disease Control found BPA in 93 percent of all Americans tested and the National Institutes of Health point to food packaging as a major route of exposure.
One route of BPA exposure has been halted in the U.S.: in 2012, the FDA prohibited BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups. The FDA took this action only after the American Chemistry Council (ACC) petitioned the agency to support the ban. Ironically, due to public demand, the vast majority of manufacturers had already stopped using BPA in baby bottles by the time the ACC asked for and the FDA decided to issue their ban. The ACC’s support of the regulation most likely represents a tactical move. Their fear of more expansive BPA regulations, such as banning BPA from canned food, is a better explanation for the chemical industry’s support of the bottle ban.
Over the past five years, 34 states have introduced legislation to restrict BPA; twelve states adopted legislation to ban BPA from baby bottles and sippy cups, and three of those states also banned BPA from infant formula and baby food. The baby bottle ban has not slowed down efforts to restrict use of the chemical; in 2013 alone, 14 states have introduced legislation to more strictly regulate BPA in food packaging.
Market campaigns against BPA in canned foods also have been successful in pushing manufacturers to move away from the chemical. The Breast Cancer Fund’s Cans Not Cancer campaign announced last year that Campbell Soup Company will phase out the use of BPA in its can linings. Heinz and Eden Foods have transitioned away from BPA, as has ConAgra and Muir Glen. Supermarket chain Kroger announced earlier this year its store brands and baby products will be BPA free.
Worldwide bans on BPA have been enacted. The EU, Malaysia, China, Denmark, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Canada have all banned BPA from baby bottles. France announced a ban on BPA in packaging for children under age 3 as of 2013, and all food packaging (effective 2014).
In stark contrast, the U.S. government has failed to act on BPA, with the sole exception of the baby bottle ban, which was requested by chemical makers. But Representative Markey hopes to change that. In addition to championing federal legislative action, Representative Markey has been relentless and creative in his efforts to get the government to take action.
In 2012, Markey filed three petitions with the FDA to ban the use of BPA in food packaging, becoming the first member of Congress to use FDA’s citizen petition process to pressure the FDA to take regulatory action against the toxic chemical. His petitions asked the FDA to amend its regulations for infant formula and baby food uses of BPA, ban the use of BPA in canned food intended for children 12 or younger, and ban BPA from reusable food containers.
The FDA formally accepted his infant formula petition, opened a public comment period last summer but has yet to formally respond. In 2011 the FDA rejected a petition filed by Natural Resources Defense Council to ban BPA from food packaging, stating that it needed more evidence of harm before acting.
Despite clear signals from scientists, consumers, retailers, manufacturers and state and world governments that BPA does not belong in any of our food packaging, the FDA has yet to finish its safety assessment of BPA. Clearly the FDA needs to catch up. And, in the meantime, Congress should pass Rep. Markey’s legislation, the Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2013.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on June 04, 2013 at 03:51 PM in Bisphenol A, Chemicals policy reform, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, Food, General Public Health | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)