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
In an opinion piece for Roll Call Jeanne Rizzo argues that Congress has utterly failed to effectively regulate the chemical industry, and shares responsibility for widespread toxic chemical contamination of people and the environment.
"Will Congress become relevant by leading the way to a new federal regulatory framework that makes protecting public health the number one priority? Or will Congress be sidelined, as the states and marketplace fill the leadership void that anti-regulation forces have created by ignoring the public’s demand for safer chemicals and healthier lives?"
Read on in Roll Call.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on April 23, 2014 at 01:46 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This article, which was written by Breast Cancer Fund Director of Science Sharima Rasanayagam, appears on CNN.com.
Every day millions of women apply lipstick without a second thought. What many don't know is that lipsticks may contain lead, the notorious metal that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems. Lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous even at small doses.
So what's lead doing in lipsticks?
Not all lipsticks contain lead, but a number of studies in recent years show that the metal is more prevalent than previously thought.
In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics conducted a study -- "A Poison Kiss" -- that detected lead in 61% of the 33 lipsticks tested, with levels ranging from 0.03 ppm to 0.65 ppm. Parts per million (ppm) is the measurement of lead in the environment.
Medical experts say there is no safe level of lead in the blood. The FDA says it doesn't consider the lead levels it found in lipsticks to be a safety issue.
No lipstick lists lead as an ingredient. The amounts are small, but the presence of lead in lipstick, which is ingested and absorbed through the skin, raises concerns about the safety of a cosmetic product that is wildly popular among women.
Urged on by both consumers and the cosmetics industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted its own testing in 2010. The FDA's results were even more astonishing: The agency detected lead in all 400 lipsticks tested, ranging from 0.9 to 3.06 ppm -- four times higher than the levels observed in the study done by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
And lead isn't the only toxic metal you may be applying to your lips. In a recent study, University of California researchers tested eight lipsticks and 24 lip glosses and detected nine toxic heavy metals, including chromium, cadmium, manganese, aluminum and lead.
The FDA said, "We have assessed the potential for harm to consumers from use of lipstick containing lead at the levels found in both rounds of testing. Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities. We do not consider the lead levels we found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern."
Likewise, the cosmetics industry also doesn't see this as an issue, saying that the dose makes the poison -- in other words, the trace amounts of heavy metals in lipsticks are not harmful.
But the FDA noted, "Although we do not believe that the lead content found in our recent lipstick analyses poses a safety concern, we are evaluating whether there may be a need to recommend an upper limit for lead in lipstick in order to further protect the health and welfare of consumers. "
Indeed, what the FDA and the cosmetics industry have been ignoring is cumulative exposure and potential long-term adverse effects.
It's true that a single lipstick application will not lead to harm. And the good news is that not all lipsticks contain detectable levels of lead or other heavy metals. (And by the way, cost doesn't seem to be a factor; a cheap or expensive lipstick isn't the determinant of how much lead is present.)
The problem is when women who wear lipstick apply it two to 14 times a day, according to the University of California study. The result is that they are ingesting and absorbing through their lips as much as 87 milligrams of product a day, the study says.
Women are not only applying their lipsticks several times a day, but they also are doing this in the span of a whole lifetime, which means that exposure to lead and other heavy metals adds up and canpotentially affect their health.
One challenge for people wanting to avoid exposure is that none of the metals, with the exception of aluminum, are deliberately added to lipsticks and lip glosses. The metals are contaminants that are present in the pigments and base materials used to make the products. Because the metals are not ingredients, cosmetics companies are not required to list them on products' ingredient labels.
The law regulating cosmetics passed Congress in 1938 and has never been updated. The FDA possesses no legal authority to make sure products are safe before they are sold. Nor is the agency empowered to pull dangerous products from store shelves. It's the Wild West for cosmetics companies, which have very few rules restricting chemical ingredients used in everything from shampoosto lotions to lipsticks.
As the contamination of lip products with heavy metals makes it clear, allowing the industry to police itself is not the best idea.
We need the FDA to be empowered by Congress and to take action so women won't face any health risks when they put on makeup. Cosmetics companies should be required to adhere to a standard for best manufacturing processes to limit metal contamination.
For now, consumers should take precautions to protect themselves from heavy metal exposure from lip products. First, use less. If you find yourself reapplying lipstick 14 times a day, consider cutting back. Second, don't let children use lipstick, as their young bodies are especially vulnerable to toxic metals. Then let's get to work to make sure that by the time they've grown up, we have solved the problem of toxic chemicals in cosmetics.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on April 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Make Informed Health Care Choices, Make Our Products Safe, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: Breast Cancer, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, heavy metals, lipsticks, Parts per million (ppm, the dose makes the poison, toxic metal, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Unviersity of California, Wild West
Facing pressure from shareholders and consumers who want safer cosmetics, Avon announced it will phase out the toxic chemical triclosan from its beauty and personal care products. While the Breast Cancer Fund and our Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are pleased that Avon has taken action to remove this hormonally active chemical, we’re pushing the company to adopt a comprehensive policy that declares all chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other adverse health effects to be off limits.
"The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics congratulates Avon for finally giving triclosan the boot," said the Breast Cancer Fund's Janet Nudelman."But triclosan is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unsafe chemicals in cosmetics. We want Avon to adopt a comprehensive policy that declares chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, and other adverse health effects to be off limits in cosmetics and to support stricter regulation of the $71bn cosmetics industry so that everyone is protected."
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on April 16, 2014 at 12:47 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Firefighters Sound Alarm On Toxic Chemicals
Firefighters across the nation lined public spaces with work boots to protest the pervasive use of flame retardants and other toxic chemicals in household products on Thursday, March 27. It's all part of "Give Toxics the Boot", an initiative to get toxic chemicals out of our homes launched by the HBO film Toxic Hot Seat, along with Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, and the International Association of Fire Fighters.
Mark Leno's bill would close loophole on fire-retardant use
A bill introduced by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would give Californians the right to know whether the furniture they're buying contains potentially dangerous flame-retardant chemicals.
S.F. firefighter's new battle: proving cancer is job-related
The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a law being drafted by San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to give firefighters the presumption that disabilities from illnesses such as cancer or heart disease were caused by their work. The article highlights the case of Denise Elarms,a female firefighter in San Francisco, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and has been fighting to prove that her illness is job-related.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on March 28, 2014 at 12:05 PM in Air & Water, Chemicals policy reform, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, General Science, Green Our Chemical System, Household Products, News article, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Solidifying its national leadership to halt the use of a highly toxic flame retardant chemical linked to cancer and other serious health effects, Gov. Jerry Brown's administration issued new rules requiring the evaluation of the safety of TDCPP (chlorinated Tris) and its alternatives used in children’s sleep products sold in the state of California.
As a key step in its Safer Consumer Products regulations, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced three draft “priority products” that are listed below. DTSC is requiring manufacturers who want to sell them in California to conduct an “alternatives analysis” to determine if feasible safer ingredients are available.
DTSC says they selected these priority products because they contain at least one of more than 1,100 toxic chemicals that the department identified as having the potential to cause significant harm to people or the environment. The products also are widely used and create the potential for significant public exposure to these chemicals.
The three products are:
The Breast Cancer Fund's Janet Nudelman was quoted by three news outlets about the development:
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on March 20, 2014 at 04:10 PM in Chemicals policy reform, Create a Healthy Home, Eat & Live Better, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, General Science, Make Our Products Safe, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article, Protect Your Family, Protect Yourself & the Environment, State Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Michael Taylor of the Food and Drug Administration issued a scathing letter March 6 expressing his "profound disappointment" with draft legislation the agency received from two cosmetics industry trade associations. The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post covered the rout and quoted the Breast Cancer Fund's Janet Nudelman.
“Industry simply should not be calling the shots anymore,” she said. “They’ve been calling the shots for over 75 years in what little federal regulation there is.”
Horst Rechelbacher, the father of safe cosmetics and founder of Aveda beauty products and Intelligent Nutrients, died on Feb. 15 in Osceola, Wis. at age 72.
"Horst was in many ways the father of safe cosmetics,"[said Janet Nudelman of the Breast Cancer Fund & Campaign for Safe Cosmetics] "He took action to address the problem long before most of us knew there was anything to even worry about."
Read on in the full New York Times obituary.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on February 27, 2014 at 11:36 AM in Chemicals policy reform, Choose Safe Cosmetics, Cosmetics, Household Products, Make Our Products Safe, News article | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Following a disastrous chemical spill in West Virginia, the state's governor, Earl Ray Tomblin told people they could make their own decision as to whether or not they would like to use the water. And in her latest Huffington Post piece Breast Cancer Fund President and CEO Jeanne Rizzo argues that kind of laissez faire attitude is unacceptable.
"Saying 'it's your decision' is abdicating government's responsibility to protect us. It's declaring that the chemical industry is in charge, that our only chance for protection is for each and every one of us to become toxicologists and assess risk in our tap water, in the beauty aisle, at the supermarket."
In the end, Congress must fix the broken laws regulating chemicals in this country so that we can know that chemicals have been proven safe before they are put on the market.
Read on in the full Huffington Post article.
Posted by Breast Cancer Fund on January 31, 2014 at 10:21 AM in Air & Water, Chemicals policy reform, Federal Legislation, General Public Health, Green Our Chemical System, Make Prevention a Public Health Priority, News article, Protect Yourself & the Environment | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)