The book Slow Death by Rubber Duck doesn’t sound like a pleasurable read, but it is! Well, at least as much as could be given the subject matter of toxins that are slowly poisoning us and our environment.
The two Canadian authors, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, decide to experiment with phthalates, BPA, mercury, and PFC’s (non-stick chemicals) to see what their personal levels were and whether they could increase them via normal, daily activities (like using personal care products, eating canned foods, or eating lots of sushi). In addition to describing these mini-experiments (n=1), they elaborate on the history of these toxins, the science behind them, and why they are dangerous. Particularly interesting to me was the research showing that even infinitesimally small amounts of certain chemicals, like BPA, have measurable effects. Slow death indeed!
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I want to highlight a few oral products I’ve been using recently, including a new toothpaste I absolutely love. It’s from Weleda and it’s their salt toothpaste. The sodium chloride makes you salivate, which helps clean your mouth. There are also no nasty chemicals and a strong dose of menthol (peppermint oil) which is very tasty and refreshing.
I’d also like to mention another toothpaste I’ve tried recently, from the Natural Dentist, that has no sodium lauryl sulfate, lots of natural ingredients, but still contains flouride. I love everything about the toothpaste, save the plastic tube it comes in.
Last but not least, I have to mention the importance of using a natural floss, like this one from Dessert Essence. Some mainstream floss, such as Glide, contains PFOA’s to make it slide smoothly. These chemicals are the same ones found in Teflon, Goretex, and Stainmaster brands. It’s an extremely persistent and toxic chemical that you certainly don’t want in your mouth.
As you can probably tell, I’ve been reading a lot lately. I just finally have the time to tackle some subjects I’ve always wanted to read more about. One of those topics I’m very passionate about is toxic chemicals in our environment and how to best avoid them. If that is interesting to you too, then I highly recommend you read The Body Toxic. The 230 page book was written by a journalist in 2008 and covers five major chemicals in a chapter each:
- Atrazine — most commonly sprayed agricultural pesticide/herbicide, commonly found in ground and stream water.
- Phthalates — a group of chemicals that make plastics like PVC flexible, also found in personal care products, detergents, soaps, food packaging, building materials, inflatable toys, and medical equipment like IV tubing.
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) — a family of flame retardants used since the 1970s that are chemically very similar to the now banned PCBs, found in upholstered furniture, mattresses, carpet padding, vehicle upholstery, and electronics.
- Bisphenol A (BPA) — a chemical building block for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, found in canned foods, food and beverage containers, PC (usually #7 plastic), and even some dental sealants/composites.
- Perflourinated chemicals — chemicals that resist water, grease, and stains, found in products with names like Teflon, Scotchgard, Stainmaster, and GORE-TEX, and also found in nonstick cookware, stain resistance clothing/shoes/furniture, waterproof outerwear, some dental floss, microwave popcorn bags, and fast-food packaging. Continue reading »
A friend of mine sent me an email about my previous post and I thought it was worthy of sharing here and responding to since her concerns are very valid.
Do you know if there is any focus on what the replacement materials will be? If the phthalates were in the toys for a specific purpose – to make them more pliable and less likely to crack/break or whatever, isn’t another synthetic material going to have to be used in its place? Particularly for the toys that fulfill the market demand for the cheapest toys possible (found at dollar stores and Walmart)? And who is going to decide what that material will be? I saw the “green” plastic toys on your blog (and that tea set is so adorable by the way) which are great for families that make it a priority to buy quality toys, but I feel like most people in this country are now (unfortunately) used to buying a cheap plastic tea set at Walmart for $4.99… and for this market are companies going to have to find another cheap synthetic material (that is not banned by this bill) to meet the demand that is out there for cheap toys. And will it be tested? Or will the kids be the test market again? Maybe the companies need specific guidelines from actual scientists on what to put in their plastics (say, whatever formula that green toys company is using), which in turn will make the toys more expensive, and some people will just have to buy fewer toys? These are just things I wondered about as I read that article. I haven’t done a lot of research on this topic, so I don’t know much about it. Continue reading »
I’ve already written about the dangers of Teflon and the PFOAs it contains. Now its maker, DuPont, is producing a new, “safer” version of the nonstick coating. However, buyer be ware. Just because no studies show this new coating is dangerous doesn’t mean it is safe. Before considering cookware coated with the new substance, please read this report.
It’s nice that I can cook a pancake in a pan without it sticking. Apparently I’m not the only one that feels this way, as 70% of all cookware sold contains the nonstick product Teflon. But there’s a price to pay for this nonstick cooking. One of the key chemicals used to make nonstick cookware, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animals and is found in the blood of 95% of Americans1. PFOA isn’t only used to make nonstick cookware, it also lines pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags, is present in firefighting foam and phone cables, is found in personal care products like cosmetics, and is emitted into the environment during manufacturing. When nonstick cookware is heated about 400 degrees, it can release PFOA into the air. Studies by the Environmental Working Group have found that a nonstick pan preheated on high for 2-5 minutes can reach temperatures of 600 degrees2. The fumes released by overheated Teflon can kill pet birds and cause flu-like symptoms in humans.
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