Tag Archives | BPA

Toxic Experiment With Everyday Products ~ Slow Death By Rubber Duck

Have you heard the buzz about the book called Slow Death By Rubber Duck?  The two authors are leading environmentalists in Canada, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, and by using their own bodies conduct a 4 day experiment to document how using everyday products known to contain BPA, Phthalates, Teflon, (to name only a few!) and what the effects in their system will be. The experiment could be compared to the Supersize Me documentary, but these results are more shocking because most people know that eating nothing but McDonald’s food is really bad for you.  The results from Slow Death By Rubber Duck might shock you, but because so many of these products are used in the food and products we are in direct contact with, it’s better to learn how to eliminate these chemicals that enter your children and family’s bodies. For example, did you know that newspaper ink contains high enough levels of BPA that can absorb through your skin?  I was surprised by this and many more sources the authors uncover.

Rick and Bruce tested the levels of these 7 chemicals from their experiment: Phthalates, Teflon, Flame Retardants, Mercury, Triclosan (antibacterial), Pesticides, and BPA.  First they attempt to detox their bodies fully from these chemicals, test/document the levels in their blood and urine, then expose themselves to these chemicals through everyday products and food that are known to have high content.  Then they re-test their blood and urine and publish the results. The most shocking part of the experiment for me was not only the high levels in specific chemicals, but also the realization that trying to eliminate levels of chemicals like BPA and Phthalates is impossible. Rick would know better than anyone else (he’s the Executive Director of Environmental Defense for Canada) what to avoid and he consulted with scientists that have been studying these chemicals for years. He could only get the levels of these chemicals low but not at zero because he realized for example if he’s trying to avoid all phthalates though personal care products, the chemical might wind up in milk he drinks because a farmer might use soft tubing containing this chemical to remove milk from a cow. Tracking this and proving it back to the dairy supplier would be impossible. Thinking that your coffee is okay to drink but then realizing the coffee shop selling it has parts of their coffee machine made with polycarbonate plastic – now the coffee contains BPA.  Really, until our Government steps in and bans and controls these chemicals we are faced with a long road with our health chemically polluted. 

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Less Is More Theory and Experiment

I’ve noticed with interest that dollar stores in my community are going out of business.  You would think in this economy where people are trying to save money that the dollar store business would be going strong.  Could it be that consumers, especially parents, are realizing that less is more?  I believe so.  Back-to-basics, sustainability, quality, craftsmanship, safety are words that parents are willing to pay more for.

From toys, to beauty products, and even our produce ~ I would rather buy organic, pesticide-free for my children.  Shopping in smaller amounts, rather than filling up my cart, without thinking through what I’ll truly need to use.  There has been much buzz about pesticides to avoid with food and mainstream press is starting to write about how toxic most personal care products are.  From organic food, to organic shampoo/soap, to safe toys made from natural or stringently tested materials come at a higher cost.  As a parent, I’m willing to pay a few extra dollars for products I know are coming from business that care and source products with the safely of my children at the forefront.  Most bios from mompreneurs include the fact they were deeply unsatisfied with answers, product selection and product knowledge from traditional stores.  I challenge anyone reading this to an experiment we’ll call the ‘Less-Is-More Theory’.  Walk into your local department store and ask the store clerk or manager questions about their toys, bath toys, personal care products, produce, water bottles, etc.  I myself started doing this when I noticed most store chains have started branding their store label on stainless steel water bottles; Old Nay, The Bay, London Drugs, Superstore, even Dollar Stores.  Not one of these retailers could tell me anything about their store branded stainless steel water bottles.  They had no idea what stainless steel grade they were or that there were different steel grades out there.  I hear about dollar stores that simply ‘dip’ the outside of water bottles to coat god-knows-what material underneath.  I’m not saying these retail stores are doing this, but from a quality issue, I’d like to know more about the grade I’m purchasing so I know how to care for it.  If you are nervous about purchasing bath products (personal care or toys), food or water containers, or plastic toys and the store cannot answer simple questions I would not purchase them.  Here are some basics that they should be able to answer:

What grade of stainless steel is this?
What type of plastic is this made from? Where is it manufactured?
Does this product contain phthalates, parabens, fragrance, BPA?
Is this toy (bath or not) PVC free?
What pesticide is used on this produce item?

If the person cannot answer your questions ~ don’t buy it.  Now finish this challenge.  Contact any of the store owners from this list of businesses and ask them the same questions.  I would bet a lot of money, they can answer your question, plus give you more than you expected:

Green Planet Parties
Healthy Kitchenware
Kai Kids
Natural Pod
Nayla Natural Care
The Tickle Trunk

The list goes on, but you start here and receive top notch customer service and product knowledge.  You will never think again that getting Dollar Store bargains for these types of products is a good idea.  Dollar store priced stores have their place for certain types of products in my opinion; however, the health of your family is not an area they where they specialize and no price tag can be put on the future health of your children.



What You Don’t Know About Plastic Toys Made From PVC

I’ve had an epiphany of sorts over the last few months at Mommy Footprint. The last time I experienced this, I was listening to a dietitian named Jen talk ~ things started clicking together and I made changes. My sudden insight of late comes after many hours reading what the experts at EWG have to say, watching the Disappearing Male documentary, and getting many opinions from moms I trust that are focused on non-toxic households. It’s a feeling that actually saddens me because anyone that knows me is aware I love toys. Not at a normal level ~ I enjoy buying them more than my kids enjoy receiving them. I really thought this made me a good mom.

When my Mommy Footprint journey began, many things changed in our household. I began to experience a new awakening of the environment and also an understanding that I need to check products for myself before trusting that big name companies were watching out for my children. Because of financial reasons and having a house that is filled with too much ‘stuff’ I’ve been scaling back for the better part of 11 months and feel quite ashamed of my access in the last 6 years of being a parent. I’ve also realized that many things in my house are indeed toxic; cleaning supplies, personal care products, and toys. My focus with this article is toys and the important lesson for consumers that purchase toys for small children.

There is so much confusion with the terms PVC, phthalates, plasticizers, types of plastic, etc., it still has me scratching my head at times. There are a few things I’ve learned and it would have altered the course of my parenting had I known that most soft plastic toys are toxic. If you knew that a child simply mouthing a PVC plastic toy could be compared to a child sucking chemicals from a sponge wouldn’t you call poison control and find out what the effects were? Well the European Union really had a grasp of this problem back in the 1990’s and banned a lot of products that continue to be sold in Canada and the US ~ why? In 1997 Austria, France, Greece, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden all banned phthalates (one of the most common chemicals used to make plastic soft) from being used in toys.  Why is North America so much slower to react?

PVC is one of the most widely used forms of plastic, but it’s known as a human carcinogen. What would possess a toy manufacturer to use it in toys? We know that during the processing of PVC, dioxins, one of the most toxic chemicals known are created and released. Over the course of it’s lifetime, PVC plastic leaks harmful additives and because it’s not recyclable, PVC ends up being burned or sits in a landfill. Burning this plastic is very harmful because dioxins are further released (air pollution), so it most likely ends up sitting in the landfill where it further pollutes our soil.

So I’ve written about soft plastic toys previously because my children have all mouthed and bathed with soft plastic toys their entire lives. What do I know about these toys to date? The chemicals used to make these toys soft pose potential health problems with mainly reproduction and cancer. That’s not a good feeling. I’ve spoken with toy manufacturers and taking the first step would be researching toys that are ‘phthalate free’. But ~ I would go one step further and purchase PVC free toys. If you are purchasing a tubby toy or teething toy, there should not be PVC plastic anywhere near it. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at sites for non-toxic bath toys (because all my children love playing in the tub) and in all my research, I’ve managed to find only 2 brands/products I would feel 100% comfortable with: Green Toys and Boon.

Another product line I’ve talked about in the past that has been a savior with my kids is Green Toys. I can’t tell you the peace of mind I have when I watch my twins (every night) have a tea party with their Green Toys tea set. Made from recycled Becel containers, I’ve been able to rest assured that chemicals aren’t leeching from the cups, spoons, saucers, and tea pot they play with every night. My best purchase to date for my girls and they’ve just turned three!

I’ve struggled of late with plastic. You think you’ve got your mind wrapped around BPA, phthalates, PVC. etc., then something new comes along and it’s overwhelming. I wish I could zap myself back in time and change many things with my children. Understanding more about toxic products would have really helped me. I’m trying not to be really angry when I read articles published by Greenpeace about the danger of PVC and toys back in 1999. I join their fight against toxic, environmentally destructive, and dangerous toys 10 years later, where I feel like nothing has really changed. I’ve even learned that PVC hard plastic exists with many toys and wonder if Barbie is still made from PVC, like the Greenpeace website confirms. She turned 50 this year ~ I wonder if the manufactures know that there are now alternatives to traditional plastic, like corn or natural rubber.

** Side note to this article ** I did call the Vancouver Aquarium because I wanted to know how their soft PVC plastic toys were produced because of my concerns about phthalates and toxic tubby toys. The manager told me that as of Sept/08, they confirmed that their soft plastic toys were made phthalate free. This made me feel better until my friend posed the question ~ what chemical plasticizers did they use to get the PVC plastic soft? It’s just so true, they have to put some sort of checimal into hard plastic to make it soft, so my advice would be to by-pass all PVC products and stick to non-toxic alternatives.



Toxic Lipsticks & EWG Kid-Safe Video

Back in February, the Environmental Working Group wrote about lead showing up in popular lipstick brands.  The article ‘The Kiss Of Lead’ stated that 61% of the lipsticks tested, contained lead.   And don’t try looking on the lipstick packaging for lead listed as an ingredient because it wasn’t there.  To put the amount of lead found in perspective, the FDA allows 0.1 ppm (parts per million) limit for lead in candy.  The lipstick with the highest level of lead “L’Oreal Colour Riche – True Red” tested 0.65 ppm of lead.  

Then Canada helped put another toxic spin on lipstick last month by banning 2 chemicals used in lipstick and other personal care products: D4 and D5 siloxanes.  They are found in household items such as lotions, hair care, soaps, baby bottle nipples, cookware and cleaning products.  Their effects on animals include the usual damage to the female reproduction system and uterine tumors.  Solution for lipstick lovers?  Checking the Skin Deep database on the EWG site to research earth-friendly, non-toxic lipstick alternatives.  I did note with interest that many of the MAC products rated 3 for hazard score – that’s not a bad score considering I wouldn’t know where to find most of the products rating a 0 or 1.

Canada’s actions with this current ban of D4 & D5 and taking a stand on banning BPA in baby products last year, shows the Government has real concerns about chemicals and where they are being used. As quoted by the EWGThis action paves the way for possible mandates requiring that companies phase these chemicals out of use, is the first environmental or health-based determination concerning the chemicals issued by any nation”.  I feel reassured by Canada emerging as one of the world’s leaders for protecting it’s consumers from synthetic chemicals.  One of the most chilling messages that has stuck in my head after watching the documentary The Disappearing Male is that we’ve spent the last 100 years creating man-made (untested for effects on human health) synthetic chemicals and we’ll spend the next 100 years finding ways to combat the damage they’ve done to human health and the environment.   We have built our material world using synthetic chemicals with 80,000 of them in use.  85% of these chemicals have not been tested for their effect on human beings ~ very scary statistic.  We need to continue to encourage our governments to lobby for change with targeting and testing synthetic chemicals and their side-effects with human health. 

For my many US readers, I understand you’re not able to view the Disappearing Male documentary (restrictions from the Canadian site).  But, here is another eye-opeing video from the EWG site called Kid-Safe Chemicals Act: 10 Americans Video.  The speaker in the video is Ken Cook (co-founder and president of EWG) in July 2008 speaking about a research project the Environmental Working Group funded that involved checking the blood of 10 random Americans.  They checked each blood sample for 413 toxic chemicals.  Each subject tested positive for an average of 200 chemicals and some pesticides found in their blood were banned more than 30+ years ago.  It is fascinating when Ken reveals who the 10 Americans actually are and how they were selected.  This video is very entertaining and packed with awesome information!

Related articles:

Phthalates & BPA Chemicals ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

Part II ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

Quick Reference Guide When Shopping For Personal Care Products

Are Cosmetics Killing Us?



Part II ~ The Disappearing Male Documentary

Part II of my summary on the Canadian documentary The Disappearing Male has been particularly interesting because of the focus on two chemicals that we’ve talked about a lot over the last year at Mommy Footprint, BPA & Phthalates. For those that think BPA is only a concern for people with babies (ie baby bottles) ~ this will help you see this isn’t the case. Also, that the chemical Phthalate is just as scary and needs equal attention that BPA gets from the media with educating parents on hidden toxins. The following is a summary from the documentary The Disappearing Male, click here to view Part 1…I’ve used many quotes from the clip, so the source for this article is from CBC Documentaries. Here we go…it’s a long one, and not meant to freak parents out, but to help us gain understanding that the plastic and disposable world we live in needs to be evaluated by our government and changes needs to come swiftly.

The Disappearing Male: Part II <US readers can click here to access the documentary on YouTube>

Children live in state of constant exposure from being surrounded by more than 1000 synthetic chemicals in your home. Chemicals are found in bedding, clothing, toys, furniture, our air, and water. Pollution has become a background chemistry in our bodies and it’s accumulating quickly. A common class of petrol chemicals is Phthalates and is widely used in everything from soft toys, to IV tubing, to food packaging, to 3/4 of all personal care products. Dr. Swan, who is interviewed and quoted throughout this documentary, first started studying Phthalates when she realized, according to the Center of Disease Control, that almost every person in the US, contains this chemical in their body. Also that the chemical seemed more prevalent in woman of reproductive age, along with new data showing they caused significant differences in male offspring. She refers to term called the ‘Phthalates Syndrome’ and these changes in boy babies include testes not descending properly, smaller genitals, and interruptions in sexual development. Along with the well documented fact that Phthalates leech from soft toys, this chemical is used in almost all traditional cosmetics because they cling to the skin and hold fragrance.

There is one Phthalate in particular that is used in PVC plastic causing extreme alarm because of where it is used and who it is used on. Continue Reading →



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