Tag Archives | Melamine dishware

BPA – Are You Still Here?

Happy New Year! I wanted to start the New Year with going back to basics on forms of chemical exposure. I’m starting with BPA because after so many years it still receives so much media attention. Did you know that researching BPA was one of my reasons for starting Mommy Footprint 4 years ago? I had four children under the age of five and our world revolved around sippy cups, lunch containers and cooking utensils. The hype back at this time was water & baby bottles and discovering they contained BPA. Some countries like Canada banned the use of BPA in baby products, but have done little to ban it from other sources, aluminum cans for example.  If you want to think about BPA in the most simple of ways and then brain dump the info (my favorite thing to do) so that you can move your focus onto the next class of chemicals to reduce from your life, do two things:

Do not purchase or use plastic to drink or eat from. It’s very simple…there so many great options on the market now: stainless steel and glass are the best in my opinion because they are dishwasher safe and besides from small amounts of nickel that leach from stainless steel, they are stable materials to reuse. With kids think stainless steel because if dropped on the floor it bounces rather than glass that will of course break.  Everywhere I go, I still see toddlers drinking from plastic sippy cups.  The argument from parents would be that these cups were marketed as BPA-free. I don’t trust it because I’ve read reports that products have been tested that are sold as BPA-free and still contained BPA!  You are also never supposed to dishwash plastic because the high temperatures will break down the plastic composite and busy parents love the convenience of dishwashing.  At the bottom of this article, I will link to my articles about using melamine dishware, Tupperware products and why I don’t use them. I also don’t use food grade silicone in my kitchen – the research isn’t there for me yet that this material is stable enough to handle freezing and hot temperatures.  And yes, I’m making this longer than it needs to be….if you want to avoid BPA – don’t drink or eat from plastic. (Tips on doing this are listed at the bottom of the article)

The 2nd way to avoid BPA – don’t drink or eat from cans. Could it really be this simple?  Well it’s really not if you think about all the different purposes we use cans such as pop, tomato sauce, beans, convenience alphagettis, canned soup, aluminum water bottles, etc. Aluminum is toxic to humans so all cans need to be lined with a material to separate the liquid or food from touching the can – this is where BPA enters our food system. All cans are lined with an epoxy liner that contains BPA which is why levels of BPA are high in teenagers.  Think about all the coke, convenience food they eat. So before you cook or drink out of that can ask yourself two questions: ” can I make this from scratch rather than using a can?” (tomato sauce, soup, etc.) and “is there an alternative to how this food or drink is packaged?” (tomato sauce packaged in glass bottles, beer in glass, etc.) Science has recently suggested that BPA is linked to diabetes. What if our love for canned beer and coke have helped increase rates of diabetes?  So not just the sugary liquid is hurting our health by the way it’s packaged!!

Why do we need to avoid BPA? Even low dose exposure has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and because of the estrogen-like properties of BPA it’s also linked to breast & prostate cancer, early puberty, behavior problems, and reproduction issues.  Exposure to BPA doesn’t seem to just effect you while in the moment, unfortunately it’s a chemical that is found in our fetuses so the real cause for concern is how it effect babies with such small systems to process and flush a chemical such as BPA.  So for many people if you have older children this might need be the chemical at the top of the list to focus on for 2012 and how to reduce it. A chemical to be aware of for sure – but when stacked up to lead exposure, flame retardants, and PFC (non-stick)..there are definitely more toxic chemicals that exist with human health. With flame retardants being referred to as the asbestos of our generation…I feel like the education for the general public needs to advance away from BPA. Yes it’s a toxic chemical that effects human health but adults flush this chemical quite quickly from our systems. And this is why I write this article to start 2012. I see BPA mis-quoted all the time in social media when trying to avoid chemical exposure. In writing this article, if you are eliminating the two steps listed above with plastic contact to food/water and canned food you are eliminating much of your contamination from BPA. With the chemical being produced in the billions of tons each year, it’s already in our water system so exposure cannot be totally eliminated. But here at Mommy Footprint we like to control our own destiny, so this is my recommendation for those concerns with this chemical. Ditching water system jugs that are coded a 7, not reading newspapers and switching to receiving your news online (BPA is in newspaper print) and not taking printed receipts (receipt paper contains BPA) will also help you, but there are not as easy to eliminate as step 1 and 2 outlined above.

Here are more article and all of the articles I’ve written over the years on BPA can be found in this category: BPA Plastics

Below are some great reads to get your caught up on food and liquid preparation without BPA. Want to get caught up in the world of BPA exposure – these articles should do it!

BPA in Dental Sealant?
http://mommyfootprint.com/holistic-dentistry-mercury/

BPA Alternative with Ice Cube Trays:
http://mommyfootprint.com/mommy-footprint-chemical-free-ice-cubes/

Finding Food in Glass Jars: http://mommyfootprint.com/finding-food-in-glass-jars/

Plastic & Melamine: http://mommyfootprint.com/pssst-plastic-melamine-can-we-talk/

Tupperware & BPA: http://mommyfootprint.com/tupperware-bpa-2-years-later/

Alternatives To Freezing Food in Plastic: http://mommyfootprint.com/alternatives-to-freezing-food-in-plastic/

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Magic Erasers ~ Toxic or Eco-Friendly?

After my last post on detoxing your bathroom I was reminded of a product (thanks Raven) I’ve always dismissed in my head as toxic. I’m sure you’ve heard of cleaning erasers, the most popular brand would be Mr. Clean’s magic eraser that is marketed to help surfaces look ‘new again’! I thought this article would be straight forward seeing as Mr. Clean is a Proctor & Gamble product….and my jaded self usually deems any traditional cleaning product toxic. Well I’ve researched it and I’m surprised really, but I don’t think magic erasers are toxic. Don’t get me wrong, they are not eco-friendly but they don’t appear to be laced with loads of cleaning agents within the sponge that would be released when used.

The confusion starts when savvy mamas Google ‘magic eraser ingredients‘ and find the material safety data sheets for Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Cleaning Pads and see warnings to keep this product away from toddlers and then see the word Formaldehyde included in the only chemical ingredient listing called ‘Formaldehyde-Melamine-Sodium bisulfite copolymer’. As moms, we get upset when seeing Formaldehyde listed in ingredients because we know it’s been lurking in our kid’s personal care products (shampoo, body wash, etc.) and think of nasty products like nail polish that contain this chemical that harms human health. Well in the case of the magic eraser, the formaldehyde is used in the manufacturing & production of the melamine sponge (which is the eraser). So unlike Melamine dishware where we worry about the trace amounts of formaldehyde leaching after subjecting the dishware to cleaning, we don’t have to worry about this chemical ‘leaching’ out of the sponge. So while this product is not a toxic cleaning tool – it’s not eco-friendly because chemicals will be absorbed back into the earth when the eraser is discarded, but nothing will be ‘off-gassing’ while it’s being used which I find comforting knowing how many people I know use them.

You might have seen the ‘chemical burn’ picture via an email of a child that circulated around the internet a few years ago. The mother had taken photos of her child with terrible burns on his arms saying that he rubbed the magic eraser on his skin. I believe this has been deemed a hoax, but I would agree with the household products database that these sponges should be kept away from children. It’s not a chemical finish that is removing soap scum and marks from surfaces, its the foam’s structure of melamine resin that becomes more like sand paper when the sponge is put under water. So the outer material of the sponge works like fine sandpaper which could cause a child (or parent with sensitive skin) to react to this surface. This however is different than the supposed ‘chemical burn’ that the child in that email received by using a magic eraser. As far as I can see, adding cleaning chemicals to the sponge has not happened.

So was I delighted with these findings? No, not really, but I was surprised. I would have bet a lot of money there were chemical cleaning agents added to a Mr. Clean magic eraser and I don’t think this is the case. Split decision here if I would actually purchase one. I would recommend a magic eraser over spraying toxic cleaners at a permanent marker stain on a wall, but it would be a joke to call them an ‘eco-friendly’ solution and make them a permanent fixture in my home. Here is why I wouldn’t recommend simply for soap scum or every-day cleaning:

1) If a sponge only lasts a few weeks (I’ve read they breakdown quickly when used) they are not considered an earth-friendly, reusable product.
2) The foam was made by a German company (BASF) and was invented as an insulator and fire retardant. Sorry, but all I can say is gross…it makes me itchy just thinking of holding one.
3) I will never go back to cleaning with something that my kids can’t use. I wouldn’t let them hold one of these and whenever I start cleaning my bathroom, my girls especially want to help. My current cleaning system is very safe for them to participate with.

So while I’m still not a fan, I will no longer be fearful when I hear another glowing testimonial from a mother that swears a magic sponge was the only thing that could get marker off her floor or walls. But, if P&G starts spinning that these sponges are good for the environment, I might not be able to stop my eye twitch…

Related Articles:

Eco-Cleaning Made Easy

Self Cleaning Oven – Toxic For Humans or Only Birds?

Starting with the Bathroom – It’s Time For Chemical Detox

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Pssst Plastic & Melamine – Can We Talk?

I guess it truly doesn’t matter how many times I write or acknowledge in my head that certain every-day actions are not healthy, if it’s convenient and saves me time, I seem to fall into the ‘convenience’ trap. And this is one reason I struggle and dislike plastic so much. After all plastic was created to save us time and money since this material was so much cheaper than glass and more ‘durable’ (doesn’t break as easily). Plastic is a man-made material that has been polluting our bodies since it’s creation because of untested chemicals and regulations, but still we are all addicted to using it. The alternatives are so much more expensive, heavy, and not as durable with breakage, etc.  Right?  So why do we need to break the habits of purchasing and using so much plastic?  We are hurting ourselves….and in some cases killing ourselves with all of these man-made ‘convenience’ based chemicals. I believe that even though you can purchase BPA-free plastic that unless the plastic is cared for properly, chemicals will leach out.  It doesn’t matter who you ask – if you purchase plastic sippy cups, bottles, cups, bowls, plates, colanders, food/liquid containers, ice cube trays, etc., about how to care for a plastic item they will tell you not to put it in the dishwasher or microwave. Why is that?  Because the material of plastic is not strong enough to not ‘breakdown’ in these machines; therefore, chemicals will leach through cracks, scratches, etc. My weakness since becoming a mom is always trying to purchase items that are dishwasher friendly because I love the time the dishwasher saves me and I readily know this about myself.  What are materials that are dishwasher safe and don’t leach? Stainless steel, glass, enamelware, and glassware (Corelle) are good places to start.  So although I’ve been pretty good over the last 2 years of ridding my kitchen of most plastic there are a few items that won’t be coming on my journey into 2011. I finally have enough glass and stainless steel cups that my IKEA plastic tumblers are being retired to the back of my kitchen cupboard. Yes, they are BPA free – but they are beat-up and worn making them very poor candidates for the dishwasher. I will not miss you, although you have served me very well over the years.  All my pans, storage / freezing containers are stainless steel, bake ware is glass, and utensils are stainless steel so I’m almost plastic-free. I also, of course, have stainless steel ice-cube trays and popsicle molds because I’ve always been uncomfortable freezing in plastic.

So what is my message in this article?  Try to not heat food or liquid in plastic or clean plastic in the dishwasher. . . the convenience is great but heating plastic at high temperatures is not healthy for your family. And while we are on this topic, I noticed that Melamine dishware being advertised for babies and young children over the holidays. The same rules go for Melamine as plastic since this synthetic polymer is created with formaldehyde. Although these Melamine dishes can be marketed as ‘BPA-free’ ….I don’t think parents want formaldehyde leaching into their children’s food either as Melamine by itself cannot be consumed.  Follow the rules of using these materials and you’re probably okay. But in a world of tempting convenience I always smile towards the trends that were around before the age of plastic.  It’s taken over 2 years to get to the point where I can retire my plastic kitchenware so don’t feel overwhelmed if this is one of your goals. Little by little….it can be done.

Happy New Year everyone!  I look forward to sharing more ‘greener’ journeys together in 2011. You are welcome to email me questions or post comments to the Mommy Footprint Facebook fan page.

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