Tag Archives | phthalate free

What You Need To Know Re: BPA-free Products

I watched a documentary back in January regarding the link to BPA and obesity. The film was called Programmed To Be Fat? and was aired on The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. Click here to view the documentary and my apologies for readers in the US that might not have access. For you, I’m going to summarize the important parts of the film, but before I do, there is something you all need to know about BPA-free products and how manufacturers might be able to get away with labeling a product as BPA-free, when in actual fact, not lessening the adverse chemical effect within the product. Let’s take the most common example of a BPA-free product: toddler sippy cups or food containers.  We have been lured into a safe cocoon by seeing the words BPA-free stamped on the packaging. Well what if manufactures are using a sister chemical to make the product called BPS?  It is true and here is the quote from Professor Fred Vom Saal from the University of Missouri as quoted from the documentary. If you are still purchasing products marketed as BPA-free thinking they are safe for your family, this is a must read:

Because people want BPA-free products, they are using BPS as a replacement for BPA. And the problem is BPA and BPS are both estrogen mimicking chemicals and there is no reason to think that BPS is going to be a lot safer than BPA.

Understanding this fact might be as important as realizing that packaging stamped with “phthalate-free” while still being made with PVC (the most dangerous & toxic plastic available) gives consumers a false sense of security. And really, as consumers are WE OKAY WITH THIS? Really, to have people making products geared to babies and children, I ask again “ARE WE OKAY WITH THIS?”  No we are not. What is the easiest way to avoid being duped by the huge companies profiting off poisoning our families?  Avoid plastic all together. In my mind, especially in the form of food, liquid storage and food packaging.  My thanks to Groovy Green Livin who shared the Huffington Post article this morning regarding BPA and alternatives – it reminded me of what I learned from the documentary. Lots of good information in the Huffington Post article, but nothing talking about using BPS in products to dupe consumers.

 

 Now that you harnessed with the information on why to ditch plastic permanently, here is a bit of information on the documentary called Programmed To Be Fat? It was a very informative look into chemical exposure and another terrific documentary on CBC!

Experts believe that it’s not just our modern day lifestyles that are making us fat, but modern day chemicals. Why? Obesity rates have almost doubled in the last 30 years and is happening not only in the US, but in all countries with a western lifestyle. Also since 1950 on, newborn babies have been born heavier. When scientists starting examining the effects of BPA and reproductive science, they kept seeing a side effect in their lab animals and test – Fat. The main problem is during development (as fetus) and the newly found obesogens. This is a term coined by Bruce Blumberg in 2005, after getting the results of a ground-breaking study of pregnant lab mice fed a marine pesticide (and more importantly a endocrine-disrupting chemical) called tributyltin. He discovered that it was also turning reproductive cells into fat cells.

The link between obesity and diabetes is well known. What’s new is the possible link to chemicals. Programmed To Be Fat tells us that 20 years ago there was approx. 30 million people worldwide with diabetes … now there are 250 million (!!).  Being fat can cause cancer.  We know all of this and despite our best efforts to change this in society it is still happening. Why is that? Bruce Blumberg and other scientists will tell you they suspect endocrine disrupting chemicals and BPA is one of these.

The most important precaution they suggest in the film is to reduce chemical exposure and focus on nutrition if you are pregnant.  What we’re doing is programming people so that they will develop obesity later on in life that will be passed on to future generations. The focus needs to be precaution since we’ve allowed these chemicals into the marketplace without proper testing.

Related Stories:

Category filled with articles re: BPA Plastics

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Confused About Phthalate-Free?

Confused about the latest buzz phrase parents?  Welcome to the new BPA-free world of marketing and labeling. You know how you see BPA-free stamped on every kind of plastic sippy cup or baby product these days?  Well move over BPA-free..with Canada banning 6 major phthalates in June (a few States have already banned these phthalates) you are about to see – and I’ve already noticed lots of branding and marketing for phthalate-free toys.  Why?  Now that the government has intervened, manufacturers and retailers are taking action to restrict phthalates from being added to soften vinyl in children’s toys and child car articles.  Yes this is great!  But I’ve seen a few examples of this warning being mis-interpreted by parents because there are other toxic chemicals that can be used to make vinyl or PVC soft other than phthalates.  And when a parent sees the wording ‘non-toxic’ and ‘phthalate-free’ but the toy is still made from toxic material…is this not a form of green washing at it’s best?  It saddens me that parents and consumers will be making purchases thinking they are making a very safe purchase for the environment and their children when this just isn’t the case.

I know, as I’m typing this I know I sounds like a real downer.  My country is making this great change and I’m not happy. I guess I’m jaded and a wee bitter because we’ve seen this pure marketing opportunity for business to flourish with each ‘milestone’ the government makes with banning toxic chemicals. Just remember when jewelry was marked ‘lead-free’ because it was newsworthy, but manufactures started using cadmium. I’ve read article after article that BPA can leach at room temperature (no high heats required) making it a chemical that should just not be used in any product…not just for babies.  And products marked BPA-free have been tested to contain it anyways. Now my fear for parents is seeing phthalate-free stamped on toys and children gimmicks and think they are safe.  I’m sorry, but they are not!  Most of the products being stamped with phthalate-free are soft plastic toys and they are made with PVC.  This terrible, toxic material cannot be softened without a chemical being added (plasticizers) and phthalates aren’t the only one that can do this. Do not purchase phthalate-free products that are made from soft plastic unless they also say PVC-free.  The closest products that come to mind for this type of greenwashing are bath toys for children, gag soothers, teethers, baby toys.  I went to many high end stores in my neighborhood (we aren’t talking dollar stores) and everyone was carrying ‘phthalate-free’ bath toys that are made from PVC.  We all know babies and children are going to put these in their mouth so why market them as safe?  It really bothers me and it’s why I’ve taken a break from writing over the last week. Sometimes I feel like the baby steps we are taking to protect our children become a marketing opportunity and it really bothers me. But at the same time there are so many companies, manufacturers, and retailers doing this it’s not fair to point fingers at one or two companies.  If you are confused if your baby products are non-toxic – you are welcome to ask on the Mommy Footprint Facebook fan page. We need to work together as consumers.  The true mission here is to keep asking questions so that stores will be accountable for what they sell.  I spent hours on the phone trying to talk with an appropriate person at Toys R Us to ask why they continue to sell vinyl and products made from PVC to babies.  A company like this could really make a difference because they are huge!  They have the resources to hire experts to decipher what truly safe baby products and toys are for children – but I can’t get a call back.  It’s disheartening when you want to work with a company to help change what our children are exposed to.  Really, only a company like Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, etc. can make a decision to ban certain materials they sell and have a big enough ripple effect to actually make a change. They carry the same or more power than our government with these decisions. Walmart announced they have banned polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) a widely available flame retardant that has mass outreach that is found in breastmilk to our food supply and is known to be toxic for human health. Walmart played leap-frog over government and although their business practices and certainly not always in support of local & green products, it shows the power of these huge big box stores. Imagine if they were to ban PVC. They wouldn’t have much to sell on their store shelves as far as toys and sporting equipment, but wouldn’t it be nice shopping without all the questions!?

So many articles in a short period of time on PVC, but we need to shop informed. Let’s stop giving our money to the stores that really don’t care about our kid’s health and the environment and support the ones that do. Below is a picture of the only rubber duckie I’ll currently buy. I borrowed this picture from The Soft Landing that sells these Boon Bath Toys. They are BPA-free, Phthalate-free, and PVC-free. I’m assuming they are made from natural rubber but funny enough I couldn’t get this information from the Boon site. Yes, a high end bath toy has finally hit the market and yes, we are not used to paying $6 for one rubber duck, but we’ve learned that quality is key – not cost. Kids don’t need 10 bath toys – 1 safer option will do and this model doesn’t have a hole in the bottom so there isn’t a mold concern either.

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Soft Plastic Toys Labelled Phthalate Free

This is a short post, but I’m hopeful to make a BIG point. I’m not a scientist, expert, or engineer, but I have researched PVC for a few years now and I swear I’m as confused today as 3 years ago. But I’m having a moment of clarity thanks to the Greenpeace website and want to share before my clarity is gone. I’ve long struggled with the fact I gave my boys soft plastic toys to play with in the bathtub and worse…I gave these same toys to my girls when their teething was really bad. Where did I get them from? I written about this before – the gift shop from my city’s aquarium. Did I assume they were anything other than dollar store type toys for them to play with? No, but my boys loved the shark, dolphin, sea life designs and I thought they’d make awesome bath toys. Well fast forward a couple of years and I get upset because I realize they soft plastic toys were toxic. Not just a little toxic, but made with PVC plastic that leach phthalates. To hear the history behind all this – you can read this post.

Well – two years later, today actually, I visit my local aquarium again with my beautiful kids. They have really made some great changes with carrying Under The Nile (organic cotton) toys, etc. but I notice those damn plastic toys again. You know the kind…the soft plastic dolphin that squeaks when you squeeze it. But now the package has a sticker on it labeled ‘phthalate free’.  I guess with phthalates being the next new buzz word among green parents (next to BPA) that enough would be said. Although I’m still confused. The price on these toys is still inexpensive, the toy is made from bendy plastic, but they are phthalate free?  Here is what I’m going to say.  Unless a soft plastic toy ~ that may end up in a child’s mouth or bathtub is labeled PVC-free, don’t buy it. If a toy is produced from PVC – it doesn’t matter if it’s phthalate-free, an additive (chemical) has been added to soften it otherwise it would be brittle/hard plastic. Just as dangerous because phthalates are just one class of chemicals. I’m sure I’ll get a call from the aquarium telling me that the toy is PVC-free.  I say prove it first. If a company is going through all the expense to not use PVC – they would market that fact and tag the product as such. I’m done wasting my time trying to contact manufacturers and big box stores (hello Toys R Us!) to ask them if they use PVC in the products they sell.  I know they do and they know they do.   Now here is the quote that gave me clarity.  Thank you Greenpeace!!

The emerging science on the hazards of plasticizers used in soft PVC products provides substantive evidence that soft PVC presents unacceptable risks during use. Additives, such as plasticizers and stabilizers, are a necessary component of all PVC formulations. Without these additives, PVC is brittle, degrades easily, and is unversatile. Softeners are not chemically bound to the PVC polymer, but rather float around the polymer, like water in a sponge, giving the plastic the flexibility required. As a result, it is evident that plasticizers used in PVC will leach, volatilize, or migrate from a product over time. This has long been recognized by the PVC industry itself. Pressure on a PVC product will increase leaching substantially. Of most concern is the leaching of plasticizers resulting from sucking or chewing on soft PVC toys, representing a direct bodily dose of these chemicals to the infant or child.

Read more of this article here. Greenpeace has excellent information on PVC and phthalates – I’m very grateful for their research. Seriously – why isn’t the government mandating that any stores selling PVC products to children be closed?  Doing phase out strategies is not working….toys are just being shuffled around to countries that are/aren’t regulating it. We are North America for god’s sake!  This shouldn’t be another problem parents need to educate themselves with.  Uh oh…rant coming on. I’ll stop and just encourage you to push and ask questions. Let’s get to the bottom of what plastic surrounds our children and finally get PVC away from them!

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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.

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Back-To-School Lunch Box Tips

Wow – a surprising week when the FDA decides to ignore their country’s best scientists and what other Countries (Canada being one) have agreed that the chemical BPA should be declared ‘dangerous’ to use in the production of baby bottles and children’s products. Food and Drug Administration scientists said the trace amounts of bisphenol A that leach out of food containers are not a threat to infants or adults. The agency acknowledged that more research is needed to fully understand the chemical’s effects on humans, and noted “there are always uncertainties associated with safety decisions.” I’ll say it again….WOW.

For parents and back-to-school consumers that are concerned and educated about plasticizers and chemicals that may be lurking in products used by children, here is a timely report on Back To School Lunch Boxes 101 from:
SFKids.org, Laure Latham

These tips about lead, PVC-free, vinyl-free, and phthalate-free lunch labels surrounding your child’s lunch box/bag is extra timely for Mommy Footprint readers because alternatives to traditional lunch kits will be the upcoming prizes for our back-to-school contests. Stay tuned for details – you don’t want to miss out on these contests!

Back to School: Lunch Boxes 101
Six things you’ll want to think about when it comes to lunch:

• Check for “lead safe” or even better “lead free” labels.

• Check for “PVC-free”, “Vinyl-free” or “phthalates-free” labels.

• If you find none of the above, avoid soft vinyl bags and avoid bags with additional chemicals such as anti-bacterial claims (Microban is one of them).

• If your chosen bag offers no labels, store or wrap all your child’s food individually to avoid contact with the interior lining. Remind your kids to wash their hands before and after lunch.

• To reduce waste, choose re-usable containers and use your own silverware and napkins.

• Don’t refill disposable water bottles. The best choice are stainless steel reusable water bottles.

More details on these nasty chemicals?  Read on… Continue Reading →

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