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President’s Cancer Panel: Stronger Regulation of Chemicals Needed

The President’s Cancer Panel released a report last week that really goes beyond what many in the medical establishment have been willing to come right out and say heretofore. Strongly advocating for better regulation of environmental chemicals in the water, air and food supply the panel states that Americans face "grievous harm" and  that the role of chemicals and pollutants as a cause of cancer has been "grossly underestimated."

Except plenty of blowback on this one. The scientific and political establishment has been challenged.

But that’s not all. The report takes aim at the dangers of chemical exposure during pregnancy by noting the 300 contaminants that have been found in umbilical cord blood and bluntly state: "to a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted.’ " Needless to say, the soon-to-be-born are at particular risk due to their physical size and developmental rate.

This is a big deal and we certainly hope you will be hearing a lot more about it in the coming weeks and months. We’ve talked about the lack of regulation of the chemical industry in this blog on several occasions (here, here and here), so we’re glad to see the issue receiving the light-of-day treatment it so richly deserves.

Suggestions from the 240-page report include:

  • choose organic foods when possible
  • microwave in glass and ceramic containers rather than glass
  • check your home for radon
  • filter your drinking water
  • avoid well-done meats
  • overhaul existing chemical legistation

Did you know asbestos has not been banned in the US? I thought it had. Not so. That’s in the report too.

More info here and here.

Profit Trumps Public Health & Right To Know

This is alarming…

Washington Post:

…Of the 84,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States — from flame retardants in furniture to household cleaners — nearly 20 percent are secret…

Under the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, manufacturers must report to the federal government new chemicals they intend to market. But the law exempts from public disclosure any information that could harm their bottom line.

So in other words if a chemical is harmful to human health a manufacturer need only claim profits will be compromised to keep that chemical secret and on the market. This is a loophole you could drive a fleet of Hummers through!

From the same article:

…Of the secret chemicals, 151 are made in quantities of more than 1 million tons a year and 10 are used specifically in children’s products, according to the EPA.

This is one reason we deal only with forthcoming companies/manufacturers. We applaud the efforts of the Obama Administration and Congress to tighten this egregious loophole.

A Safer Glass Tumbler For Kids

Silikids Siliskin Glass TumblerThe next best thing to a glass sippy cup, Silikids most recent product is the Siliskin Glass Cup. This little 6oz tumbler is the perfect transitional tool from a regular sippy cup to a normal cup. The glass cup is a great size and the 100% food grade silicone cover makes the cup less likely to break and, provides a better grip for little hands.

We’re frequently asked why nobody makes a glass sippy cup and the answer is that very young toddlers like throwing things, especially when those things make a loud crashing noise on impact, creating an obvious safety issue. But once kids get old enough to consider drinking from a real cup they’re usually past the tossing-things-for-fun stage making the Silikids glass a nice alternative to standard glass cups.

Our daughter who is a rather opinionated 4 year old liked the colors, aqua and lime, and thought that the holes on the silicone sleeve where cool. She also liked that she was drinking from a big girl glass cup.

Of course, there will be spills and more messes to clean up than a regular sippy cup, but the comfort that I have knowing my child is drinking from a glass cup free of BPA and other chemicals, instead of plastic, makes that worth the while.

You can purchase the Silikids Siliskin Glass Tumber at The Glass Baby Bottle.

Baby Bottle & Nipple Compatability

The following article was originally posted on The Glass Baby Bottle website.

Due to all the uncertainty regarding which nipples work with which bottles, The Glass Baby Bottle decided to try and help clear up all this nipple confusion :)

Some standard guidelines are to use wide neck nipples on wide neck bottles, and standard or regular nipples with regular neck baby bottles. Also, as a general rule of thumb, if a bottle is vented to help prevent colic it is best to use only the nipple designed for that specific brand of bottle. Vented bottles tend to leak and cause irregular feeding when a non-brand specific nipple is used.

One last note, if you tighten the collar and nipple too tightly onto the neck of the bottle, you are more likely to have the issue of nipple collapse.  Keep the collar on just tight enough to prevent the liquid from dripping out.  Babies are finicky and often times it takes trying several different bottles and age appropriate nipples before finding the best combination for your little one.

Here is a list of the bottles that we carry and the appropriate nipples that can be used:

Weego (Lifefactory) glass baby bottles have their own brand of nipples, yet are compatible with any standard size nipple. The Weego 4oz bottle is supplied with a Stage 1 nipple (0-3 months) and the Weego 9oz bottle is supplied with a Stage 2 nipple (3-6 months).

Silikids glass bottles do not have their own brand of nipples. Silikids bottles are supplied with a Slow Flow Evenflow silicone nipple.  Any standard size nipple will work with the Silikids glass baby bottle.

Born Free bottles have their own brand of silicone nipples. Born Free baby bottles are a vented bottle to help reduce gas and colic. Born Free only tests their nipples with their bottles, and do not guarantee compatibility with any other baby bottle.

Dr. Brown’s baby bottles have their own brand of nipple, and are NOT compatible with other nipple brands. Dr. Brown’s bottles come with a unique anti-colic venting system and the nipples are designed accordingly. Using a Dr. Brown’s nipple on a regular non-vented bottle can cause your baby to have feeding difficulties.

Sweet Pea glass baby bottles do not have their own brand of nipples. Any standard size baby nipple will work with the Sweet Pea bottles. The bottles are supplied with a medium flow nipple (3-6 months).

Smitten Baby glass bottles do not have their own brand of nipples. Any standard size baby nipple will work with the Smitten Baby bottle. The bottles are supplied with a slow flow (0-3 month) silicone nipple.

Green to Grow baby bottles have their own brand of nipples. In addition, the Gerber NUK nipples work both with the regular and wide neck baby bottles. The bottles either regular or wide neck are supplied with the appropriate slow flow 0-3 month silicone nipple.

As for Adiri baby bottles, the nipples are an integrated part of the baby bottle itself. The Adiri bottles come in three different stages, to best suit your baby’s needs.

Baby Bottle/Nipple Compatibility Chart
Has Own
Brand Nipple?
Supplied With Also Compatible With
Weego 4 oz.
Stage 1 (0-3 months) Standard Regular Neck Nipple
Weego 9 oz.
Stage 2 (3-6 months) Standard Regular Neck Nipple
Slow Flow Evenflow Standard Regular Neck Nipple
Born Free
Wide Neck
Level 1 (0-3 months) Compatibility with other nipples not guaranteed
Dr. Brown’s
Level 1 (0-3 months) Only Use Dr. Brown’s nipples
Sweet Pea
Medium Flow (3-6 months) Standard Regular Neck Nipple
Smitten Baby
Slow Flow (0-3 months) Standard Regular Neck Nipple
Green To Grow
Slow Flow (0-3 months) Gerber NUK nipples
Adiri nipples are integrated with the bottle N/A

Minnesota Bans BPA in Baby Bottles & Sippy Cups

Minnesota has become the first state to legislate a ban on Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the FDA continues to maintain the chemical is safe.

Other states (California, Connecticut) are set to follow suit and this precedent by Minnesota will only serve to make further bans more likely. Canada has already banned BPA from numerous baby and toddler products.

Unfortunately, even in Minnesota, you’ll still have to wait until 2010 before the ban goes into effect.

While we applaud these efforts we must point out that most (all?) proposed bans target only a very small range of products used by infants and the youngest of children. Important product categories such as feeding and food storage containers, amongst others, are still not being addressed, not to mention the continuing risk of BPA in older children.

You can read more here and here.

Nanotechnology & You

There is no firmly established definition of nanotechnology but this extremely diverse field could simply be described as the science of the extraordinarily small. A human hair is 80,000 nanometers wide and nanomaterials are commonly accepted to reside in the 100 nanometer or smaller range. In short, nanotechnology operates at the atomic and molecular levels.

Nanotechnology is a very promising field and it seems almost certain that humankind will benefit, perhaps greatly, from further study. Equally certain is that some applications of nanotechnology will prove to be dangerous to human and environmental health. Unfortunately, as with commercially produced chemicals, we are once again putting the cart before the horse in a big way. The following lists just a few consumer products already utilizing nanomaterials:

  • Food (nanofood) & food packaging products
  • Many agricultural products
  • Kitchenwares
  • Clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • Makeup
  • Household appliances

In order to keep a huge topic manageable, the rest of this post will concentrate on the food, food packaging and agricultural applications of nanotechnology.

Nanotech In Our Food Supply, Really?

As frequently occurs with any new and exciting technology a debate is brewing between the keep-government-regulation-out–of–my-hair-so-as-not-to-stifle-innovation crowd and the let’s-make-sure-this-stuff-is-safe-before-releasing-it-on-unsuspecting-consumers crowd. As of this writing, the “innovators” and big business are winning.

If you don’t believe that consider the current state of affairs in the US:

  • No nanotech-specific regulation or safety testing is required before nanomaterials can be used in food, food packaging or agricultural consumer products.
  • There are no labeling laws relating to nano ingredients that are in our food supply or its packaging.

In essence, the public’s right to make up their own minds regarding the consumption of nanofoods and materials is being usurped in much the same fashion as with genetically modified foods. This is, in the classic sense of the word, an outrage.

I’m no Luditte. I’m all for innovation. I support clean energy, stem cell and, yes, nanotech research. But it is equally outrageous that we would not regulate a potentially dangerous new technology in any way, shape or form before unleashing it on the public. It is the height of recklessness and clearly a sop to the usual monied interests.

Furthermore it is a false choice between requiring safety research and encouraging innovation. Research does not stifle innovation, it creates it! It is research that will show us the way forward as well as the paths to avoid. This is a far superior approach to creating instant profits by using the public as a beta tester.

Make no mistake, the pressure from industry to use and develop nanotechnology will be enormous, and I’m actually fine with that. But if I’m any sort of observer of such things, they won’t want to be regulated – at all. And therein lies the problem.

Two last points:

  • Enormous amounts of money are going to be made in the field of nanotechnology in the decades ahead.
  • On the smaller half of the nanotech scale, 50 nanometers and smaller, the laws of the universe as we know them give way to the bizarre and largely mysterious laws of quantum physics.

Did I mention I favor regulation of nanotechnology?

Is This COOL, or What?

Conspiracy theorists have been telling us for years that global elitists are plotting to merge Canada, the US and Mexico into a North American Union. I’ve now come across conclusive evidence to back up their claims.

I was shopping at the local market the other day and picked up a cube steak for lunch. The steak was wrapped in the usual packaging with the addition of a sticker that read:

Product of U.S.A.,Canada,Mexico

Now, how in the world can a cube steak be the product of three different countries?! But the answer — or dare I say the truth — was right before me. It dawns on me that those three countries are in reality one country — the heretofore conspiratorial North American Union – existing under the guise of the status quo because the global elitists have deemed the general population so gullible that they don’t even need to let us in on the existence of the NAU, thereby negating the inevitable opposition to their nefarious plans.

What better way to keep the secret than for everyone to continue believing there are still three separate countries when the reality is that the governments have merged and have been taken over by covert, behind-the-scenes operators (i.e. elitists). Brilliant!

Fortunately for us all the global elitists, in a Freudian slip of sorts, screwed up and I was able to unravel the crucial evidence, the proverbial smoking gun, in time for this blog post.

Confession Time

OK, so what if, other than the part about the Product of U.S.A.,Canada,Mexico label, I made the whole thing up. What really is going on? It’s still a pretty weird label, don’t you think?

Leveraging the full power of the internets, I turn to the Google which yields this gem from Pork magazine (really, Pork magazine. You can’t make this stuff up folks. See? Now, where were we?):

“COOL requirements encompass an animal’s country of birth as well as the country in which it was raised or fed out, the country in which it was slaughtered and the country in which it was processed. For example, a pork roast from a hog born in Canada but raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States would be required to have a label indicating that it was a product of both Canada and the United States.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. It turns out that COOL is a new federal law mandating what is now being termed country-of-origin labeling. Ostensibly, the purpose of the law is to provide additional information regarding the country of origin for fresh and frozen produce and many meat products – information that was previously unavailable to consumers.

Major exceptions to COOL include processed and cooked foods — you don’t want to know where they came from anyways — and mixed foods like fruit and vegetable trays. Butcher shops and fish markets are also exempt.

Getting back to my cube steak, this all seems like a good idea until I realize that beef has never been labeled like this before and I had always assumed that the beef I was buying was from the US. But now I find out that maybe it’s not necessarily from the US but could come from one of three countries. Is this progress?

I think so. I guess so. I really don’t know.

Taking On The BPA Lobby

If the recent controversy over BPA has your head spinning, consider taking the time to read The Real Story Behind Bisphenol A by David Case. It’s the most comprehensive article on BPA and the monied interests surrounding it I’ve come across to date. Case makes the case (sorry) that the BPA debate is not entirely about the science, but rather a powerful lobby looking to sow the seeds of doubt regarding the risks of BPA.

The debate even continues past the end of the article into the comments section where at least two commentors, claiming no particular axe to grind, pan the article and one of them is directly responded to by none other than Dr. Frederick vom Saal, BPA researcher and a leading advocate for the health risks of BPA. You gotta love the internet.

A significant portion of Case’s article deals with the shadowy world of the product-defense industry. First of all, can you even believe such a thing exists? Then again when you consider the $6 billion a year BPA industry it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are people out there looking for a piece of that pie.

Using their credentials as scientists, product-defense firms look to, for a (large) fee, validate the claims of the corporations and trade associations that hire them by providing expert testimony in lawsuits along with other lobbiest-style activities. Various product-defense firms have lobbied on behalf of the manufacturers of MTBE, perchlorate, Fen-phen and Agent Orange, among others. Yikes! Why such testimony is even allowed in a court of law is somewhat of a mystery. Do we allow murder suspects to hire "eye witnesses" to provide testimony on their behalf? I’ll bet it’s happened, but it damn sure isn’t legal. Paid testimony just seems so, how should I put it…wrong.

Case also goes on to elaborate on the US track record for banning harmful substances. It took years, decades in some cases, to ban lead, DDT and PCB’s. Furthermore, the US approach to chemical management, with the burden of proof being placed on the consumer, is fundamentally flawed. Rather than corporations having to prove their products are safe, it is left to us to prove they are not. That just seems so, how should I put it…wrong.

Welcome to Toxilogic

At Toxilogic we’ll focus on expanding our awareness of, and coping with, the multitude of toxins we are all exposed to our daily lives — whether in our food supply, consumer products or the environment. How the issue of toxicity relates to children will be of particular interest.

We realize that living in a modern society, not all toxic exposure can be avoided. But much can. And to that end we will do what we can, when we can.

Not everything we discuss here will be scientifically proven, or even provable. It’s not unfair to say that laboratory studies of toxicology and human physiological response are at the very least problematic. There are simply too many variables to control for along with the fact that many experiments are considered too dangerous to conduct on human subjects. There’s also the thorny issue of hundreds of chemical agents interacting within the human body in an unpredictable chain of cause and effect that is virtually impossible to control for in the laboratory.

In the end, only the strongest connections will manifest in a laboratory setting. The subtle connections will often remain hidden requiring years of research before the preponderance of evidence finally tips the scale.

That said, there will undoubtedly be scientific breakthroughs which will add to the body of knowledge and show us that what we had always suspected was indeed true — or not. But more often than not, that definitive scientific, beyond-a shadow-of-a-doubt proof will be elusive if not altogether lacking.

Yet, in no way does a lack of a scientifically proven connection necessarily indicate a lack of causation. How many years did it take before we realized smoking cigarettes was a danger to our heath — yet the connection was always there. Asbestos and mesothelioma, air pollution and asthma, lead and brain development are all examples of previously undiscovered causative effect. Does anyone think we’ve already discovered all the possible connections between potential or undiscovered toxins and human health? Or might there be some we’ve yet to figure out?

So, at Toxilogic we don’t assume something is safe simply because definitive proof is lacking. Current US law might (and does), but we don’t.

We’ll do our best to use common sense and intuition to help guide us — and above all consider the source — when information is ambiguous or contradictory. We recognize that everyone is different and some more susceptible. We realize the interaction of various substances may have detrimental health effects where the substances on their own are benign. We realize we haven’t got it all figured out yet.

And yes, we also listen carefully to what independent and objective science has to say.

That’s what this blog will be about. We hope you’ll join us.