Euphoria’s Blog for Green Mamas

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Johnson & Johnson products Removed from Shelves in China! March 19, 2009

Filed under: Baby & Toddler — Rachel @ 4:00 pm
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Today I was reading a report put out by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics called “No Toxic More Tub.” It details a study they did on popular baby and children bath and care cosmetics, such as Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash, and Grins & Giggles Milk & Honey Baby Wash (from Gerber). The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics hired an independent lab to test products for formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, known carcinogens. These chemicals would not be on product labels because they’re contaminants, not ingredients, and therefore are exempt from labeling laws. I was not too surprised with the results:

What We Found

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned an independent laboratory to test 48 products for 1,4-dioxane; 28 of those products were also tested for formaldehyde. The lab found that:

17 out of 28 products tested – 61 percent – contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
23 out of 28 products – 82 percent – contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm).
32 out of 48 products – 67 percent – contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm.

Health Concerns

While a single product might not be cause for concern, the reality is that babies may be exposed to several products at bath time, several times a week, in addition to other chemical exposures in the home and environment. Those small exposures add up and may contribute to later-life disease.

Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens; formaldehyde can also trigger skin rashes in some children. Unlike many other countries, the U.S. government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.

Again, I find these results deplorable, but not too surprising.  If you look up mainstream children’s care products on Skin Deep you will go running in the other direction.  No parent wants to expose their child to toxic chemicals in the tub, especially when perfectly natural and safe products are available at a reasonable cost.  That’s why I was moved to preform My Cosmetic Purge January of 08.  And that’s why we added a line of organic, truly pure children’s care products to our site at the same time. 

But, there was something surprising…  At the end of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report, “Toxic Tub” there is a “status update” that reads:

A major supermarket in China has pulled Johnson & Johnson products from the shelves amid concerns that the products are contaminated with carcinogens, driven by our testing. The Chinese government is also reportedly testing products. The Vietnamese Drug Administration announced March 16 that it will test baby products in that country.

So far, there has been no action by the U.S. FDA.

If you go ahead and read the article, you’ll find it’s true.  One major Chinese chain has decided that Johnson & Johnson is not safe enough for China!  Wow, not safe enough for China!  Considering the excessive amount of lead and phthalate-tainted products that are manufactured in China for the USA, how does this make you feel about the safety of your Johnson & Johnson products?  For another eye-opening article, check out Case Study: Pure and gentle? Children’s products can be deceptive which takes a close look at an American classic: Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. 

Bottom line: don’t take the purity of your skin care products for granted.  The skin absorbs those chemicals day after day and year after year.  While the FDA is so completely inept, it’s worth doing your research and purchasing natural products.   To evaluate products, see Skin Deep.  For a safe, practical baby care line, I can wholeheartedly recommend Earth Mama Angel Baby, which we use and enjoy in our home.

 

Simple Habits to Keep the Toxins out of your Food November 20, 2008

Filed under: Healthy Living,Pregnancy — Rachel @ 10:00 pm
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Choose organic, eat whole foods, avoid bad ingredients… but there’s more to the story.  What you do with your groceries in the kitchen can also contaminate your food.  And, I’m not talking about bacteria contamination.  We’re all pretty savvy about using different cutting boards for meat vs. vegetables.  Let’s talk about chemicals.

Get plastics out of the kitchen as much as possible.  Store food in glass.  Mix food in glass or stainless steel.  Don’t use cling wrap, which is made with PVC (type 3 BAD plastic).  When it’s not made with PVC, it’s not very clingy.  We’ll have to try to learn how to use wax paper and butcher paper again!

And, don’t cook in Teflon or non-stick coated cookware!  The verdict is in that PFOA (a chemical used to make Teflon and other non-stick surfaces) is a likely human carcinogen per the EPA.  When heated, particles are emitted and can cause eye and respiratory inflammation (not to mention kill your pet bird – I’m serious).  Safe cookware options include stainless steel, anodized aluminum, copper-coated, cast iron and enamel-coated iron, according to “Healthy Child, Healthy World.”  My in-laws recently purchased Green Pan non-stick cookware to replace their Teflon pans.  The non-stick inside of the pan is ceramic, and they seem to work very well. 

If you can’t change everything at once, just take small steps.  Next time you need some cling wrap, buy up some butcher paper.  Next time you throw out some nasty, stained Tupperware, buy some Pyrex glass storage containers!

Does it Matter?

People tend to wonder how much little changes like these really will make to their health.  The reality is we don’t know.  There is precious little research available about the cumulative effect of the countless chemical toxins (known to be carcinogenic and/or hormone-disrupting) in the modern American lifestyle.  But the lack of research isn’t very comforting, is it? And with the state of health in our country and the fact that our children face a statistical likelihood of living shorter lives than our own, it’s high time we take things seriously.   Even one carcinogen is too much in my opinion, even more so if you’re pregnant or feeding a little one!

 

Purify Your Breastmilk June 16, 2008

Fit Pregnancy’s current issue has a great article on how mindful mamas can keep their breastmilk pure.   Since scientists can easily test milk for contaminents, we know of quite a few toxins that do find there way to baby through mother’s milk.   Some toxins, like alcohol, clear out from the body rather quickly.  Unfortunately, many more toxins linger in the body for years because they are stored in body fat.  When you breastfeed, your body taps into those fats to make breastmilk.  Experts say that despite these toxins, breastmilk is definitely best for baby.  Still, I know that your goal, like mine, will be to produce the purest milk possible for baby.  Here are some tips from Fit Pregnancy:

  1. Alcohol (consumed): an occasional drink is OK, but do so immediately after nursing to give your body time to clear before the next feeding.
  2. Biphenal A/BPA (consumed/absorbed): Don’t eat or drink from plastics with recylcing code no. 7; avoid canned foods.
  3. Flame Retardants (consumed/inhaled/absorbed): Choose curtains, furniture, and mattresses without brominated flame retardents.
  4. Mercury (consumed): Don’t eat tilefish, shark, swordfish, or king mackeral.   Fit Pregnancy says to “limit tuna”, but from my research, I’d stay clear.
  5. Pesticides (consumed/inhaled/absorbed):  Don’t use flea treatments or insecticides in your home or office.  Eat organic food.
  6. Plastic Softeners/Phthalates (consumed/inhaled/absorbed): Avoid vinyl of any kind (shower curtains, packaging and plastic toys are common culprits),  “cling” wrap, plastics with recycling code no. 3.
  7. Solvents (inhaled/absorbed): Avoid conventional nail polish, nail polish remover, cleaning solvents, paints, dry cleaners and pumping gas.
  8. Synthetic Fragrances (inhaled/absorbed): Choose fragrance-free cosmetics, detergents and deodorants or those fragranced with “essential oils” only. 
  9. Unnecessary Medications (consumed/inhaled/absorbed): Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter or prescription drug.  For info on risks, visit motherisk.org. 

Although these recommendations are designed for breastfeeding moms, they really pertain to us all.  If you’re pregnant, your lifestyle protects baby during his or her most critical times.  If your baby is weaned, your child is directly interacting with plastics, cosmetics, mattresses, etc. so you’ll want to purify your lifestyle to support your child’s personal development.  Every step you take to a cleaner, toxin-free life is a step in the right direction for us all!

 

 

 

Safe Sunscreens for the Family April 24, 2008

We know that too much sun exposure is not wise, but are sunscreens themselves really safe?  Of all the body care and cosmetics you use, sunscreens are likely to be filled with the most dangerous chemicals.  When sunscreen soaks into the skin, we absorb known carcinogens and estrogen-imitating chemicals, which can cause a whole host of serious problems.  In fact, some research has shown that countries in which chemical-laden sunscreens are most commonly used actually report the greatest increase in cancer melanoma (skin cancer). 

What’s safe?  Look for sunscreens that contain only zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.  These non-chemical sunscreens are often marketed for babies or those with sensitive skin, but they’re the best choice for all of us.  Instead of soaking into the skin, these sunscreens sit on top of the skin and deflect rays.  Here’s a list of safe sunscreens from Nature Mom’s Blog post “Safe Sunscreens for the Family” :

California Baby SPF 30 + Sunblock Stick – No Fragrance– My top pick for kids! This is a non chemical sunscreen. It uses non-penetrating titanium dioxide (no nano particles) to protect against the sun. It is also made with organic & sustainably grown ingredients.

California Baby SPF 30 – This is specially for children to be safe and it a favorite among many natural parents. I have used this on my own kids and I really like it. I usually opt for the fragrance free versions.

California Baby SPF 30 + Bug Repellent– This is a good sunblock/bug repellent combo that is DEET free.

Badger Face & Body Sunblock SPF 30 – There was huge run on this sunscreen not long ago and you could hardly get it. It is known to be one of the safest sunscreens out there.

Lavera Baby and Children Sun Screen Lotion, SPF 30– Contains organic peach seed, apricot seed oil and calendula and protects against UV A, B and C rays with waterproof protection.

Jason Natural – Sunbrellas Chemical Free Sun Block SPF30+– Chemical, Fragrance and Paraben Free Complete UVA & UVB Protection Ideal for Sensitive Skin.

Dermalogica Ultra Sensitive Faceblock SPF 25 – Another chemical free sunblock using non-penetrating titanium dioxide. This has a hint of color…most likely to hide the streaky whiteness of the natural titanium dioxide.

For more info and details about sunscreen safety, read Tiffani’s whole article, “Safe Sunscreens for the Family

 

My Cosmetic Purge January 17, 2008

Weather you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or caring for a precious new baby, I’m sure you care deeply about protecting the health and well-being of your family.  We all do.  Would it anger you to discover that some of the cosmetics you routinely use contain chemicals with confirmed links to cancer, organ damage, contamination, allergies, and more? 

I hadn’t thought much about the cosmetics we use, but a book I’m reading pointed out that the skin absorbs the products we use.  Afterall, that is how topical medications work or patches for smoking and birth control.  Lotions, serums, diaper creams, etc are designed to soak into the skin.  Come to think about it, it does make sense to use products that are safe enough to eat, if possible.  If you care about ingesting pesticides, shouldn’t you care about using chemical-laden cosmetics too?

I know that this opens up a whole can of worms, but I seem to be doing that a lot lately.  I simply don’t believe that the status quo is always best.  Nor do I trust government regulatory systems to protect my health.  It’s hard to know who to trust really.  Do you ever feel that way?  But, I digress.  At any rate, my common sense tells me that cosmetics that contain tried & true natural oils, extracts, etc are safer than the latest chemical concoctions.

My research led me to a fantastic website sponsored by the Environmental Working Group, http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com/.  You can type any ingredient and most product names into the database to receive a report on its toxicity or safety with plenty of information regarding specific risks, studies, and alternatives.  Wow!  Before long I had ALL of our household cosmetics piled up on my desk.  My “toss” pile was significantly larger than the “ok”.  And, really, none of my products were great.  Even many “natural” or “organic” skin care lines have some products that rate badly for toxicity.  You really have to know your ingredients or use a site like Skin Deep (link above) to be sure you’re making a healthy, safe choice. 

What made me most furious was that my Balmex diaper cream contains a key ingredient rated as “Not safe for use on infant skin” by an independent cosmetic review board.  That ingredient is also restricted in Canadian and European cosmetics and prohibited from food in the USA.  And I’ve been slathering this cream on my baby’s bum for how many years!?!  That’s it, we need a whole new skin care line for babies at Euphoria – pronto!  A new line called Earth Mama Angel Baby is due to arrive next week.  And that’s good, because my Balmex diaper cream and Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Nourishing Milk Lotion are already in the trash!

 

Why Buy Organic Cotton? December 18, 2007

Filed under: Eco-Friendly Living — Rachel @ 4:09 pm
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From the Sustainable Cotton Project

  • Cotton uses about 25% of the world’s insecticides and more than 10% of the pesticides
  • In the US, 25% of all pesticides used are applied to cotton
  • In California, 5 of the top 9 pesticides used on cotton are cancer-causing chemicals (cyanazine, dicofol, naled, propargite, and trifulralin)
  • All of the top 9 pesticides used in California are labeled by the US Environmental Protection Agency as Category I or Category II materials, the most toxic classifications
  • In India, 91% of male cotton farm workers regularly exposed to pesticides eight hours or more per day experience some type of health disorder, including chromosomal aberrations, cell death, and cell decay
  • Cotton fibers account for almost 50% of the textile market worldwide
  • Globally, nearly 90 million acres of cotton are grown.  The US is the 2nd largest cotton producer in the world.
  • As much as two-thirds of a cotton crop can creep into the food chain.  Each year, half a million tons of cottonseed oil make its way into salad dressings, baked goods, and snack food; another 3 million tons of raw cottonseed oil are fed to beef and dairy cattle.

For more info check out www.sustainablecotton.org

 

Dangerous Baby Bottles? August 17, 2007

Have you heard of the latest concerns regarding the safety of polycarbonate plastic baby bottles?  Independent studies (more than 130 of them!) show that polycarbonate plastics continually release bisphenol-A (BPA) into foods and liquids.  So, what’s BPA?  It was originally created in the 30’s as a synthetic hormone.  Now it’s used as the basic building block for polycarbonate plastics.  Trouble is that, “BPA exposure at very low doses is linked to a staggering number of health problems, including prostate and breast cancer, obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, brain damage, altered immune system, lowered sperm counts, and early puberty.” Check out this link for more details on the studies and findings associated with BPA exposure:  http://www.environmentcalifornia.org/environmental-health/stop-toxic-toys/bisphenol-a-overview

BPA’s are probably a threat to us all, but they are certainly dangerous for young, developing babies.  Accordingly, many parents are switching to ploycarbonate-free baby bottles, toys, and dishes.  But, how do you know?  Manufacturers don’t have to reveal what type of plastic they use.  As a rule of thumb, however, polycarbonate plastic baby bottles are rigid, clear, and shiny; whereas, other plastic bottles are pliable, cloudy, or tinted.  Sadly, most of your favorites are probably BPA-producers.  Manufacturers are currently producing new alternatives such as Gerber’s Fashion Tints and Adiri’s Natural Nurser.  Any glass bottle or bottles with a disposable liner should be safe.  All bottles from Born Free or Medela are polycarbonate-free.