Getting Toxins Out of Your Life: Fabric Softeners

So why the fuss over fabric softeners and dry sheets?  They contain chemicals that irritate the skin, trigger asthma and are toxic to our reproductive systems including:  distearyldimonium chloride, diethyl ester dimethyl ammonium chloride, variants of hydroxyethyl methyl ammonium methyl sulfate or the vague terms “biodegradable fabric softening agents” and “cationic surfactant.”  The fragrance softeners are even worse, containing  phthalates, which disperse the scent; synthetic musks such as galaxolide, which accumulate in the body; and much more.

Read More

Getting Toxins Out of Your Life: Bathroom Cleaners

The bathroom is the worst place to clean in the house, besides the soap scum and toilet goo, you are also dealing with little or no ventilation and traditional cleaning products, such as bleach, that are toxic.  In fact, many common household cleaning products may smell nice and quickly get the grime off of the shower but continued exposure to these products can cause health problems such as asthma, skin irritation, cancer, and hormone disruption. 

I am a big fan of using vinegar and water to clean my house, it’s a cheap and toxic-free solution.  You can find more DIY cleaners here.  However, the bathroom poses a challenge to my vinegar mixture.  Here are some easy and cheap DIY cleaning recipes to tackle the bathroom and keep you and your family healthy.

Read More

Getting Toxins Out of Your Life: Triclosan

Triclosan is an antimicrobial, endocrine disrupting chemical that pollutes people and the environment. It is found in most Americans, where it may be interfering with the hormone and reproductive systems and increasing sensitivity to allergens.  According to a recent article from the Environmental Working Group, “Triclosan and other antimicrobials, added to many soaps and other everyday products…likely harm people's health and the environment, while providing no benefit to consumers, said more than 200 scientists and medical professionals.  Scientists are concerned that widespread use of antimicrobials in consumer products could contribute to growing antibiotic resistance and make the vital medical uses of antimicrobials ineffective.

Read More

Talking About Lead in School Drinking Water with D.C. Councilmember Cheh’s Staff

Recently I had the good fortune to meet with knowledgeable staff from D.C. Councilmember (CM) Mary Cheh of Ward 3’s office and discussed D.C.’s efforts to eliminate lead in school and daycare drinking water.  A recent amendment to the Childhood Lead Exposure Prevention Act of 2017 expands mandatory water testing and remediation beyond public schools to recreation centers, charter schools and daycare centers in the District.  The amendment also changes the action level for lead in drinking water from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommended level of 1 part per billion (ppb) to 5 ppb---the FDA’s action level for bottled water.

Read More

Talking About Lead in School Drinking Water with D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Education’s Office

I recently had the privilege to meet with staff from D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Education’s Office and representatives from the Department of General Services and District of Columbia Public Schools.  These folks work to keep lead out of school drinking water and protect D.C. children from ingesting this toxic substance while in school.  Last year D.C. lowered its action level for lead in school drinking water from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 1 ppb.  In so doing, the Department of General Services (DGS) was tasked to place a filter, which would filter lead out of the water, on each water source throughout the entire school district. 

Read More

Talking About Lead in School Drinking Water with D.C. Councilmember Allen

We are starting a new blog series called "Talking About Lead in School Drinking Water" where we will highlight meetings with community leaders who are involved in this issue and trying to make a positive difference.  I had the pleasure of meeting Councilmember Charles Allen of Ward 6 and his staff last week to talk about D.C.'s actions to combat lead in school drinking water.  CM Allen is very knowledgable on this issue and wants to see D.C. take a proactive stand against lead in school drinking water.  

Read More

Getting Toxins Out of Your Life: Finding the Right Sunscreen

A few months ago I wrote about toxins present in sunscreen and what to avoid.  I recently came across an excellent article from Reviews.com entitled "Best Sunscreen".  This article is very well researched and expands upon my original blog post about avoiding Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) in sunscreen.  Through testing and ingredient examination Reviews.com found that the following are the "best sunscreens".

Read More

Testing for Lead Exposure

A recent New York Times article entitledF.D.A. Warns of Faulty Lead Testing in Children and Mothers brought to my attention that blood lead tests taken after 2014 that used Magellan Diagnostics to analyze the blood may be faulty.  The concern is that the tests may have underestimated blood lead levels in tests done by drawing blood from the vein.  There are two ways blood can be drawn for lead tests 1) by pricking the finger or heel (capillary) or 2) drawing blood from the vein.  The tests drawn from the vein that used Magellan Diagnostics seem to be the ones that are providing faulty results.  Although the capillary tests are acceptable it is recommended that if the test shows signs of lead in the blood then the test should be followed up with a venous test. 

Read More

Getting Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Life---Children's Toys

Toddlers and infants are natural explorers and love to place objects in their mouths, especially when teething.  Manufacturers put chemicals in almost all products, sadly children’s toys are no exception.  You can research this issue until blue in the face and still uncover toys and chemicals to avoid.  After extensively looking into this issue my family has adopted some general rules around types of toys that we give to our son.  But before getting into the practical let’s discuss what chemicals/products we are trying to avoid.

Read More

The Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program and Why We Need It

Dr. Nancy Beck has just been appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and reportedly started in that position on Monday, April 17, 2017.  Dr. Beck is moving into her new position at EPA directly from her job as Senior Director, Regulatory Science Policy, Division of Regulatory & Technical Affairs at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a position she has held since January, 2012.  ACC is the main trade association for the chemicals industry, with a membership of more than 150 chemical companies, including such behemoths as BASF, Dow, DuPont and ExxonMobil.  Dr. Beck will now be making decisions that will directly affect the financial interests of the companies represented by ACC.  And they will involve deciding whether or not the agency should take positions for which Dr. Beck has advocated on behalf of her former employer, as recently as last month. 

Read More

Getting Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Life---Laundry Detergent

Our new series entitled Getting Toxic Chemicals Out of Your Life--we will be highlighting different products that everyone uses which contain toxic chemicals.  The idea is to provide readers information on the toxic chemicals and product alternatives that perform just as well but without the toxic substances.  This post looks at laundry detergents, they are NOT all equal and many contain excess chemicals that do not make your clothes any cleaner but will irritate your skin and contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). 

Read More

Know What is in Your Sunscreen--Avoid Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

According to the Environmental Working Group, active ingredients in sunscreens come in two forms, mineral and chemical filters.  Part of FACT’s mission is to educate consumers on toxic chemicals present in everyday products.  Most concerning are chemicals that are endocrine disrupters (EDCs) as discussed in more detail here.  Lab studies indicate that some chemical UV filters may mimic hormones or cause skin allergies, which raises important questions about unintended effects on human health from frequent sunscreen application. The most worrisome is oxybenzone, added to nearly 70 percent of the non-mineral sunscreens. 

Read More

Study Shows that Lead Exposure at Young Age Leads to Decline in Socioeconomic Status

We know that children that are exposed to lead suffer from lower IQ and decreased cognitive ability.   A recent study found that children who experienced higher lead exposures saw their intellectual ability decline from their baseline starting point as time wore on---meaning that the lead exposure continued to have a negative effect on a person’s cognitive learning abilities years after the initial exposure.

Read More

FACTS and MYTHS: Understanding Building Dates are Crucial to Addressing Lead in School Drinking Water

A recent article, "San Diego Schools What We Know and Don't Know" details problems with lead in school drinking water in San Diego, CA school districts and states that “The water supply is not the problem.  Plumbing at facilities is.”  I recently wrote a post discussing San Diego’s testing and reporting methods, focusing on how schools are interpreting lead test results.   In our series “FACTS and MYTHs” we will look at this article and highlight where additional information is needed. 

Read More

Toxic Chemicals are Stagnating Human Reproduction

An increasing proportion of sperm, 90 percent in a typical young man, are now misshapen, some even having two heads or two tails.  Those correctly shaped often do not swim well.  And over the last 75 years, sperm counts have dropped quickly.  In one study, sperm donor applicants in 2001 in Hunan Provence, China qualified for donation at a rate of 56 percent.  In 2015, the qualified rate plummeted to 18 percent.  Put simply, EDCs are threatening our ability to reproduce in the future.  A significant number of men will be unable to reproduce in the next generation if measures are not taken to reduce our exposure to EDCs.  This should be a public health emergency.  Aggressive regulation is needed to reduce and control the use of EDCs in our everyday products like cleaning solutions, soaps, perfumes and lotions, to name a few.   

Read More

Nationwide Problem: Myths about Lead in Drinking Water

Part of the problem is the number itself, the EPA’s action level is 15ppb so that must mean something and one would presume it is somehow tied to health.  The number does mean something, it is found in the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule of 1991 and is the lowest level where corrosion control treatment (CCT) is effective.

Read More

Nationwide Problem: Arlington, VA Elementary School Demonstrates Discrepancies in Lead Test Results

In this example, children who literally go to school across the river are exposed to more lead because their school’s remediation level is higher than schools mere miles away.  How is this fair to families and children?  Look closely at this graphic and you will see that water sources that tested above 1ppb on the first draw at Jamestown Elementary School is 69 out of 109—63%.  The number of water sources remediated after the testing is 19—only 17%. 

Read More

Nationwide Problem: Playing Russian Roulette with Children’s Health

While all this testing and information gathering is happening; children continue to drink from water sources that may or may not be laced with lead.   Fulton County has spent $300,000 testing all of their water sources and found 161 schools with lead over 15ppb.  FACT believes that children and parents should know that there are lead free drinking water sources in every school in America.  Therefore, we propose that schools and day care centers use a fraction of the money spent on testing to install drinking water filters at some water fountains.  No more Russian roulette with children’s health, every family will know that their child has a safe drinking water source in school. 

Read More

Understanding Lead Testing in Drinking Water

Most schools are not testing for lead at all. And even in those states and school districts that are testing, much of the available data is limited to test results showing concentrations in excess of 15 ppb (or a 20 ppb equivalent for schools, using a different sampling method). Yet we know that lead is toxic at very low levels.

Read More

National Problem: Lead Tests Reveal 64 Public Schools in Washington, D.C. Had High Lead Levels in Drinking Water

The results of lead testing done at 113 DC public schools in April, May, and June of 2016 revealed elevated lead levels in drinking water in 64 schools.  In June 2016 the D.C. Department of General Services adopted a 1 ppb action level for lead tests on drinking water sources in all D.C. public school and parks and recreation centers.

Read More