Saturday, April 30, 2011

Did Everyday Chemicals Cause My Tumor?

I should be out pulling weeds in the garden, but instead I'm reading Salon. What a great site. Wonderful stories, talented writers and style a-plenty! I bumped into this informative article and thought I'd share it. The author requests no reproductions so here's the link... 

Did everyday chemicals cause my tumor?  

What do you think?

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Fairy Tale: Eminence Organic Skin Care Blueberry Soy Exfoliating Cleanser

Once Upon A Time, not long ago a smart young woman named Keshyra bought a body care product...

Keshyra isn't just any young woman. She's also known as Enviromommy, a busy mother of two committed to keeping her beautiful Vancouver, Canada family happy and healthy. And she blogs about the process. If you haven't already checked her out you should... right here.

As her clever "handle" implies she's made a commitment to keep her family and self safe from environmental toxins. And what better way than to buy organic products, right?

So...  one beautiful clear British Columbia day Keshyra bought a product from Eminence Organic Skin Care,  Blueberry Soy Exfoliating Cleanser. It was an organic product and she believed it was safe. Who wouldn't?

She was pleased to note its fresh, natural smell and how nice it made her skin look and feel. In fact it was such a good product she eventually shared it with her hubby. They were both surprised that it lasted for six months- even with sharing!

Sound like this fairy tale will have a happy ending? Well... you be the judge...

One day Keshyra learned some companies say they're organic but still use toxic chemicals in their products. How could anyone be so deceitful and duplicitous? That's just crazy, right?

But, as I said earlier, Keshyra is smart and thought she should research her purchase. So she and a friend checked the ingredients in Eminence Organic Skin Care's Blueberry Soy Exfoliating Cleanser using the Skin Deep database. 

Here's what they found...
 Eminence Organic Skin Care Blueberry Soy Exfoliating Cleanser 

(PRELIMINARY REPORT: The information on this page was entered by a Skin Deep user and has not been verified by Environmental Working Group)

Health concerns of ingredients
About the ratings
Overall Hazardyes
Developmental & reproductive toxicityyes
Allergies & immunotoxicityyes
Use restrictionsyes
Other HIGH concerns: Persistence and bioaccumulation, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs)
Other MODERATE concerns: Neurotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Contamination concerns
Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology, Data gaps, Enhanced skin absorption, Biochemical or cellular level changes

Would you say this fairy tale has a happy ending?
Would you say like most fairy tales there's a moral to the story?

Let me know what you think. You can post right here or on my twitter account-

                                               THE END 

...Well, not exactly. The rest of Skin Deep's report follows after the jump...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 45

Ah spring- out in the garden vigorously digging and planting, happily weeding and mulching. Despite wrestling with an eruption of mutant onion grass nothing short of epidemic I feel great. My muscles ache with a good kind of sore that signals hard work, but not too hard. And the garden is beautiful. Bursting with the buds of new life- the promise of beauty to come...

But I said this was going to be about Neutrogena sunscreen didn't I?

The back story- I try to follow the guidelines-  only work outside until 10:00 AM, stay out of the sun until after 4:00 PM. I cover up- wear the big ridiculous hat. But sometimes the overwhelming power of warm sun and cool breeze, the pleasure of hard uncomplicated physical labor and gardening's instant gratification mesmerize me and I stay out too long. In years past I'd just slather on layer after layer of sunscreen and feel confident I was being smart and proactive. A no-brainer, right?

Not exactly. I just read Skin Deep's expose' and learned how little anyone actually knows about the efficacy and the safety of sunscreen. The incongruities are shocking. From questions about its ability to adequately protect against UV rays to the inclusion of downright dangerous ingredients- it's all bad news. You want an example? Okay, how about the vitamin A used in sunscreen has been linked to skin tumors? (NIH Panel press release January 2011)

more after the jump...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Link Between Pesticides and Breast Cancer

Dr. Marissa Weiss rises above the slightly insulting Dr. Johnson to provide important information to the masses on ABC News.
Watch it here:

Pesticide Residues and ADHD in Children

I never thought I'd be quoting ABC news, much less linking one of their videos to my blog. But this is good precisely because it IS ABC news- mainstream media - warning about the link between pesticides in food and ADHD in children.

Have a look:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Bar Soap

It seems like a lifetime ago I lived in Baltimore and made regular pilgrimages to Highlandtown's many wonderful Greek restaurants and grocery stores. Before indulging in Greek salad and Lemon Chicken Soup with a licorice-y Ouzo chaser at the Acropolis Restaurant I'd work up an appetite scouring the stores for goodies only available in Greektown.

One of my favorite buys was a big chunky rectangle of olive green, olive oil soap. That simple bar smelled delicious, lasted forever and worked equally well as a face or body soap. No need for that high-priced special buy from Nordstroms or Macy's for my face to get the special treatment it deserved. Every inch of my skin felt fresh, clean, soft and smooth every time I used that soap. And it seemed to last forever.           
Yet I haven't used it for years. How could I have forgotten how well it worked? I guess each time I was tempted by advertising and its sirens' song of the next great concoction that would bring me closer and closer to looking like the star or model in the ads I moved farther and farther away from such a simple solution to battling the daily grime.
Now in my quest to find safe body care products I'm back to the basics and olive oil soap is back in my life. I found a much smaller but still substantial chunk of the stuff at the local natural food store under the "Kiss My Face" label. Actually there were several Kiss My Face varieties of soap, but only the fragrance-free Pure Olive Oil Soap with its three simple ingredients received a "0" risk score in the Skin Deep database test.

The price for 8 oz. of pure olive goodness? Only $3.33 during the store's weekly "everything 10% off" day. I did see it was also available at Giant, a grocery store particular to the mid-Atlantic region, but the price was higher. If you're not ready to make a commitment to such a hefty bar it also comes in a 4oz. size.

So what follows are the results from the Skin Deep database search. I've taken it directly from the web page as someone else did me the favor of researching the product first. You can use the Skin Deep link two paragraphs "up" to get the results for yourself.

Ingredients:                score:      data gap:           concerns:

0 100%            None Identified
00%            Innocuous
SODIUM CHLORIDE00%             Innocuous

That big green bar looks so right on my old white porcelain soap dish in the bathroom. And I'm loving getting to post a positive review.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good News! Safe Chemicals Act of 2011

Senator Lautenberg (D-NJ)introduces his Safe Chemicals Act 2011 TODAY on Youtube. Please watch, please share with friends, family and political leaders. Huzzah!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shimmy Shimmy Cocamide... DEA

Cocamide Diethanolamine (DEA)...

Technically coconut is involved. But don't be deceived, this is not a natural product. The DEA portion comes from some kind of chemical voodoo involving ammonia and ethylene oxide.

The finished product, Cocamide DEA is the result of more voodoo with the DEA and unspecified fatty acids from coconut oil. That's exactly where the coconut comes in and the extent of it's contribution.

DEA is included in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxic Release Inventory. Its a neurotoxin, a skin and organ system toxin and a suspected liver, blood and kidney toxin. Three federal regulatory programs list it as an indoor household air pollutant. Because of its chemical similarities, cocamide DEA has the same risks as DEA. As if that wasn't enough, cocamide DEA can break down and create carcinogenic nitrosamines in the presence of other chemicals.

To quote the scientifically based, wonderfully informed and incredibly generous with her knowledge, Stephanie Greenwood of "Bubble and Bee", a USDA Certified Organic Body Product company, "...many "natural" brands use this ingredient, stating that it's made from coconuts.  Well, yes, part of it was once a coconut, but when you combine coconut with a possible carcinogen and toxic chemical, it kind of loses its natural appeal."

Skin Deep  gives the chemical a risk score of 6 to 8 depending on the concentration and how its used. That puts it at the high end of a moderate risk and the low end of a high risk whenever and wherever its found.

Created to fill the need for foam boosters, thickeners, or emulsifiers in personal care products, it does makes pretty bubbles and lavish suds. But pretty is as pretty does. And this pretty is just the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing. I shudder. Being a bubble booster, cocamide DEA is found in liquid soap, shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath. A potential carcinogen just sudsing away in the tub and sink.
I checked Skin Deep and found cocamide DEA as an ingredient in products offered in a disappointing number of brands I thought were "natural" - or at least good for me and the environment. Here are just a few... AVAHA, Beauty Without Cruelty, Desert Essence, Earth Therapeutics, Nature's Gate, Neutrogena, ShiKai, and The Body Shop. 

Moral of the story?  I'm reading every label even if it means bringing magnifying glasses to the store. Oh yeah...and maybe its time to check out Bubble and Bee.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cosmetic Safety Issues Hit Mainstream Media

So there I was trying to knock out a post on the dangers of phthalates and BPA, struggling to cull through extensive research,12 syllable words and my own shortcomings as a writer when I realized I was typing the same idea over and over. And it still was confusing. I needed a break. Did I get up to stretch? Or maybe take a short walk? Hmmmm... well...

Turning away from papers and reports I decided to check Facebook. And right there in the "Most Recent" stream I read an incredible thing has happened.  Glamour magazine has taken an unprecedented step for a magazine of its kind. Their May issue is shining the glaringly bright spotlight of truth on phthalates, BPA, and tributyltin (TBT) in an article written by the very smart and very thorough Melinda Wenner Moyer.  

In "The New Toxic Threat to Women's Health", Ms. Moyer starts out with this warning, "They’re in your bathroom, your kitchen, your fridge — and mounting research hints they could be wreaking havoc on your weight, fertility and immune system." Then she launches into a break down of the chemicals, backs her statements with research and ends by offering suggestions on how to avoid further contamination.

There are just so many things I want to quote from this article! I think it’s probably best if I give you the link so you can see for yourself. 

Thank you Glamour, thank you Melinda Wenner Moyers and thank you Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for among so many other things, providing the link.

Phthalates, BPA, Autism & ADHD linked to Fragrances, Cosmetics & Personal Care Products?

I keep bumping into studies that are downright shocking. So shocking I believe it's my duty to report on them. They're the basis for why I'm concerned about product ingredients in the first place.

Last week at Environmental Health News I found an abstract for a study on a group of chemicals called endocrine disrupting compounds (EDC). Here's the headline:  Moms exposed to BPA and phthalates during pregnancy report more autistic-like social behavior in their children. 

I recognized those ingredients, BPA and phthalates right away! They keep popping up on lists of pervasive and potentially dangerous chemicals to avoid. And just so you know, phthalates is pronounced "THalates", and bisphenol A is also known as "BPA". 

Before I talk about the research it's important you know both these chemicals are reported to be just about everywhere. BPA is used in polycarbonate plastics, thermal receipts and food can linings and phthalates are found in food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products and vinyl plastics. Both are instrumental in making plastic flexible.

Ready for a very simplified abstract of the study? Called Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Study, it's based on the theory that pregnant women exposed to EDCs experience interference with hormone production. The researchers also theorized that changes occur in the brain of the unborn children that lead to a distinct group of problematic behaviors similar to those found in autism and ADHD.

The scientists tested their hypotheses by following 137 mothers and children from New York City for nine years. They didn't expose anyone to EDCs, but only measured the concentration of EDCs in the women's urine during their third trimester of pregnancy. When the children borne of these woman were between seven and nine years old the mothers were given a standardized testing scale and asked to report on their child’s social behavior.
The results? Higher concentrations of BPA and/or specific phthalates were clearly associated with atypical social behaviors such as poorer understanding of social cues, poorer social communication and poorer social awareness- all symptoms associated with autism and ADHD. An unexpected finding was the type of phthalates found in fragrances and personal care products were most strongly associated with the atypical social behaviors. 

What this all means to me is that being concerned about chemicals in our everyday products is critical to us all. Just a few weeks ago I read ADHD and autism are both on the rise and no one seems to understand why. Maybe we've got a solid clue right here.
Press here to go to the abstract for the study. And here's a link to the study from the journal, Neurotoxicology. If you don't like either of those, here's information about the study: Phthalates, BPA linked to atypical childhood social behaviors. Apr 06, 2011. Miodovnik, A, SM Engel, C Zhu, X Ye, LV Soorya, MJ Silva, AM Calafat and MS Wolff. 2011. Endocrine disruptors and childhood social impairment. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Perricone MD Gentle Cleanser

What I already know about Perricone's Gentle Cleanser- it smells wonderful and works beautifully. My skin can be very dry. But using this cleanser made it feel soft, fresh and a clean kind of moist. One look in the mirror told me feeling was believing. I looked positively dewy. Yeah- it's pricey... but just ask L'Oreál Paris- "I'm worth it", right?

That's how I felt in the old days anyway, before I realized what being worth it really meant. Before I knew that seeing and even feeling isn't enough anymore. Before I understood that every product potentially had hidden costs And if I wasn't careful I'd be building a chemical soup one product full of ingredients at a time. And nobody knows what happens when all those ingredients blend together in my hair, skin, nasal passages...

Since I am worth it I put Gentle Cleanser to the Skin Deep test. Although there were about 15 Perricone products already in the database, this one wasn't. So the results I give you won't be directly searchable online. Skin Deep doesn't publish results until they've reviewed and researched the product on their own. And that's a good thing.

So these results are from my search. As always, I encourage you to do your own research. It's easy. Just enter the name, directions and ingredients here. You may need to develop a profile first, but they'll walk you through the process. It's easy.

My research showed that Gentle Cleanser scored 6 out of a possible 10. Six is the highest level of moderate risk before the product is high risk. Way too risky for me. Gentle Cleanser's headed for the giveaway pile.

Before moving on to the results- If anyone reading this has a recommendation for a good, safe facial cleanser Id really appreciate hearing from you. You can comment here or Twitter me:!/minamosha

last updated: 04/04/11 brand: Perricone MD
Environmental Working Group
PRELIMINARY REPORT: The information on this page was entered by a Skin Deep user and has not been verified by EWG.
Given the incomplete information made available by companies and the government, EWG provides additional information on personal care product ingredients from the published scientific literature. The chart below indicates that research studies have found that exposure to one or more ingredients in this product -- not the product itself -- caused the indicated health effect(s) in the studies reviewed by Skin Deep researchers. Actual health risks, if any, will vary based on the level of exposure to the ingredient and individual susceptibility -- information not available in Skin Deep. Legal Disclaimer

Ingredients in this product are linked to:
noDevelopmental/reproductive toxicity
yesUse restrictions
yesOther concerns for ingredients used in this product:
Neurotoxicity, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Miscellaneous, Multiple, additive exposure sources, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Enhanced skin absorption, Contamination concerns, Occupational hazards

Ingredients from packaging: Water; Decyl Glucoside; Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinate;  Cocamidopropyl Betaine (sp); PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Coco/Isostearamide; PPG-5-Ceteth-10 Phosphate; Glycerin, Polysorbate 20; Citric Acid, PEG-150 Pentaerythrityl Tetrastearate; Polyquaternium-10; Dimethyl MEA (DMAE); Fragrance; PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides; Benzophenone-4; Tetrasodium EDTA; Olea Europaea Fruit Oil; Butylene Glycol; Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract; Olea Europaea Leaf Extract; Carthamus Tinctorius Seed Oil; Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract; Chamomilla Recutita Extract; Methylchloroisothiazolinone; Yellow 5 (CI 19140); Methylisothiazolinone; Red 4 (CI 14700); Green 3 (CI 42053)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Flax Seed Gel Update...Make It Last

Just a quick post...

My always detail-oriented husband was watching me mix up a batch of flax seed gel last Sunday. I'd been becoming increasingly- and audibly frustrated with how quickly the gel was turning bad, even being refrigerated.

 "You're not using distilled water for that are you? That's why it goes bad so fast." was all he had to say.

...of course.

I scrapped that batch and started again with a modified recipe. See my Sunday March 20th post for the particulars and substitute 2 cups of distilled water for the filtered water.

So it's been a week. I used the gel this morning and it works just great.

UPDATE!! July 21, 2011 

I just used the gel this morning. It's still fresh after 3 weeks and two days in the fridge.The secret really is keeping it from becoming contaminated.

Using the distilled water was a big help. I've also been really careful to always have clean dry hands (initially anyway), not get any water or stray hair into the container and get it back into the refrigerator ASAP.