The Newsletter of the
Toxics Information Project (TIP)
IN THIS ISSUE
Director’s Corner: Encouraging Signs
for 2010, TIP Plans, Events, Publications.
Catty/Canary Corner: For the Holidays;
A Bit of Cheer for Canaries!
Holiday Guidance: Christmas Trees,
Candles, Kitchens, Handwashing.
Legislation: Household Products Labeling, BPA in Food Containers; Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Bill, Toxic Substances Control Act, Why City Pesticide Ban is Good for Business.
Hope for the Holidays: OCA on the Organic Answer to Hunger, AMA Resolution.
ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR 2010: I’ve recently been pleased and surprised a number of times by developing actions in quarters for which I hadn’t had a lot of hope. This issue of TIP TALKS, appropriately since it’s publication has been delayed to the December holiday season, includes a collection of such happy news. Included are: Recognition by Consumer Reports (finally) of the dangers of Bisphenol-A, with a call for action! Moves in Congress to require Household Products Labeling & regulate Endocrine Disrupters! Support from at least one RI Senator for strengthening the Toxic Substances Control Act!
I’m also pleased at the rise in research and information from non-profit, industry-independent groups to guide consumers on avoiding toxic chemicals in daily life and products, along with increased pressure on both manufacturers and retailers to offer us healthier, less toxic options.
Please be sure to take advantage of the growing number of online directories to products that have been tested by folks at Environmental Working Group, including the two in this TIP TALKS.
PLANS & EVENTS: As some of you know, my work has been pushed back a bit by a leg injury in October - I’ve been spending a lot of time in physical therapy, not being able to work as much or hard as usual. I’m improving greatly, & expect to be able to carry out my plan to put lots more up on the website. I am thinking to send out notices from time to time with lists of the new articles available online. I’m also still hoping to create short notices to hand out to offensively fragranced folks and neighbors spraying pesticides. Anyone who has been successful with either - tell me what got through to them! This is a slow time of year for events - I have one commitment to offer an informational table and talk with students at a RISD function in January.
Otherwise, the main focus coming up will be the RI Flower Show and our annual Less Toxic Landscaping Directory. We’ll be seeking, as always, additional good local sources for organic-friendly supplies, services and information. The 2010 Directory will again be FREE! Donations toward printing costs last year provided significant help for that aim. So, seek us out at our Flower Show booth and pick up a copy. BETTER STILL - WE’LL AGAIN NEED VOLUNTEERS TO ASSIST US AT THE BOOTH (They have a great time - and get in free to the event). Let me know if you can help.
Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to All & Wishes for a Great & Healthy New Year.
Blessings, Liberty Goodwin, TIP Director
FOR 2009, THERE WERE 12 HAPPY FACES ON THE COVER - FOUR TIMES THOSE IN 2008!
DOUBLE THE SUCCESS! - The Healthy Holidays Handbook, despite a late start because of my injury, was ready to print and start distribution on Thursday, November 19, a week before Thanksgiving. Then, it rapidly outdid its successful 2008 predecessor. Last year, we distributed about 875 copies total - mostly to libraries. This year, blessed “elves” again met me in Providence to pick up handbooks and bring them to their neck of the woods. We successfully provided 1,147 copies to libraries around the state! But that’s not all - 526 copies made their way to events and to locations such as health care and other offices, schools, markets, beauty parlors and barbers, restaurants and cafes, and many more. 152 found their way directly into the hands of interested persons with whom we came in contact.
THE GRAND TOTAL TODAY, DECEMBER 21, 2009: 1,825 COPIES OF THE 2009 HEALTHY HOLIDAYS HANDBOOK ARE IN CIRCULATION! Since, along with exciting, healthier, alternative gifts & holiday ideas, the publication includes serious info on what NOT to buy, this is OUTREACH!
DON’T FORGET TO PASS THE WORD TO ANY WHO MAY NOT KNOW - THE HEALTHY HOLIDAYS HANDBOOK IS AVAILABLE ON OUR WEBSITE AT: www.toxicsinfo.org/thoughts.htm
(Good for birthdays & other occasions year-round). AND 2008 IS STILL THERE, WITH MORE IDEAS.
In the holiday spirit, I thought you’d appreciate this humorous commentary from a friend who is a “canary” & “cat person” in the Midwest. It includes some actual healthier food thoughts, very TIP-friendly. In a discussion about awful American diets with the “cat lady”, I said: “I hope you don't take this as an aspersion to the intelligence of your cat that loved the fruit loops. Even geniuses can have addictions.” Her response was priceless:
Not to worry. Little Goldberg wasn't the brightest bulb in the cat tree. Also a tad psychotic. Hmm, hope it wasn't her brief exposure to Froot Loops! Actually, it's amazing what a difference better food can make. Goldberg's successors on the feline staff, Hans and Fritz, are an example. They were sisters and started out with Purina cat chow from birth. Goldberg had likewise been a Purina cat. Actually, Goldberg was totally addicted to the stuff - she would rip a hole in the bag or box if left with it for even a few seconds. If she weren't so psycho, she could have made us a fortune in Purina commercials.
Fritz was always very bright, focused, and persistent. She would run after a mini-frisbee only if it fell in an interesting spot that took a while to extract it from. Hans would just run wildly after it regardless but then would forget what she was doing... Hans was cute but dumb. She would wap a string with her paw, but not very vigorously and was easily distracted. Never could tell what she wanted - Playtime with a string? Food? Petting? The National Enquirer? What? She just had a generic meow that wasn't very informative. Fritz even liked watching the evening news. Hans and I would be half asleep on the couch during the news while Fritz stared at the screen, even going up to it to pat the newscaster. Hans and I would wake up for the mindless comedy show afterward, while Fritz the Intellectual would walk away with a superior air. She really was a snob.
Then, when they were about 2 years old, I switched from Purina to some canned food called Cornucopeia that their doctor had just started carrying. The ingredients were so good (no byproducts, artificial colors or flavors) that if I weren't vegetarian, I'd eat it myself. Within about 2-3 weeks - Hans became just as smart, focused, and persistent as her sister Fritz. She played vigorously, undistracted, none of the wishy-washy batting at the string I'd seen before. She also made it very clear what she wanted from me: If she wanted to play, she came over with the string in her mouth. If she wanted food - she went to the refrigerator and scratched on the door. Fritz watched her do this for a couple of weeks, then learned that trick herself. (Yes, I was easily trained....) At least Hans didn't start preferring the news, so I didn't lose my plebeian TV buddy, although she did develop a definite fondness for the opening theme of the Tarzan series. Hans not only knew what to do with a mini-frisbee after the switch - she would catch it in her mouth and bring it back to me....
If a change in food can make this much difference in a cat -- well, you can connect the dots. Wish I'd had that option to try on psychotic little Goldberg of sainted memory. Needless to say, I now spend the money to get cat foods made with human-grade ingredients (no mystery byproducts or unnecessary artificial colors etc.). Saves on vet bills. The cats' old doctor (Carolyn Blakey) had said she was seeing a lot of illness in cats and dogs that she attributed to "supermarket pet food", which is why she started carrying alternatives in her clinic.
Science Diet is an improvement over standard supermarket fare and many vets carry that as well, although I don't think it's the best myself (just best promoted to the vets). But it's a lot better than many easily available alternatives. The reported numbers of cats & dogs who died from the contaminated stuff from China were just the tip of the iceberg - the death toll could easily have been in the tens of thousands, judging from anecdotal evidence & informal observations of higher than usual kidney failure cases. That was all from "supermarket pet food".
QUESTION FOR ALL - IF THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WITH CATS, HOW ABOUT US HOOMANS?
AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY HAS RECOGNIZED
THAT FRAGRANCE CHEMICALS MAKE MANY PEOPLE SICK!
At an American Chemical Society meeting held in August 1998 in Boston, Massachusetts, attendees were asked not to wear fragrances due to the number of chemically sensitive people attending the meeting. http://healing.about.com/cs/mcs/a/scentsense_b_4.htm
NOTE: The ACS Should Be Distinguished As Different From The Chemical Industry Trade Association - The American Chemistry Council. ACS appears to be somewhat less dedicated to denial of chemical harm, judging by the article below.
It may not sound like "tree-hugging," but cutting down a real tree for Christmas is actually greener than going with the artificial kind, one scientist says. "It is a little counterintuitive to people," said Clint Springer, a biologist at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Because of concerns over deforestation around the world, many people naturally worry that buying a real tree might contribute to that problem, Springer says.
But most Christmas trees for sale these days are grown not in the forest but on tree farms, for the express purpose of being cut. Moreover, from a greenhouse gas perspective, real trees are "the obvious choice," Springer told LiveScience.
Live trees actively photosynthesize as they grow from saplings, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. After they have been cut and Christmas is over, they're usually chipped for mulch. As mulch, the bits of tree very slowly decompose, releasing carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. So in the end, a real Christmas tree is carbon neutral, putting the same amount of carbon dioxide back into the air as it took out (albeit much more slowly). The tree farms that grew the trees also replant after the trees are cut.
Artificial trees, on the other hand, don't come out even in the carbon balance. Petroleum is used to make the plastics in the trees and lots of carbon dioxide-creating energy is required to make and transport them. Because these trees just end up in landfills after a few years' use, "those greenhouse gases are lost forever," Springer said. "There's really no opportunity to recycle those." Springer said he suspects that artificial trees have become more popular in recent years because they are more convenient. Adding to incentives to "go real," this Christmas may also be economic concerns, as most artificial trees are produced in China, while real trees tend to be grown on local farms, Springer said.
· Original Story: Real Christmas Trees 'Greener' than Fake
LiveScience.com chronicles the daily advances and innovations made in science and technology. We take on the misconceptions that often pop up around scientific discoveries and deliver short, provocative explanations with a certain wit and style. Check out our science videos, Trivia & Quizzes and Top 10s. Join our community to debate hot-button issues like stem cells, climate change and evolution. You can also sign up for free newsletters at the LiveScience Store.
Yes, call us the Grinch, but unfortunately most artificial Christmas trees are made out of PVC, the poison plastic. Some independent studies have found that some older fake Christmas Trees made out of PVC contain potentially harmful levels of lead, the potent neurotoxin that's also been finding its way into children's PVC toys. Researchers at the Environmental Quality Institute tested PVC trees a few years ago and found that, "while the average artificial Christmas tree does not present a significant exposure risk, in the worst-case scenarios a substantial health risk to young children is quite possible." In another study, researchers recommended, "These experiments indicate that it is probably appropriate to caution families with older PVC Christmas trees to thoroughly wash hands immediately after tree assembly and disassembly, and especially to limit the access of children to areas under erected trees."
It is better to be safe than sorry, and we recommend avoiding fake PVC Christmas trees - after all, PVC is also toxic during manufacture and disposal. The best bet is to buy a real-live locally harvested tree, especially those grown "organic" with fewer toxic chemicals, and better yet - one that can be replanted in your backyard or community.
By Dennis Thompson, Wednesday, Aug. 19 SOURCE: American Chemical Society news release, Aug. 19, 2009 HealthDay Copyright (c) 2009 ScoutNews, LLC
Paraffin wax candles, used mainly for romantic ambiance, fragrance and light, may also contribute to air pollution inside your home. The candles, which are made from petroleum, are a source of known human carcinogens and indoor pollution, researchers said in a study to be presented Wednesday at the American Chemical Society's national meeting in Washington, D.C. In the study, R. Massoudi and Amid Hamidi found that candles made from beeswax or soy, although more expensive, apparently are safer because they do not release potentially harmful pollutants. "An occasional paraffin candle and its emissions will not likely affect you," Hamidi said in a news release. "But lighting many paraffin candles every day for years or lighting them frequently in an unventilated bathroom around a tub, for example, may cause problems." Ventilation can help reduce the level of pollutants in closed rooms, the researchers said. Besides the more serious risks, Hamidi also said that some people who believe they have an indoor allergy or respiratory irritation may actually be reacting to pollutants from burning candles. Related News: More News on Indoor Air Pollution
Chances are you'll be in the kitchen a bit over the
holidays. Holiday kitchens are places of warmth and cheer where friends and
family gather to chat and cook. Why not make your holiday kitchen eco-healthy,
too? Especially for those little ones baking cookies and "helping"
you cook? To simplify it (we know you're busy!), EWG researchers put together a
special Healthy Home Tip for the holidays: Your Healthy Holiday Kitchen.
Check it out -- your guests will thank you!
Visit our Healthy Home Tips page to make your holiday kitchen eco-healthy (then share it with a friend). You'll learn how (and why) to:
Like you, we'd rather get caught up in the holiday spirit without having to think about our families' environmental health. But in the absence of health-protective chemical policies, it's our responsibility.
You've probably been told to wash your hands since you were a kid: before you eat, after you use the restroom, when you're sick. It's such a simple, well-known and effective way to prevent the spread of germs.
So why are we writing about something you already do?
Because hand washing with safer soaps
can reduce toxic exposures, too.
Hand washing is an effective -- but often overlooked -- way to reduce our exposures to toxic chemicals. Chemicals can migrate onto our hands from the many toxic products we use everyday -- and the simple act of washing our hands can help reduce our exposure. This is especially important for young children, whose hands are so frequently in their mouths.
Choose a safer soap. Ironically, some soaps contain chemicals you should avoid (like triclosan). Choosing a safer soap is an important part of reducing your toxic exposures. To help you choose safer soaps to suds up with, EWG put together this month's Healthy Home Tip: Wash those hands -- with a safer soap. Visit our Healthy Home Tips page to learn: How hand washing reduces toxic exposures, , Why you should skip anti-bacterial soap, How to identify safer soaps.