Category Archives: chemicals

BPA back in the news — this time it’s linked to a quick rise in blood pressure

bpaBisphenol A is a chemical used in the manufacturing of plastic bottles, it’s also used to line cans of foods and beverages. The chemical can also be found in dental fillings, eyeglass lenses and electronic equipment. BPA is an endocrine disruptor. That means that it interferes with the production, secretion, transport, action, function and elimination of natural hormones. BPA can imitate our body’s own hormones in a way that could be hazardous for health. Babies and young children are said to be especially sensitive to the effects of BPA. Possible health effects include reproductive disorders, male impotence, heart disease, brain function, female egg quality, and breast cancer. The use of BPA has been banned in the manufacturing of baby bottles and sippy cups. While many manufacturers have willingly removed it from cans, BPA is still out there. And it’s still making news.

People who regularly drink from cans and plastic bottles may want to reconsider: A new study shows that a common chemical in the containers can seep into beverages and raise blood pressure within a few hours.

The research raises new concerns about the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, which is widely found in plastic bottles, plastic packaging and the linings of food and beverage cans. Chronic exposure to BPA, as it is commonly known, has been associated with heart disease, cancer and other health problems. But the new study is among the first to show that a single exposure to the chemical can have a direct and fairly immediate impact on cardiovascular health.

The study found that when people drank soy milk from a can, the levels of BPA in their urine rose dramatically within two hours – and so did their blood pressure. But on days when they drank the same beverage from glass bottles, which don’t use BPA linings, there was no significant change in their BPA levels or blood pressure.

A single instance of increased blood pressure may not be particularly harmful. But the findings suggest that for people who drink from multiple cans or plastic bottles every day, the repeated exposure over time could contribute to hypertension, said Dr. Karin B. Michels, an expert on BPA who was not involved in the new research.

Dr. Michels said that the design of the new study was impressive and its findings “concerning.” About 30 percent of adults nationwide have hypertension, and BPA exposure is ubiquitous.

“I think this is a very interesting and important study that adds to the concern about bisphenol A,” said Dr. Michels, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It raises a lot of questions. We have such a high rate of hypertension in this country, which has risen, and we haven’t really thought of bisphenol A and its use in cans as one of the causes of that. ”

BPA has been used since the 1960s to make countless everyday products like plastic bottles, food containers, contact lenses, and even sippy cups and baby bottles. The chemical can leach into food, and studies show that the vast majority of Americans who are tested have BPA in their urine.

Not everyone is convinced that BPA poses a risk to consumers. The American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group, has said BPA is safe and has opposed federal and state legislative proposals to ban it.

Much of the evidence against BPA comes from large population studies rather than controlled clinical trials. A number have linked high urinary levels of BPA to a greater risk of hypertension and heart and peripheral artery disease. But those studies simply show correlations, and do not provide evidence that BPA is the cause.

The latest study, published in Hypertension, a journal of the American Heart Association, was a randomized controlled trial. The authors, a team from Seoul National University’s department of preventive medicine in Korea, recruited 60 older subjects, most of whom were women, and assigned them to drink soy milk from cans or glass bottles on three separate occasions, weeks apart. A majority had no history of high blood pressure, though some did.
The researchers chose soy milk because it does not have any properties that are known to increase blood pressure. And unlike soda, fruit juice and other acidic beverages, which are more likely to leach BPA from containers, soy milk is considered fairly neutral.

When the subjects drank from glass bottles, the study found, their urinary BPA levels remained fairly low. But within two hours of drinking from a can, their levels of BPA were about 16 times higher.

As BPA levels rose, so too did systolic blood pressure readings – on average by about five millimeters of mercury. In general, every 20 millimeter increase in systolic blood pressure doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease.

BPA is known to block certain estrogen receptors that are thought to be responsible for repairing blood vessels and controlling blood pressure. The chemical may also affect blood pressure indirectly by disrupting thyroid hormone, the authors noted.

“Clinicians and patients – particularly hypertension or cardiovascular disease patients – should be aware of the potential clinical problems for blood pressure elevation when consuming canned food and beverages,” said Dr. Yun-Chul Hong, an author of the study and director of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Seoul National University.

He recommended that people choose fresh foods and glass bottles over cans and plastic containers, and he urged manufacturers “to develop and use healthy alternatives to BPA for the inner lining of can containers.”

FoodFacts.com hopes that everyone takes any and all news regarding BPA seriously. It’s important to avoid the chemical whenever and wherever possible. While there is plenty of conflicting information out there, the possible health effects of Bisphenol A are real and quite concerning. We’ve all had exposure in some form or another, but we are all capable of reducing or even eliminating that exposure. And that’s something we need to focus on for ourselves and our loved ones.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/08/bpa-in-cans-and-plastic-bottles-linked-to-quick-rise-in-blood-pressure/?_r=1

Dioxins — Any “eggscape” from them?

 

Picture credit to FoxNews.com

FoodFacts.com would like to take some time to look at dioxins.

 

Recently, it has been revealed that in Germany, the highly poisonous chemical was found in eggs from a couple of farms in levels that was above the permissible level set.

 

Needless to say, the farms found with those eggs have been sealed off and are not permitted to sell more eggs. That doesn’t mean that eggs containing dioxins haven’t been sold already, though.

 

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency webpage, dioxins are a “group of toxic chemical compounds that share certain chemical structures and biological characteristics.” [1] They can be released into the environment in many different ways, including forest fires and certain industrial activities.

 

While many people fail to realize it, most every living creature has been exposed to dioxins in some way, shape or form over time. Dioxins are not reported to be harmful at small levels, but long-term exposure or high levels could result in numerous adverse health effects, including but not limited to cancer. Exposure to high levels of dioxins have also reportedly led to reproductive and developmental problems, according to studies, and an increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. While there are no known health effects on those who have consumed dioxins in small doses, more research does need to be done on those who are exposed to low levels of it over long periods of time, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

 

This isn’t the first time the issue of dioxins has been brought up with regards to Germany. Back in January of 2011, the European Union issued a health alert when officials discovered that animal feed had been tainted with dioxins, which was in turn fed to animals like hens and pigs and contaminating eggs, poultry and pork. Following that health alert, new measures were implemented to keep dioxin ingredients out of animal feed. Because of those new measures, and tests performed, officials do not believe the cause of this exposure was due to animal feed, and are still looking into the cause of the exposure.

 

Is there cause for concern? In Germany, there is reportedly no danger to the public. But it certainly makes everyone wonder what chemicals might be in their foods.

 

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, there are always measures being taken to lower dioxin levels in foods. Furthermore, there are regulations in place regarding dioxin emissions when it comes to industrial sources. And over time, reduced dioxin emissions will result in reduced levels of dioxins in foods. That being said, cause for concern more or less rests on your faith in the government and their efforts.

 

FoodFacts.com would like to extend our best wishes!

 


[1] Dioxin. Environmental Assessment. United States Environmental Protection Agency. <http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/CFM/nceaQFind.cfm?keyword=Dioxin>

Are we Inhaling Monsanto’s “Roundup”?

monsanto-roundup

Brought to you by Foodfacts.com

(Reuters) – Significant levels of the world’s most-used herbicide have been detected in air and water samples from two U.S. farm states, government scientists said on Wednesday, in groundbreaking research on the active ingredient in Monsanto Co’s Roundup.

“It is out there in significant levels. It is out there consistently,” said Paul Capel, environmental chemist and head of the agricultural chemicals team at the U.S. Geological Survey Office, part of the U.S. Department of Interior.

Capel said more tests were needed to determine how harmful the chemical, glyphosate, might be to people and animals.

The study comes on the heels of several others released recently that raise concerns about the rise of resistant “super weeds,” and other unintended consequences of Roundup on soil and animals.

Capel said glyphosate, the key ingredient in “Roundup” herbicide, was found in every stream sample examined in Mississippi in a two-year period and in most air samples taken. Tests were also done in Iowa.

“So people are exposed to it through inhalation,” said Capel.

The research did not look at the impact of the glyphosate in the air and water; the purpose was purely to determine exposure.

More research is needed, Capel said, to analyze the implications.

It is difficult and costly to test for the presence of glyphosate, a popular herbicide used around the world to control weeds on farm fields, golf courses and in residential yards. As a result, little research has been done on the implications for waterways and the air, according to Capel.

“This study is one of the first to document the consistent occurrence of this chemical in streams, rain and air throughout the growing season,” said Capel. “It is used so heavily and studied so little.”

Capel said researchers looked at samples from Mississippi, a key agricultural area for corn, soybeans, cotton and rice. Many farmers of those crops use large quantities of glyphosate when growing to combat weeds. Researchers also took samples from areas in Iowa.

Monsanto Co. introduced glyphosate to the world in 1974 branded as Roundup, and has made billions of dollars over the years from Roundup herbicides as well as from the “Roundup Ready” corn, soybeans and cotton the company has genetically engineered to survive dousings of glyphosate.

Most of the corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the United States are part of the Roundup Ready system.

The USGS said more than 88,0000 tons of glyphosate were used in the United States in 2007, up from 11,000 tons in 1992. The big increase in usage has spurred concerns on many fronts, most recently from farmers and environmentalists noting the rise of “super weeds” that are resistant to Roundup.

Fast-growing, glyphosate-resistant weeds are choking out crops in some areas, and some scientists say research shows harmful effects of glyphosate products on soil organisms, on plants, and on certain animals.

The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the registration for glyphosate and the data gathered by the U.S. Geological Survey has been submitted to the EPA, said Capel.

The EPA has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate should continue to be sold or in some way limited. The EPA is working closely with regulators in Canada as they also assess the ongoing safety and effectiveness of the herbicide.

Monsanto spokeswoman Kelli Powers said the company was reviewing the study. The EPA had no immediate comment on the study.

(Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by David Gregorio)