Category Archives: chemicals

Toxic chemicals are damaging our health

151001100058_1_540x360We hear it all the time … the level of chemicals we’re exposed to can’t hurt us – it’s not high enough. The population used to be told that about BPA in plastics. Turns out that wasn’t true. The truth is that no one has really been able to tell us how pesticides, preservatives, dyes, and other toxic chemicals are damaging our health. thought everyone in our community could really benefit from this new information.

Dramatic increases in exposure to toxic chemicals in the last four decades are threatening human reproduction and health, according to the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), the first global reproductive health organization to take a stand on human exposure to toxic chemicals.

The opinion was written by obstetrician-gynecologists and scientists from the major global, US, UK and Canadian reproductive health professional societies, the World Health Organization and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

FIGO, which represents obstetricians from 125 countries and territories, published the opinion in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics on Oct. 1, 2015, just prior to its Oct. 4 to 9, 2015, world congress in Vancouver, BC, where more than 7,000 clinicians and scientists will explore global trends in women’s health issues.

“We are drowning our world in untested and unsafe chemicals, and the price we are paying in terms of our reproductive health is of serious concern,” said Gian Carlo Di Renzo, MD, PhD, Honorary Secretary of FIGO and lead author of the FIGO opinion. According to Di Renzo, reproductive health professionals “witness first-hand the increasing numbers of health problems facing their patients, and preventing exposure to toxic chemicals can reduce this burden on women, children and families around the world.”

Miscarriage and still birth, impaired fetal growth, congenital malformations, impaired or reduced neurodevelopment and cognitive function, and an increase in cancer, attention problems, ADHD behaviors and hyperactivity are among the list of poor health outcomes linked to chemicals such as pesticides, air pollutants, plastics, solvents and more, according to the FIGO opinion.

“What FIGO is saying is that physicians need to do more than simply advise patients about the health risks of chemical exposure,” said Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, a co-author of the FIGO opinion and past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which issued an opinion on chemicals and reproductive health in 2013. “We need to advocate for policies that will protect our patients and communities from the dangers of involuntary exposure to toxic chemicals.”

Chemical manufacturing is expected to grow fastest in developing countries in the next five years, according to FIGO. In the U.S. alone, more than 30,000 pounds of chemicals per person are manufactured or imported, and yet the vast majority of these chemicals have not been tested. Chemicals travel the globe via international trade agreements, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. Environmental and health groups have criticized the proposed agreement for weakening controls and regulations designed to protect communities from toxic chemicals.

“Exposure to chemicals in the air, food and water supplies disproportionately affect poor people,” said Linda Giudice, MD, PhD, MSc, a FIGO opinion co-author, past president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and chair of the UCSF department of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences. “In developing countries, lower respiratory infections are more than twice as likely to be caused by chemical exposures than in developed countries.”

Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals is linked to millions of deaths and costs billions of dollars every year, according to the FIGO opinion, which cites the following examples:

• Nearly 4 million people die each year because of exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution as well as to lead.
• Pesticide poisonings of farmworkers in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to cost $66 billion between 2005-2020.
• Health care and other costs from exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in Europe are estimated to be at a minimum of 157 billion Euros a year.
• The cost of childhood diseases related to environmental toxins and pollutants in air, food, water, soil and in homes and neighborhoods was calculated to be $76.6 billion in 2008 in the United States.

“Given accumulating evidence of adverse health impacts related to toxic chemicals, including the potential for inter-generational harm, FIGO has wisely proposed a series of recommendations that health professionals can adopt to reduce the burden of unsafe chemicals on patients and communities,” said FIGO President Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, MBBS, who is also past president of the British Medical Association.

FIGO proposes that physicians, midwives, and other reproductive health professionals advocate for policies to prevent exposure to toxic environmental chemicals; work to ensure a healthy food system for all; make environmental health part of health care; and champion environmental justice.

Chemicals count. Our environment contributes to our health and well being and our environment carries toxins. Our food supply didn’t have to be chemically laden. Pesticides didn’t need to be uninvited guests in our body tissue. But they are. We’ve all got to advocate to eliminate the exposure to toxic chemicals in our environment and our food supply. It’s already affected us all far too much.

An unpleasant surprise from McDonald’s: Cleaning Liquid in Tea

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 12.01.57 PMWhen you order an iced tea, you’re not expecting to get anything extra in the cup.

An Indianapolis police officer took a sip of McDonald’s iced tea last weekend and wound up in the hospital because the drink apparently was contaminated with cleaning chemicals.

Reserve Officer Paul Watkins went to the McDonald’s at around 10 p.m. Saturday night for a self-serve tea before his shift, his wife Jerilyn Watkins said, adding that she wasn’t with him at the time and his lawyer advised him not to speak to the media.

He filled his cup halfway with unsweetened tea and went to fill the rest with sweetened tea when he noticed it looked dark, she said. He took the lid off the dispenser to take a look and determined it was OK.

“He filled his cup and took a big gulp and immediately his throat started burning down into his chest,” Jerilyn Watkins said, adding that he called her from the car and told him he felt as though he’d just drank “bleach.”

The owner of the McDonald’s where Watkins was served, Elizabeth Henry, issued the following statement: “Serving my customers safe, high quality food and beverages is a top priority at our restaurants. We take this claim very seriously and are looking into the matter.”

Emails to McDonald’s corporate communications office seeking additional comment were not returned.

Watkins immediately spit out the tea and told the girl behind the counter that there was something wrong, Jerilyn Watkins said. The manager then told him the employees had put a cleaning solution into the tea dispenser and they had forgotten to put a cup over the nozzle, Jerilyn Watkins said.

“The irony of this all was that manager asked Paul if he wanted another cup or glass of tea and told one of the employees, ‘Hey, get this guy another tea,’” Paul Watkins’s lawyer, Sam Jacobs said. “Paul said ‘No, thanks’ and left. By time he got not very far in his police car, he became violently ill.”

He called the police station and poison control, which determined that the tea dispenser was filled with a “heavy duty degreaser” chemical, according to the police report. Watkins spent the night at IU Health Methodist Hospital, according to the report. He underwent endoscopy the following day, Jacobs said.

Watkins has returned to his daily life, but he still has problems swallowing and experiences burning in his throat, Jacobs said. He’s also concerned about the long-term effects of ingesting the chemicals.

“My husband has never drank, never smoked, never done drugs,” Jerilyn Watkins said. “This is just insane.”

A similar scenario involving a teen in Muncie, Indiana, was reported at a McDonald’s in 2013, and a lawsuit was filed in January. McDonald’s lawyers in the case have until March 31 to respond, according to court records.

In Utah last summer, a woman said she unintentionally ingested lye by drinking contaminated tea through a straw at Dickey’s Barbeque Pit, but she did not file suit.

Dickey’s said in a statement the worker who made the tea no longer works at the company.

“The entire Dickey’s family is saddened by the events that occurred in Utah and takes this incident very seriously,” the restaurant chain said in a statement. “There is nothing more important to us than the trust and safety of our guests.”

Jacobs said he has not yet filed a lawsuit on Watkins’s behalf and hopes he is able to work out something with McDonald’s before doing so.

“He never wants this to happen to anybody else,” Jacobs said.

Trust and safety. Most of us don’t consciously think of those two words when we walk into any kind of restaurant. But those words are inherent in our actions. We’re eating their food, so we must trust them and believe that our safety is their priority. Ingesting cleaning fluid isn’t what we’re expecting when walking into a McDonald’s. does understand that mistakes can happen. The world isn’t a perfect place and there are no perfect people. But some mistakes are more costly than others. It becomes important for us to really take note of anything unusual going on with food or beverages that we’ve ordered in any establishment. The results of incidents like this could be far more detrimental than what we’re seeing here … and this wasn’t small.

Let’s take note of what we’re about to eat and drink. Maybe the color could be off. Perhaps the smell isn’t what you’re expecting. If you notice something you aren’t expecting, don’t consume it. While no restaurant is trying to hurt anyone on purpose, we can become unwitting victims if we don’t observe and inspect our food and drink before we consume.

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.” 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.

Dioxins — Any “eggscape” from them?


Picture credit to 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. would like to extend our best wishes!


[1] Dioxin. Environmental Assessment. United States Environmental Protection Agency. <>

Are we Inhaling Monsanto’s “Roundup”?


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(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)