Appeal to your representative Senators!

Toxic chemicals surround us. We envelope ourselves and our children in toxic perfumed laundry detergents; we smear our bodies and hair with untested creams, gels and shampoos. We further damage our health with pesticides used in lawn and garden care, and in agriculture. It is time for legislation to replace the never adequate and very outdated Toxics Substances Control Act. To view each entry, just click on the title or link(s) within each entry.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Why Support something like The Chemical Safety Improvement Act

Why Support a safe chemicals act?

For starters, The American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed the Late Senator Frank Lautenberg's (NJ) and  Senator Kristen Gillibrand's (NYSafe Chemicals Act (now being called The Chemical Safety Improvement Act), to finally bring legitimate oversight to over 80,000 untested chemicals in our marketplace --permitted by the EPA. The newest draft will replace the very outdated Toxic Substances Control Act which is over 40 years old and has always been woefully inadequate in protecting our health from manufactured toxins. Our stores are brimming over with everyday products that contain very harmful chemicals--  shampoos, soaps, skin lotions, and detergents, weed and feed lawn formulas, furniture and foods!

Why to Avoid Lawn/Garden and other Untested Synthetic Pesticides:

The Natural Resources Defense Council's most recent findings that we have been using over 10,000 toxic pesticides that have not been tested or have been under-tested:

"The report outlines how the EPA has used what is known as conditional registration—which Congress intended to be used sparingly—to grant approval for the majority of pesticides. It also reveals that the EPA cannot easily track the history of conditionally approved pesticides to determine whether required toxicity data was submitted, whether that caused a dangerous use of a pesticide to be cancelled, or whether the uses or restrictions should be modified based in such data.

“The American public may think all pesticides receive rigorous health and safety testing before they hit the shelves for sale. But our investigation shows their trust is misplaced,” said Jennifer Sass, NRDC senior health scientist and co-author of the report. “The EPA has casually approved more than 10,000 pesticides for use in consumer products and in agriculture through this loophole. They’ve done so without transparency or public comment, and, in some cases, without toxicity tests to determine safety guidelines for public use.”

Co-author Mae Wu, NRDC attorney, said: “For the sake of our health, the EPA should cancel conditional pesticide registrations with overdue toxicity tests and those that pose a risk to the public. And EPA needs to clean up its abysmal pesticide database to provide more transparency and accountability, and safeguards for public health.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics is very concerned about pesticide use in and around the home and they are recommending that people avoid their use, especially near children.
Neonatologist, Paul Winchester at University of Indiana School of Medicine states in a discussion at Beyond Pesticide's 28th National Pesticide Forum in Ohio, April 2010:
" Basically this is what we have learned, just so we do not have to argue whether pesticides are in your body or in your water. That is the "we hold these truths to be self-evident" part... We know from extensive research that pesticides and contaminants are in all of us all the time; We also know that it is not just one pesticide that we are contaminated with, it is a mixture of chemicals. We also know that the contaminants that we are loaded with- and this includes the 247 molecules found in every single newborn baby born in America-each one of them is known to cause biological effects at very low doses; And the final truth is that our regulatory agencies have told us that we are safe."  
He goes on to say that "when the EPA requires testing of a product for safety, tests are performed on a single molecule, never the mixture combinations in your body." "These environmental factors--weed killer, fungicide insecticide, air pollution... -- are the list of things we have to worry about during pregnancy or conception. All of these have now been shown to be capable of imprinting DNA, which means they are potentially capable of altering our adult life, the spectrum of disease, and our descendants' lives. I was thinking of 'inherit the wind' here, but it really should be 'inherit the weed killer." 

From the US National Library of Medicine  and National Institutes of Health:

This report has shown that during the period from 1996 to 2002 women in the United States with LMPs in April–July (i.e. the time of conception) were significantly more likely to have a live birth with a birth defect than in other months. The report further demonstrates, using NAWQA surface water samples that concentrations of atrazine, nitrates and other pesticides also were higher in the months of April–July. The correlation between birth defects, pesticides and nitrates was statistically significant.

Pesticides and nitrates, separately and in combination, have been linked to embryo toxicity and to untoward outcomes of pregnancy (,). Women's pesticide exposures through household gardening, professional application or living in close proximity to agricultural crops were associated with increased risks of offspring having neural tube defects and limb anomalies (). Garry et al. found that in western Minnesota the rate of specific birth defects was elevated in pesticide applicators as well as the general population of western Minnesotans and that this risk was most pronounced for infants conceived in the spring (). Specific birth defect categories showing significant increased risk in Garry's study were circulatory/respiratory, urogenital and musculoskeletal/integumental which are similar to the categories found in our study. Schreinemachers et al. found that infants in four wheat-producing states conceived in April–June, the time of herbicide application, were more likely to have circulatory/respiratory (excluding heart) malformations compared with births conceived during other months. She also found that counties with high wheat acreage had higher rates of heart malformations, musculoskeletal/integumental anomalies and infant death from congenital anomalies in males ().
2,4-D, the main herbicide in most synthetic weed and feed products is an Endocrine Disruptor as well as a Reproductive toxin. It is linked with neurotoxicity, and organ damage and cancer. It is toxic to animals, fish, worms and insects. It is what the herbicide Atrazine is to Agriculture with similar adverse health effects to humans.

The EPA says that 2,4-D is irritating to the eyes, skin and mucous membrane and since it is easily absorbed dermally or by inhalation, can injure liver, kidney, muscle and brain tissues. Acute symptoms of exposure include: chest and abdominal pain, vomiting, dizziness and muscle twitching, tenderness or stiffness (U.S. EPA 1982). Studies in rats have demonstrated that 2,4-D can migrate into nervous tissue and concentrate in certain areas of the brain. Not too surprisingly, behavioral changes have also been observed in treated rats (Evangelista de Duffard 1990). In humans, seemingly minor dermal exposures have been known to cause peripheral neuropathy (irreversible loss of feeling in the extremities). Depression, lethargy and coma have also been documented in animals and humans.     
Finally, from the Toxics Action Center which works to keep environmental and human health safe from exposures to toxins, in this case, from lawn chemicals:
 Even though these pesticides are proven to be hazardous to public health and the environment, USEPA’s pesticide regulatory system has put its stamp of approval on the use of these pesticides. Although a growing pool of research links exposure to the pesticides used by TruGreen ChemLawn to nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and headaches and chronic illnesses like lymphoma, leukemia, bladder cancer, and learning disabilities, the USEPA continues to register these pesticides for commercial and residential use.
Some hospitals are opting to change grounds care to alternative, safe, organic methods-- they are finally making the connection between exposures to pesticides and illnesses. There is great urgency in changing protocol; present and future human health is at great risk from exposures to toxins in lawn and other pesticides. "Homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 35 municipalities in New Jersey have bans on synthetic pesticide use on public properties. Connecticut and New York have restrictions at the state level and Maine and Massachusetts look ready to have state restrictions on weed and feed use on school grounds, playing fields and parks. Many people are simply just opting to use what they know is safe. The manufacturers of lawn and garden as well as other synthetic pesticides cannot legally call them "safe". The purveyors of the pesticides cannot legally call them "safe." In New Hampshire, only one person oversees the licensed lawn chemical applicators and often, these businesses "treat" lawns and land in windy conditions which is not in accordance with training and regulations.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Safe-- non-toxic, Cleaning with Basics


"No law requires the disclosure of all ingredients in consumer products, or of any ingredients in a product's "fragrance," which is typically a mixture of several dozen to several hundred chemicals, most synthetic.[iii] Ingredient disclosure requirements depend on the product. For air fresheners, laundry supplies, cleaners, and other products regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, ingredients do not need to be fully listed on either the label or the material safety data sheet (MSDS), not even the presence of a "fragrance." For personal care products, cosmetics, and other products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, ingredients need to be listed on the label, but not the MSDS. For all products, the general term "fragrance" can be listed on the label, or a related term (such as "perfume"), rather than any of the specific ingredients in a fragrance."  Anne Steinemann, PhD.

People have been asking me what I recommend for an all around safe and good household cleaning mix. For kitchen, bathrooms and vinyl or tile flooring, I recommend the following.


1/4 Cup Baking Soda (Cleans and lifts stains)
1/2 Cup White Vinegar (Antibacterial and fights germs and molds)
1 Tablespoon Unscented Castile Soap (for dirt removal)
1/2 Gallon of HOT Water.

Note: Take care when cleaning floors with this mix. Sometimes, you will want to use a bit less of the Castile Soap as it can make the floors slippery. Always re-mop floors with either water or a water with a bit of vinegar after the initial mopping with this formula.

Note: This mix is excellent for toilet bowls. I just drop the baking soda, vinegar and Castile Soap directly in the toilet bowl and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before brushing.

Note: For removing grease from pans, this works great; too. I simply add perhaps 1/8 cup of vinegar, 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda and a teaspoon or so of Castile Soap to the pan and let it soak before scrubbing.

FOR WINDOWS AND MIRRORS and some surfaces:

Vinegar and Water   


Place a small amount of olive oil on a clean cloth and gently polish surface.


Unscented Castile Soap in Warm Water.


Ultra Ecos Free and Clear which does not contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS) but this is quite expensive. It is "ideal for HE machines". Seventh Generation Free and Clear has Sodium Laurel Sulfate but assures that it is safe.

Or, make your own which is very easy and cost effective:

1 cup Baking Soda at the start of the wash cycle.
Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar with the baking soda for extra dirty loads.

Or: Borax-- 1 Cup and can mix in Baking Soda for dirtier loads.
Or: Arm and Hammer Washing Soda, 1 Cup but do not add Baking Soda.

This handy advice from: Grandma's Cupboard!


Earth Friendly Products' DuoDish Free and Clear-- Does not contain 1,4-Dioxane, phosphate, petrochemical or formaldehyde. Also, does not contain sodium laurel sulfate. But, it does not foam. It appears to be best when mixed with UNSCENTED LIQUID CASTILE SOAP.

Links From Physicians for Social Responsibility in Support of Safe Cleaning and Personal Care Products:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Most Chemicals in Everyday Products Have not Been Tested and the Same Applies to Synthetic Pesticides

I whole-heartedly endorse the Safe Chemicals Act mentioned in Ian Urbina's  April 13, 2013 New York Times article, THINK THOSE CHEMICALS HAVE BEEN TESTED.  But, I take issue with the presumption that pesticides are tested and safe for the marketplace.  If the synthetic pesticides are “safe”, why are they banned or regulated for “cosmetic” lawn care in most of Canada and Europe? Why do various states like New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey have laws regarding their use on school grounds, public parks and playing fields? Why are Harvard and the University of Colorado at Boulder and other colleges as well as various cities, school systems and finally, hospitals not using traditional chemical grounds care?! It can, indeed, be said that like with the majority of chemicals in use today, the same holds true of most pesticides—that they have never been tested independently as well as together! The American Academy of Pediatrics warns about pesticide use: 

Pesticides are a collective term for chemicals intended to kill unwanted insects, plants, molds, and rodents. Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity. Acute poisoning risks are clear, and understanding of chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure are emerging. Epidemiologic evidence demonstrates associations between early life exposure to pesticides and pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function, and behavioral problems. Related animal toxicology studies provide supportive biological plausibility for these findings. Recognizing and reducing problematic exposures will require attention to current inadequacies in medical training, public health tracking, and regulatory action on pesticides. Ongoing research describing toxicologic vulnerabilities and exposure factors across the life span are needed to inform regulatory needs and appropriate interventions.

Public health is at great risk and it is high time we put our heads together to regulate the chemical industry. We have rules for just about every aspect of our  lives and yet we have been permitting toxic pesticides, and chemicals in general, to be manufactured and used despite their huge cost to society. All of us, businesses included, will benefit from having safer alternatives in the marketplace.