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In the News: Lead Still a Threat

Scientific American has published a good article outlining why lead remains a danger years after it was banned from paint and gasoline: Lead Exposure on the Rise Despite Decline in Poisoning Cases.

Lead poisoning is caused by acute exposure at high concentrations, like when a child eats paint chips. But “even though the average concentration of lead in the American bloodstream has dropped by a factor of 10 since the late 1970s, the levels are still two orders of magnitude higher than natural human levels, which have been determined by studying skeletal remains of native Americans dating to before the industrial revolution.”

Recent data demonstrates that health complications from lead arise even at low exposures, prompting scientists to advise the EPA and health departments to lower the concentration deemed acceptable in the bloodstream. [...]

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In the News

Do soaps with triclosan do more harm than good? (Chicago Tribune, 2/10/13) Laboratory studies show that triclosan, a common anti-bacterial ingredient in soap, disrupts hormones, interferes with muscle function, and promotes the growth of stronger bacteria. Plus, it’s “building up in the environment to the possible peril of wildlife.”

Related: How to properly wash your hands (with plain old soap).


California plans to alter rules on flame retardants
(Chicago Tribune, 2/9/13) The move could benefit consumers nationwide, lessening exposure to toxic flame retardant chemicals.

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What’s That Smell?

Stefano Gabbana announced via Instagram that Dolce & Gabbana will release a perfume “per i bambini” — for babies.

I think I just heard you say, “Ewwww! Seriously?”

Let’s skip past the discussion of why anyone would mask her baby’s delicious, natural smell. Instead, let’s review why perfumes and scented products are bad for babies.

Synthetic fragrances, identified on product labels as “parfum,” “perfume,” “natural fragrance,” or “fragrance,” contain phthalates. Phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals that are used in the production of plastic, solvents, and cosmetics. They are endocrine disruptors, known to cause a broad range of birth defects…

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In the News

Flame retardants now seen as health risk (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3/13) Flame retardant chemicals aren’t only in your furniture. They’re in foam insulation and they may be leaching from your walls. California finally moves to revise its decades-old flammability standard to reduce the use of flame retardants.

Secondhand smoke significant source of lead exposure for children
(Syracuse YNN Radio, 2/2/13) Kids who live with one smoker had lead levels 14% higher than kids who live with non-smokers. [...]

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In the News

Most doctors don’t warn pregnant patients about environmental risks (Environmental Health News, 10/10/12)
“A new nationwide survey of 2,600 obstetricians and gynecologists found that most do not warn their pregnant patients about chemicals in food, consumer products or the environment that could endanger their fetuses. More than half said they don’t warn about mercury, and hardly any of them give advice about lead, pesticides, air pollution or chemicals in plastics or cosmetics. Many doctors say their priority is to protect pregnant women from more immediate dangers, and that warning them about environmental risks may create undue anxiety. Some say they don’t feel confident in their ability to discuss the topics….”

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In the News

Do Coal Plants Really Kill People? Why Romney was right. (Slate, 11/19/12) “Coal-burning is bad, bad, bad for your health—and looking ahead, the best we can hope for is that it will get marginally better.”

Making sense of arsenic and rice concerns (Boston Globe, 11/5/12) A pediatrician decides to tell parents in her practice to “cut back on the rice they give their children — and not give rice cereal to their babies at all.”

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In the News

Boys in USA, like girls, showing signs of early puberty (USA Today, 10/20/12) New research finds that American boys are showing signs of starting puberty six months to two years earlier than they did 30 to 40 years ago.


Special Report: Government has little authority to stop unsafe cosmetics
(Environmental Health News, 10/18/12) Brazilian Blowout is an example of how little authority federal and state governments have over the cosmetics industry, even when there’s evidence that ingredients (in this case, formaldehyde) are dangerous. Under federal law, cosmetics companies don’t have to disclose chemicals or gain approval for the 2,000 products that go on the market every year.

Halloween costumes from China seized for lead contamination (Today, 10/16/12) Nearly 1,400 Chinese-made pirate costumes had 11 times the legal limit for lead.

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In the News

Is it a Good Time to Be a Girl in India? (NYT, 10/11/12) India’s “scuffled steps towards girls’ rights and gender equality.”

Iraq records huge rise in birth defects (The Independent, 10/14/12) Compelling evidence that US and NATO munitions used in the conflict in Fallujah are linked to a “staggering rise” in birth defects among Iraqi children conceived after the war. “High rates of miscarriage, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiraling numbers of birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs have been recorded.” More than half of the babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010.

Pesticide Protest: Soccer Moms Play It Safe, Keep Kids Off Fields Over Chemical Concerns (Huffington Post, 10/12/12) An expert said, “There is essentially no data on the safety of pesticide mixtures. The use of three herbicides mixed in the same formulation is a bold move considering the unknown synergistic effects,” likening the application of the product to a doctor prescribing three pain killers to a patient.

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