Monday, February 25, 2008

Toxic Plastics: Videos on Bisphenol A

Part 1:

Part 2:

NDP calls for ban on bisphenol A - Go Canada!

February, 2008:
OTTAWA - In light of new research confirming the dangers of BPA exposure for children, NDP Health Critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis renewed her call to Health Minister Tony Clement today, demanding urgent action to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in children’s food and beverage containers. Wasylycia-Leis sent a letter to the minister in early January calling for a BPA ban.

“The government must act urgently to protect Canadian children exposed to bisphenol A,” said Wasylycia-Leis. “The hazards of this product have been known for some time, yet, despite its promises to boost Canada’s health protection system, the government keeps dragging its feet. Waiting until May to even consider action is unacceptable.”

A new peer-reviewed study by respected BPA authority, Dr. Frederick vom Saal, has underlined the dangers of bisphenol A consumption, particularly for infants and children. The potential long-term health impacts from early exposure to BPA, which mimics estrogen, include an increased chance of hormonal problems and breast and prostate cancers.

“Scientific concerns for children’s health are very serious and require immediate action,” said Wasylycia-Leis. “Children are developing and do not have the same capacity to deal with chemical hazards as adults. They require special protection and that’s why the NDP is demanding immediate action from the government starting with children’s products. To prevent more situations like this, the government must increase its capacity to evaluate products’ specific impacts on children’s health.”

Letter to Health Minister

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Safe Toys for Your Kids

Found this excellent website with an incredible array of European non-toxic toys that are available in the U.S.! Click here to browse!

America's bluff is being called: The world's other major economy is showing that safety and financial success are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, at a time of rising environmental sensitivity in the marketplace, many of these 'greener' businesses are now posing a competitive challenge to U.S. producers. The first candidate to realize that this issue strikes directly at American's sense of safety and security will reap the benefits.
Hillary Clinton has called for greater vigilance of our imports from China. At least that's a start.

Recommended reading: "Exposed, Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power" by Mark Schapiro.


Wed., 2/6/08, From Jim Hightower's Lowdown

"Made in China" has become a warning label. Look out toxics in toothpaste, arsenic in shrimp, lead in toys!

The shocker is not that Chinese-made toys are laden with lead, but that America's Consumer Product Safety Commission employs exactly one inspector to oversee the safety of all toys sold in the U.S. Likewise, the Food and Drug Administration has licensed 714 Chinese plants to manufacture the key ingredients for a growing percentage of the antibiotics, painkillers, and other drugs we buy, but provides practically no oversight of these plants.

An even bigger shock is that our consumer-protection laws are so riddled with loopholes that unsafe products can legally come into our country. Take phthalates, chemical additives in plastics that are suspected by scientists here and in Europe of inhibiting testosterone production in infant boys. Yet, Mark Shapiro, author of Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products, reports that while the European Union has banned the use of phthalates in products for children under three years of age, our government has refused to act.

Thus, China has factories that manufacture two lines of toys one without phthalates for European countries, and one with phthalates for export to our children.

The problem is not with the Chinese, but with our own corporate chieftains. They've moved their manufacturing to China specifically to get these kinds of low-cost shortcuts in production, while simultaneously demanding that Washington cut back on regulations that protect us consumers."

Europeans responded to a growing body of evidence suggesting that a plastic additive called phthalates may contribute to decreased production of testosterone in infant boys by banning the substance from use in products aimed at children under the age of three. Much of the evidence used by the Europeans to make that decision came from American scientists, some of whom have been supported in their research by our own EPA. But there has been no one in the US government willing to listen. The result: toys are manufactured in China without phthalates for export to the European Union, and with phthalates for export to the United States. European manufacturers have found far less toxic alternatives and European kids have as many plastic animals and other goofy playthings as their American counterparts.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

PVC: The Poison Plastic VIDEO

Recycle # 3.
PVC (Polyvinyl chloride, also known as vinyl), poses risks to both the environment and human health. PVC is also the least recyclable plastic.

Vinyl chloride manufacturing creates air and water pollution near the factories, often located in low-income neighborhoods.

needs additives and stabilizers to make it useable. LEAD is often added for strength, while plasticizers are added for flexibility. These toxic additives contribute to further pollution and human exposure.

in air emissions from PVC manufacturing and disposal or from incineration of PVC products settles on grasslands and accumulates in meat and dairy products and ultimately in human tissue. Dioxin is a known carcinogen.

Low-level exposures are associated with decreased birth weight, learning and behavioral problems in children, suppressed immune function and disruption of hormones in the body.

Center for Health, Environment and Justice
The Campaign for Safe, Healthy Consumer Products

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Study Warning Dangers of Bisphenol A News: 2/8/08 Release:

A new report is warning about the dangers of popular plastic baby bottle brands sold in Canada, noting that when heated, the bottles can release potentially harmful chemicals.

The study, commissioned by the Canadian group Environmental Defence, found that the bottles ooze bisphenol A (BPA) into the beverage inside in levels that surprised even the researchers.

Researchers from the University of Missouri-Columbia were asked to test nine polycarbonate bottles from three manufacturers -- Playtex, Avent and Gerber. The bottles were filled with water and heated in an oven at 80 degress Celsius, to simulate how the plastic would react to dozens of washings.

The laboratory tests detected 5-8 nanograms per milliliter (parts per billion) of bisphenol A leached out of all the bottles when they were heated -- a level that Environmental Defence calls "very significant."

All the Playtex products leaked BPA, regardless of whether they were heated or not. All three of the Gerber bottles and one of the Avent bottles had no detectible levels of BPA in fluids stored at room temperature.

Researcher Julia Taylor, a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, says the results disturbed her. "They were a little scary. You don't like to think that that amount of chemical would leech out into milk contained in a bottle, but clearly that's a potential problem," she told CTV News.

Taylor notes that the study represented how many parents typically use the bottles, heating them to sterilize them and then adding heated liquids, such as breast milk, formula or cow's milk. "That tells us that with repeated use and repeated heating and increased damage to the bottles that would come through washing, we would see increased amount of bisphenol leaching out as the bottles age," she says.

Industry calls study 'scare tactics'

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, the industry group representing the bottle manufacturers says the levels detected in the study are still considered "safe," and says it "stands by the scientific research indicating that plastic baby bottles are safe and reassures consumers not to fall victim to scare tactics."

"There is irrefutable data available on the safety of Bisphenol-A," the group said in a statement. "In spite of this strong scientific support, misinformation about polycarbonate baby bottles continues to circulate and as a result is needlessly scaring parents and caregivers away from a trusted and safe product."

Rick Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defence, disagrees, saying that recent research suggests that even lower levels of BPA exposure can alter cell function. "What the results show is that babies are being contaminated by the very bottles that are supposed to be giving them life and nutrition," he says.

Environmental Defence says while the testing focused on nine brands, they believe the results can be considered indicative of almost all polycarbonate plastic baby bottles sold in North America.

CTV News asked for comment on the study from each of the three manufacturers. Gerber and Avent have not yet provided responses; Playtex referred us to the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association statement.

Bisphenol A has been the focus of much scrutiny in recent years, with worries that the chemical mimics estrogen. There are fears it can cause earlier onset of puberty in girls, declining sperm counts, and raise the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

But most of the scientific evidence demonstrating the effects of BPA have been conducted on laboratory animals such as mice, so there is little clinical evidence of the chemical's effect on humans.

While BPA is not bioaccumulative (meaning it doesn't persist in the environment or build up in fat stores), the European Commission recently classified the chemical for reproductive toxicity.

Health Canada is conducting 'high priority' evaluation.

For its part, Health Canada says it's currently conducting a "high priority" evaluation of the safety of bisphenol A, with a report due this May. In a statement released this week to CTV News, it noted: "Health Canada is conducting several different studies on the leaching rate of bisphenol A. One of these studies does look at bottles first filled with boiling water. These results will be considered in the risk assessment as well as other potential consumer use scenarios.

"Health Canada is aware that bisphenol A (BPA) migration from polycarbonate bottles is temperature dependent and in its assessment of BPA is reviewing the results of other Canadian and international studies."

Last week, a report in the journal Toxicology Letters found that polycarbonate plastic drinking bottles release BPA 55 times more rapidly and in higher amounts than when they were filled with room temperature water. When the bottles were filled with cool water, the rate of BPA release ranged from 0.2 to 0.8 nanograms per hour. After the bottles were exposed to boiling water, rates increased to 8 to 32 nanograms per hour.

Smith says precautionary action should be taken now.

"The federal and provincial governments should immediately ban this chemical from food and beverage containers," he says. "And if any parents have these bottles at home, they should get rid of them immediately."

Environmental Defence is also encouraging retailers to stop selling products that contain BPA. Both Mountain Equipment Co-op and Lululemon recently chose to take polycarbonate plactic drinking bottles off their shelves.

Worried parents can switch back to traditional glass bottles, though the bottles do carry the risk of breakage. There is also a new generation of BPA-free plastic bottles now being sold in North America and Europe, mostly in health food stores and specialty baby stores.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

ALERT! January 2008 Recalls

10 January recalls:

1. Shims Bargain Recalls Pacifiers Due to Choking Hazard
Name of Product: “BabyTown” Pacifiers"
Hazard: These pacifiers fail to meet federal safety standards for pacifiers. The pacifier shield is too small and could easily enter the mouth of an infant. Also, ventilation holes are too small and not placed to allow for the insertion of a tool to remove the pacifier when lodged in the mouth of a child. Finally, the package fails to display the required warning instructing consumers not to tie a pacifier around a child’s neck, which would present a strangulation hazard.
Description: The recalled pacifiers were sold in a 4-pack of assorted colors. “BabyTown” and model #39864 are written on the product’s packaging.
Sold at: Dollar stores nationwide from March 2004 through December 2007 for $1. Made in China.

2. Coin Banks Recalled by TJ Promotions Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard
Name of Product: “Fish Coin Banks"
Hazard: Surface paint on the coin banks contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.
Description: This recall involves coin banks made of plaster that are shaped as a fish. The coin banks are orange with white stripes. Made in China.

3. Toy Wrestler Figures Recalled by A.A. of America Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard
Name of Product: “Toy Wrestler Figures"
Hazard:The surface paint contains high levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.
Description: The recalled toy is a package of four action figures. Each figure is about 5 3/4 inches high. The UPC number 604111230003 is printed on the product’s packaging.

Sold at: Dollar stores and discount stores nationwide from January 2007 through December 2007 for about $1.
Made in China.

4. Sears and Kmart Recall Play Stoves Due to Tip-over Hazard
Name of Product: “My First Kenmore” Play Stoves"
Hazard: A metal bracket connecting the door to the stove can cause a tip-over when the door is opened. This poses a risk of injury to young children.
Description: The self-assembled, wooden play stove is painted pink with six white knobs and a timer. The dimensions of the stove when assembled are 11 1/2” W x 13 3/4” D x 32 7/8” H.

Sold at: Sears and Kmart stores nationwide from September 2007 through November 2007 for about $100. Made in Taiwan.

5. Cranium Cadoo Board Games Recalled Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard
Name of Product: “Cranium Cadoo Board Games"
Hazard: The surface paint on the die contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.
Description: Only the die found in Cranium Cadoo board games with lot numbers 2007195 through 2007244 are included in the recall. The Cranium Cadoo game is packaged in a square cardboard box with an orange background. The seven digit lot number is printed under the plastic tray on the bottom half of the box.
Made in China.

6. Toy Racing Cars Recalled by OKK Trading Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard
Name of Product: “Toy Racing Cars"
Hazard: Surface paint on the toy cars contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.
Description: This recall involves toy racing cars that are operated with a remote control. The toy racing car comes with four additional tires and one remote control. “Formula 1” is printed on the packaging.

Sold at: Retail dollar and discount stores nationwide from October 2007 through November 2007 for about $1.
Made in China.

7. Battat Recalls Magnetic Construction Sets; Ingested Magnets Pose Aspiration and Intestinal Hazards
Name of Product: “Battat Magnabild Magnetic Building Systems"
Hazard: Small magnets inside the building pieces can fall out. Magnets found by young children can be swallowed or aspirated. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal.
Description: This recall involves the 293-piece (item number BB1502H) and the 180-piece (item number BB1431H) Magnabild Magnetic Building System sets. Both sets come in rotating display cases that contain 1-inch and 4-inch rods with magnets, curved 1-inch rods, triangle and square pieces with magnets, square-shaped plastic building pieces, triangles and 5-sided pieces, and metal balls. The pieces come in different colors. All of the plastic building pieces, except the 4-inch flexible rods, have the word “Magnabild” in raised lettering on them. The item number is found on a hang tag attached to the set. The product is designed for children older than three years.

Sold at:
Various retailers nationwide and online sellers from 2005 through 2007 for between $30 and $40. Made in China.

8. Toy Wooden Block and Train Sets Recalled By Christmas Tree Shops Due to Violation of Lead Paint Standard
Name of Product: “Big Wooden Blocks and Jumbo Wooden Train Sets"
Hazard: Surface paint on some pieces of the toys contains excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard.
Description: The Big Wooden Blocks contain 30 or 60 colorful block pieces in 11 geometric shapes. The Jumbo Wooden Train Sets contain 70 wooden pieces including trees, stop and railroad crossing signs, a red wooden engine and green train cars. The following style numbers and UPC numbers are printed on the packaging of
13275A 7211, UPC# 14217340).
Sold at: Christmas Tree Shops from October 2006 through November 2007 for between $4 and $20. Made in China.

9. Kids II Inc. Recalls Crib Toys Due to Choking Hazard
Name of Product: “Baby Einstein Baby Neptune™ Soothing Seascape Crib Toys"
Hazard: The anchors that hold the straps to the back of the turtle can detach, posing a choking hazard to young children.
Description: The Baby Einstein Baby Neptune Soothing Seascape crib toy is a plastic molded turtle with a toy aquarium body that has woven fabric straps that attach to the side rails of a crib. The toy turtle has a stuffed fabric head and feet. Model number 30858 is printed on the label on the leg of the turtle. Only crib toys manufactured in October 2007 with date code BJ7 printed on the back of the battery compartment, are included in the recall.

Sold at: Discount department stores and on-line retailers nationwide from November 2007 through January 2008 for between $25 and $30. Made in China.

10. Baby Sterling Silver Teethers Recalled by Elegant Baby Due to Choking Hazard
Name of Product: “Heart and Car Sterling Silver Teethers"
Hazard: The hearts and cars on the teethers can break off, posing a choking hazard to infants.
Description: The sterling silver teethers are circle shaped with either a heart or car in the center. The teethers have beads inside. The teethers measure two inches in diameter.

Sold at: Independent infant clothing boutiques nationwide from February 2005 through September 2006 for about $50. Made in Mexico.


Hello all,
January - a month to remember as one that made it impossible for me to find time to keep up on all the latest recalls and important issues related to child care! Hopefully I can get back on track with a posting of all recalls in the past month. I also want to share an email I received from a friend of ours, Jim Barry, retired chemistry teacher and advocate on the benefits of modern technology. I asked Jim to review the lengthy "Official Report on the Toxicity of Bisphenol A" released by the National Toxicology Program (see last blog entry in December 07), which he was generous enough to do (a 400 pg document!), and his welcome response was thus,

"Basically when you put any liquid in a container some of the chemicals in its walls will dissolve into the liquid. What dissolves and how much is obviously your concern. Probably the safest container would be glass. However, having glass around youngsters can also be a potential problem with broken glass containers. Even using metal cups could be a problem if an acidic liquid, such as OJ, are put in them.

I read the summary on BPA. Conclusion: this is a very heavily used chemical. It has a multitude of uses. In addition, I think the studies are inconclusive and incomplete in their analysis of the effects of BPA. Even if you decide not to use containers made from it youngsters will still be exposed to this chemical from many different sources (including coated water pipes). Hence, you have a dilemma in trying to find a different container. If you chose another plastic who is to say it would be a safer one?"
At this point I can not recommend any action for you to take. However, if I come across new data I will share it with you."

Thank you for your valuable feedback Jim. Please do let me know if you come across any new data that would impact negatively on the health of young children!