Articles Posted in Toxic Chemicals

Camp-lejeune-service-members-graduate-college-300x221Update, July 2022: After being passed in the House and Senate, the Honoring Our PACT Act was expected to go to President Biden’s desk for his signature, but it is currently being blocked in the Senate by Mitch McConnell and the Republicans.

After years of denials by the government, Camp LeJeune veterans and their families–who were exposed to cancer-causing toxins on the military base–may be on the brink of getting their day in court.

In a long-overdue action, the House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 3967, the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act (Honoring Our PACT Act), a broad bipartisan bill that addresses the needs of veterans subjected to toxic exposure. Yesterday, on June 16, 2022, the Senate passed an amended version of the Act. Importantly for Camp LeJeune veterans, this bill includes the Camp LeJeune Justice Act of 2022.

hamburger-gb0d465128_1920-300x225It’s common knowledge that fast food isn’t the most nutritious dining option, but you should at least be able to expect that the hamburger or chicken nuggets you are devouring are nontoxic. That may not be the case, say researchers at George Washington University. A new study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology has revealed that most of the food items at popular fast-food restaurants are full of chemicals known as phthalates that have been linked to a host of health problems. This is the first study to measure phthalates directly in fast food and contributes to the scientific evidence linking fast food consumption to higher levels of phthalates.

What Chemicals Did the Researchers Find?

Researchers at George Washington University bought 64 popular menu options from Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell and tested them for 8 common phthalates and 3 replacement plasticizers. 10 of the 11 chemicals were present at high levels in nearly all of the samples. 81% of the samples contained DnBP and 70% contained DEHP; both phthalates have been linked to fertility and reproductive issues as well as increased risks of behavioral, learning, and attention disorders in children. 86% of the samples contained DEHT, a plasticizer that is being used as a replacement for phthalates. Overall, samples that contained meat had significantly higher levels of phthalates than vegetarian options; but phthalates were still present in both types of food.

incense-1961430_1920-300x200
Incense is chic again.

You have only to see all the photos of burning incense and crystals on Instagram to know that young people are following this trend. Some companies are even marketing incense as being good for your health. And while it’s true that burning incense can make your house or office smell like a calming spa; is it really a good idea? Not necessarily according to researchers.

Recent studies published in the journal Nature have revealed some surprising health risks linked to burning incense indoors which may make you reconsider using incense to create a calming, patchouli-scented environment. Here are some of the harmful health effects linked to incense burning:

Explosion-1-1-300x188The Collins Law Firm, P.C. has filed a class action lawsuit against Chemtool Incorporated on behalf of residents affected by the explosion that occurred at their Rockton, Illinois plant on June 14, 2021. The explosion resulted in an enormous chemical fire that created a massive plume of toxic smoke, ash, and debris that could be seen from 100 miles away. Eighty-nine fire departments were dispatched to the site to aid in combating the fire, however, due to concern about the environmental impact to the nearby Rock River, they did not engage immediately in fire suppression activities.

As a result of the fire, the Winnebago County authorities issued an executive proclamation of disaster emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation of residents living within a one-mile radius of the plant. The affected residents were directed not to return home even for medication, technology and communication devices, or other personal items.

Authorities also advised residents within three miles of the plant to wear masks for protection against the potentially toxic and harmful chemicals released by the fire, and to remain indoors without using their air conditioning. Residents were further warned not to touch any of the debris on their property but to have it removed by professionals with experience working with hazardous materials.

Tear-gas-242x300The images are everywhere on the news; protesters, exercising their Constitutionally protected right to free speech, fleeing from clouds of tear gas thrown by the police. What we have seen protesters enduring in recent months has been downright inhumane. Setting aside the fact that protesters are being abused by law enforcement for no justifiable reason, the “riot control agents”–often referred to as tear gas–that the police are using on protesters, have been banned from international warfare by the Geneva Protocol since 1925. So why on earth do we still allow tear gas to be used on citizens by the very people who are meant to protect them?

Our government’s casual use of tear gas against peaceful protesters suggests that these chemicals are not being used to control “riots”—they are often used when there clearly is no riot—but instead to punish and discourage Constitutionally protected dissent.

What is a Riot Control Agent?

Hand-sanitizer-225x300Washing your hands with soap and water is always the best option for keeping your hands clean, but we don’t always have access to soap and water. That’s where hand sanitizer comes in. Hand sanitizers have never been as popular or necessary as they are right now. Unfortunately, the increase in demand for hand sanitizers has led to some dangerous products being on the shelves. There has been a dramatic increase in hand sanitizers containing methanol, also referred to as wood alcohol. Methanol has no place in hand sanitizers given that it can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. To make matters worse, the methanol found in hand sanitizers is not being labeled as an ingredient on the product itself, meaning we have to be extremely careful about what products we are buying and using during this time.

What is Methanol?

 Methanol is a volatile, flammable liquid that is commonly used in antifreeze and fuel production. Exposure to methanol can cause agitation, headaches, dizziness, nausea, amnesia, seizures, and comas. If hand sanitizer containing methanol is ingested, blindness or death can occur. Under no circumstances should methanol be used in hand sanitizers.

woman-applying-hand-sanitizer-3987149-200x300As if COVID-19 is not bad enough, now there is news that some hand sanitizers being sold to prevent the virus may be hazardous themselves.

The FDA has issued a warning to consumers not to use hand sanitizers made in Mexico by Eskbiochem SA de CV. The hand sanitizers, which goes by multiple names, may contain methanol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin.

The products identified by the FDA are:

breast-cancer-1-3-300x215October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual health campaign that raises awareness and support for the 1 in 8 women in the United States that will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Bringing awareness to this disease is important because breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Sadly, on average a woman in the United States is diagnosed with breast cancer every 2 minutes. Breast cancer also impacts men, though it is rare.

Breast cancer treatment and chances for survival can vary greatly depending on the type of breast cancer and when it is diagnosed. As the more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today are well-aware, treatment may include surgery to remove the cancer (lumpectomy), to remove lymph nodes, or even to remove the breast entirely (mastectomy). Breast cancer treatment also frequently involves some combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy drug therapy, and immunotherapy.

Although death rates have decreased since 1989, nearly 42,000 women in the United States are expected to die in 2019 from breast cancer. The decrease in death rates is believed to be the result of advances in treatment and research, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness of the disease and its risk factors.

Since the ingredients in many traditional cosmetic products pose a health risk, it’s no wonder that consumers are searching for “natural” and “clean” products. In-house research at Sephora shows that 54% of itssephora-450966_1920-300x216 shoppers are looking for brands that are “free of” certain ingredients. As a result, new brands positioning themselves as “cleaner” alternatives to traditional cosmetics are exploding. “Natural” brands made up approximately one-quarter of all higher-end skincare sales in 2018, reflecting this consumer trend towards “clean” and “natural” products.

Cosmetics retailers are noticing the trend, and “natural” products are moving from specialty stores to the mainstream marketplace. Major stores like Target and CVS are expanding their “natural” cosmetics offerings and Sephora, already carrying an expansive line of “natural” beauty products, launched a clean beauty initiative, giving products that are free of toxic ingredients a special green label. That all sounds great! But, what do “natural,” “clean,” and “green” actually mean in the cosmetics world?

Nothing! No governing body regulates those terms, so a company can call a product “natural” or “clean” and define the term however it wants. And, there is a lot of incentive to do so, since 90% of consumers believe that natural beauty ingredients were better for them. Usually, “natural” means plant-based and “clean” means free of certain products, such as parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. However, nothing guarantees this, and some consumers are starting to catch on. For example, a recent class-action lawsuit accuses Tarte Cosmetics of misleading consumers. The complaint alleges that Tarte’s “high-performance naturals” line includes synthetic ingredients and that the “natural” label misleads consumers into purchasing synthetic products. This is just one example of the cosmetics industry taking advantage of consumers’ fear of toxic chemicals.

clothesline-804812_1920-300x200The companies who sell plug-in air fresheners advertise how they make your house smell clean and fresh, and show you photos that make it appear as if the fresheners are bringing nature right into your home. What the commercials don’t say is that plug-in air fresheners may also be bathing your house in toxic chemicals that can harm your health.

One of the primary concerns with plug-in air fresheners is their use of phthalates. In fact, the National Resources Defense Council conducted a study that concluded that 86% of the air fresheners tested contain phthalates. Why is this a problem? Phthalates are disruptive to the body, alter hormone levels, interfere with testosterone, and are associated with reproductive abnormalities and birth defects.  They can also cause asthma and allergic reactions. And studies in animals show an alarming possibility of a link to cancer and liver and kidney toxicity.

But there is more. Air fresheners also typically contain formaldehyde, a toxic compound that is definitely linked to cancer of the nose and throat. Formaldehyde can also cause irritation of the throat and airways, potentially leading to infections and other respiratory ailments. In fact, a study in 2013 done by the International Journal of Public Health found that babies whose mothers used plug-in air fresheners during pregnancy were far more likely to have a serious lung infection than babies whose mothers did not.

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