Archive for the ‘Chemicals in consumer products’ Category

Naturepedic at 2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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Naturepedic Founder Barry Cik was a panelist speaker at the 2014 Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference, held in Cleveland, Ohio April 1-3. This year’s focus was “Innovating for Success in Green Chemistry”.

Active in organizations at both the national and local levels, Cik has long been a champion of finding safer, healthier alternatives for companies to make products and conduct business.

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Naturepedic founder Barry Cik takes the podium at the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference in Cleveland, Ohio

The conference explored how innovations in green chemistry can accelerate change in the Great Lakes Region (where Naturepedic is based), not just in business, but also in policy and public health and safety. The conference looked at ways to promote collaboration between business, academia, and legislators.

Naturepedic was previously recognized by an award from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) as a charter member for its 2025 Safer Chemistry Challenge Program.

The Challenge Program, began by NPPR in collaboration with the Great Lakes Green Chemistry Conference and Clean Production Action, recognizes company operations that reduce the use of hazardous and toxic chemicals by finding and selecting alternative, safer materials and chemistries.

 

When Does “No Flame Retardants” NOT Actually Mean “No Flame Retardants”?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

 

Many commonly used flame retardant chemicals are being connected to health and developmental issues.  Want a mattress without flame retardant chemicals?  Get a certified organic mattress.  Otherwise, flame retardants will probably be in that mattress, even if greenwashing marketing suggests otherwise, and you’re going to need to guess what they are.

It's not easy to find out what flame retardants are in your mattress

It’s not easy to find out what flame retardants are in your mattress

Let me explain with a little compare and contrast.

We say “Naturepedic mattresses meet all government flammability standards without flame barriers and other flame retardant chemicals.”

So why don’t we shorten that to “No flame retardants added” and call it a day?  That would mean the same thing, right?

Wrong.

Sure, when WE talk about not using flame retardants, we actually mean what we say.  We mean these chemicals are not in our mattress. Anywhere.

This straight-forward approach is not the case with most mattresses, however.  The loophole occurs with synthetic fabrics.

Now if a mattress maker would take a finished mattress and spray it with flame retardants, the mattress would have a flame retardant “added”.

If the mattress, however, includes synthetic fabrics originally manufactured with flame retardant chemicals, this is different.  Why?  Because the flame retardant chemicals are considered an integral or constituent part of the fabric.  These fabrics can be on the outside of the mattress or in flame barriers on the inside.  Regardless, the mattress maker can state, “No flame retardant chemicals added.”

But, you say, those chemicals are IN the mattress!

Yes, but the chemicals were integral to the flame barriers or fabric from the beginning. The greenwashing trick lies in the word added.  The chemicals weren’t added to the mattress!

Even worse?  These chemicals inserted into the fabric will likely not be disclosed to the consumer, so if you want to know the flame retardant used, you’ll probably need to guess.Flame retardants

Understand, this deceptive practice is not illegal.  I would argue immoral, but not illegal.

Who needs it?

But, you ask, why do manufacturers add (regardless of how it’s “added”) flame retardants into mattresses to begin with?  Who needs it?  Well, here is the bottom line – if you didn’t fill the mattress with highly flammable materials, then, in fact, you don’t need flame retardant chemicals!

But most mattresses are filled – to one degree or another – with polyurethane foam, which is a highly flammable material.  Some manufacturers add some soybean oil or castor oil and call the fill “soybean foam” or “eco-foam” or similar, but it’s still basically polyurethane foam.  And, when ignited, it can reach temperatures of 1400 degrees within minutes.

The only practical way to avoid flame retardant chemicals is to use certified organic products to ensure these chemicals have not been worked into fabrics and barriers.  Organic certification requires a level of disclosure that just doesn’t currently exist for fabrics.

Otherwise, you’re left guessing what flame retardants are in your mattress, and your health shouldn’t be left to guesswork.

 

 

Naturepedic Joins “Companies for Safer Chemicals Coalition”

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

When Lisa Jackson took over as EPA administrator in 2009, she expressed strong views about exposure to toxins.

“A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than a child from any other generation in our history…Our kids are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before we even give them solid food…Today, advances in toxicology and analytical chemistry are revealing new pathways of exposure…There are subtle and troubling effects of chemicals on hormone systems, human reproduction, intellectual development and cognition.”

Jackson promised to focus on reforming the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, also known as TSCA, which regulates the introduction of chemicals into the marketplace.  She said “The law and the structure of the law in no way is modern enough or has enough teeth.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Jackson resigned from her position without seeing the reform she had envisioned, and forward motion on getting control over the chemicals we’re ingesting, inhaling and absorbing is currently rife with opposition.

American Sustainable Business Council logoTo spark forward momentum for TSCA reform, Seventh Generation and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) formed the Companies for Safer Chemicals Coalition. As of the publishing of this post, more than 70 companies and organizations had already joined the coalition. The group has been supporting and promoting passage of new legislation to help protect the public from harmful chemicals.

Naturepedic is proud to be a founding member of the coalition.

A major reason for opposition to reform is the belief that changing ingredients to less harmful alternatives will be cost prohibitive.  The Coalition is working to present a business case that shows other companies that it can be done — and to the benefit of each company, their customers, and the environment.

According to a recent poll conducted by the ASBC, small business is behind making these changes.chemicals2

“Most business owners explicitly support government regulations of the products companies buy and sell, and nearly three out of four support a proposed reform of the Toxic Substances Reform Act requiring manufacturers to show their chemicals are safe.”

For more information, or to join the coalition, see the ASBC website.

Naturepedic Goes to Washington for TSCA Reform

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

 

The energy is building to remove harmful chemicals from everyday products, and last week you showed your enthusiasm.

On Wednesday, March 12, Naturepedic founder Barry A. Cik testified before a Congressional subcommittee in Washington, D.C. The hearing concerned potential reform to the outdated and ineffective Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), originally created to regulate chemicals for consumer products.

At the hearing were key House representatives making up the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. This was a powerful audience who can seriously promote, or hinder, needed chemical reform. The hearing specifically examined Chairman John Shimkus’ proposed Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA).

Barry spoke ardently on behalf of Naturepedic as well as the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and its advocacy campaign the Companies for Safer Chemicals coalition. Urging greater transparency for chemical use and the ability for government to actually remove toxic chemicals from products, Barry told how chemicals are largely unregulated today. His testimony asked lawmakers to particularly consider implications for children.

Throughout the hearing, you lit up the social media world with your comments and support, with many of you retweeting our updates with hashtags #KickTSCA and #RealReform. We could feel the momentum!

We know Barry made a positive impact and were proud to watch him vocally stand behind our beliefs in front of key legislators. We hope legislators will move forward and do the right thing in better protecting the health of our families.

The discussion and dynamism from you, however, shows you are ready for change and transparency regarding chemicals.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who wished us support and encouragement! We appreciate it deeply, and promise to continue working to earn and keep your trust.

 

See Barry Cik, founder of Naturepedic, passionately fight for you and your family: mins. 29:20 – 35:50

Don’t let the momentum stop now! Tell your congressperson you demand real TSCA reform.     Click here to sign an online letter from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

 

Keep Your Kids Healthy with Safe Sunscreen

Sunday, June 17th, 2012


Summer is upon us – it’s time for swimming pools, beaches, lots of sand, sun, and sunscreen. Of course, you don’t want your kids (or you) to get burned, but experts now advise that you really investigate the type of sunscreen you’re using. In fact, research shows that the chemicals in many sunscreens can cause serious health problems.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been investigating sunscreens for some years. They stay abreast of the latest research on the safety and efficacy of the ingredients and formulations and keep us informed. This year, EWG has compiled a list of little known facts about sunscreen, and they’re not pretty.

For example, here are a few important things you might not be aware of:

• There’s very little evidence that sunscreens prevent skin cancer.
• There is evidence that sunscreens may actually increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer.
• According to the FDA, there is an “absence of data demonstrating additional clinical benefit” of high SPF sunscreens.
• Using sunscreens could result in Vitamin D deficiency – which can cause bone pain and muscle weakness, increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in older adults, severe asthma in children, and cancer. It can also contribute to diabetes, hypertension, glucose intolerance and multiple sclerosis.
• Vitamin A in sunscreens could speed the development of cancer.

And that’s not all. Read Sunscreens Exposed: Nine Surprising Truths to get the full scoop.

What can you do to protect your children?

Fortunately, there are some sunscreens that are safe and do a good job. The EWG has compiled their 2012 list of 1800 sun protection products – including sunscreen and SPF lip balms, moisturizers and make-up. Obviously you won’t need the make-up info for your kids, but you might as well take advantage of this too!

You can search the EWG Cosmetics Database for the sunscreens you are using or considering, or peruse the entire list (it’s organized by level of toxicity) to find one that’s safe. For a small donation, you can even download and print out a guide you can take to the store when you go shopping.

Summer can be the happiest time of year for you and your kids. Using a non-toxic sunscreen helps take the worry out of sun exposure so you can make this summer the best yet!

Experts Say Everyday Chemicals Can Cause Autism – and Some of Them are in Crib Mattresses

Sunday, May 6th, 2012


chemicals suspected of causing autismIn decades past, we rarely heard of children having autism, but now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of one in 110 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Many causes have been suggested but, still, most autism is considered idiopathic – which means, basically, that no one knows what really caused it. However, some experts believe it to be caused by heavy metals and environmental and household chemicals – some of which are even in crib mattresses.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, professor and chair of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York, compiled a list of 10 heavy metals and chemicals that are highly suspect.

Here’s the list:

• lead
• mercury
• polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – EPA studies say everyone (literally) has them in their body
• organochlorine pesticides like DDT – DDT is banned, but other, similar, chemicals are still around
• automotive exhaust
• brominated flame retardants – found in furniture, electronics, household dust and even certain sodas and sports drinks
• polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – these are in some driveway sealants, in anti-dandruff shampoos, cigarette smoke, mothballs and meat cooked on the barbeque
• organophosphate pesticides – these pesticides have been banned for residential use, but they are still used on our fruits and vegetables
• hormone-disrupting chemicals – these include phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA) and are in hundreds of products we use every day, everything from soaps and cleaning products to air fresheners
• nonstick chemicals – these are used in cookware, as well as in stain protection for furniture and carpeting

According to Dr. Landrigan, “It’s now possible to connect early exposure to problems in childhood.” Problems such as autism, ADHD and learning disabilities. But a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group also found 300 chemicals, some of which are on this list, in newborns. So, while early childhood exposure is a pivotal factor, chemicals are also being transferred from mom to baby while baby is still in the womb.

What steps should you take to reduce the potentially dangerous chemicals in your environment? Some things are obvious, and you might even know about them already – furnish and decorate your nursery with an organic crib mattress and other organic products whenever possible, switch to natural household cleaning products and personal care products for both yourself and baby. And there is more.

For a full rundown on where the suspect chemicals are found and how to avoid them, check 10 Suspect Causes of Autism & Learning Disabilities for a very informative slide show that also features related articles that give you even more information.

Everyone may not agree that heavy metals and chemicals are a problem, but do we really need everyone to agree? After all, many experts think there is ample evidence that these chemicals are highly suspect and, when it comes right down to it, do we really want to take chances with our babies?

Healthy Stuff Database Makes it Easier To Live Toxic Free

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011


I want to introduce you to a great site – an indispensable resource for parents who want their kids to grow up toxic-free, or for anyone who’s interested in creating an environment free of dangerous toxic chemicals. The site is Healthy Stuff, and the features of their searchable database are what make this site so special.

When you arrive on the homepage you will see several categories of stuff: toys, children’s products, pets, cars, apparel and accessories, and home improvement.

Just click any of the categories, let’s take Toys as an example, and you will find a summary of why we need healthy toys, results of tests screening toys for toxic metals, chemicals, and PVC, and links to the following:

* Products with No Detected Chemicals of Concern
* Products with Low Concern Levels
* Products with Medium Concern Levels
* Products with High Concern Levels

The lists are alphabetical, so it’s pretty easy to find what you’re looking for.

As you go through the products, you can also keep a list of things you’re interested in following up. You can save the list and even share it with your family and friends!

You can also use their search tool, which lists by brand, type or chemical detected.

This database is great for finding good products as well as checking into the potentially toxic contents of those you already have.

Overall, a pretty comprehensive tool. You won’t find every single product there, but there are thousands. And they’re pretty easy to find. Give it a try!

Fire Retardants Linked to Developmental Problems in Children, Study Says

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011


I can’t help but notice a real concern with the toxicity of fire retardants when I’m reading other’s blogs, articles, online consumer reviews and comments about crib mattresses and other children’s products. The concern is often focused on PBDEs, commonly used toxic flame retardant chemicals that are in just about everything. Should we be concerned? According to a unique study conducted by The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the answer is a very definite yes.

The researchers on this unique study analyzed the cord blood of 210 infants and then followed up for the next six years. The children were tested at 12, 24, 36 48 and 72 months for psychomotor development, mental development, performance IQ, verbal IQ and full-scale IQ.

The results showed that children with PBDEs in their cord blood scored significantly lower on the later tests. In fact, the higher the prenatal exposure to PBDEs, the lower the scores. Scores on some tests were as much at 10.9 points lower than the scores of children with less prenatal exposure.

PBDEs are widely used flame-retardant chemicals that are in everything from carpets, upholstery and drapery fabrics, children’s clothing, mattresses and furniture to appliances, insulation, building materials, computers and other electronic equipment.

How do PBDEs get into our system?

Because they are added to the products rather than chemically bound to them, they can be released into the air, lodge in dust, and anywhere else they happen to land, where they can be inhaled and even ingested.

PBDEs also don’t break down easily; once they’re in the body they tend to stay there. This also means they accumulate in the body with additional exposure and the levels just keep going up.

What can you do about it?

As the PDBEs in your home can be airborne, it’s important to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. But the most important step you can take is to phase out PBDEs in your own home. Instead, choose products that do not contain “PBDEs”, “brominated fire retardants” or “Deca.”

Many furniture manufacturers and stores, like Ikea, are conscious of the dangers of PBDEs and offer PBDE-free furniture.

For textiles – draperies, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and so on, look for fibers that are naturally fire retardant – organic cotton and wool are good examples. And always check with the manufacturer if there is no information on the label. All of our Naturepedic crib mattresses and other products are made with organic cotton and free of PBDEs and any other harmful chemicals, so that’s a good place to start in protecting your children.

If you’d like to read the full study, it’s available on the Environmental Health Perspectives website.

Anyone who is a potential father or mother should start getting rid of PBDEs and other harmful chemicals right now. Your child’s future depends on it.

Chemicals in Mom’s Body Can Pass to Babies – Even If You Switched to Organic Some Time Ago

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011


detox before pregnancyMany women stop eating certain foods, smoking, drinking alcohol, and so on, after they find out they’re pregnant. They want to make sure they’re doing the best for their baby. But chemicals that we ingest, inhale or absorb can actually stay in the body long after mom has started making healthier choices. Sometimes just changing your lifestyle isn’t enough.

Here’s the story of Molly Gray: After several miscarriages, Molly switched to organic food, avoided fish high in mercury, stopped using plastic food storage containers, and switched to non-toxic cleaning products. But despite these radical changes, high levels of 13 toxic chemicals were found in her blood when she tested during pregnancy.

In fact, some of these chemicals could stay in your body for your entire life. And there may not even be a big difference in how much is in there over very long periods of time – many years.

So, what can a mom-to-be do about this?

Really, the best solution is probably a detoxification program. Detox programs flush toxic chemicals, and a few other things you don’t want, out of your body.

There are many different detox programs. They use different methods, different substances, and some focus on specific parts of the body. It’s important to do the right one(s), in the right sequence for your particular situation. So, really, the only right way to do a detox is with the help of a professional.

We checked with Debra Lynn Dadd, whose journey to Queen of Green started with her attempts to get rid of toxic chemicals in her home and her body, to find out which professionals really know about detox.

Here’s a list of the types of practitioners she recommended, along with websites where you can find out more about each type of practitioner and find someone in your area.

Note: Not all of these docs know about detox, but they are more likely to know about it than others. Ask them; they’ll tell you if they can help you.

A naturopathic doctor: Naturopathic doctors use diet, exercise, lifestyle changes and cutting edge natural therapies along with modern medical science to restore health. To learn more about Naturopathy or find a practitioner in your area check the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians.

A doctor who practices environmental medicine: Doctors who practice environmental medicine are medical professionals who treat illnesses that are related to toxic chemical exposures. See the American Academy of Environmental Medicine or Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics.

A doctor who practices functional medicine: Functional medicine integrates traditional Western medical practices with what are sometimes considered “alternative” or “integrative” medicine, creating a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques. Check the Institute for Functional Medicine for more information.

A doctor who practices anti-aging medicine: Anti-aging doctors use advanced scientific and medical technologies for early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age-related diseases and a prolonged healthy lifespan. See the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.

A Certified Clinical Nutritionist: A Certified Cliniical Nutritionist uses nutrition to achieve normal physiological function. More info at The International & American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists.

A Chiropractor: Doctors of Chiropractic focus on disorders of the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system, and the effects of these disorders on general health. However, many also offer other complementary natural remedies including nutrition and detoxification. Check the American Chiropractic Association or American Chiropractic Council on Nutrition.

A biologic dentist: Biologic dentists work closely with other healthcare professionals—nutritionists, chiropractors, bodyworkers, naturopaths, and environmental doctors—to reduce the toxic burden to the body as a result of toxic materials used in dental work. Check Consumers for Dental Choice, Holistic Dental Association, International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, or the International Association of Mercury Free Dentists.

I know that’s quite a bit of information, but if you’re concerned about what your baby will inherit from your body – which you should be; see more info on Molly’s story at US doctors say chemicals can cause cancer – check out getting tested for toxicity and the possibility of doing a detox program.

Over One Third of Children’s Toys and Products Contain Chemicals that are Linked to Learning and Developmental Disabilities

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011


non-toxic safe baby toysWe all like buying toys for our kids. We usually have several in the toy chest even before the baby is born. Shortly after birth little boys are often presented with footballs and miniature hockey sticks; little girls with what we hope will be their favorite dolls; and both get the teddy bears and rubber duckies.

But before you go out on a shopping spree, you should have more information on which toys are actually safe. We’re not talking about the usual safety concerns – small parts in a baby’s mouth, we’re talking about chemicals.

We already know that rubber duckies, or any toy made of vinyl, may well contain phthalates or other chemicals you really don’t want your baby to ingest. But phthalates aren’t the only toxic chemicals you have to worry about.

In fact, according to the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health, over one third of children’s toys and products contain chemicals that are linked to learning and developmental disabilities?

How’s that for a scary statistic?

To help handle the problem and make sure parents are informed about which toys are safe and which aren’t, Senator Roger Kahn of Michigan is drafting legislation designed to “to protect your kids from toxic chemicals found in their most popular toys.”

Says Senator Kahn, “I don’t want them to get poisoned from cadmium or zinc or arsenic or anything.”

If you’re in Michigan, you’re in luck. You have a Senator that recognizes the problem and cares enough to do something about it.

At Naturepedic, we protect children by making crib mattresses that have been independently tested and certified so we, and you, can be sure our products don’t emit any harmful chemical fumes your baby might breathe while spending 15 or so hours in the crib everyday.

But it doesn’t stop with the crib. Toys are a very big concern.

Find out more about the chemicals in toys on the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health. There is also information in our blog Unsafe Toys 2010: What Toys To Avoid this Holiday Season, and What to Buy that you may find useful.

If you would like information on specific toys and children’s products, check out HealthyStuff.org’s very helpful list. It categorizes products with ‘None,’ ‘Low,’ ‘Medium,’ and ‘High’ levels of concern.

You can also find a list of websites with safe and fun toys on the Toys page of Debra’s List.

Do your baby and yourself a favor: Get them safe toys.