Greenwashing – Westcott KleenEarth Scissors with Microban

I was trying to find some information on whether Microban shows up in recycled plastic items. If you aren’t familiar with Microban, Microban is a tradename for various antimicrobial technologies used in consumer products. Microban in plastic used to mean triclosan, but many Microban technologies have been developed so whether the Microban is all triclosan in plastic is hard to tell.

But, in any event, I was curious whether recycled plastic items can have Microban in them if Microban was in the source plastic used. In my searching, I came across Westcott’s KleenEarth scissors for kids which use recycled plastic in the handles and recycled plastic in the packaging. And there are a bunch of different products in this line, all with Microban. BUT, the recycled plastic handles are treated with Microban. So doesn’t that completely defeat the green, earth friendly message? What do you think? Greenwashing at its finest?

As I explained in my post from yesterday, I think I’ll skip the unnecessary Microban containing products.

FDA Changes Course – Now Believes Bisphenol A (BPA) Poses Safety Concern

Well, after years of contending that bisphenol A (BPA) is perfectly safe, the Food and Drug Administration has reversed course. On Friday, the FDA announced that it now considers BPA to be of some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostrate glands of fetuses, infants and young children (consistent with the National Toxicology Program’s findings). 

But, even though the FDA now has some concern about BPA’s safety, it claims it can’t do anything. The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that top FDA officials say that while BPA’s safety is uncertain, they are powerless to regulate it. Why? Because it is listed among some 3,000 chemicals that are “generally regarded as safe” and that designation exempts those chemicals from scrutiny.

As the FDA explains:

Current BPA food contact uses were approved under food additive regulations issued more than 40 years ago.  This regulatory structure limits the oversight and flexibility of FDA.  Once a food additive is approved, any manufacturer of food or food packaging may use the food additive in accordance with the regulation.  There is no requirement to notify FDA of that use. For example, today there exist hundreds of different formulations for BPA-containing epoxy linings, which have varying characteristics.  As currently regulated, manufacturers are not required to disclose to FDA the existence or nature of these formulations.  Furthermore, if FDA were to decide to revoke one or more approved uses, FDA would need to undertake what could be a lengthy process of rulemaking to accomplish this goal.

So, FDA is going to study BPA some more. And it is looking for some legislative help so that it can regulate BPA, at least according to the officials quoted by the Milwaukee Sentinel. But that doesn’t help the rest of us very much if we are looking for ways to avoid BPA exposure, particularly if you are pregnant, or have young children.

And it isn’t very satisfying that at this late date, more than 10 years after leading scientists questioned BPA’s safety, that the FDA is reaching this decision but taking the position it can’t do anything. More stalling at the behest of the chemical industry?

The American Chemistry Council continues to proclaim that BPA is perfectly safe, because, as the ACC always says, BPA has not been proven harmful to children or adults. The FDA held a conference call on Friday for some media to discuss BPA. And while I was not invited, I avidly followed one of the journalists who was tweeting the call. And she kept tweeting statements of the ACC representative about how safe BPA was and how all the studies were flawed because they failed to account for human metabolization of BPA. When I tweeted at her to ask about the fact that infants under 3 months lack the full complement of enzymes necessary to metabolize BPA (and fetuses have none), the ACC representative completely dismissed the scientific studies. If you don’t know who the ACC is, it is an organization whose members include Monsanto, Bayer, Merck, DuPont and many others. And the FDA has been accused of being too cozy with the chemical industry lobbyists, including the chair of the FDA panel taking a $5 million donation.

And to be honest, the FDA’s reversal really annoys the heck out of me after FDA Acting Commissioner Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD’s article, Andy’s Take on BPA from August of 2008. In his article, he stated that “with progress comes peril!” He then argued that “science creates these products and science must inform us of their risks.” So, he contended that until science showed us that BPA was unsafe, we should assume that it is safe. Which seemed like a bunch of bunk to me. If you believe that “with progress comes peril”, then it seems to me that you would take a cautious approach, and instead have science inform us that a chemical was safe before it was used.

So what can you do if you want to avoid BPA? Well, skip polycarbonate plastic and avoid canned foods and beverages. And you really might want to, particularly if you are pregnant. In a non-scientific CBS Early Show experiment, Kelly Wallace ate a sandwich made from canned tuna, and had her blood drawn. She then spent 2 days avoiding BPA, and had her blood drawn again. The first set of blood samples showed a BPA level five times higher than what is found in the average US woman. 

To avoid canned foods and beverages, go for fresh, frozen, dried or jarred in glass or a plastic other than polycarconate. Polycarbonate is in the #7 “other plastic” group. Not all #7 plastic is polycarbonate, however. If you need BPA free feeding gear for kids and babies, check out my dear friend’s website, The Soft Landing. If you need a guide, check out Z Recommends’ The ZRecs Guide for advice on BPA-free children’s products.

Massachusetts Issues Public Health Advisory to Parents About Bisphenol A (BPA)

bottle feeding babyToday the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued an advisory for bisphenol A. The DPH specifically advises parents of childrens up to 2 years old to avoid baby products containing bisphenol A (BPA) for making or storing infant food or formula. And the statement also warns pregnant women to steer clear of canned foods and beverages because of the BPA in the epoxy lining, which may result in fetal exposure.

If you aren’t caught up on the BPA debate, you might want to read some BPA basics.

It is interesting that the Massachusetts DPH is issuing this advisory just a few weeks after the leaked memorandum from a meeting of the canned food and beverage industry in which the industry representatives described a pregnant woman who would tout the safety of BPA to be the “holy grail.” Hmmm  . . perhaps not in Massachusetts.

To avoid BPA, you need to avoid polycarbonate plastic containers for storing food and drink. This means polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. But it also means the 5 gallon water bottles used for home water delivery as well.

You also find BPA in the epoxy linings of most canned food and beverage in the United States. Instead, go for fresh, frozen, dried, or jarred. In terms of infant formula, powdered is generally better than liquid, although it is my understanding the Similac 32 ounce plastic container for prepared liquid formula is BPA free.

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Green Moms Carnival, World Environment Day and World Oceans Day

green moms carnivalI’m pleased to host a mini Green Moms Carnival on World Environment Day (WED) and World Oceans Day (WOD).

WED is celebrated every June 5. It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

This year’s theme is “Your Planet Needs You-UNited to Combat Climate Change” and is intended to spur nations to agree on a new deal at the crucial climate change convention later this year. WED’s goals generally are to:

  1. Give a human face to environmental issues;
  2. Empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development;
  3. Promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues;
  4. Advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

WOD doesn’t seem to receive as much press as WED, but it is just as important. WOD is June 8, 2009, and its theme is “one ocean, one climate, one future.” Keep it in mind and wear blue on June 8 to celebrate WOD.

So, what do the Green Moms say about WED and WOD?

Lynn from OrganicMania urges us to take the opportunity on WED to plant a tree, and gives us lots of options. Jenn at Mother Nature Network echoes Lynn (which makes sense, since the UNEP’s goal is to plant a tree for every person by the end of this year) and also urges us to plant a tree.

And Mary at In Women We Trust has a whole list of ideas. Lots of ideas. And of course, reminds us to plant a tree. I need to follow her advice about my road rage. Trust me, I say “carp” a lot when I drive. I use to say much worse things, but then my son started repeating them so now I just say carp. CARP. But, yes Mary, I’ll remind myself to count to ten and remind myself that the carp need me.

Beth (my plastic hero) over at FakePlasticFish has identified everything you can do for WOD. And if you do one thing, STOP USING PLASTIC BAGS of any sort, from grocery to produce to snack. Just don’t use them. Ever. Need to know why? Check out the Great Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch to start.

You can find out more about the Green Moms Carnival and our schedule for the year. A hot topic is coming up  for our full June Green Moms Carnival – eco-confessions and eco-guilt. The green moms come clean, and discuss the problems we have with going and staying green, and how we are definitely not perfect. Don’t forget to check it out on June 24 over at The Green Parent. And feel free to contribute too.

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Emails Show FDA Was Very Cozy With Lobbyists on Bisphenol A

bottle feeding babyIt is so disappointing to learn that yes, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) really has not done its job when it comes to bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a hormone disruptor and has been linked to other health effects. We find it in polycarbonate plastic and the linings of canned foods and beverages. (Need more of a refresher on BPA – I’ve got one.)  

If you haven’t followed BPA over the last year or so, the FDA maintains that BPA is safe, even though an independent board, the FDA’s Science Advisory Board, soundly and completely renounced the FDA’s determination. Separately, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) found “some concern” (a 3 on its 5 point scale) for certain health endpoints for fetuses, infants and children at current BPA exposure levels. And, since those reports, additional research has been published reporting concerns with BPA, including male monkeys exposed to BPA prenatally acting more like females and that BPA slows the transition of tadpoles into frogs. 

Also, this week, researchers found that drinking cold liquids out of polycarbonate plastic bottles (the type of plastic that leaches BPA) increases BPA in the body.  Specifically, Harvard University researchers and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 70% increase in the amount of BPA detected in the urine of college students who drank from plastic bottles made with BPA. The students drank from stainless for one week (to clean them out) and then out of polycarbonate plastic for a week. And in only one week, BPA concentrations rose dramaticallly.  

And yet, the FDA maintains BPA is safe. But FDA has apparently sold out completely. I previously questioned whether science was for sale in the context of FDA and BPA when the chair received a $5 million donation for his research foundation. But the level of coziness between the FDA and lobbyists reported by the Journal Sentinel indicates that the FDA has no interest whatsoever in protecting our most vulnerable population, our babies. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reviewed documents provided pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. It reports that those documents clearly demonstrate that the FDA relied on industry lobbyists to review scientific research. As an example, the Journal Sentinel:

 In one instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s deputy director sought information from the BPA industry’s chief lobbyist to discredit a Japanese study that found it caused miscarriages in workers who were exposed to it. This was before government scientists even had a chance to review the study.

 ‘I’d like to get information together that our chemists could look at to determine if there are problems with that data in advance of possibly reviewing the study,”‘Mitchell Cheeseman, deputy director of the FDA’s center for food safety and applied nutrition, said in an e-mail seeking advice from Steven Hentges, executive director of the trade association’s BPA group.”

 The reported communications are disturbing, especially since the review of scientific reports by governmental agencies should be free of this sort of coziness and influence. I recognize that politics, unfortunately, plays a role in our government agencies, but this amount of influence is disgusting. And it was just the industry lobbyists. The Journal Sentinel reports that non-industry lobbyists were not given the same sort of access, confirming this by reviewing the communications and talking to various individuals and groups.


The communications go on. The Journal Sentinel reports as follows: 

In other e-mails, trade lobbyists notified FDA officials about upcoming news reports on BPA and advised them how to respond. 

“Laura and Mitch,” Hentges wrote in an e-mail to FDA administrators. “I send this note to give you a head’s up on something we understand is coming next week.” 

The item was a report from the Environmental Working Group, an activist organization working to ban BPA. 

“At this time we have no information on what information they will report or how it will be publicized,” Hentges wrote. “However, we can anticipate that it will be widely publicized as a serious food safety issue. If correct, it might be appropriate for FDA to consider issuing a statement to reassure consumers about the safety of the food supply.” 

You may recall that yes, indeed, the FDA issued a statement concerning the safety of the food supply and BPA. 

So, what do you think? Do you think this is too cozy?

Rubbermaid Identifies Products with Bisphenol A and those BPA-Free

Listening to the public’s growing concern about bisphenol A (BPA), Rubbermaid has published a list of its products that are BPA free and those that contain BPA.  The list contains pictures so the products are easily identifiable.  Those are pretty smart people over at Rubbermaid.  As summer approaches, and greedy entrepreneurial kids get ready to sell lemonade, you’ll be pleased to discover that the classic Rubbermaid pitchers are BPA free.Rubbermaid Classic White Pitcher





Rubbermaid Classic Blue Pitcher