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  • InToxic Chemicals

    PVC a Substitute for Polycarbonate (BPA) in Sippy Cups – WHAT?

    My good friend Sommer of  Green and Clean Mom called me this morning with news I never really expected to hear:  she was staring at a sippy cup marked with a #3 recycling code (PVC).

    What?  Wait a minute, Sommer.  I think it must be a mistake.  Reusable plastic food containers are very (very!) rarely made with PVC.  In fact, I don't think I've ever come across a PVC sippy cup in all my years of research . . .

    She had ordered hundreds of the sippy cups as a promotional item for a non-profit program, but only after carefully confirming with the manufacturer that the cups were BPA-free before ordering.

    Phthalate-free PVC is Safe, Right?

    No. Even phthalate-free PVC still isn't a safe plastic because of the other harmful chemicals often used during production. CHEJ names the following possible concerns with PVC:

    • May contain dioxin (a known carcinogen)
    • May contain volatile organic compounds (VOC’s)
    • May contain organotins
    • May contain lead, cadmium and other metals
    • Heat and humidity can increase the release of these chemicals

    So here we have a reliable manufacturer (based on my own personal experience), trying to do the right thing by using BPA-free and phthalate-free plastics in their cups, while still keeping them extremely affordable.  And while I was initially surprised at their choice of PVC as a substitute, I do understand where they're coming from – especially in light of the fact that PVC isn't recognized as a toxic plastic by the average American just yet . . .

    Okay, so it's not the end of the world. But needless to say, we recommend you stay on the alert and pay attention to the types of plastic being used as substitutes by manufacturers – whether BPA-free or not.

  • InNon-toxic Home

    FDA Finally Says BPA is Harmful but Continues to Ride the Fence

    I was SO excited to hear about the FDA's recent change in stance on BPA – until I heard the whole story . . .

    After delaying its decision three times, the FDA finally agreed that there is some concern about BPA and then issued a warning about its damaging effects.

    I did a happy dance.

    Then I read the FDA's strange sideways talk they called a “plan of action” and it reminded me a lot of a used car salesman:

    1. FDA is taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply – – but the FDA is “not recommending that families change the use of infant formula or foods, as the benefit of a stable source of good nutrition outweighs the potential risk from BPA exposure.”
    2. FDA is supporting a shift to a more robust regulatory framework for oversight of BPA – – but they won't be able to impose a ban or any strict regulations because:  “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.  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.”
    3. FDA is seeking further public comment and external input on the science surrounding BPA – – even though the FDA agrees that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children, they also believe that “substantial uncertainties with respect to the overall interpretation of these studies and their potential implications for human health effects of BPA exposure.”

    In other words, the FDA will continue to ride the fence.  They gave a little pat on the head to the environmental groups and scientists who are convinced of BPA's dangers, then turned around and told the chemical industry they agree that there just isn't enough research to support more than just “some concern” – – so go ahead and continue using BPA at your discretion, just being sure to keep looking for other alternatives.

    Dang, we didn't even get a requirement for product labeling out of this whole thing.  So how are parents supposed to avoid BPA?

    Oh well, I guess I'll stop ranting and get back to what we were doing before – working endless hours to confirm which hidden toxic chemicals are lurking in our everyday household products.  Sheesh.

    >> Be sure to check out this article for more interesting reading on an informal bit of research done by the Early Show and Dr. Fred Vom Saal.

    >> Download our free ebook for tips on avoiding BPA in food contact items and toys made to be mouthed by children.

  • InToxic Chemicals

    Plastics: An Important Part of Your Healthy Diet

    NaturalNews - Plastics Are Good For You!I came across this crazy advertisement today while reading through the growing list of chemicals implicated in hormone disrutpion on  The ad was part of a series run widely in the 1990's recommending that people think of plastic as “your sixth basic food group.”   It's amazing to think about what the chemical industry spends to convince people of the safety of their products – whether load with bisphenol-a or not!

    The ad copy is a little hard to read, so here's the full text:

    Plastics: An Important Part Of Your Healthy Diet

    “You could think of them as the sixth basic food group.”

    Oh, you certainly wouldn't eat them, but plastic packaging does help protect our food in many ways. To help lock in freshness, plastic wrap clings tightly to surfaces. To help lock out moisture, resealable containers provide a strong seal. And plastic wrap helps extend the shelf life of perishable produce, poultry, fish and meats. To prevent spoilage and contamination, some varieties of plastics help keep air out. While others let air in to help the food we eat stay fresher longer. Plastics also let you see what you're buying, taking the mystery out of shopping. All of which makes them versatile, durable, lightweight and shatter-resistant. To learn more, call the American Plastics Council (APC) at 1.800.777.9500 for a free booklet. Plastics. One part of your diet you may never break.

  • InCurrent Research, Healthy Baby, Toxic Chemicals

    New Study Shows 69% Increase in BPA Levels with Polycarbonate Bottle Use

    New Study Shows 69% Increase in BPA Levels with Polycarbonate Bottle UseThe scientific journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, just published the shocking results of a new study done by Harvard University and Centers for Disease Control Prevention.   The levels of bisphenol-a in the urine of 77 Harvard increased by two-thirds after they drank cold liquids from BPA water bottles for only a week.

    Whether or not the intake of food and drinks from polycarbonate containers increases BPA concentrations in humans had not yet been studied.  This study was designed to  examine the association between the use of polycarbonate beverage containers and urinary BPA concentrations in humans.  The study's conclusion was straightforward and alarming.

    One week of polycarbonate bottle use increased urinary BPA concentrations by two thirds. Regular consumption of cold beverages from polycarbonate bottles is associated with a substantial increase in urinary BPA concentrations irrespective of exposure to BPA from other sources.

    It's becoming more clear that BPA is harmful at lower levels than previously suspected and that sources of exposure are numerous and often hidden.  Recent studies have also shown that BPA remains in the blood longer and is not metabolized as quickly as once thought.

    It's extremely important that we help the most susceptible individuals, pregnant women and children, to avoid known sources of BPA exposure.  Renee Sharp, Director of Environmental Working Group's California office responded with great clarity on this point:

    These astonishing results should be a clarion call to lawmakers and public health officials that babies are being exposed to BPA, and at levels that could likely have an impact on their development.  The adults in this study were willing participants who understood the risk of exposure, but babies are unwitting victims of the silent but serious threat this hormone- disrupting chemical poses to their health.

    Demand the ban of Bisphenol-a in food containers by supporting the Kids Safe Chemical Act!  Let your state reps know how you feel about this harmful endocrine-disrupting chemical, and keep sharing with your family, friends and neighbors.

    Photo source: Flickr by dharder9475

  • InNon-toxic Home

    That 6 Billion Pounds of BPA-laden Polycarbonate Will Take a Major Hit in the U.S. Soon

    It's shocking to think that more than 6 billion pounds of bisphenol-a are produced in the U.S. each year by Dow Chemical, Bayer AG and other chemical makers.  But today we glimpsed the beginning of the end for that big business when the Washington Post announced the six largest manufacturers of baby bottles will stop selling bottles in the U.S. made with BPA.

    We've been talking about the woes of this estrogen-disrupting toxin for years, and it thrills us to see evidence that the voices of parents across America are finally being heard!  Even in the midst of our government's lackadaisical stance,  parents have persevered in making a statement by speaking out – and even more poignant – by refusing to buy toxic products.

    Along the same vein, one of the manufacturers included in the decision was Philips-Avent, who stopped selling polycarbonate products in the U.S. at the end of last year.  It's interesting to note that they will continue to sell the BPA-based products overseas, even in the U.K. where they're based.  We are in the unique position of being one of very few retailers who ships BPA-free Avent products internationally, and this information corresponds perfectly with a very noticeable up-trend we're seeing in our European sales.

    When we took a closer at our data, we found that the number of European shoppers from major countries (especially the U.K. and France) increased by 112% from October 2008  to February 2009.

    TSL Customers Located in UK and France

    In talking with our international customers, we've realized that they are having a terrible time locating and purchasing BPA-free baby products in their own countries.  Popular French blogs like this one send streams of concerned parents to our store  in search of safer feeding gear.  We've seen our top ten countries change drastically in the recent months.  Our demographic now looks like this:

    TSL Top Ten Countries

    We're honored to have the opportunity to work with new friends across the world, but it makes us even more grateful to experience the positive changes we're seeing right here at home 🙂

  • InUncategorized

    ZRecs vs. Tupperware: A Lesson in Uncovering Product Material Lists

    Parents across the world have grown weary of the games being played by the major manufacturers of our children's feeding gear. The market is experiencing one of history's fastest swings away from a single chemical used in product manufacturing. Manufacturers are reeling in the wake of requests for information regarding the types of plastic used in their products and it's obvious that many of them are unsure how to handle the uproar.

    A case in point is Tupperware, who had been very secretive with their materials list until a few weeks ago when ZRecs was able to persuade them to provide complete information (you can find the full list here). Take a look at how difficult manufacturers can make this process:

    Over the past weeks we have had extensive email and telephone contact with Tupperware through their Worldwide Director of Quality Management and Research & Development, Jan Stevens, after their PR firm helped us set up a conference call. I had a great conversation with him, and found him to be not only knowledgeable and passionate but frank, sincere, and open to new information and perspectives. Based on the information we received from him, we can now confirm that all Tupperware children's items are BPA-free, and that Tupperware has a major customer relations problem on its hands.

    My encounter with Mr. Stevens was the first I have ever had with an industry executive at a polycarbonate-using company in which they admitted some legitimate room for parental concern about BPA.

    At the beginning of our conversation Jan spent about ten minutes in the firm, aggressive tone we have heard so frequently in our dealings with entrenched companies. When he had finished outlining Tupperware's position, I pointed out to him that the scientific studies of BPA examine targeted and isolated exposure and that while these levels might not reach those he or Tupperware would consider a concern, many parents are trying to limit the children's total exposure levels, which encompassed a vast array of plastic products their children interact with on a daily basis, and that these studies did not – and possibly could not – address these issues in a laboratory setting. He shocked me by agreeing that this was a “different matter,” that “the research is not yet in” about how total environmental exposure to BPA might affect fetal and child development, and that parents might be legitimately concerned about reducing their children's overall exposure to BPA. He then agreed to send me a complete listing of Tupperware products and the exact materials they were all made of.

    ZRecs initially spent upwards of 15 hours in labor intensive research and eventually brought in a PR firm as mediator. Only then were they given complete access to Tupperware's material list. Downright absurd. As Jeremiah so eloquently put it,

    It is foolish to treat consumer reporters as we have been treated, it is corporate suicide to treat customers that way, and the trouble with bloggers is that they are both. Any company that exhibits this kind of pattern of behavior needs to recast its relationship with consumers for the twenty-first century, and we can't think of many companies that would be more harmed by a failure to do so than Tupperware – the company's independent sales reps, who helped build and remain the lifeblood of that company, reap what the multinational sows, and rely on the brand's gold-standard status to sell the products that feed their families.

    The Soft Landing Team has spoken with thousands of parents about the issue. We know firsthand, without a doubt, that they are taking notes on how each company responds. Hiding behind BPA assurance letters and other rhetoric such as “our ingredient list is proprietary” instantly creates a sense of mistrust among consumers.

    We've also seen the other side of the coin. Manufacturers who were among the first to lay it all out like Boon, Evenflo, Nuby and Sassy have seen outrageous growth in past months. It's not always because their products are of the highest quality or design – it's simply because they've been honest and forthcoming with every single annoying little request we've made of them. Period.

  • InToxic Chemicals

    Canada Initiates Ban on Bisphenol-a in Baby Bottles

    Health Minister Tony Clement announced today that Canada will be the first country to ban plastic polycarbonate baby bottles after concluding the chemical is toxic. The partial ban will focus on increasing the current safety margin to decrease exposure of infants and pregnant mothers to bisphenol-a. The move is meant to be preventative and “better safe than sorry.”

    They did try to sidestep the issue of the toxic chemical as it applies to adults, at least for now, by stating that most Candians need not be concerned about the health effects of BPA.

    And what about infant formula cans, the other main BPA offender?

    Clement said canned infant formula remains a concern, but government will work with industry to establish codes of practice to reduce the amount of bisphenol A in the linings of cans and set migration targets for the toxin.

    Judy Wasylycia-Leis, health critic for the New Democrats, said this sends a confusing message to parents; the NDP welcomes a partial ban, but wants the ban to extend to all food and beverage containers with BPA, including all products designed to feed infants.

    “The minister has left people in a very precarious position, claiming it's a toxic substance, but not making a firm recommendation to parents not to use any product with bisphenol A.”

    The proposed baby-bottle ban and recommendation to list bisphenol A as a toxic substance under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act is now subject to a 60-day public consultation period.

    The Vancouver Sun reports that the plastics industry is still working to keep polycarbonate on the market. It now has two months to present any new information. If none is presented, BPA will be officially declared a toxin, and a ban of plastic baby bottles with BPA will be in place within 12 months.

    In the meantime, retailers and manufactures continue to distance themselves from the chemical.

    In Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart announced Friday the immediate removal of plastic baby bottles, drinking cups, bottle liners and reusable beverage containers with BPA from store shelves. Earlier this week, other retail giants took similar steps.

    In the United States, Wal-Mart announced it is phasing out its BPA products in their baby aisles, and expects to only sale BPA-free baby products by early next year.

    Nalgene Outdoor Products, a unit of New York-based Thermo Fisher Scientific that produces the popular water bottle Nalgene, announced Thursday it would stop using plastic because of safety concern over its key ingredient, BPA.

    Smith says is the beginning of the end for bisphenol A.

    “What's going to happen here is that market forces are going to take over. We've already seen this in the last few days. There's no product manufacturer on the face of this planet that is going to want to put a product that has been officially labeled as toxic in their bottles, whether it's water bottles or baby bottles or tin cans.”

    Source: Vancouver Sun “Chemicals Banned From Plastics”

  • InCurrent Research

    USA Today Sounds the Alarm on Bisphenol-a and Phthalates in Baby Products

    USA Today Sounds the Alarm on BPA
    I am so excited to see that the media has finally stepped into the debate on toxic plastics in our babies' bottles and toys. Until now, the growing uproar over the “Everywhere Chemical” has been raging quietly in research labs and in living rooms across America. Thanks to an eye-opening article released by USA Today, this important issue has been laid out for everyone to see. The authors said it in a wonderfully plain way:

    Whether these chemicals should be banned or curtailed pits scientists against chemical companies, consumers against manufacturers, the EU against the United States and the state of California against toy makers around the globe.

    The article also points out that parents are beginning to take action on their own, choosing to err on the side of caution to protect their children.

    Though the government hasn't made up its mind, parents increasingly have. Marina Borrone of Menlo Park, Calif., aims to protect her home from chemicals that she fears could harm her family or the planet. The restaurant owner and mother shuns most plastic in favor of old-fashioned glass baby bottles and wooden toys.

    “Europe took it (phthalates) out of toys years ago,” Borrone says. “Why are we so behind?”

    Her home state is catching up with her. This month, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law the country's first ban on the use of phthalates in toys and other children's products. Under the law, any product made for young children that contains more than one-tenth of 1% of phthalates cannot be sold or distributed in California beginning in 2009.

    The chemical industry disagrees with that approach.

    Born Free and Adiri baby bottle companies were named as great safer alternatives to polycarbonate baby bottles.

    P.S. Take time to read and listen to the excellent information presented at the top of the USA Today article in a section labeled “Toxic Legacy: Can a Plastic ‘Alter Human Cells'?” Dr. Fred Vom Saal has been an inspiration to my own personal research in the area of endocrine disruptors.

    photo credit: flattop341 via photopin cc