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An image of drug-resistant bacteria under the microscope

After 4-Month Battle for His Life, Superbug Survivor Shares His Story

Following a four-month battle for his life, Chris Linaman committed to sharing his story to help raise awareness about the growing threat posed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. As executive chef at a large medical center, he is also driving change at an institutional level, harnessing his purchasing power to support the responsible use of antibiotics in food animals.

Linaman is the recipient of the "Sustainable Food Procurement Award" by Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition committed to environmentally responsible health care. As part of Pew's Supermoms Against Superbugs initiative, Linaman recently met with policymakers in Washington, urging them to maintain sufficient funding for efforts that are critical to combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which has become a public health crisis. He spoke with Pew about his illness and his advocacy.

Chris Linaman. © The Pew Charitable Trusts

Q: Can you tell us about your MRSA infection and how it affected you and your family?

A: My nightmare started as a basketball injury. I'd had a successful ACL surgery and several weeks into my recovery was doing great and thought my incision was fully healed. But that all changed very quickly. After a weekend trip to visit friends, I went to sleep on a Sunday night feeling fine and woke up Monday morning to find my knee had swollen to the size of a melon. It was bright red and hot to the touch. Within hours, my MRSA infection had been diagnosed and I was in emergency surgery—the first of several surgeries I would need over the course of four days.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of my struggle to survive MRSA.

Just a few days after being sent home from the hospital, my wife found me nearly unconscious, with a swollen face and a temperature of 105 degrees. She rushed me back to the hospital and the doctors told her to begin making plans because they didn't expect me to make it. Luckily, the spinal tap showed the infection had not yet gotten to my brain. But I needed to have even more surgeries to get rid of it and I also lost my epidermis—the outer layer of my skin—over my entire body, due to an allergic reaction to the antibiotic they were using to treat me.

Ultimately, the doctors were able to get the infection under control within a few weeks, but the road to recovery was long and painful. Even after my infection was cleared and I was out of the hospital, my body was still reeling from all it had been through. My leg muscles were wrecked from all of the surgeries and it took extensive physical therapy to get me back to anything resembling normal. To help put it in perspective, my original ACL surgery had been in early May and it wasn't until mid-July that I was even able to walk around the block in my neighborhood, a feat that took more than an hour.

Beyond the physical trauma, the whole ordeal also nearly ruined our family financially and it was emotionally devastating as well. At the time, our two kids were just 2 and 4 years old and they didn't understand what was going on. It still breaks my heart to think about it. Those were the darkest days of my life and, honestly, it's hard to believe that I'm still here.

Q: Why do you think it's so important for superbug survivors to share their stories?

A: I don't think enough people realize the extent of what's at stake. People have maybe heard the term "post-antibiotic" era but don't really understand what that could mean to them and their families. While it's still very difficult for me to talk about—even today, more than 10 years later—sharing my experience can help show what that future could look like if we don't keep up the fight and do what we can today. As horrible as my MRSA infection was, I'm the "good" outcome—I survived. Way too many others have not.

Q: Why do you advocate for the responsible use of antibiotics in food animals and how have you brought that advocacy to life in your work?

A: It's absolutely essential that we have effective antibiotics available when people need them. I know this firsthand and I want to make sure that my kids never live in a world where there are no antibiotics to help them. So we need to do anything and everything we can to conserve these lifesaving drugs so that they work when they're needed—that includes making sure antibiotics are used appropriately and only when necessary—both in people and in animals.

Shortly after I recovered from my MRSA infection, I began working as the executive chef at Overlake Medical Center in Bellevue, Washington and in that role I created a procurement policy for the center that prioritizes bringing healthy food to our community and gives preference to food producers who are working to reduce antibiotic use. That policy has really been the foundation for driving significant increases in the proportion of responsibly raised food we're able to source. We've gone from approximately 19 percent of our proteins being classified as "reduced antibiotic use" in 2012, up to 80 percent in 2016. And during this same time, I've seen the market for responsibly raised meats evolve as well. It's been increasingly easier and less expensive to find these types of proteins and that's part of what's made our dramatic shift at Overlake possible. It's not just small and local famers offering these types of products anymore, it's also producers on a larger scale and that's encouraging.

Q: What can individuals do to support the responsible use of antibiotics in animal agriculture?

A: Everyone can do something. As patients, we can talk to our doctors about whether an antibiotic is necessary. When it comes to reducing antibiotic use in food animals, we can all commit to doing our research and being mindful shoppers who choose to purchase products from farmers and companies that are committed to minimizing antibiotic use. Consumer demand for responsibly raised food has been a powerful force for change in recent years and together we can make sure that demand continues to grow and make a real difference.

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Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris with President-elect Donald Trump at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Dow Chemical Pushes Trump Administration to Scrap Pesticide Study

Dow Chemical, whose CEO Andrew Liveris is a close adviser to President Donald Trump, is pressuring the administration to throw out a government risk study on several popular pesticides, the Associated Press reported.

The 10,000-page study found that the three pesticides under review—chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion—pose a risk to roughly 1,800 animals and plants protected under the Endangered Species Act. The evaluations were compiled by federal scientists over the last four years and were expected to result in new limits on how and where the highly toxic pesticides can be used.

But lawyers representing Dow and two other makers of the organophosphates sent letters to the heads of three cabinet agencies last week, asking that the study be "set aside" and saying that the results are flawed.

"Our government's own scientists have already documented the grave danger these chemicals pose to people and endangered species," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "Unable to win on the facts, Dow is now adopting the same disgraceful tactics honed by the tobacco industry and the climate deniers to try to discredit science and scrap reasonable conservation measures that will protect our most endangered animals and plants."

Last month, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt scrapped his own agency's proposal to ban chlorpyrifos—an insecticide that at small doses can harm children's brains and nervous systems—from use on food crops. The AP noted that chlorpyrifos originates from a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany, and Dow sells about 5 million pounds of the chemical in the U.S. each year.

"Public health experts, pediatricians and EPA scientists all agree that chlorpyrifos is unsafe for children at any level," Environmental Working Group Senior VP for government affairs Scott Faber said after Pruitt announcement. "That overwhelming and uniform agreement among experts should have been all the information Administrator Pruitt needed to protect kids from this notorious neurotoxin. Yet, he decided instead to side with Croplife, Dow and the rest of chemical agriculture and allow chlorpyrifos to remain in use."

The government scientists found that chlorpyrifos is "likely to adversely affect" 1,778 of the 1,835 animals and plants in its study. Diazinon and malathion, which the World Health Organization announced as probable carcinogens in 2015, were similarly found to threaten vulnerable species.

But lawyers for the Dow subsidiary that sells chlorpyrifos called for the research to be withdrawn because its "scientific basis was not reliable."

Malathion maker FMC Corp. said the withdrawal of the study will allow the necessary time for the "best available" scientific data to be compiled. Diazinon maker Makhteshim Agan of North America Inc. did not comment.

Dow donated $1 million to the presidential inauguration and the company's CEO, Liveris, leads Trump's advisory council on manufacturing. In February, Liveris received the signing pen after the president signed the "Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda," an executive order aimed at eliminating regulations that Trump claims are damaging to the U.S. economy, but some worry that the measure will roll back critical environmental protections.

Dow's director of public affairs Rachelle Schikorra told the AP that any suggestion that the company is trying to influence the new administration's regulatory decisions is "completely off the mark."

"Dow actively participates in policymaking and political processes, including political contributions to candidates, parties and causes, in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws," Schikorra said.

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Health

7 Healthy Substitutes for Common Dairy Products

By Kerri-Ann Jennings

Dairy foods play a key role in many people's diets.

A number of food products are made from the milk of cows, sheep and goats, including cheese, yogurt, milk, butter and ice cream.

But if you can't or don't want to eat dairy, you can find nondairy alternatives to these and many other dairy foods.

Why You Might Want Substitutes for Dairy

There are several reasons people might be looking for substitutes for dairy. Here are some of the more common ones:

  • Milk allergy: 2–3 percent of kids under three have a milk allergy. This can cause a range of symptoms from hives and stomach upset to severe anaphylaxis. Most kids outgrow it by their teenage years (1, 2).
  • Lactose intolerance: 75 percent of the world's population doesn't produce enough lactase, the enzyme needed to digest the milk sugar lactose. This causes symptoms including bloating, gas and diarrhea (3, 4, 5).
  • Vegan or ovo-vegetarian diet: Some vegetarian diets exclude dairy products. Ovo-vegetarians eat eggs, but no dairy, while vegans exclude all food and products that come from animals (6).
  • Potential contaminants: Some people choose to forgo dairy due to a concern over potential contaminants in conventional milk and dairy products, including hormones, pesticides and antibiotics (7, 8, 9).

The good news is there are plenty of substitutes for all the major dairy foods, including the seven below.

1. Milk Substitutes

Milk has many uses, including as a beverage, added to smoothies or poured on cereal.

Nutritionally speaking, milk is rich in protein, carbs and calcium.

In fact, 1 cup (237 ml) of whole milk provides 146 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein and 13 grams of carbs (10).

Plant-based milk alternatives can be made from legumes (soy), cereals (oats, rice), nuts (almond, coconut), seeds (flax, hemp) or other grains (quinoa, teff) (11).

Some products are fortified with calcium and vitamin D to make them similar to dairy milk, while others are not. Certain alternative milks may also be fortified with vitamin B12 (12).

Many of these nondairy milks also have added sugars to enhance their taste, although most brands offer an unsweetened version (13).

Some nondairy milks are sold in the refrigerated section, while others are shelf stable. Below are some of the most common substitutes, along with their basic nutrition info for 1 cup of the "original" versions:

  • Soy milk: Contains 109 calories, 5 grams of fat, 7 grams of protein and 8 grams of carbs (14).
  • Rice milk: Contains 120 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 23 grams of carbs (15).
  • Oat milk: Contains 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein and 24 grams of carbs (16).
  • Almond milk: Contains 60 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 8 grams of carbs (17, 18, 19).
  • Coconut milk: Contains 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein and 7 grams of carbs (20, 21).
  • Cashew milk: Contains 60 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 9 grams of carbs (22).
  • Flaxseed milk: Contains 50 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein and 7 grams of carbs (23).
  • Hemp milk: Contains 100–140 calories, 5–7 grams of fat, 2–5 grams of protein and 8–20 grams of carbs (24, 25).

Summary: The nutrient content of nondairy milks varies substantially, although across the board they're lower in fat compared to cow's milk. All but soy milk also have less protein.

2. Yogurt Replacements

Yogurt is made by adding live active bacterial cultures to milk in order to ferment it. These "good" bacteria help promote a healthy gut (26, 27).

Plain yogurt is an especially versatile food.

In addition to being a breakfast and snack food, it can be used in salad dressings, dips and marinades or to accompany meat and roasted vegetable dishes.

One cup (236 ml) of whole-milk yogurt provides 149 calories, 8 grams of fat, 9 grams of protein and 11 grams of carbs (28).

Some types of yogurt, such as Greek yogurt, are higher in protein, while flavored yogurts are generally higher in carbs from added sugar.

As with nondairy milks, substitutes for yogurt are made from nuts, seeds, coconut and soy and are made by adding probiotic bacteria.

Although nutrition content can vary widely based on brand, here's a general comparison of the different nondairy yogurt alternatives. These are all based on 6 ounces of the "plain" flavor.

  • Coconut milk yogurt: 180 calories, 14 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein and 12 grams of carbs (29).
  • Almond milk yogurt: 128 calories, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbs and less than 1 gram of fiber (30).
  • Soy milk yogurt: 80 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of carbs (31).
  • Hemp yogurt: 147 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 11 grams of protein, 16 grams of carbs and 3.4 grams of fiber (32).

Since nutritional composition can vary greatly between brands, be sure to read the label if you're looking for a specific amount of carbs, fat or protein.

Summary: Nondairy yogurts can be made by adding live active cultures to an assortment of plant-based milks. They vary in their content of protein, fat and carbs.

3. Substitutes for Cheese

Dairy cheese tends to fall into two main categories: soft and hard.

It's made by fermenting cow, goat or sheep milk with bacterial cultures, then adding an acid or rennet to the mixture.

This causes the milk proteins to coagulate and form curds. Salt is then added and the curds are shaped, stored and possibly aged.

Nutritionally, dairy cheese generally delivers protein, calcium and fat — plus sodium. Some cheese varieties are higher in sodium than others.

Soft Cheese Substitutes

It's easier to replicate the texture and even the flavor of soft cheese.

You can find soy- and nut-based versions of cream cheese, as well as a dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free versions made from a blend of vegetable oils, tapioca starch and pea protein isolate.

You can also make homemade cream cheese or soft crumbly cheese using cashews, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts or almonds.

And if you're simply trying to mimic the texture of cottage and ricotta cheeses, then you could use crumbled soft tofu as a replacement.

Hard Cheese Substitutes

It's more challenging to mimic the texture, fat content and taste of hard cheese in nondairy form.

Casein is the milk protein that gives cheese the ability to melt and stretch and food scientists have found it very hard to replicate.

Manufacturers have had to turn to different gums, proteins and fats to try to achieve a similar mouthfeel and melting properties.

Nevertheless, many companies try. Most brands use soy protein or nuts as a base, although there are some soy- and nut-free varieties that are made from vegetable oils mixed with pea starch or pea protein.

Many people find nutritional yeast to be a good flavor substitute for grated Parmesan cheese. As an added bonus, it's a good source of vitamin B12 (33).

You can also make your own version by processing nuts and nutritional yeast with desired spices. Here's a recipe to try.

Nutritional Differences

The nutritional differences between nondairy cheese and regular cheese depend on the substitute.

The protein content is usually lower in the dairy-free alternatives and some brands have up to 8 grams of carbs per ounce (28 grams), whereas dairy cheese rarely has more than 1 gram per ounce.

Processed nondairy cheeses often contain many more ingredients than dairy cheese.

For instance, one brand of nondairy cream cheese uses trans-fat-filled, partially hydrogenated oil and sugar and many other additives, in addition to tofu. These are arguably much worse than regular cream cheese.

However, homemade nut-based cheeses let you swap one whole food for another.

Summary: Vegan cheeses are often highly processed and offer less protein than dairy cheese. However, you can also make homemade substitutions with whole foods like tofu, nuts and nutritional yeast.

4. Alternatives for Butter

Butter is made by churning cream until it hardens.

It lends fat and flavor to food and is often used as a spread on bread, to dress cooked vegetables or meats or as a cooking or baking ingredient.

One tablespoon (14 grams) of butter provides 100 calories, 11 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein and 0 grams of carbs (34).

The many nondairy butter alternatives that currently exist are either made from vegetable oils or coconut.

Some have the same number of calories as cow's milk butter. Others have more protein or carbs than butter, but this isn't true across the board.

Nut and seed butters, such as those made from almond, cashew and sunflower seeds, are also options, depending on what you plan to use the butter substitute for.

Here's how these nondairy butter substitutes stack up nutritionally per tablespoon:

  • Vegetable oil blends: 50–100 calories, 6–11 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein and 0 grams of carbs (35, 36, 37).
  • Coconut butter: 105–130 calories, 10–14 grams of fat, 0–2 grams of protein and 0–8 grams of carbs (38, 39, 40).
  • Cultured vegan butter, made from coconut and cashews: 90 calories, 10 grams of fat, 0 grams of protein and 0 grams of carbs (41).
  • Nut butters: 93–101 calories, 8–9 grams of fat, 2–3 grams of protein and 3–4 grams of carbs (42, 43, 44).

Watch out for many vegetable-oil-based margarines on the market that still contain dairy derivatives, such as whey.

You can also make your own dairy-free butters at home. This one uses a blend of coconut oil, liquid oils and nondairy milk.

Summary: There are several plant-based butter alternatives and the calories and fat tend to be similar to that of dairy butter.

5. Cream Substitutes

Cream is the higher-fat top layer of separated fresh milk.

It can be between 10 percent to more than 40 percent fat, depending on the type of cream being created: half-and-half, light cream, whipped cream or heavy cream.

In the kitchen, cream is used as a topping for sweet or savory dishes or as an ingredient in sauces, soups, puddings, custards and even cakes.

Light cream and half-and-half are commonly added to coffee or other beverages.

A tablespoon (15 ml) of heavy cream contains 52 calories, 5.6 grams of fat and less than half a gram each of carbs and protein (45).

There are many nondairy alternatives to heavy cream and whipping cream, as well as to coffee creamers.

Many nondairy alternatives to cream are made with coconut milk, especially homemade versions.

But similar to dairy-free cheeses and yogurts, some varieties are made with soy, cashews and other nuts or a blend of vegetable oils.

In general, nondairy creams are lower in calories and fat than the dairy versions. Like dairy cream, most vegan versions have no protein, but a few versions have carbs.

Some dairy-free alternatives are highly processed and may contain undesirable ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fat.

So it may be worth trying the homemade substitutes that are made from whole foods, such as this one made from almonds.

Summary: Coconut milk and cream are versatile substitutes for dairy-based creams. There are also soy-, nut- and vegetable-oil-based substitutes, but watch out for unwanted ingredients like partially hydrogenated oils.

6. Replacements for Sour Cream

Sour cream is made by fermenting milk with bacteria.

It's used as a topping, a base for dips and as a moisture-providing ingredient in baked goods.

An ounce (28 grams) of regular sour cream has 54 calories, 1 gram of carbs, 5.5 grams of fat and 0.6 grams of protein (46).

Nondairy alternatives on the market are generally soy-based, but there's at least one soy-free brand out there that's made from a blend of beans, oils and gums.

Some of the alternatives have similar amounts of fat and calories. Others are lighter across the board, with less fat and calories.

As with many of the other substitutes, you can make your own nondairy sour cream using cashews, sunflower seeds or tofu.

Plain nondairy yogurt is also an easy substitute.

Summary: There are several soy-based sour creams on the market. Plain nondairy yogurt is also a good substitute in most recipes.

7. Substitutes for Ice Cream

A roundup of alternatives to common dairy foods wouldn't be complete without ice cream.

Interestingly, there are several nondairy ice cream options, including:

  • Creamy ice creams made from nondairy milks, including coconut milk and soy milk.
  • Sorbets, which never have dairy in them anyway. Don't confuse these with sherbets, which often have dairy in them.
  • Homemade ice-cream-like desserts made from blending frozen bananas with other flavorings or berries.

Many of the creamy nondairy desserts are dead ringers for dairy ice cream, delivering the same decadence and creamy mouthfeel.

But since some of them are made from plant-based milks, rather than dairy cream and milk, they are often lower in calories and fat. This isn't true across the board, so make sure to keep an eye on nutrition labels.

The most common kinds on the market are made from soy, almond or coconut milks. You can also find cashew, rice and even avocado ice cream.

Summary: There are many nondairy replacements for ice cream, including creamy ones made from nondairy milk and fruit-based sorbets.

What to Watch out For

With so many nondairy substitutes around, you should be able to find replacements for any nondairy food you need.

However, there are a few things to watch out for:

  • Added sugars: Many nondairy products contain added sugars to enhance flavor and texture. While the sugar content is sometimes similar to that of regular dairy products, other times it can be much higher.
  • Fillers: It is common for nondairy cheeses and yogurts to use a variety of additives in order to improve the texture of the product. While they aren't necessarily unhealthy, many people prefer more natural products.
  • Protein content: Dairy cheeses, milk and yogurt deliver complete protein. However, the only plant-based replacement that mimics that level and quality of protein is soy (47).
  • Nutrient content: Dairy products deliver potassium and calcium. Fortified nondairy products may also offer these and other micronutrients, depending on the brand. Homemade products won't be fortified.
  • Intolerances: Some people have allergies or intolerances to certain ingredients used in nondairy replacements, such as soy or nuts. Fillers, such as inulin, can also be difficult for people to digest, causing gassiness (48).
  • Price differences: Sad to say, nondairy alternatives often come with a higher price tag. On the other hand, this could be an incentive to make your own nondairy substitutes.

To make sure you get what you're looking for, read labels to see what ingredients and nutrients are in the product you're buying.

Summary: There can be a few drawbacks to nondairy substitutes, including potentially longer ingredient lists and differences in nutrient composition.

The Bottom Line

There are many options for substituting common dairy foods.

You can make homemade versions of cheese, ice cream, sour cream and more. You can also find them at the grocery store.

Most are made from plant-based ingredients, such as soy, nuts or coconut.

They're not necessarily direct substitutes nutritionally, though, so make sure you read the labels.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

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Health
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Is Coconut Oil Healthy for Your Skin?

By Rachael Link

Coconut oil is a type of fat that has been touted for its health-promoting properties.

From decreasing levels of LDL cholesterol to improving brain function in Alzheimer's patients, coconut oil is associated with a multitude of health benefits (1, 2).

In fact, several studies have even found it might have benefits for skin health as well.

This article looks at the evidence to examine whether coconut oil is good for skin.

What Is Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is a highly saturated oil that is traditionally made by extracting the oil from raw coconuts or dried coconut kernels (3).

At room temperature it's solid, but when heated it can soften or even melt.

It's frequently used in cooking or applied directly to the skin and hair.

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which are a form of saturated fat. In fact, these medium-chain fatty acids make up about 65 percent of its total composition (4).

The medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil include (4):

  • Lauric acid: 49 percent
  • Myristic acid: 18 percent
  • Caprylic acid: 8 percent
  • Palmitic acid: 8 percent
  • Capric acid: 7 percent
  • Oleic acid: 6 percent
  • Linoleic acid: 2 percent
  • Stearic acid: 2 percent

Although coconut oil is about 90 percent saturated fat, it does contain small amounts of mono and polyunsaturated fats as well. One tablespoon contains about 12 grams of saturated fat and 1 gram of unsaturated fat (5).

Summary: Coconut oil is used in cooking but can also be applied to the skin or hair. It's rich in saturated fat and medium-chain fatty acids, especially lauric acid.

It Can Kill Harmful Microorganisms

The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil contain antimicrobial properties that can help protect against harmful microorganisms.

This is especially important for skin health, as many types of skin infections, including acne, cellulitis, folliculitis and athlete's foot, are caused by bacteria or fungi (6).

Applying coconut oil directly to the skin may prevent the growth of these microorganisms.

This is due to its lauric acid content, which makes up nearly 50 percent of the fatty acids in coconut oil and can fight harmful microorganisms.

One study tested the antibacterial properties of 30 types of fatty acids against 20 different strains of bacteria. Lauric acid was found to be the most effective at blocking the growth of bacteria (7).

Another test-tube study showed that lauric acid can kill off Propionibacterium acnes, a type of bacteria that leads to the development of inflammatory acne (8).

Furthermore, capric acid is another medium-chain fatty acid found in coconut oil, although to a lesser extent. Like lauric acid, capric acid has been shown to have potent antimicrobial properties.

A test-tube study showed that both lauric and capric acid effectively killed off strains of bacteria (9).

Another test-tube study demonstrated the anti-fungal effects of capric acid, showing that it was able to inhibit the growth of certain types of fungi (10).

Summary: The fatty acids found in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties that effectively kill bacteria and fungi.

Coconut Oil Could Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a major component of many different types of skin disorders, including psoriasis, contact dermatitis and eczema (11).

Interestingly, coconut oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

In one study, researchers applied virgin coconut oil to the inflamed ears of rats. Not only was coconut oil found to have an anti-inflammatory effect, but it relieved pain as well (12).

What's more, coconut oil may ease inflammation by improving antioxidant status.

Antioxidants work by stabilizing free radicals in the body, neutralizing the reactive atoms that can contribute to inflammation (13).

A 2013 animal study fed rats different types of oil, including coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil. At the end of the 45-day study, virgin coconut oil had improved antioxidant status and prevented oxidative stress to the greatest extent (14).

It's important to keep in mind that most current research is limited to animal and test-tube studies, so it's hard to know how these results may translate to humans.

However, based on these studies, coconut oil shows great potential in its ability to reduce inflammation when consumed or applied to the skin.

Summary: Animal studies have shown that coconut oil may relieve inflammation by improving antioxidant status and decreasing oxidative stress.

Coconut Oil May Help Treat Acne

While some think coconut oil clogs pores, considerable research shows it might actually help treat acne.

Acne is an inflammatory condition and many of the medications used to treat it work by targeting and reducing inflammation (15).

Because coconut oil and its components may help reduce inflammation in the body, it may also aid in the treatment of acne.

Furthermore, the antibacterial properties of the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil could also help reduce acne.

Numerous studies have shown that lauric acid, which accounts for nearly half of the fatty acids in coconut oil, has been shown to kill off the strain of bacteria linked to acne (8, 16).

In fact, test-tube and animal studies have shown that lauric acid is more effective than benzoyl peroxide at preventing the growth of acne-causing bacteria (16).

Along with lauric acid, capric acid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

A 2014 animal and test-tube study showed that both lauric and capric acid were successful in reducing inflammation and killing off bacteria to prevent acne (17).

To get the best results, coconut oil should be applied directly to the skin in areas where acne is found.

Summary: The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of coconut oil and its components could help treat acne.

Coconut Oil Can Moisturize Dry Skin

In addition to its effects on acne and inflammation, applying coconut oil to your skin can also help keep it hydrated.

One study compared the effects of coconut oil to mineral oil, a type of oil made from petroleum that's often used to treat dry skin, on patients with mild to moderately dry skin.

The two-week study found that coconut oil significantly improved skin hydration and was just as effective as mineral oil (18).

It has also been shown to help treat eczema, a skin condition characterized by scaly, itchy rashes.

A study comparing the effects of olive oil and coconut oil in 52 adults with eczema found that applying coconut oil helped reduce dryness, in addition to helping treat eczema (19).

Another study found similar results, showing that coconut oil led to a 68 percent decrease in eczema severity, making it significantly more effective than mineral oil in the treatment of eczema (20).

Keeping your skin hydrated can help preserve its function as a barrier to keep out bacteria, promote the healing of scars and maintain overall skin integrity (21, 22, 23).

Summary: Coconut oil can be an effective moisturizer and aid in the treatment of dry skin and eczema.

Coconut Oil May Help With Wound Healing

Several studies have demonstrated that coconut oil may also aid wound healing.

One animal study looked at how coconut oil applied to the skin affected wound healing in rats.

It found that treating the wounds with virgin coconut oil sped up healing, improved antioxidant status and increased levels of collagen, an important protein that aids in wound healing (24).

Another animal study showed that coconut oil combined with an antibiotic applied to the skin was effective at healing burn wounds (25).

In addition to improving wound healing, its antimicrobial properties may also prevent infection, one of the major risk factors that can complicate the healing process (26).

Summary: Animal studies have shown that coconut oil may help accelerate wound healing.

Who Shouldn't Use Coconut Oil?

While research shows coconut oil can benefit skin health, applying it to the skin may not be ideal for everyone.

For example, those who have oily skin may want to avoid doing so, as it may block pores and cause blackheads.

As with most things, trial and error may be the best approach to determine if coconut oil works for you.

Additionally, if you have sensitive skin, use a small amount or try applying it only to a small section of skin to make sure it doesn't cause irritation or blocked pores.

Yet, eating and cooking with coconut oil is generally not a problem for most people.

That said, if you have oily or highly sensitive skin, consider adding coconut oil to your diet instead to take advantage of its benefits.

Summary: Coconut oil could potentially clog pores. Using a small amount and slowing testing your tolerance to it is recommended for those with oily or sensitive skin.

Which Type of Coconut Oil is Best?

Coconut oil can be produced through dry or wet processing.

Dry processing involves drying coconut meat to create kernels, pressing them to extract the oil, then bleaching and deodorizing them.

This process forms refined coconut oil, which has a more neutral scent and higher smoke point (27).

In wet processing, coconut oil is obtained from raw coconut meat — instead of dried — to create virgin coconut oil. This helps retain the coconut scent and results in a lower smoke point (27).

While refined coconut oil may be better suited for cooking at high temperatures, virgin coconut oil is a better choice in terms of skin health.

Not only does most of the existing research focus specifically on the effects of virgin coconut oil, but there's also evidence that it may have added health benefits.

A 2009 animal study found that virgin coconut oil improved antioxidant status and increased ability to neutralize disease-causing free radicals, compared to refined coconut oil (28).

Another test-tube study showed that virgin coconut oil had a greater amount of inflammation-reducing antioxidants and phenols, as well as an improved ability to fight free radicals, compared to refined coconut oil (27).

The results of these two studies indicate that virgin coconut oil may be more effective than refined coconut oil at preventing oxidation and neutralizing free radicals, which can damage cells and lead to inflammation and disease.

Summary: Virgin coconut oil may be a better choice than refined coconut oil, given that it provides added health benefits like improved antioxidant status.

The Bottom Line

Although the health benefits of eating coconut oil are well-studied, research on its effects on the skin is mostly limited to animal or test-tube studies.

However, coconut oil may be linked to some potential benefits for skin, including reducing inflammation, keeping skin moisturized and helping heal wounds.

The medium-chain fatty acids found in coconut oil also possess antimicrobial properties that can help treat acne and protect the skin from harmful bacteria.

If you have oily or highly sensitive skin, make sure to start slowly to assess your tolerance and consult with a dermatologist if you have any concerns.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

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2 Billion People Drink Contaminated Water, Says WHO

The World Health Organization urges cleaner sanitation practices after new data reveals that at least two billion people do not have access to clean water.

The drinking water that is causing nearly 500,000 deaths a year is contaminated with feces, causing cholera, dysentery, intestinal worms, schistosomiasis and trachoma, typhoid and polio.

The most serious threats are in impoverished and developing areas. Although there has been a push for safe drinking water by the UN General Assembly, which led to a 4.9 percent increase in budgets worldwide, most countries say it is not enough.

The report found that 80 percent of countries are not adequately meeting the UN standards. In a statement WHO said when people can't provide the most basic necessities, like repairing infrastructure, water safety and reliability is sacrificed first.

"This is a challenge we have the ability to solve," Guy Ryder, chair of UN-Water and director-general of the International Labour Organization, said. "Increased investments in water and sanitation can yield substantial benefits for human health and development, generate employment and make sure that we leave no one behind."

This is a heavy burden on local communities, but as Ryder said, it is possible. To really meet UN standards, the world budget for drinking water would have to triple, that's $114 billion annually, to provide underserved areas. Governments can also step up their game by increasing and sustaining WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) access for vulnerable groups, especially in rural areas.

This graphic shows budget for WASH funding worldwide. Photo credit: World Health Organization

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Health

Eat Your Algae: 9 Health Benefits of Chlorella

By Kerri-Ann Jennings

Move over spirulina, there's a new algae in town—chlorella. This nutrient-dense algae has been receiving a lot of buzz for its health benefits.

Furthermore, as a supplement, it has shown promise in improving cholesterol levels and ridding the body of toxins.

This article tells you all you need to know about chlorella, including what it is, the research behind its health claims and how to take it as a supplement.

What Is Chlorella?

Chlorella is a single-celled, green freshwater algae (1).

There are more than 30 different species, but two types—Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa—are most commonly used in research (2).

Because chlorella has a hard cell wall that humans cannot digest, you must take it as a supplement to reap its benefits (3).

It's available in capsule, tablet, powder and extract form (3).

In addition to being used as a nutritional supplement, chlorella is also used as a biodiesel fuel (4).

Interestingly, studies indicate it can have many health benefits. Here are nine of them.

1. Very Nutritious

Chlorella's impressive nutritional profile has led some to call it a "superfood."

While its exact nutrient content depends on growing conditions, the species used and how supplements are processed, it's clear it packs several beneficial nutrients.

They include:

  • Protein: Chlorella is 50–60 percent protein. What's more, it's a complete protein source, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (3, 5).
  • Vitamin B12: It's also a great source of vitamin B12. An analysis of one chlorella variety found each gram contained more than 50 percent of an adult's daily need (6).
  • Iron and vitamin C: Chlorella can be a good source of iron. Depending on the supplement, it may provide anywhere from 6–40 percent of your daily need. It's also an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps you absorb iron (1, 3, 7).
  • Beta-carotene: It's an excellent source of beta-carotene, meeting anywhere from 30–60 percent of the recommended daily intake (6).
  • Other antioxidants: In addition to beta-carotene and vitamin C, these tiny green cells provide a wide range of antioxidants (1, 3).
  • Other vitamins and minerals: Chlorella provides small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid and other B vitamins (1, 3, 6).
  • Omega-3s: As with other algae, chlorella contains some omega-3s. Just 3 grams of chlorella delivers 100 mg of omega-3s (6).
  • Fiber: In large quantities, chlorella can be a good source of fiber. However, most supplements don't provide even 1 gram of fiber per dose (1, 6).

Summary: Chlorella contains many nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega-3 fats. Exact quantities may differ among brands.

2. Binds to Heavy Metals, Aiding Detox

Chlorella has gotten some buzz for its ability to help the body "detox."

In fact, studies have shown that it's effective at helping remove heavy metals and other harmful compounds from the body (8, 9, 10).

Heavy metals include some elements that are essential in small amounts, such as iron and copper, but these and other heavy metals like cadmium and lead can be toxic in larger amounts.

While it's rare for people to have dangerous levels of heavy metals in their system, people can get exposed to heavy metals through pollution or certain jobs such as mining (11).

In animals, algae, including chlorella, has been found to weaken the heavy metal toxicity of the liver, brain and kidneys (12).

One way it does this is through its chlorophyll and vitamin B12 content. These nutrients help produce glutathione, a compound that acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body against toxicity and disease (1, 13, 14, 15).

Furthermore, chlorella has been shown to help lower the amount of other harmful chemicals that are sometimes found in food. One of these is dioxin, a hormone disruptor that can contaminate animals in the food supply (16, 17).

Based on this evidence, it seems that chlorella could help enhance your body's natural ability to clear toxins.

Summary: Chlorella may help the body detox by binding to heavy metals and other toxins.

3. Could Enhance Your Immune System

Your immune system helps keep you healthy by fighting off infections.

It's a complex system made up of multiple mechanisms and cells that get into gear when an invader enters your body.

Chlorella has been found to enhance the immune response in both animal and human studies, although the evidence so far is limited.

In one small study, men produced more antibodies when taking chlorella than when they took a placebo. Antibodies help fight foreign invaders in your body, meaning this finding is quite promising (18).

In another small, eight-week study, healthy adults who took chlorella showed markers of increased immune activity (19).

Nevertheless, findings have been mixed, with some studies showing little to no effect.

For instance, one study found that chlorella supplements enhanced immune function in participants aged 50–55, but not those over 55 (20).

So it's possible that chlorella may have immune-boosting effects in some populations and age groups, but not in all. More and larger-scale studies are needed.

Summary: Chlorella may bolster immune function by increasing the activity of various parts of the immune system.

4. May Help Improve Cholesterol

Several studies have suggested that chlorella supplements may help lower cholesterol (5, 21, 22).

Specifically, several studies have shown that taking 5–10 grams of chlorella daily lowered total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high blood pressure and/or slightly elevated cholesterol (5, 21).

Chlorella's content of the following may help improve blood lipid levels:

  • Niacin: A B vitamin known to lower cholesterol (1, 23).
  • Fiber: A cholesterol-lowering agent (1, 24).
  • Carotenoids: Have been shown to naturally lower cholesterol (21, 25, 26).
  • Antioxidants: Help prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is known to contribute to heart disease (27).

Summary: The nutrients found in chlorella, including niacin, fiber, carotenoids and antioxidants, may help lower your cholesterol levels.

5. Acts as an Antioxidant

Chlorella contains several compounds that are considered antioxidants, including chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein (28).

These antioxidants can help fight many chronic diseases (28).

Some of these antioxidants seem to reduce the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which drive many of the complications of diabetes (1, 29).

In animals and lab studies, chlorella has interfered with the way genes age (1, 30).

Also, a human study showed chlorella supplements increased antioxidant levels in chronic cigarette smokers, a population at a higher risk of oxidative damage (31, 32).

Although much of this research is promising, it is still preliminary.

Summary: Chlorella's antioxidant content may provide some protection against chronic disease, but more human studies are needed to confirm this.

6. Helps Keep Blood Pressure in Check

Chlorella supplements could help promote heart and kidney health, which is essential for normal blood pressure.

In one study, people with mildly high blood pressure took four grams of chlorella daily for 12 weeks.

By the end, these people had lower blood pressure readings than participants who took the placebo (33).

Another small study in healthy men showed that taking chlorella supplements was linked to less stiffness of the arteries, a factor that affects blood pressure (34).

One theory to explain this is that some of chlorella's nutrients, including arginine, potassium, calcium and omega-3s, help protect arteries from hardening (34, 35).

Summary: Some research on chlorella has pointed to a blood pressure-lowering effect. Many of its nutrients have been shown to prevent arteries from hardening.

7. Could Improve Blood Sugar Levels

Some research shows that chlorella may help lower blood sugar levels (1).

One study found that taking chlorella for 12 weeks lowered fasting blood sugar levels in both healthy individuals and those at high risk of lifestyle-related diseases (22).

Other studies have shown that supplementing with chlorella improves blood sugar control and increases insulin sensitivity in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (36, 37, 38).

There isn't enough research yet to say that you should take chlorella to manage blood sugar, but it may help when combined with other therapies.

Summary: Taking chlorella supplements may help lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.

8. May Help Manage Respiratory Diseases

Managing respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often requires controlling inflammation (39, 40).

Chlorella has some components that can help reduce inflammation, including its many antioxidants (1, 41).

One study found that chlorella supplements improved antioxidant status in COPD patients, but that didn't translate into any improvements in breathing capability (42).

More studies are needed to determine its true effect on respiratory conditions, but chlorella might help with inflammation.

Summary: The antioxidants in chlorella may have anti-inflammatory effects, which can possibly improve asthma and other respiratory diseases.

9. May Enhance Aerobic Endurance

Only one study has looked at chlorella's effect on aerobic endurance, but it showed a positive effect.

Researchers gave a group of young adults six grams of chlorella or a placebo daily for four weeks.

At the end of the study, the chlorella group showed a significantly improved ability to saturate their lungs with oxygen, which is a measure of endurance. The placebo group did not experience any changes in endurance (43).

This effect may be due to chlorella's branched-chain amino acid content.

Branched-chain amino acids are a collection of three amino acids that have been found to improve aerobic performance in various studies (44, 45).

Summary: Chlorella may improve your aerobic performance, although scientific support for this benefit is limited.

Other Potential Benefits

Many other possible benefits have been proposed, but there's little research to support these claims.

Here are some of the main health claims, along with any reasoning to support them:

  • Promotes eye health: Chlorella contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that protect the eye and lower the risk of macular degeneration (46, 47, 48).
  • Increased energy levels: This proposed benefit is likely related to chlorella's vitamin B12 content, though B12 supplements typically only increase energy when people are deficient in it (49).
  • Supports liver health: Chlorella supplements have been shown to improve markers of liver health in people with liver disease. However, it's not clear whether there's a benefit for healthy people (36, 37, 38, 50).
  • Improved digestion: Many sources claim chlorella eases digestion, reduces bloating and acts like a probiotic. However, no studies have assessed these proposed benefits.
  • Relieves PMS: Anecdotal evidence says that chlorella can relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It could be a stretch, but chlorella contains calcium and B-vitamins, both of which have been shown to reduce PMS (51, 52).

While there's no specific research to back up these claims, chlorella's nutrient content could, in theory, have these benefits (53).

Summary: Chlorella has been claimed to improve energy levels, liver health, digestion and symptoms of PMS. Nevertheless, scientific evidence is currently lacking to directly support these claims.

Potential Concerns

Chlorella has been deemed "generally recognized as safe" by the FDA (1, 54).

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering chlorella supplements:

  • Possible side effects: Some people have experienced nausea and abdominal discomfort (55).
  • Lack of regulation: Some countries, including the U.S., do not regulate supplements and you can't be sure you're getting what the label says.
  • Inconsistent products: The nutrition content of chlorella supplements may vary, depending on the algae species, growing conditions and processing (56, 57).
  • Immune effects: Since chlorella affects the immune system, it may not be appropriate for people with immunodeficiency or on immune system medications.

Furthermore, it's important to keep in mind that dietary supplements may interact with some medications.

While chlorella is generally recognized as safe and few side effects have been reported, it might not be appropriate for everyone.

Summary: For most people, taking chlorella supplements doesn't seem to pose any serious risks.

How to Supplement With Chlorella

The current scientific literature on chlorella doesn't specify a specific dosage.

This is because there's insufficient evidence to determine the amount needed to see therapeutic effects (1).

Some studies have found benefits with 1.2 grams per day, while others looked at doses of 5–10 grams per day (5, 21, 36, 37, 38).

Most supplements indicate a daily dosage of 2–3 grams, which seems about right considering the research.

Moreover, it's important to find a quality supplement. The best way to do this is to look for one that has a quality assurance seal from third-party testing.

Additionally, some product descriptions mention testing for quality assurance, as well as the source and growing conditions of the chlorella.

Try to find chlorella supplements from a supplement brand you trust.

Summary: Look for a quality assurance seal to ensure you're getting what you pay for. The dose of 2–3 grams indicated by most supplements seems appropriate, given the doses used in studies.

The Bottom Line

Chlorella is a type of algae that packs a big nutrient punch, as it's a good source of several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

In fact, emerging research shows that it could help shuttle toxins out of your body and improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other health benefits.

For now, there doesn't seem to be any harm in taking chlorella supplements and they could support your health.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

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This Cancer Survivor’s Story Shows What Gutting the EPA Means for Human Health

By Ryan Schleeter

Donald Trump wants to slash the EPA's budget and defund public health programs—which could cost people like Heather Von St. James their lives. This is her story.

Heather Von St. James has a friendly, Midwestern quality to her voice. Speaking to her over the phone, she comes off relaxed and assured, passionate yet polished.

But when you ask her about Donald Trump, something in her voice starts to change. There's an exasperation, a sense of controlled but forceful frustration just under the surface of her jovial tone.

"It just makes me so angry," was the first thing she said when I asked her what she thought of Trump's decision to place Scott Pruitt at the head of the EPA.

That's because Heather knows firsthand the devastation that could happen if Trump and Pruitt's attempts to gut the EPA are successful.

At 36 years old, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. She's one of about 7 to 9 percent of mesothelioma patients who has lived more than five years after diagnosis, and one of even fewer who have actually defeated the disease. Since recovering 11 years ago, Heather has poured her time into fighting for regulations that limit Americans' exposure to asbestos and championing protections for environmental health.

And she was seeing important progress in regulating pollutants and carcinogens like asbestos through the EPA—until Trump entered office.

Trump's draft budget would cut EPA funding by 31 percent, slashing regulations that protect clean air and water for millions of Americans and reallocating the funds to the Department of Defense for "more warships and fighter jets."

In essence, it's more money for war and less for health and the environment.

"Those regulations are in place for a reason," Heather explains. "They are there to save lives; they're there to protect our kids and our future."

And when Heather talks about saving lives, it's not a figure of speech. Mesothelioma, a rare disease to begin with, claimed 45,000 lives between 1999 and 2015. The number of new cases rose each year during that period.

"I lost three friends this past week. Three people died," Heather said to me the very first time we spoke.

"I mean, this is a constant in my life. Without the backing of the EPA, people are going to get sick; people are going to keep dying for something that's completely, 100 percent preventable."

The problem is even larger than mesothelioma. Trump's budget jeopardizes Clean Air Act programs that have reduced harmful air pollutant emissions by 70 percent and prevented thousands of cases of asthma and respiratory disease. It cuts a program to keep children safe from lead exposure. It takes away money set aside for states to meet health-based drinking water standards.

All of that will come with significant costs that the American people—not Trump or the federal government—will have to bear.

Take Heather's experience. By the time she finished treatment, she had more than $1 million in medical expenses. She had to travel back and forth between her home in Minnesota and Boston for specialist treatment because, as she put it, "everybody I know in Minnesota died and I wanted to live." After going through radiation treatment and surgery to remove her left lung, one side of her body is numb. She can't work, and she had to give up co-ownership of her salon and the career that she built over more than a decade. If she doesn't have insurance, she'll die.

Once again, Heather's story is indicative of a larger trend. As much as the Trump administration has praised the benefits of its "cost-saving" budget, defunding EPA public health programs will actually come at enormous financial costs to working and middle class Americans. Those Clean Air Act programs on the chopping block, for instance, are expected to yield roughly $2 trillion in economic benefits in 2020 alone.

The financial costs of disease are astronomical, but that's not what Heather emphasized to me the most. It was the personal toll that hit her hardest.

"When I was sick I felt very alone," she said. "I missed out on the whole first year of my baby's life."

"I watched her grow up through black and white photos that my mom would send to me on email. These are things that you can't put a dollar amount on.

"In the end, that's what it comes down to with Trump's attacks on the EPA—putting the lives of millions of people at risk to protect industry profits.

And that's why Heather is using her story to fuel resistance.

"We may be up against a lot right now with this administration, but we have the truth on our side. We're not a corporation, we're individuals that this really happened to and we live it every single day."

As long as this administration is in power, Greenpeace will stand by people like Heather—and Flint, Porter Ranch, the Gulf, and all communities whose health has been jeopardized by toxic pollution—to defend our right to clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Will you?

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Chemical Spill Closes Four Lake Michigan Beaches

A U.S. Steel plant in Portage, Indiana has spilled wastewater containing a potentially cancer-causing chemical into Burns Waterway, a tributary about 100 yards from Lake Michigan.

The leak prompted the closure of four beaches and a riverwalk at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and Indiana American Water in Ogden Dunes—the nearest municipal water source—to shut down its water intake and switch to a reserve water supply, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is overseeing the spill, announced.

U.S. Steel reported the leak on Tuesday morning. The company informed the EPA that its release has been stopped at the source. The amount of spilled wastewater is still unknown.

The wastewater discharge, apparently caused by a pipe failure, contains hexavalent chromium (chromium-6), which is used for industrial processes. The toxic chemical was made famous by the environmental activist and 2000 movie of the same name, "Erin Brockovich."

Incidentally, as Chicago Tribune pointed out, President Donald Trump's administration has proposed a budget that would quash efforts to crack down on the dangerous pollutant nationwide:

"Trump's proposed budget would abolish the Integrated Risk Information System, the EPA office working on hexavalent chromium standards in drinking water, as well as sharply reduce funding for scientific reviews of toxic chemicals and cut back on the agency's enforcement of environmental laws."

Low levels of the chemical were found in Lake Michigan near the mouth of Burns Waterway, Sam Borries, a branch chief for Region 5 of the EPA's emergency response program, told Chicago Tribune.

Borries said that it is unclear whether or how far the chemical has spread down the shoreline. He added that officials have taken 100 samples along the waterway east and west of its entry point to the lake and results are expected Thursday.

Wednesday morning footage from NBC Chicago's Sky5 shows a dark substance spreading into the Great Lake. The EPA says the substance is sediment, not chromium-6.

According to the Associated Press, a U.S. Steel preliminary investigation determined that an expansion joint failed Tuesday in a pipe at the Portage facility. This allowed wastewater from an electroplating treatment process containing chromium-6 to escape into the wrong wastewater treatment plant at the complex. That wastewater eventually flowed into the Burns Waterway.

Andy Maguire, the EPA's on-scene coordinator, told the AP that testing is continuing at the intake areas and other nearby points, but hexavalent chromium from the spill has so far not been found in Lake Michigan.

Chromium-6 is used in chrome plating, wood and leather treatments, dyes and pigments and the water in cooling towers of electrical power plants.

The chemical has long been known to cause lung cancer when airborne particles are inhaled. Recent science has also shown that, when ingested, it can cause stomach cancer. A 2008 study by the National Toxicology Program found chromium-6 in drinking water caused cancer in rats and mice.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released an analysis last year finding that hexavalent chromium is in the tap water of more than 218 million Americans.

California is the only state that has set an enforceable legal limit for chromium-6 in drinking water. The state's public health goal is 0.02 parts per billion of chromium-6 in drinking water, yet the state's legal limit is 500 times higher.

The current federal drinking water standard is 100 parts per billion for total chromium, a measurement that includes the toxic chromium-6 and chromium-3, which is an essential human dietary element.

Health groups are pushing for federal regulators to set national drinking water standards.

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