Dateline TV Producer Tested for Chemicals—What She Finds Will Shock You!
Did you catch the Dateline episode yesterday? It was a great report. The producer Andrea Canning wanted to see how her daily behavior could affect the levels of bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates and triclosan in her urine.
First, she found her baseline numbers, which were around the national average. Then she tried to eliminate these chemicals from her daily use—ate fresh fruits and veggies, used unscented cosmetics, avoided antibacterial soap and avoided plastic with the #7 recycling symbol. When she was tested again, her levels fell to almost zero. The next day, she tried to boost her numbers again by doing normal everyday things—microwaved her oatmeal in a plastic cup, had canned soup and vegetables for lunch and dinner, put on make-up with fragrance, drank a V-8 and a diet Coke in a can, washed her hands with Dial soap and brushed her teeth with Colgate Total. The result? Her numbers spiked.
She also tested levels in her kids. Her six month old baby had levels of triclosan that were 10 times higher than the national average; her toddler had levels of triclosan that were 100 times higher than the national average. Presumably her baby isn’t washing her hands with antibacterial soap or brushing her teeth with Colgate Total. When I asked Andrea Canning (via twitter) where she thought the high levels of triclosan came from, she didn’t know.
Triclosan is a stupid use of a toxic chemical. As my colleagues Gina Solomon and I and have blogged before, antibacterial soap containing triclosan is neither safe nor effective. (Read our factsheet and other materials).
But here's a little good news on triclosan. Last week, we got an important win in court on our lawsuit against Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on triclosan. As my colleague Sarah Janssen explained, in 1978, the FDA proposed a rule that would have prohibited triclosan (and other chemicals) from being used in hand soaps because it was not shown to be safe or effective. But companies were allowed to keep selling soap containing triclosan until the rule was finalized.
Fast forward 35 years: FDA still has not finalized the rule, and the antibacterial soap industry has exploded. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued FDA for its failure to protect the public health. The District Court in the Southern District of New York found that NRDC members who were exposed to triclosan soap at work could simply avoid triclosan by carrying soap in their pockets and dismissed the case. Fortunately, this week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with the district court. This means that our case gets to continue and we may just finally get a final rule by the FDA.
The news on BPA isn’t as good. Check out the science on BPA. We are all eating it when we eat or drink anything that comes out of a can. People are also likely being exposed from thermal paper receipts which are coated with BPA. The FDA did ban the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, but that was at the behest of the chemical industry. Tellingly, it only took FDA nine months to agree to industry’s request. But public interest groups ask the FDA to take steps to protect public health, the only response is silence.
In the meantime, in response to public’s demands, more and more manufacturers are moving away from BPA. Unfortunately, "BPA-free" doesn't necessarily mean safe. One of the most common replacements is BPS—a chemical cousin to BPA which is also estrogenic. This just highlights the fact that the FDA is failing to identify and regulate sources of exposure to chemicals which have been identified as being harmful to human health.
And finally, phthalates: a new study finding phthalates in our food shows that even when you do the “right” thing, it is exceeding difficult to eliminate phthalate exposure.
Hopefully, with last night’s coverage on Dateline, more people will be wary of all the chemicals we are being exposed to through our common everyday products. And they will see that the federal agency whose mission is to protect public health has done nothing to step in and help us. Check out our Fix FDA page.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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