Tests Find Toxics in Broad Array of Consumer Products
Toxic chemicals linked to the rising rates of endocrine disruption related disease were found in a broad array of consumer products and reported in a peer reviewed article in Environmental Health Perspectives on March 8. The Silent Spring Institute tested 213 consumer products, including cleaning products, cosmetics, sunscreens, shower curtains, air fresheners, drier sheets, and other household goods made by Colgate, Unilever, S.C. Johnson, Johnson and Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Seventh Generation, and Ecover among other manufacturers.
“These test results show that both conventional and so-called green products contain hidden toxic chemicals that are not on product labels—so consumers have no way of avoiding them,” says Alexandra Scranton from Women’s Voices for the Earth, who recently conducted their own tests for hidden toxic chemicals in 20 top brand-name cleaning products. “Companies need to phase out these harmful chemicals, and we need a policy that standardizes labeling guidelines for cleaning products, so companies can’t keep these toxic chemicals a secret.”
Environmental health advocates across the nation see this new study as confirmation that ubiquitous chemical exposure is playing a factor in adverse health impacts.
“Silent Spring used Battelle Labs in Ohio, and they found 55 chemicals associated with endocrine disruption or with asthma, including parabens, BPA, triclosan, Alkylphenols, cyclosiloxanes," said Martha Arguello, with Physicians for Social Responsibility—Los Angeles. "It is not good science to assume that cumulative exposure to these chemicals is safe."
“This new study found PVC products, including a pillow protector and shower curtain, contained high levels of the toxic phthalate DEHP,” said Mike Schade from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice. “Phthalates have been banned in toys, but are widespread in many PVC products children come in contact with in schools and even at home. Phthalates have been linked to asthma, adverse impacts on brain development, and reproductive health problems in baby boys. Thankfully, there are safer cost-effective alternatives to phthalate-laden PVC products for our schools and homes.”
“Many products are targeted to women of color who suffer from high health disparities that can be linked directly to the endocrine disruptors found in these products. We can only hope that studies like this one inspire better policies and regulations of these dangerous chemicals,” said Janette Robinson-Flint from Black Women for Wellness. “Mother shouldn’t have to be a biochemist to protect themselves and their families from toxic chemicals in everyday products.”
“We know many folks have tested positive for BPA and Triclosan in our human biomonitoring studies,” said Sharyle Patton, director of the Biomonitoring Resource Center at Commonweal. "One has to wonder if rising rates of associated health problems are linked to these exposures.”
Caroline Cox, research director, Center for Environmental Health, said, “These unnecessary, untested and unlabeled chemicals in dozens of everyday products threaten our children’s and families’ health. It’s past time for federal action that calls for evaluating chemicals for safety before they end up contaminating our homes and our bodies.”
“This is another example of the failure of federal law to protect workers and consumers,” said Sarah Doll from SAFER States. “States have been acting to protect consumers from toxic chemicals in products for years now, and will continue to move on these issues in the absence of federal reform.”
The products were tested in 2008, and the study authors acknowledge that product samples can vary and that some formulations may have changed.
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With more than 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and more than 100,000 deaths from the virus, physicians face unprecedented challenges in their efforts to keep Americans safe.
They also encounter what some call an "infodemic," an outbreak of misinformation that's making it more difficult to treat patients.
When Leaders and Doctors Spread Misinformation<p>When people in charge of towns, cities, states, and countries spread misinformation, the potential for belief in misinformation to result in policies can have harmful effects.</p><p><a href="https://www.northwell.edu/find-care/find-a-doctor?q=Bruce+E.+Hirsch%2C+MD&insurance=&location=&query_type=provider&physician_partners=false&default_view=list&gender=&language=&sort=relevancy" target="_blank">Dr. Bruce E. Hirsch</a>, attending physician and assistant professor in the infectious disease division of Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, says an example of this is when President Trump informed the public he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive measure.</p><p>"To approach this enormous challenge, we need some intellectual honesty and clarity, and to disregard expertise and to make decisions and model decisions based on hunches is inviting us to handle challenges on the basis of rumor and uninformed opinion. The magnitude of that error is epic," Hirsch told Healthline.</p><p>Stukus agrees, noting that the harm of this proclamation is documented.</p><p>"Early on when the president touted the benefits of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, people started to hoard this medicine, and state boards had to shut it down because they were getting so many prescriptions for this unproven therapy that it was not available for those who truly needed it, such as those who have lupus and autoimmune conditions," Stukus said.</p><p>He adds that calls to poison control centers increased after the president suggested using disinfectant to prevent contracting the new coronavirus.</p>
Listen to Science, Even When it Changes<p>When recommendations change or evidence flip-flops, skepticism may arise. However, Stukus says change is the beauty of science.</p><p>"That shows us that we can evolve, and if the evidence shows that our prior thoughts were incorrect, we need to be able to change our recommendations and advice based upon the best quality of evidence at the time," he said.</p><p>Pierre agrees.</p><p>"Science is an iterative process, whereby we arrive at facts and truth through repeated and controlled observations. That means that it's inherently self-correcting as we revise conclusions based on ongoing research. Scientific facts aren't immutable dogma chiseled on a tablet. They change based on the best available evidence we have at a given point in time," he said.</p><p>Because research of COVID-19 has only been underway for 6 months, information is evolving rapidly, and new information may contradict old.</p><p>"There's still much we don't know about exactly how [COVID-19] spreads, what effects it has on the body, or how to best treat it. That means that the best available evidence is preliminary, but that doesn't mean that we should ignore it or turn to other sources of information or opinion as if they're just as valid," Pierre said.</p><p>He explains that conspiracy theories based on mistrust lead to vulnerability to misinformation.</p><p>If people mistrust science because it sometimes "changes its mind," Pierre said, "that shouldn't be used to embrace other opinions based on no evidence at all, which are typically selected based on confirmation bias: what we want to believe rather than what the objective evidence supports."</p>
Where to Find the Best Information<p>Stukus says to start with the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a> and <a href="https://www.nih.gov/health-information/coronavirus" target="_blank">NIH</a>. Then check with your local health officials, because COVID-19 guidelines may vary depending on where you live.</p><p>If you can't find information you need or have questions specifically related to you, call your primary care doctor.</p><p>"Your personal doctor should always be a resource for individual specific questions because they know best how to apply all the nuances retaining to your health, and how to incorporate all the other general [COVID-19] recommendations," Stukus said.</p><p><a href="https://www.eehealth.org/find-a-doctor/b/boyd-laura-b/" target="_blank">Dr. Laura Boyd</a>, primary care physician at Edward-Elmhurst Health Center in Elmhurst, Illinois, says her clinic receives a lot of calls about COVID-19.</p><p>"Most doctors' offices are receiving calls and answering questions, and doing phone or video visits to help clarify and/or order testing over the phone based on patients' symptoms. It is always best to call your doctor's office first instead of worrying about symptoms and waiting too long to seek treatment," she told Healthline.</p><p>If your primary care doctor has limited testing, she suggests looking on your state's public health website for available testing sites.</p><p>With a lot of unknowns related to this virus and disease, Boyd says many patients are feeling overwhelmed and anxious for a treatment.</p><p>"Unfortunately, there is no specific medication recommended for COVID for outpatient. There are a lot of ongoing studies with various drugs going on within the hospital setting. Patients should always contact their doctors about their specific symptoms as they can treat the symptoms that go along with COVID, but there is no cure," Boyd said.</p><p>While we wait for treatment and a vaccine, Hirsch, who treats patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications on a daily basis, says everyone can do their part by washing hands, wearing a mask, and staying 6 feet apart.</p><p>"As an infectious disease doctor working in the hospital, I see the damage of the pandemic and the worst cases of what's happening. We are trying to get the best possible outcome and confronting this overwhelming biologic reality of this terrible epidemic the best we can," Hirsch said.</p><p>Everyone at home can help in the fight too, he adds.</p><p>"Follow information that is science- and evidence-based, and avoid that which is not," he said.</p>
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