B12 Solipsism

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Scientists Condemn New FDA Study Saying BPA Is Safe

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The Pope gets bagged
The Pope gets bagged

The Food and Drug Organization is still beholden to the industries it is supposed to regulate, putting us, the non-corporations, needlessly at risk in order to protect profits of industry. If we had a liberal, socialist president, perhaps this could change. However…

In February, a group of Food and Drug Administration scientists published a study finding that low-level exposure to the common plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA) is safe. The media, the chemical industry, and FDA officials touted this as evidence that long-standing concerns about the health effects of BPA were unfounded. (“BPA Is A-Okay, Says FDA,” read one Forbes headline.) But, behind the scenes, a dozen leading academic scientists who had been working with the FDA on a related project were fuming over the study’s release—partly because they believed the agency had bungled the experiment.

On a conference call the previous summer, officials from the FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had informed these researchers that the lab where the study was housed was contaminated. As a result, all of the animals—including the supposedly unexposed control group—had been exposed to BPA. The FDA made the case that this didn’t affect the outcome, but their academic counterparts believed it cast serious doubt on the study’s findings. “It’s basic science,” says Gail S. Prins, a professor of physiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was on the call. “If your controls are contaminated, you’ve got a failed experiment and the data should be discarded. I’m baffled that any journal would even publish this.”

Yet the FDA study glossed over this detail, which was buried near the end of the paper. Prins and her colleagues also complain that the paper omitted key information—including the fact that some of them had found dramatic effects in the same group of animals. “The way the FDA presented its findings is so disingenuous,” says one scientist, who works closely with the agency. “It borders on scientific misconduct.”

(click here to continue reading Scientists Condemn New FDA Study Saying BPA Is Safe: “It Borders on Scientific Misconduct” | Mother Jones.)

A fan of Peapod

A fan of Peapod 

reminds me of the climate change debate, and not in a positive light:

In contrast to the FDA’s recent paper, roughly 1,000 published studies have found that low-level exposure to BPA—a synthetic estrogen that is also used in cash register receipts and the lining of tin cans—can lead to serious health problems, from cancer and insulin-resistant diabetes to obesity and attention-deficit disorder. In some cases, the effects appear to be handed down, with the chemical reprogramming an individual’s genes and causing disease in future generations.

But the agencies that regulate BPA and other chemicals have largely ignored this research in favor of industry data showing BPA is safe. A 2008 investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that the FDA had relied on industry lobbyists to track and evaluate research on BPA. It also found that the agency’s assessment of BPA’s safety was based largely on two industry-funded studies—one of which turned out to have “fatal flaws,” according to leading researchers in the field. Both studies also relied on a breed of rat, known as the Charles River Sprague Dawley, that is all but immune to the effects of synthetic estrogens like BPA.

On one hand, nearly 1,000 studies saying at the minimum, there could be potential health problems associated with the usage of this plastic; and on the other finger, 2 studies, flawed in methodology, and funded by the plastic and chemical industry that claim everything is fine as it is. In a rational world, these two studies would be marginalized. Instead, the FDA uses them as a fig leaf to protect the industry from regulation. Pathetic, and troubling.

Hmm, maybe if I started a religion that said ingesting BPA was against my core beliefs, we could take this to the Supreme Court

Written by Seth Anderson

March 24th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in government,science

Tagged with , , ,

6000 years ago

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6000 years ago
6000 years ago, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Well, really, this plastic will probably last longer than that.

Lightbox version


Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: John S
Flash: Off
Film: Pistil

shot using Photojojo macro lens

Written by swanksalot

September 16th, 2010 at 11:51 am

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , ,

Cancer From the Kitchen

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Nicholas Kristof asks a question I’ve asked many times: what if our chemical-friendly lifestyle is directly linked to our increased death rates from cancer, and other illnesses? Especially since, in the US, toxins don’t have to be proven to be safe1 before they are used. I’d rather we used the European model, and mandated extensive testing before chemicals are allowed. The American Chemistry Council has too much power in this country.

Thirsty?

What if breast cancer in the United States has less to do with insurance or mammograms and more to do with contaminants in our water or air — or in certain plastic containers in our kitchens? What if the surge in asthma and childhood leukemia reflect, in part, the poisons we impose upon ourselves?

Dr. Philip Landrigan, the chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai, said that the risk that a 50-year-old white woman will develop breast cancer has soared to 12 percent today, from 1 percent in 1975. (Some of that is probably a result of better detection.) Younger people also seem to be developing breast cancer: This year a 10-year-old in California, Hannah, is fighting breast cancer and recording her struggle on a blog.

Likewise, asthma rates have tripled over the last 25 years, Dr. Landrigan said. Childhood leukemia is increasing by 1 percent per year. Obesity has surged. One factor may be lifestyle changes — like less physical exercise and more stress and fast food — but some chemicals may also play a role.

[Click to continue reading Nicholas Kristof – Cancer From the Kitchen? – NYTimes.com]

and what to do? Simple answer is to make a few changes around your house:

I asked these doctors what they do in their own homes to reduce risks. They said that they avoid microwaving food in plastic or putting plastics in the dishwasher, because heat may cause chemicals to leach out. And the symposium handed out a reminder card listing “safer plastics” as those marked (usually at the bottom of a container) 1, 2, 4 or 5.

It suggests that the “plastics to avoid” are those numbered 3, 6 and 7 (unless they are also marked “BPA-free”). Yes, the evidence is uncertain, but my weekend project is to go through containers in our house and toss out 3’s, 6’s and 7’s.

Bill Moyers did a piece on this topic several years ago, including testing his own blood, and discovering tons of toxins, at levels unsafe.2

The “precautionary principle” – adopted by the European Union in 1992 as the basis for regulation of toxic chemicals –- holds that in the face of scientific uncertainty, government should err on the side of protecting public health and safety. In other words, if scientific evidence indicates there is a good chance that a chemical may pose a risk of irreversible harm, regulators should not wait for absolute proof before acting.

One of the major themes running through the internal chemical industry documents investigated in TRADE SECRETS: A MOYERS REPORT is the industry’s opposition to the precautionary principle. It has used its wealth to win favorable treatment from politicians, sponsored surrogates to promote the industry point of view with the media, and now is quietly pushing legislation through state legislatures that will overturn many of the gains citizens believe they have made in their right to information about toxic chemicals.

Footnotes:
  1. the so-called precautionary principle []
  2. I’ve blogged about it, but can’t find it at the moment []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 6th, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Reading Around on August 9th

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Some additional reading August 9th from 11:29 to 13:20:

Dictation at the Chicago Daily News

  • What’s a Big City Without a Newspaper? – NYTimes.com – “But parts of the system are actually not broken at all. Journalists still know how to gather news. And the Internet is a step forward in disseminating it. What’s broken is the pipeline that sends money back to where the content is created. Most of it is available to readers online, free, including on newspapers’ own Web sites, where it is not sufficiently supported by advertising.”
  • 1434002769_1a680ac1c3_o.jpg
  • Flickr “Not Currently Working” on Account Restore Feature After Users Suffer Losses of Thousands of Photos | Thomas Hawk Digital Connection – “s it stands now when a user’s photostream is deleted at Flickr it is gone. Erased. Permanently and irrevocably. Many Flickr users are appreciably nervous about this fact, especially after reading stories about hackers infiltrating flickr accounts or when overzealous underlings in the Flickr Censorship Division seem to overreact to minor Flickr Community Guidelines violations by nuking users’ photostreams.

    When Flickr nukes a user’s photostream, it’s not just the users’ photos that are gone. It’s all of the rich, important and vibrant social metadata around the photos that are gone with it. I’ve had many very long engaging conversations around my and others photos on the site. When Flickr nukes your stream those all get erased from existence.”

  • Make A Messenger Bag From Plastic Bags (Video) | TakePart Social Action Network™ – “Wouldn’t it be great if you could make a reusable messenger bag out of all of the plastic bags that have accumulated in your house? Well, Make magazine shows us that for a fun Sunday project you totally can, all it takes is a little ironing and sewing.

    Ideally we want to stop using plastic bags all together, so they don’t contribute more waste to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and continue to create a demand for oil used to produce them”

Written by swanksalot

August 9th, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Tappening Campaign of Wry Lies Against Bottled Water

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I’m amused by, and sympathetic to the Tappening campaign.

Fiji Over Lake Michigan

Can an ad campaign turn bottled water into the new tobacco?

To encourage the public to drink tap water rather than bottled, an environmental group’s ads feature implausible “facts.” The bottled water industry started it, the group says.
Taking a cue from antitobacco campaigns, Tappening, a group opposed to bottled water on environmental grounds, has introduced a campaign called “Lying in Advertising,” that positions bottled water companies as spreading corporate untruths.

One poster claims “Bottled Water Causes Blindness in Puppies,” while another reads “Bottled Water: 98% Melted Ice Caps. 2% Polar Bear Tears.”

“If bottled water companies can lie, we can too,” the posters read.

The “lies” in question here are about the source of bottled water. Eric Yaverbaum, a co-founder of Tappening, charged that some beverage companies did not list the source of their water — and were using only municipal water.

[Click to continue reading Advertising – Tappening Starts a Campaign of Wry Lies Against Bottled Water – NYTimes.com]

Bottled water is multi-billion dollar business, but then so is tobacco. We would all benefit if bottled water became less of a staple of consumer culture: less environmental devastation, less plastic waste, yadda yadda.

I am So Clean

In this campaign, Tappening plans to spend $535,000 on outdoor posters in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and Miami, along with an online component. The ads suggest viewers go to Tappening.com to find out “the truth” about bottled water, or to StartALie.com to spread an untruth.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 29th, 2009 at 11:21 am

Posted in Advertising

Tagged with , ,

EPA Fiddles while Neurotoxin In Our Food

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Lovely

Keep away from children

One of the most comprehensive analyses yet of human exposure to PBDEs, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, shows that the chemical — long used in everything from computers to sleeping bags — enters humans through their diets, not just their household.

“The more you eat, the more PBDEs you have in your serum,” said Alicia Fraser, an environmental health researcher at Boston University’s School of Public Health who headed the new study, published this month in Environmental Health Perspectives.

PBDEs are chemical cousins of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which are known to cause birth defects and neurological impairments. PCBs were banned throughout the world by the mid-1970s, when PBDEs were gaining popularity as flame retardants. PBDEs were soon found in most plastic-containing household products.

By the late 1990s, trace amounts of PBDEs had been found in people all over the world, with the highest exposures measured in the United States. Researchers became nervous: Low doses caused neurological damage in laboratory animals, and the highest human PBDE levels were found in breast milk.

Whether PBDEs posed an immediate threat to humans was uncertain. Direct testing is unethical, and population-wide epidemiological studies are difficult to run. But there’s enough reason for concern that the European Union banned two of the three most common PBDE formulations in 2004.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which in January admitted that it lacked the ability to establish basic standards of chemical safety, has not followed suit, but three states — California, Washington and Maine — have banned PBDEs since 2007. Many manufacturers have either stopped or plan on stopping their use.

“They are persistent in the environment. They don’t get broken down. Therefore, it takes a really long time for the contamination to leave our environment and our bodies,” said Fraser. “Even though we don’t know the health effects at this point, most people would want policies that would stop us from being exposed to them.”

[Click to continue reading Potential Neurotoxin Could Be in Our Food | Wired Science | Wired.com]

I’m sure the plastic council has a different answer as to the toxicity of PBDEs, but they have zero credibility. If the EPA wasn’t such a corporate tool, they would have been actively removing PBDEs from our environment decades ago.

Data Dump

The real long term solution would be to adopt similar practices to the European model: prove that a chemical is harmless before it is allowed to be used. In the US, there have to be lawsuits and deaths1 before the EPA will even begin to study if a chemical is harmful. Years of litigation follow, yadda yadda. A system that totally and unequivocally favors chemical manufacturers in other words.

REACH requires all chemicals sold or used in Europe to be registered with the European Chemicals Agency. Manufacturers or distributors must supply the agency with the chemicals’ properties, materials safety data sheets (MSDSes), risk management guidelines, and safety measures for downstream users. Many hazardous chemicals (over 1,500 of them) will require permission from the European Commission to use; some chemicals will not be allowed at all. Consumers can also request (could be WWF, Greenpeace, or just person) chemical safety and environmental impact data from manufacturers. Perhaps most importantly, the government is not burdened with proving any chemicals are harmful, it falls to industry to test the toxicity of their chemicals, and the EU need only do monitoring and compliance-checking when they believe a company has submitted incomplete or bogus information. REACH covers all chemicals, both substances and mixtures, existing and new (new chemicals are less than 1% of market). It includes intentionally released chemicals (like inkjet ink) and non-intentionally released ones (like dye in jeans); anything that will have more than one metric ton per year produced or imported into Europe. It includes not only the chemicals a company makes, but all the chemicals contained in a product the company sells. It also includes chemicals used in manufacturing that don’t end up in products, if the manufacturing happens in Europe. Unfortunately the amount of time for questions was very limited, so I didn’t get to ask what they define as a “chemical”; I presume it’s any substance that isn’t elemental and requires processing to get out of the natural world.

[Click to continue reading Worldchanging: Bright Green: What Does REACH Mean For Products?]

The US EPA is just a sick joke. A joke that damages all of us.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to assess toxic chemicals is as broken as the nation’s financial markets and needs a total overhaul, a congressional audit has found.

The Government Accountability Office has released a report saying the EPA lacks even basic information to say whether chemicals pose substantial health risks to the public. It says actions are needed to streamline and increase the transparency of the EPA’s registry of chemicals. And it calls for measures to enhance the agency’s ability to obtain health and safety information from the chemical industry.

Earlier in 2008, the Journal Sentinel revealed that the EPA’s Voluntary Children’s Chemical Evaluation Program, which relies on companies to provide information about the dangers of the chemicals they produce, is all but dead. And it disclosed that the agency’s program to screen chemicals that damage the endocrine system had failed to screen a single chemical more than 10 years after the program was launched.

[Click to continue reading EPA a failure on chemicals, audit finds – JSOnline]

No wonder so many EPA officials get jobs in the chemical industry after their EPA tenure is over.

Richard Wiles, executive director of Environmental Working Group:

“The EPA joins the hall of shame of failed government programs,” Wiles said.

The EPA is at high risk for waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement and needs a broad-based transformation, the auditors found.

“The EPA lacks adequate scientific information on the toxicity of many chemicals that may be found in the environment – as well as on tens of thousands of chemicals used commercially in the United States,” the GAO report said. “EPA’s inadequate progress in assessing toxic chemicals significantly limits the agency’s ability to fulfill its mission of protecting human health and the environment.”

I haven’t been able to locate the GAO report yet, but did find this:

Since 1976, the EPA issued regulations to control only five existing chemicals determined to present an unreasonable risk. Its 1989 regulation phasing out most uses of asbestos was vacated by a federal appeals court in 1991 because it was not based on “substantial evidence.”

In contrast, the EU and a number of other countries banned asbestos, a known human carcinogen that can cause lung cancer and other diseases. The GAO previously recommended that Congress amend the TSCA to reduce the evidentiary burden the EPA

[Click to continue reading GAO: EPA Needs Stronger Authority to Improve Effectiveness of Toxic Substances Control Act]

Five substances in over 30 years? Yeesh, that’s pretty lame.

Footnotes:
  1. or at least lots of negative publicity []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 19th, 2009 at 9:20 am

Posted in environment

Tagged with , , ,

Reading Around on January 28th

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Some additional reading January 28th from 14:57 to 16:32:

  • DownWithTyranny!: Outrage Continues To Build As Limbaugh’s Hateful Remarks Repulse Most Americans But Seem To Inspire More GOP Members Of Congress – Ahh, the vulgar pig boy, back in the news… ” Alan Grayson, the outspoken member from Orlando, as usual, wasn’t mincing words: “Rush Limbaugh is a has-been hypocrite loser, who craves attention. His right-wing lunacy sounds like Mikhail Gorbachev, extolling the virtues of communism. Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict. If America ever did 1% of what he wanted us to do, then we’d all need pain killers.””
  • Bisphenol A – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – “There are seven classes of plastics used in packaging applications. Type 7 is the catch-all “other” class, and some type 7 plastics, such as polycarbonate (sometimes identified with the letters “PC” near the recycling symbol) and epoxy resins, are made from bisphenol A monomer.[4] When such plastics are exposed to hot liquids, bisphenol A leaches out 55 times faster than it does under normal conditions, at up to 32 ng/hour.[81] Type 3 (PVC) can also contain bisphenol A as antioxidant in plasticizers.[4] Types 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE), 4 (LDPE), 5 (polypropylene), and 6 (polystyrene) do not use bisphenol A during polymerization or package forming”

And in case you didn’t see this elsewhere, or previously, Amazon has several hundred full length free MP3 files. Some good stuff here, actually, and for the record, much easier to purchase albums from artists who are not antagonistic to downloading options…

Free MP3s from Amazon

Written by swanksalot

January 29th, 2009 at 9:00 am

Posted in Links

Tagged with , , ,

Plastics industry has FDA in their pocket

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Corruption in the FDA? Really? Who woulda-thunk?

A government report claiming that bisphenol A is safe was written largely by the plastics industry and others with a financial stake in the controversial chemical, the Journal Sentinel found.

Although the Food and Drug Administration will not reveal who prepared its draft, the agency’s own documents show that the work was done primarily by those with the most to gain by downplaying concerns about the safety of the chemical.

That includes Stephen Hentges, executive director of the American Chemistry Council’s group on bisphenol A, who commissioned a review of all studies of the neurotoxicity of bisphenol A and submitted it to the FDA. The FDA then used that report as the foundation for its evaluation of the chemical on neural and behavioral development. The American Chemistry Council is a trade group representing chemical manufacturers.

The FDA’s draft, released in August, found no cause for worry about bisphenol A, which is found in thousands of household products, including baby bottles, infant formula containers and the lining of aluminum cans.

That finding is at odds with the conclusions of the FDA’s own advisers from the National Toxicology Program. The NTP announced in September that the chemical is of some concern for effects on the development of the prostate gland and brain, and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children. The NTP also found some concern for the neurodevelopment of young children, infants and fetuses.

Last week, the government of Canada declared that bisphenol A is a toxin and is banning its use in baby bottles and other products used by children.

The FDA draft finding no harm is under review by a subcommittee, which will decide if the conclusions need to be amended. That assessment is expected to be released any day and will be presented Oct. 31 in Washington

The Journal Sentinel reported earlier this month that subcommittee chairman Martin Philbert is founder and co-director of an institute that received $5 million from a retired medical supply manufacturer who said he considered bisphenol A “perfectly safe.” The donor, Charles Gelman, told the newspaper that he has expressed his views to Philbert in several conversations.

Philbert at first denied ever having been contacted by Gelman about bisphenol A. He now says that he is aware of Gelman’s views but is not influenced by them.

[From JS Online: Plastics industry behind FDA research on bisphenol A, study finds ]

Keep away from children

Not surprising, but despicable. The FDA should be ashamed, and those corrupt officials who are behind this latest travesty should lose their jobs, and be banned from working for any plastic-related corporations for 20 years.

The newspaper reviewed the body of evidence that the task force considered. It found memos with entire sections blacked out, reviews commissioned by the American Plastics Council, an arm of the American Chemistry Council, and reviews completed by consulting firms with clients who havefinancial interests in the sale of bisphenol A.

Many of these reviews of individual studies are at odds with the NTP’s reviews of the same studies.

For example, one study funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense looked at the effects of bisphenol A on prostate development in rats.

The FDA called it “severely limited,” in contrast to the NTP’s review, which labeled it of “high utility.”

Another government-funded study, which also looked at the effects of the chemical on the prostate, again was considered of “high utility” by the NTP for its evaluation, and it was deemed “very limited” by the FDA.

Much of the science that the task force considered was 20 years old or older, including a study commissioned in 1976.

The older studies are not as sensitive as modern tests. They used high doses of the chemical and did not consider the unique effects on the endocrine system.

See also
Plastic fantastic

Clash on Safety of BPA

Plastic Soup of the Pacific

or more or even more

Written by Seth Anderson

October 23rd, 2008 at 9:06 am

Posted in environment

Tagged with , , ,

Plastic linked to smaller penises

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Nice. No wonder the Republican EPA wants to ensure phthalates in the nation’s water supply: parity. Republicans already start out with a disadvantage, they are looking for anything that can even the odds.

Exposure of expectant mothers to phthalates, a common ingredient in many plastics, has been linked to smaller penis size and incomplete descent of testicles in their baby boys, according to a new research paper that found the chemical also appears to make the overall genital tracts of boys slightly more feminine.

The findings are sure to add more controversy to phthalates, a chemical that is added to polyvinyl chloride plastic to make it less brittle, and to many types of personal care products including fragrances, hair sprays and nail polish.

The research was conducted on children from three different areas of the United States, and found a strong statistical correlation between expectant mothers who had above-average levels of the chemical in their urine while pregnant and the feminizing effect on their sons.

Phthalates are “probably reproductive toxins and should be eliminated from products gradually because we don’t need them,” said Shanna Swan, director of the Center for Reproductive Epidemiology at the University of Rochester’s school of medicine, who led the team of scientists who examined the boys.

The paper is published in the current issue of the journal Environmental Research.

[From globeandmail.com: Plastics ingredient linked to smaller penises]

Written by Seth Anderson

October 9th, 2008 at 12:48 pm

Posted in environment

Tagged with , , ,

BPA in plastics linked to diabetes, heart disease

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But never worry, I’m sure the FDA will issue reassurances that plastic is good for you. Good enough that no FDA employee will ever use a plastic water bottle again, but we wouldn’t want to cause panic, nor cause our close friends in the plastic industry to lose any shareholder value.

Thirsty?

The chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), widely used in plastic food and beverage containers, has been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver abnormalities, according to a study released Tuesday.

The report to be published in the September 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that adults with the highest concentrations of BPA in their urine had nearly triple the odds of cardiovascular disease, compared with subjects found to have the least amounts of the compound in their systems.

Of 1,455 adults studied, those with the highest BPA levels had more than double the odds of having diabetes, the report found.

“Higher urinary concentrations of BPA were associated with an increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and liver-enzyme abnormalities,” the authors wrote.

[From The Raw Story | Chemical in plastics linked to diabetes, heart disease: study]

Plastic, it’s what’s for breakfast1

NPR ran a story on the same topic, and concluded:

At this time, the FDA finds the current level of exposure to BPA through food containers safe.

[From FDA Weighs Safety Of Bisphenol A : NPR]

Don’t you feel much better now? Especially after 8 years2 of fealty to corporate profit instead of consumer safety?

Footnotes:
  1. and lunch, and dinner []
  2. though, one could easily add the Clinton years here to this total, and Bush the Smarter, and Reagan. So really 28 years of the FDA and similar regulatory agencies protecting the interests of industry over the health of citizens []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 16th, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Posted in environment

Tagged with , , ,

Plastic Fantastic

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You have to be insanely dedicated to even consider removing plastic from the items you consume. Just too ubiquitous, in nearly every food packaging, on your clothing, on your shampoo, toothpaste, everywhere. The scientific proof of harm from the body may still be murky1 , but the fear of plastic is custom made for our worry-wart culture. Another thing to feel inadequate about being unable to change about our environment.

Sun Like a Drug

[Frederick vom Saal, a biologist at the University of Missouri] is a prominent member of a group of researchers who have raised worrisome questions in recent years about the safety of some common types of plastics. We think of plastic as essentially inert; after all, it takes hundreds of years for a plastic bottle to degrade in a landfill. But as plastic ages or is exposed to heat or stress, it can release trace amounts of some of its ingredients. Of particular concern these days are bisphenol-a (BPA), used to strengthen some plastics, and phthalates, used to soften others. Each ingredient is a part of hundreds of household items; BPA is in everything from baby bottles to can linings (to protect against E. coli and botulism), while phthalates are found in children’s toys as well as vinyl shower curtains. And those chemicals can get inside us through the food, water and bits of dust we consume or even by being absorbed through our skin. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 92% of Americans age 6 or older test positive for BPA–a sign of just how common the chemical is in our plastic universe.

Scientists like vom Saal argue that BPA and phthalates are different from other environmental toxins like lead and mercury in that these plastic ingredients are endocrine disrupters, which mimic hormones. Estrogen and other hormones in relatively tiny amounts can cause vast changes, so some researchers worry that BPA and phthalates could do the same, especially in young children. Animal studies on BPA found that low-dose exposure, particularly during pregnancy, may be associated with a variety of ills, including cancer and reproductive problems. Some human studies on phthalates linked exposure to declining sperm quality in adult males, while other work has found that early puberty in girls may be associated with the chemicals.

Does that mean even today’s minuscule exposure levels are too much? The science is still murky, and human studies are few and far from definitive. So while Canada and the Democratic Republic of Wal-Mart are moving to ban BPA in baby bottles, the Food and Drug Administration maintains that BPA products pose no danger, as does the European Union. Even so, scientists like Mel Suffet, a professor of environmental-health sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, say avoiding certain kinds of plastics is simply being better safe than sorry.

As researchers continue to examine plastic’s impact on our bodies, there’s no doubt that cutting down on the material will help the environment. Plastic makes up nearly 12% of our trash, up from 1% in 1960. You can literally see the result 1,000 miles (1,600 km) west of San Francisco in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling mass of plastic debris twice the size of Texas. The rising cost of petroleum may get plastic manufacturers to come up with incentives for recycling; current rates stand at less than 6% in the U.S. But the best way to reduce your plastic impact on the earth is simply to use less.

[Click to read the rest of The Truth About Plastic – TIME]

Don’t forget that the oil barons who run our country don’t really want to change anything that might interfere with profits, so don’t expect any FDA or EPA studies concerning the interaction with humans and plastics anytime before the Rapture.

Footnotes:
  1. though compelling enough for this writer []

Written by Seth Anderson

July 15th, 2008 at 8:18 am

Clash on Safety of BPA in Plastic Items

without comments

Do Not Attempt This At Home

So an industry-funded report found no problem? How novel! And the FDA firmly supporting the industry? How novel!

Government experts and lawmakers clashed at a hearing Tuesday over the safety of a chemical used in plastic baby bottles, as the science indicating health risks seemed not conclusive enough to meet the burden of proof required for a U.S. ban.

The chemical, bisphenol A, or BPA, makes plastic hard and shatterproof and helps prevent corrosion in cans. It is used in hundreds of consumer products, including plastic baby bottles, plastic food containers and soda cans.

The latest concern about BPA emerged in April when the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program released a draft report concluding that small amounts of the chemical could be linked to health and developmental problems. Those problems include early puberty, changes in the prostate gland and behavioral changes found in animal studies that warranted “some concern” for exposure to fetuses, infants and children.

“The possibility that bisphenol A may alter human development cannot be dismissed,” said John Bucher, associate director of the National Toxicology Program, at Tuesday’s hearing.

The program’s findings contradicted some earlier industry-funded animal studies that found minimal concern.

[From Clash Arises on Safety of BPA in Plastic Items – WSJ.com]

Here is where Senator Clinton can help the nation: pass this bill

Led by New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and supported by fellow New York Democrat Hillary Clinton, the senators want their BPA-Free Kids Act of 2008 to be part of a larger bill that would reform the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Bills to overhaul the CPSC were passed by the House and Senate in differing forms late last year and earlier this year following a string of recalled children’s products that put the agency under fire. If signed into law, the overhaul would provide the agency with more funding and greater authority, while making data more transparent and boosting fine limitations for manufacturers.

Part of the clash in how the hundreds of BPA studies are viewed stems from the manner in which they were conducted. Many have been small and weren’t conducted according to regulatory standards, critics say.


“SIGG – Green Traveler Classic Water Bottle” (SIGG)

Written by Seth Anderson

June 11th, 2008 at 11:51 am

Posted in health,politics

Tagged with , , ,

Junk journey highlights plastic soup of Pacific

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One of these days we’ll have to do something about the sea of plastic polluting the ocean.

Sailing 4,000 miles on the Pacific Ocean made Marcus Eriksen and Joel Paschal sick. It wasn’t waves that turned their stomachs, but the amount of plastic garbage they encountered on a voyage with the Algalita Marine Research Foundation earlier this year.

The activists wanted more people to share their disgust about plastic litter that swirls, relatively unexplored, in continent-size patches of ocean.

To that end, they have built a motor-less craft from 15,000 recycled beverage bottles, fishing nets, and the cockpit of a Cessna, and are sailing it more than 2,000 miles from southern California to Hawaii. They left Long Beach, Calif., on Sunday.

[From Junk journey highlights ‘plastic soup’ of Pacific Ocean | Green Tech – CNET News.com]

We are all affected by global pollution, whether we realize it or not.

 

On the last Pacific voyage that ended in February, Eriksen and Paschal helped marine researcher Charles Moore assess the extent of pollution in the waters leading up to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling mass of plastic debris some estimate to be as large as the United States.

In early tests, a sample showed 48 parts of plastic to each part of plankton.

“They haven’t finished processing the samples, but there was an exponential increase in the plastic,” said Anna Cummins, who was also aboard and serves as Algalita’s education adviser. “What looked on the surface like clean water, when you pulled it up, it looked like plastic soup. It was disgusting.”

Algalita researchers said the floating, soupy landfill isn’t well understood because satellites can’t spot the translucent particles. And although efforts by scientists to explore plastic in five gyres around the world have been lacking, interest is expanding as the public learns more.

“No one really knows what’s out in the other gyres,” Cummins said. “In the north Pacific alone there’s Capt. Moore with his research boat. We are a small organization with five or six paid staff members.”

Eighty percent of the plastic comes not from ships but from land, where tossed consumer goods eventually travel from beaches and rivers into the ocean, according to Algalita.

Plastic concentrates poisons such as PCBs at levels a million times higher than found in the water, according to Japanese researchers.

I had only heard of one gyre, five is even worse. Maybe we should test putting Daniel Burd’s decomposition microorganism in one of the gyres.

Written by swanksalot

June 6th, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Posted in environment

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More Plastic Water Bottle Blues

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Do Not Attempt This At Home

That’s it, I’m sticking with beer, wine and Jameson’s from now on…..

Alina Tugend writes:

The type of plastic bottle that typically holds water, soda and juice is made from polyethylene terephthalate, a petroleum-based material also known as PET that is labeled No. 1.

The trouble with reusing those plastic bottles is that each time they are washed and refilled they become a little more scratched and crinkly, which can lead them to degrade. That can cause a trace metal called antimony to leach out, said Frederick S. vom Saal, a professor of biology at the University of Missouri who has studied plastics for years.

[snip]

But perhaps a better alternative — in terms of health and the environment — is to use the hard plastic bottles made with polycarbonate plastic, often known by the brand Nalgene. It has the numeral 7 stamped at the bottom and is the same type of material used to make some baby bottles, the lining of tin cans and other products. I have some of those around the house. They are just too big to fit into our car cup holders so I retired them to the basement.

Time to dig them out?

Not quite. Environmental groups and some scientists have raised concern that such plastic can leach bisphenol A, an endocrine-disrupting chemical.

[Click to read more of The (Possible) Perils of Being Thirsty While Being Green – New York Times]

Which plastic bottle to use then? Can’t always count on having the


“Sigg Samurai Spirit Water Bottle” (Sigg)

“If I was to use plastic, I would stay with No. 2 and No. 5,” Professor vom Saal said. No. 2 is high-density polyethylene; No. 5 is polypropylene. Both are used in margarine tubs and yogurt containers for example.

But, he warned, do not heat anything in any type of plastic in the microwave.

If you do use these hard No. 7 plastic bottles, the Green Guide, published by the National Geographic Society, advises you to avoid washing them in a dishwasher or with harsh detergent to limit wear and tear.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 24th, 2008 at 11:13 pm

China Bags

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The Pope gets bagged

Interesting development, especially since most of the plastic bags issued by US retailers are manufactured in China.

The Chinese government says it is banning shops from handing out free plastic bags from June this year, in a bid to curb pollution.
Production of ultra-thin plastic bags will also be banned, the State Council said in a statement.

Instead, people will be encouraged to use baskets or reusable cloth bags for their shopping, the council said.

[snip]
The council also called for greater recycling efforts from rubbish collectors, and suggested financial authorities should consider higher taxes on the production and sale of plastic bags. [From BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China announces plastic bag ban]

If China does in fact start taxing the bag manufacturers, will this encourage more US retailers to consider other options, like cloth bags? Hemp bags?

Written by Seth Anderson

January 15th, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Posted in environment

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