Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Back to Basics

Helping the Environment Through Back to Basics

Here's a link to an article about using basic pantry items for cleaning and what is being done about cleaners that people question:

Want to know more about what is going on with 'cleaning up' from an individual level to the national ? This article has a link to for ‘how to's’. The link takes you to the which offers information on consumer products. You can sign up for newsletters or just sign up to view on their site.

Another group mentioned that is taking action to reduce chemicals is Here's a press release:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007, 12:01 a.m. EST Alexandra Gorman, Women’s Voices for the Earth, 406-396-1639 (cell),alex@womenandenvironment.orgSian Wu, Resource Media, 206-374-7795


National Women’s Environmental Health Organization Calls for Full Disclosure of Ingredients

MISSOULA—A new report ‘Household Hazards: Potential Hazards of Home Cleaning Products’ released today points to mounting evidence that links exposure to chemicals in cleaning products to a rise in health problems, particularly asthma and reproductive harm. A staff scientist with the national women’s environmental health group Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) drew information from over 75 reports and scientific studies, exposing a valid reason for concern about the ingredients in these products. The report highlights the pervasiveness of these health concerns associated with household cleaning products, and the need for companies to label their products with a list of currently “hidden ingredients” which pose potential risks to human health.

The group sent a letter to 23 major manufacturers of cleaning products including Proctor & Gamble and S.C. Johnson, (for full list, please see: requesting full disclosure of chemicals of concern to consumers through product labels. None have responded with a willingness to list these particularly harmful chemicals on its product labels. In the letter WVE states that “individuals affected by conditions such as asthma or allergies often look to avoid substances that may trigger or exacerbate their symptoms. Similarly, women who are pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, take extra precautions to avoid exposures that may impact the development of their child. Individuals with chemical sensitivities or various other diseases are also concerned about controlling their exposures to certain substances.”

Some companies have said that they cannot list ingredients due to the risk of divulging trade secrets to their competitors. WVE has stated that food companies have to label ingredients despite their need to protect "secret recipes,” and this system works quite well in alerting shoppers ingredients they wish to avoid, for allergy reasons or otherwise. The group also notes that if company competitors wanted to steal a formula, they could always take it to a laboratory and determine its ingredients, with much greater accuracy than they would get off an ingredients label. “The public good from making this information readily available clearly outweighs the risk to the company,” says Alexandra Gorman, report author and Director of Science and Research at WVE.

The report ‘Household Hazards’ points to several studies that reveal a higher incidence of asthma in populations, such as janitorial workers, who have high exposure to certain cleaning chemicals. It was also found that frequent use of certain chemicals in household products is associated with persistent wheezing among pre-school children, and increases the likelihood of asthma among children. An estimated 9 million children (12.5% of children) aged 18 or less living in the U.S. have had asthma diagnosed at some time in their lives. According to the Centers for Disease Control, asthma affects 20 million people in the U.S. and is the most common serious chronic childhood disease.

“The epidemic rates of asthma among children under five in our country is frightening,” says Julia Earl of Minneapolis, a mother of a seven year old son with asthma. “The link between asthma and these chemicals in household cleaning products has me extremely concerned. Asthma is a serious condition, and this should be taken seriously by those who have the power to restrict these chemicals when effective alternatives exist.”

The report found that the presence of these chemicals in our daily lives is more pervasive than previously thought, and that children are disproportionately impacted by cleaning chemicals, both at home and at school, being more vulnerable due to underdeveloped immune systems. Infants’ exposure can be particularly high because they crawl on the ground, frequently putting their hands in their mouths, transferring chemicals from floor and carpet finishes and cleaners directly into their bodies. Women are also receiving more chemical exposure than men, since they are still doing over 70% of the housework in the average home. The more time women spend at home, the higher their exposure to potentially hazardous cleaning chemicals, such as monoethanolamine (MEA), glycol ethers and benzalkoniumchloride.

“Food manufacturers have to list ingredients, so why shouldn’t cleaning product manufacturers? These chemicals also go into our body via our skin and our lungs. The Made in the USA label is not enough to give us confidence that our children’s health is being protected. The standards for full disclosure of ingredients should be the same, whether a product is made in the U.S. or is made in China,” said Gorman, referring to scandals around toothpaste, pet food and other products made in China.

State, county and city governments have paid increasing attention to this issue, and many have developed purchasing regulations for use in public buildings, which specify changes to milder cleaning products for daily maintenance and avoiding products that are flammable, corrosive or highly toxic. A list of government regulations and guidelines can be found here.

Many consumers are already taking action to prevent overexposure to potentially toxic chemicals in their home. Some of the tips offered in the report include avoiding products that contain these chemicals of concern, using fewer products, buying products that disclose their ingredients, and never mixing products.

The release of ‘Household Hazards’ signifies the launch of a new national initiative by Women’s Voices for the Earth to tackle the rising incidence of chronic diseases among women and children linked with exposure to chemicals in consumer products. WVE’s campaign will call on major manufacturers of common household cleaning products to help protect public health by disclosing and ultimately removinghazardous ingredients from their products.

To download a copy of the report, please visit on July 24. To receive acontact list of scientists who have reviewed the report, organizations working to “green” the cleaningproducts industry, and concerned mothers, housecleaners and others in different states across the country,please contact Alexandra Gorman at Women’s Voices for the Earth, 406-396-1639,

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These are just a few of the growing number of individuals and groups who are taking action toward a more 'friendly' environment.

Monday, October 1, 2007

FDA Suggests Toddlers Don’t Use Cold Medication

What Do You Do Now?

The movie Sicko came out and exposed what people already knew. The healthcare system is troubled. Sicko gave a voice to individuals dealing with difficulties. What does it take for medicine to change? What can you do until it does?

The FDA released a 356 page document as part of a broad and ongoing FDA examination of approximately 800 medicines. The goal is to see if the medications for children are effective for treating colds and coughs. The immediate call for action is ‘don’t give toddlers a multi-symptom cold medication’.

So what do parents do? Preventative care is a good place to start. Preemptive measures make it possible for the body to fight off so many ‘bugs’. But it’s not just the viruses and bacteria.

Of course there are also the common sense steps to take in order to keep things germ free. But a word of caution, it has been learned that keeping all dirt away from children keeps them from developing immunity at a young age.

By providing the body with quality nutrients through food, water, and air, and enjoying exercise you provide your body optimum care. If you want the body to ‘run’ well then you must strive for a good balance in all areas of life.

If you mainly eat junk food, what does you body have to build upon? It will get what it can from the food, but what kind of structure is built? After all, your body rebuilds itself once every seven years. You could look at it this way, that if you want to save money on health care costs, then invest in quality food. The same goes with water and air. All stress and systems within your body just can’t maintain a high pace. It’s like driving a car at a high speed, for a long time and not maintaining it. Something is going to give. There are lots of medications out there for many different conditions. But what good does it do if the system is out of whack?

As for the children’s cold medicine situation, Dr. Joshus Sharfstein, the Baltimore Health Commissioner said, “It does not make sense, in the absence of information, to say ‘consult a physician’, because they do not have superhuman powers. They cannot make a product safe or effective.” Sicko is about taking action. What action will you take?