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How about your shampoo? How about your canned foods, any of them, whether organic  contents or not? How about your couch or your kids' nice flannel jammies? Is that nice cup of tea you are drinking really made mostly of pesticide laden grass clippings? Is your spice collection full of fraudulent fillers that may be really bad for you? Is your cumin really bulked with ground dung powder? Is your olive oil really made from corn? Is your corn oil really made of swill waste? How would you know?

The answers to these questions may quite possibly be yes. Keep scrolling to find out how to determine whether you and your family are being exposed to toxic chemicals and fraudulent foods. Also find out what is being done about it, what you can do about it.

The Problem: Toxic Chemicals Commonly Used in the Home Poisoning Humans and the Environment
The five chemicals or groups of chemicals currently of greatest concern are Bisphenol A (BPA), Nonylphenols, PFCs, Flame retardants, including PBDE,  and Phthalates. These chemicals can be found in everyday items we use in our homes such as, shampoo, laundry detergent, clothing, furniture, canned foods, plastic bottles and containers,  household cleaners, non-stick cookware. Many of these chemicals are either in or in contact with things we ingest or in contact with our skin. Ingestion and Skin absorption are two primary pathways for toxic exposures.  
Here is some more detail on the particular chemical groups from the McClatchy article, We're in contact with uncontrolled chemicals


Bisphenol A (BPA)

Uses: It hardens clear "polycarbonate" plastics, which are used in compact discs, plastic dinnerware, eyeglass lenses, toys, beverage bottles, and impact-resistant safety equipment. Also used in the linings of food cans, in dental sealants, and on cash register receipts.

Health concerns: BPA is considered estrogenic and has been shown to affect the reproductive systems of laboratory animals. BPA also has been linked to many other disorders. Potential harm is considered highest for young children ...

Nonylphenols, including nonylphenol ethoxylates

Uses: Laundry detergents, shampoos, household cleaners, latex paints.

Health concerns: NPs have been detected in human breast milk, blood, and urine, and are associated with reproductive and developmental effects in rodents. Fish exposed to low levels can become feminized.

PFCs (perfluorinated chemicals)

Uses: Widely used water, grease, and stain repellents. Contained in the coatings of nonstick cookware. Used to greaseproof paper and cardboard food packaging. Added to carpeting and clothing for stain protection.

Health concerns: They are bioaccumulative in wildlife and humans, and are persistent in the environment. They are toxic to laboratory animals and wildlife.

Flame retardants, including PBDE

Uses: To prevent the spread of fire, many versions of these chemicals are added to upholstered furniture and mattresses - including many products for babies - plus textiles, plastics, electronics, wire insulation.

Health concerns: PBDEs are not chemically bound to plastics or other products in which they are used, making them more likely to leach out. "Certain PBDEs are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to both humans and the environment," ...


Uses: They make plastics more malleable, and are found in vinyl shower curtains, toys, vinyl flooring. They help lotions penetrate skin, so they are found in a wide variety of personal care products, including cosmetics, fragrances, and nail polish. Also found in air-fresheners and cleaning products.

Health concerns: Known to interfere with the production of male reproductive hormones in animals and considered likely to have similar effects in humans. The EPA is concerned about phthalates because of their toxicity and the evidence of pervasive human and environmental exposure to these chemicals. Phthalates have been detected in food and also measured in humans.

Another Problem: Fraudulent and/or unsafe foods
Another recent article, Chemicals Most Countries Ban Still Permitted in US Foods, explains that many of our foods are hazardous to us as well, in part due to poor legislation and regulation and in part due to manufacturer fraudulence.
Whereas other international authorities tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to evaluating food additives, in the US new food products "simply need an OK from experts hired by the manufacturers" giving the FDA the option to investigate later "if health issues emerge."

Though the FDA's mission is purportedly "to protect public health by ensuring that foods are safe and properly labeled," a second examination released Wednesday by the non-profit food watchdog, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), revealed that the amount of food fraud and mislabeled ingredients is up by 60 percent this year.

Here are some of the tainted products listed in the article.
USP tells ABC News that liquids and ground foods in general are the easiest to tamper with:

    Olive oil: often diluted with cheaper oils
    Lemon juice: cheapened with water and sugar
    Tea: diluted with fillers like lawn grass or fern leaves
    Spices: like paprika or saffron adulterated with dangerous food colorings that mimic the colors

Milk, honey, coffee and syrup are also listed by the USP as being highly adulterated products.

Also high on the list: seafood. The number one fake being escolar, an oily fish that can cause stomach problems, being mislabeled as white tuna or albacore, frequently found on sushi menus.

I wanted to find out more, so I went straight to the Food Fraud Database to look for myself. I looked up some items I use from my spice cabinet and the oils I use in stove top cooking. I also looked up tea since it something I consume everyday. The results from some brief searches basically freak me right out. If my olive oil is most likely made mostly of cheap corn oil, then what is in the corn oil? Swill! Oh, yummy.  Of course not every bottle of oil will be contaminated, but how should we know? We’re not about to run analytical tests on everything we eat from home.  We’re  supposed to be able to trust the manufacturer right? Right?? Or at least the FDA??
Spices     Cinnamon                     Coffee husks
Spices     Chillies                     Brick powder
Spices     Coriander powder     Dung powder
Spices     Oregano                     Leaves from sumac
Spices     Black pepper-ground  Ground papaya seeds

Other     Tea leaves                    Colored saw dust
Other     Tea (green)                 Copper salts

Oils             Olive oil                     Corn oil
Oils             Corn oil                     Swill or gutter oil (refined oil from recycled food and livestock waste)

Another Problem: Ineffective and Flawed Legislation

According to this recent article from McClatchy, We're in contact with uncontrolled chemicals, a major problem is the legislation. The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 is outdated and ineffective.

When TSCA was passed, it grandfathered in, "without any evaluation," the 62,000 chemicals in commerce that existed before 1976, Jones said.

He noted that in the 34 years since TSCA was passed, the list of chemicals has grown to 84,000, and EPA has been able to require testing on only about 200 of them.

Also, the agency has regulated or banned only five.

Here are some of the flaws in the legislation that need remedy.
* Few data call-ins are issued, even fewer chemicals are required to be tested and no minimum data set is required even for new chemicals.

* EPA is required to prove harm before it can regulate a chemical

* No mandate exists to assess the safety of existing chemicals. New chemicals undergo a severely time-limited and highly data-constrained review

* No criteria are provided for EPA to use to identify and prioritize chemicals or exposures of greatest concern, leaving such decisions to case-by-case judgments.

* Even chemicals of highest concern, such as asbestos, have not been able to be regulated under TSCA’s “unreasonable risk” cost-benefit standard. Instead, assessments often drag on indefinitely without conclusion or decision.

* Companies are free to claim, often without providing any justification, most information they submit to EPA to be confidential business information (CBI), denying access to the public and even to state and local government. EPA is not required to review such claims, and the claims never expire.

* To require testing or take other actions, EPA must promulgate regulations that take many years and resources to develop. EPA must show potential for a chemical to cause harm in order to require testing, a Catch-22.


The Solution: New Legislation
Since 2005, U.S. Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., has worked to change that. In 2010, he introduced the first version of the Safe Chemicals Act, which would require companies "to prove their products are safe before they end up in our home and our children's bodies," he said recently by email.

A later version, with 27 co-sponsors, passed out of committee in July. He has vowed to keep fighting for a vote in the full Senate.

Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, as amended, Section-by-Section

Safe Chemicals Act of 2011: Summary

Testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found more than 212 industrial chemicals in the bodies of most Americans, including at least six known carcinogens and dozens that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and other adverse health effects. But the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), which governs these chemicals, has not been amended since its adoption more than three decades ago – despite huge changes in chemical production and use and our state of knowledge about how chemicals can harm health and the environment.
* Ensure EPA has information on the health risks of all chemicals.
* Require EPA to prioritize chemicals based on risk.
* Expedite action to reduce risk from chemicals of highest concern.
* Further evaluate chemicals that could pose unacceptable risk.
* Provide broad public, market and worker access to reliable chemical information.
* Promotes innovation, green chemistry, and safer alternatives to chemicals of concern.
Yet Another Problem: Lobbyists and Weenies in the Senate

Here is why the Safe Chemicals Act has not yet been passed. You guessed it. Opposition from the Industries that would be regulated and the moneys donated from the Opposition to Senators on both sides of the aisle. Same old shit indeed.

From Open Congress on S.847

Specific Organizations Opposing S.847

    American Apparel and Footwear Association
    American Cleaning Institute
    American Coatings Association
    American Chemistry Council (ACC)
    Adhesive and Sealant Council
    Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
    American Iron and Steel Institute
    American Petroleum Institute
    Consumer Specialty Products Association
    CropLife America
    Edison Electric Institute
    Fashion Accessories Shippers Association
    Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association
    Grocery Manufacturers Association
    Industrial Minerals Association - North America
    International Diatomite Producers Association
    International Fragrance Association North America
    International Sleep Products Association
    Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association
    National Association of Chemical Distributors
    National Association for Surface Finishing
    National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers
    National Electrical Manufacturers Association
    National Industrial Sand Association
    National Mining Association
    National Petrochemical & Refiners Association
    National Retail Federation
    North American Metals Council
    Personal Care Products Council
    Pine Chemicals Association
    Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association
    Responsible Industry for Sound Environment
    Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates
    Specialty Graphic Imaging Association
    SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association
    Textile Rental Services Association
    The Fertilizer Institute
    The Vinyl Institute
    Travel Goods Association
    Utility Solid Waste Activities Group
    American Forest & Paper Association
    National Association of Manufacturers

Top recipients for ALL opposing interest groups
Name                             Amount Received
Sen. Rob Portman [R, OH]     $663,333    
Sen. Charles E. Schumer [D, NY]     $366,000    
Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV]     $327,905    
Sen. Roy Blunt [R, MO]     $301,845    
Sen. Richard Burr [R, NC]     $255,980    
Sen. Mark Kirk [R, IL]     $234,300    
Sen. Lisa Murkowski [R, AK]     $219,350    
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY]     $194,950    
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey [R, PA]     $189,140    
Sen. Johnny Isakson [R, GA]     $185,750    

Rep. John A. Boehner [R, OH-8]     $235,550    
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer [D, MD-5]     $218,250    
Rep. Eric Cantor [R, VA-7]     $198,150    
Rep. Joe Barton [R, TX-6]     $196,100    
Rep. James E. Clyburn [D, SC-6]     $175,642    
Rep. Dave Camp [R, MI-4]     $120,969    
Rep. Tim Murphy [R, PA-18]     $111,225    
Rep. Edward J. Markey [D, MA-5]     $101,900    
Rep. Charles W. Dent [R, PA-15]     $101,550    
Rep. Steve Israel [D, NY-3]     $101,100    

What you can do
1.     Support the same kind of legislation at the state level.  
26 States to Consider Toxic Chemicals Legislation in 2013
For more information, Go Here: Safer States

2.    Learn about the chemicals in the things you use around the house
Use this database and guide to search the products you use and seek out alternatives that are better for you and the environment. Alternatives aren’t necessarily more expensive. Sometimes they require a bit more elbow grease, but baking soda and vinegar are great safe alternative cleansers.  EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning

To find alternative laundry soaps, look here: 7 least toxic laundry detergents

For more very useful information and news releases on this topic Go Here: Environmental Working Group

3.        Put pressure on the manufacturers. This tactic seems to be working with Proctor & Gamble. Nothing like a little Agent Orange like chemicals to clean your bedsheets, eh Kossacks?

Proctor & Gamble Agrees to Reduce Carcinogen in Tide

Proctor & Gamble has agreed to reformulate Tide and other popular laundry detergents to reduce contamination with 1,4 dioxane, defined as a carcinogen by California consumer product safeguards known as Proposition 65. The giant multinational’s action came in response to a lawsuit filed last year by an Oakland-based nonprofit called As You Sow.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I hope this has helped inform (39+ / 0-)

    and maybe inspire further investigation and action

    Thanks for reading.

    “Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest.”  ― MS

    by cosmic debris on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 03:04:15 PM PST

  •  This is an important diary. (7+ / 0-)

    On the subject of shampoo (and hair conditioner), last summer, I broke an entrenched 30-40-year habit of daily shampooing. I no longer use shampoo, at all, and my hair looks just as good as ever. Instead of shampoo, I rinse my hair with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a cup of warm water, every day, or every other day, depending. Besides baking soda, and the product I use to color my hair, I use nothing on it, at all.

    I love it. It's yet another instance of doing without a self-care product I'd been led to believe was indispensable.

    Regulation is essential, as you point out. As critical, is people realizing they can flout big corporations, including the cosmetics industry and the home-care products industry.

    Often, nature works just as well.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 03:20:53 PM PST

    •  We need to break the habit (5+ / 0-)

      Of consumption in cosmetics and home products just as we have in foods. "New and Improved!" and "Better Living through Modern Chemistry" are advertising campaigns best disposed of.

      Keeping it simple - baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar, Dr. Bronners or other Castille soap - pretty much all you need to clean most things including ourselves.


      “Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest.”  ― MS

      by cosmic debris on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 03:28:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  About a month ago (6+ / 0-)

    I got this horrible rash on only the places where my clothes rubbed. Elbows, waist, knees, front of my thighs and my feet. I waited it out for a week and then went to the doc to confirm contact dermatitis, got some steroids that I didn't take, washed everything I owned in plain water and a vinegar rinse and it eventually went away.
    I hadn't changed my detergent in years, so I guess the change was on their end and it wasn't a good one. I've never had reactions to anything like that before.

  •  Poison Portman (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosmic debris

    Wow! Number 1 for poison profiteers.

  •  Proving harm re: corporate negligence and (3+ / 0-)


    it's entirely perverse that one has to prove "harm" in corporate actions to adulerate food or use contaminants instead of pure ingredients, all to save money.  It's perverse to require that a criterion applicable with regard to the actions of individuals in criminal suits-- "harm"-- be applied to corporate actions.  In cases concerning individuals "harming" others, property or bodies are directly affected through violence, aggression, robbery, theft.  However, with regard to corporate actions, those actions come about not through the corporation's desire to attack or do violence to any individual body or person or property, but rather, through the corporation's natural and consistent desire to make more money and cut down on expenses.  It's all just business, dontcha know.  And anyway, what's wrong with putting husks in cinnamon?  The FDA and EPA approve it, and it's not illegal!

    Things that are "harmful" are made illegal.  But how does one prove that cutting corners in cinnamon production is harmful?  Is it "harmful" for a corporation to do such a seemingly innocuous thing?  Humans can ingest husks, after all; nobody gets HURT by what the corporation is doing in cutting the cinnamon.  

    So it's not "harmful."  Is it, perhaps, "immoral"?  When is "immoral" equated to "harmful"?  In any event, one ends up sounding like a commie hippie if one connects the dots and concludes that the next question in the series is, "could one then say that unfettered actions in the pursuit of capitalist profit are immoral, and therefore harmful?"

    Corporations are absolutely NOT people when it comes to this particular issue of whether or not, and how, their actions are "harmful".

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 07:39:16 PM PST

  •  I gave up on the EPA around the time they approved (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cosmic debris, LinSea, Maudlin

    Corexit for dispersing the oil from the BP oil leak. The EPA tested Corexit for all of one week, by having fish living in waters with some Corexit in the water. The fish all survived - so the EPA ruled the product was safe. However, one of the more dedicated researchers did a similar test that lasted longer, and that test showed that Corexit is NOT safe - it just takes more than  a single week to kill off the fish. The EPA is just one more agency whose revolving doors mean industries' needs are being met, while our needs aren't.

    Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

    by Truedelphi on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 12:19:46 AM PST

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