Archive for December, 2011

Detoxify your Body

Why are we so unhealthy?

Detoxify Your Body

When people talk about detoxification and cleansing the body of harmful toxins, it’s often seen as a fringe element of vegetarians. People really don’t like to think about harmful toxins building up in their colons or in their arteries, but it’s often a by-product of a carnivorous diet. A diet that’s high in fat and processed foods tends to slow down our digestive systems, and our elimination processes are also interrupted.

This can allow harmful bacteria and toxins to accumulate and can create a general feeling of sluggishness, as well as a host of digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or colitis. When we begin eating a more healthy vegetarian diet, we start to get more dietary fiber into our systems, and all of a sudden, our digestive systems start to work better,

When you eliminate high-fat meat and processed foods from your diet, then much of your body’s energy is freed from the intense work of digesting these foods. Everything becomes clearer – your blood, your organs, your mind. You start to become more aware of the toxic nature of the food you’d been eating before.

Toxicity is of much greater concern in the twentieth century than ever before. There are many new and stronger chemicals, air and water pollution, radiation and nuclear power. We ingest new chemicals, use more drugs of all kinds, eat more sugar and refined foods, and daily abuse ourselves with various stimulants and sedatives. The incidence of many toxicity diseases has increased as well. Cancer and cardiovascular disease are two of the main ones. Arthritis, allergies, obesity, and many skin problems are others. In addition, a wide range of symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, pains, coughs, gastrointestinal problems, and problems from immune weakness, can all be related to toxicity. When you start a vegetarian eating plan, your body eventually cleanses itself of the harmful effects of these toxic foods.

The best way to avoid Acrylamide found in certain foods is to boil or steam your food or eat your vegetables raw.

Even if you work out and eat healthy you can still become polluted. The air that you breathe, the food that you eat, perfumes, deodorants and lotions. The list goes on and on. All of these things introduce chemicals into your body and over time these chemicals build up and cause you to be overweight and unhealthy.

As time goes on toxic build up thickens and becomes increasingly difficult for your body to absorb the nutrients it needs due to the thick layer of fecal matter separating it from nutrients. Toxins are also absorbed into the skin, our organs, our brain and even our cells. These toxins are normally moved by the body through proper nutrition and healthy exercise, not so anymore.

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Posted by Fay B. Castro - December 28, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Categories: Chemicals, Detoxify, Green Life, Health and Wellness, Non Toxic Products   Tags:

Treatments for Cancer

Research Note regarding the President’s Cancer Panel.

The President’s Cancer Panel dedicated the last two years to examining the impact of environmental factors on cancer risk. The Panel has just released an extensive report on their findings, which include eye-opening recommendations for individuals, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic. Although many of us have read similar recommendations and warnings, it is important to highlight that this report emerges from mainstream scientific and medical thinking, the President’s Cancer Panel, a panel of three experts who review the U.S. cancer program and report directly to the President.

“Most of what we know about cancer is based on studies of non-Hispanic white people, but by the middle of the century that group will be only 38 percent of the population,” said panel member Margaret L. Kripke, a professor emerita of immunology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “We need more data on cancer among minority populations so that we can begin to implement specific preventive measures.”

The report recommends more research into sociological factors that may explain disparities in cancer mortality among minorities.

Detoxify Your Body

“There have been a lot of studies in recent years trying to understand genetic differences associated with cancer susceptibility, but there are also cultural factors that can affect cancer mortality,” said Kripke. “In some cultures, people are so afraid of a cancer diagnosis that they don’t seek treatment until it’s very late.”

Current cancer screening guidelines should be evaluated, the panel noted, “to determine their accuracy in assessing disease burden in diverse populations.”

“One-size-fits-all screening guidelines don’t work,” Kripke said. “For example, the breast cancer screening guidelines have been loosened up so that women can start having mammograms later and may be screened less often, but we know that there is an early age of onset of breast cancer among Latino populations, and so if you change the guidelines based on the majority of people, these women will be left out.”

Another recommendation is that “cultural competency” become an integral part of medical school as well as continuing education for all health-care providers and administrative staff.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, praised the report, and said it “hit all the right points.”

Another statistic that I found staggering and scary is that approximately 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and about 21 percent of us will die from cancer. The Presidential Panel noted cancers are becoming more common, particularly in children, and the proliferation of chemicals in water, foods, air and household products is widely suspected as a factor according to the Panel. I’m glad to see that the Panel recognizes that there is a link between cancers and chemicals – I intuitively knew that there had to be a connection as I’ve witnessed friends and family having to deal with childhood and young adult cancers. Thirty or forty years ago, you rarely heard of a child with cancer (or severe food allergies for that matter). With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented.

What Individuals Can Do: Excerpts from the Presidential Panel’s Recommendations.

Individuals can take important steps in their own lives to reduce their exposure to environmental elements that increase risk for cancer and other diseases. And collectively, individual small actions can drastically reduce the number and levels of environmental contaminants.

Children

·    It is vitally important to recognize that children are far more susceptible to damage from environmental carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds than adults. To the extent possible, parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize children’s exposure to toxics. Particularly when pregnant and when children are small, choose foods, toys and garden products with fewer endocrine disruptors or other toxins. (Information about products is at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com or www.healthystuff.org)

Chemical Exposures
Individuals and families have many opportunities to reduce or eliminate chemical exposures. For example…

·    Removing shoes before entering the home and washing work clothes separately from the other family laundry.

·    Filtering home tap or well water… Unless the home water source is known to be contaminated, it is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.

·    Storing and carrying water in stainless steel, glass, or BPA- and phthalate-free containers.

·    Microwaving food and beverages in ceramic or glass instead of plastic containers.

·    Choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues…

·    Exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications if it is available. Avoiding or minimizing consumption of processed, charred, and well-done meats.

·    Properly disposing of pharmaceuticals, household chemicals, paints, and other materials.

·    Choose products made with non-toxic substances or environmentally safe chemicals.

·    Reducing or ceasing landscaping pesticide and fertilizer use will help keep these chemicals from contaminating drinking water supplies.

·    Turning off lights and electrical devices when not in use reduces exposure to petroleum combustion by-products because doing so reduces the need for electricity, much of which is generated using fossil fuels.

·    Driving a fuel-efficient car, biking or walking when possible, or using public transportation also cuts the amount of toxic auto exhaust in the air.

·    Reduce or eliminate exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in the home, auto, and public places.

Radiation

·    Adults and children can reduce their exposure to electromagnetic energy by wearing a headset when using a cell phone, texting instead of calling, and keeping calls brief.

·    It is advisable to periodically check home radon levels. Home buyers should conduct a radon test in any home they are considering purchasing.

·    Patients should discuss with their health care providers the need for medical tests or procedures that involve radiation exposure.

·    Adults and children can avoid overexposure to ultraviolet light by wearing protective clothing and sunscreens when outdoors and avoiding exposure when the sunlight is most intense.

Self-Advocacy

·    Each person can become an active voice in his or her community… letting policymakers know that they strongly support environmental cancer research and measures that will reduce or remove from the environment toxics that are known or suspected carcinogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Individuals also can influence industry by selecting non-toxic products and, where these do not exist, communicating with manufacturers and trade organizations about their desire for safer products.

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Posted by Fay B. Castro - December 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Categories: Chemicals, Ecology, Green Life, Living Green   Tags:

Chemicals in Cosmetics

What should I avoid when I am buying makeup or other personal care items?

These are the top 12 ingredients to avoid in your cosmetics. There is a link at the bottom to companies who pledge to avoid these chemicals.

1. Antibacterials
Overuse of antibacterials can prevent them from effectively fighting disease-causing germs like E. coli and Salmonella enterica. Triclosan, widely used in soaps, toothpastes and deodorants, has been detected in breast milk, and one recent study found that it interferes with testosterone activity in cells. Numerous studies have found that washing with regular soap and warm water is just as effective at killing germs.

2. Coal Tar
Coal tar is a known human carcinogen used as an active ingredient in dandruff shampoos and anti-itch creams. Coal-tar-based dyes such as FD&C Blue 1, used in toothpastes, and FD&C Green 3, used in mouthwash, have been found to be carcinogenic in animal studies when injected under skin.

3. Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA is a possible hormone disruptor, has shown limited evidence of carcinogenicity and depletes the body of chlorine needed for fetal brain development. DEA can also show up as a contaminant in products containing related chemicals, such as cocamide DEA.

4. 1,4-Dioxane
1,4-Dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen that can appear as a contaminant in products containing sodium laureth sulfate and ingredients that include the terms “PEG,” “-xynol,” “ceteareth,” “oleth” and most other ethoxylated “eth” ingredients. The FDA monitors products for the contaminant but has not yet recommended an exposure limit. Manufacturers can remove dioxane through a process called vacuum stripping, but a small amount usually remains. A 2007 survey by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that most children’s bath products contain 10 parts per million or less, but an earlier 2001 survey by the FDA found levels in excess of 85 parts per million.

5. Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde has a long list of adverse health effects, including immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and cancer in humans. Yet it still turns up in baby bath soap, nail polish, eyelash adhesive and hair dyes as a contaminant or break-down product of diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and quaternium compounds.

6. Fragrance
The catchall term “fragrance” may mask phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and may cause obesity and reproductive and developmental harm. Avoid phthalates by selecting essential-oil fragrances instead.

7. Lead and Mercury
Neurotoxic lead may appear in products as a naturally occurring contaminant of hydrated silica, one of the ingredients in toothpaste, and lead acetate is found in some brands of men’s hair dye. Brain-damaging mercury, found in the preservative thimerosol, is used in some mascaras. Despite the fact that some cosmetic industry people say lipstick can’t be made without lead, lead-free lipsticks are already on the market

8. Nanoparticles
Tiny nanoparticles, which may penetrate the skin and damage brain cells, are appearing in an increasing number of cosmetics and sunscreens. Most problematic are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, used in sunscreens to make them transparent. When possible, look for sunscreens containing particles of these ingredients larger than 100 nanometers. You’ll most likely need to call companies to confirm sizes, but a few manufacturers have started advertising their lack of nanoparticle-sized ingredients on labels.

9. Parabens
(methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-) Parabens, which have weak estrogenic effects, are common preservatives that appear in a wide array of toiletries. A study found that butyl paraben damaged sperm formation in the testes of mice, and a relative, sodium methylparaben, is banned in cosmetics by the E.U. Parabens break down in the body into phydroxybenzoic acid, which has estrogenic activity in human breast-cancer cell cultures.

10. Petroleum Distillates
Possible human carcinogens, petroleum distillates are prohibited or restricted for use in cosmetics in the E.U. but are found in several U.S. brands of mascara, foot-odor powder and other products. Look out for the terms “petroleum” or “liquid paraffin.”

11. P-Phenylenediamine
Commonly found in hair dyes, this chemical can damage the nervous system, cause lung irritation and cause severe allergic reactions. It’s also listed as 1,4-Benzenediamine; p-Phenyldiamine and 4-Phenylenediamine.

12. Hydroquinone
Found in skin lighteners and facial moisturizers, hydroquinone is neurotoxic and allergenic, and there’s limited evidence that it may cause cancer in lab animals. It may also appear as an impurity not listed on ingredients labels.

A few more chemicals to avoid

Moderate Hazard

UREA Imidazolldinyl, Diazolidinyl Urea: A preservative that often releases formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has a long list of adverse health effects, including immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and cancer in humans.

Alchohol Isopropyl (SD-40)
Drying, irritating solvent that strips skin’s moisture and immune barrier, making you vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. Made from a petroleum derivative found in shellac and antifreeze as well as personal care products. Promotes brown spots and premature aging. A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetics Ingredients says it may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting and coma. Fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.

Sodium hydroxide
Found in drain, metal and oven cleaners, is extremely irritating to eyes, nose and throat and can burn those tissues on contact. The cosmetic industry is now putting it in skin care products and oral care products. The warning label on sodium hydroxide products reads “POISON. May be fatal or cause permanent damage if swallowed. May cause blindness. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, mouth and clothing.”

Skin Irritants

Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol
Petroleum by-products that act as surfactants (wetting agents and solvents), they easily penetrate skin and weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. The EPA requires workers to wear protective clothing and to dispose of any PG solutions in toxic waste dumps. Because PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against skin contact to prevent brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.

Sodium lauryl sulfate, used in about 90% of personal care products that foam, a common skin irritant. When rinsed off, the product will have cleaned the area but will have taken moisture from the top layers of skin. In people with sensitive skin the drying property of these type of detergents can cause flare-ups of skin conditions or may worsen existing conditions. Personal care product manufacturers often add back chemically derived oils such as mineral oil to coat the skin leaving the illusion of the skin being moisturized when in fact these products only interfere with the skin’s natural moisturizing abilities.

Mineral Oil
Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic wrap, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging.

What can you do?

Look for body care products from one of the 600 retailers that have signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Compact. These companies have pledged to phase out the 450 chemicals banned by the European Union in 2005 because they’re strongly suspected of being mutagens, carcinogens, or endocrine disrupters.

See the attached list of good ingredients for moisturizers.

The Cosmetics Database is a great resource for finding information on all your beauty products.

http://safecosmetics.org/search.php

http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

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Posted by Fay B. Castro - December 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Categories: Chemicals, Health and Wellness, Living Green, Non Toxic Products   Tags:

Eco-Parenting

8 Steps to Eco-Parenting:

How do I eco-parent?

Eco Parenting

Raising children is hard enough without worrying about the environmental consequences of your parenting choices. Don’t sweat it. You already care about your child’s well-being and green choices make it easier. When it comes to eco-parenting, here are eight fundamentals:

1. Lead by example. You are the greatest role model your child will have. She will look up to you, learn from you, and embrace your habits. If you teach when you talk, you avoid many of the “why” questions that inevitably come when she sees you separating food scraps from glass from cardboard or turning the lights off when you leave a room.

2. Instill fundamental human needs. In addition to love, he or she needs to know that clean air, clean water, and clean soil are essential to human life. He can live without video games, but he cannot live without these precious commodities.

3. Share “green” experiences. Start a composting project or visit the aquarium to learn about the importance of the marine world to our lives. What happens when we take too many fish out of the sea or dump too much garbage into it? How does it affect the family? Come up with other “green” experiences.

4. Seriously consider breastfeeding. In a perfect world, no food is better (or greener) for an infant than mother’s milk. It is the ultimate in nutritious, local food production. Don’t take my word for it – check out the American Medical Association position on breastfeeding at www.ama-assn.org.

Healthy Food

5. Healthy food is usually green food. Your child will benefit from local fruits and vegetables at home. Take him to the local market or, if possible, a farm to learn about fresh food. Encourage him to start a garden in the backyard or grow some herbs in a pot at home. He is less likely to develop food allergies or sensitivities if he is not eating processed, packaged, or fast foods.

6. Green food makes you smarter. Diet is critical for learning. Parents can pitch a green school lunch partnership plan that is both healthy and financially responsible. If schools and school boards know that healthy cafeteria options don’t inflate the budget, it is hard to argue against them. For example, a school garden is a great education tool and a source of nutritious food for students.

7. Travel green.Don’t let your child develop an automobile addiction. Seek out destinations that you can reach together safely on foot or by bicycle. It is a great way to share time together and get fit. When the car cannot be avoided, try to combine errands or carpool with other families. Carpooling is a great, green way for parents to share the travel load.

8. Seek out green products for your kids. When you buy her toys, clothes and bath products, take some time to find eco-friendly, safe options. Green products for babies and children are growing in popularity.

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Posted by Fay B. Castro - December 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Categories: Ecology, Green Education, Green Life, Health and Wellness, Living Green   Tags:

Methane Gas Exposure

Giant plumes of Methane bubbling to surface of Arctic Ocean

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen in the Arctic Ocean.

Antarctic oceanic and tropospheric studies focus on the structure and processes of the ocean-atmosphere environment and their relationships with the global ocean, the atmosphere, and the marine biosphere. As part of the global heat engine, the Antarctic has a major role in the world’s transfer of energy. Its ocean/atmosphere system is known to be both an indicator and a component of climate change.

Russian scientists discovered the methane gas, some 1,000 meters in diameter, bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean. Scientists are concerned that as the Arctic Shelf recedes, the unprecedented levels of gas released could greatly accelerate global climate change.

The sheer scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

Dr Semiletov’s team published a study in 2010 estimating that the methane emissions from this region were about eight million tons a year, but the latest expedition suggests this is a significant underestimate of the phenomenon.

Igor Semiletov of the Russian Academy of Sciences tells the UK’s Independent that the plumes of methane, a gas 20 times as harmful as carbon dioxide, have shocked scientists who have been studying the region for decades. “Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of meters in diameter,” he said. “This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 meters in diameter. It’s astounding.”

Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tones of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea-ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.

“In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed,” Dr Semiletov said. “We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some plumes were a kilometer or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal.”

Dr Semiletov released his findings for the first time last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. December 2011.

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Posted by Fay B. Castro - December 16, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Categories: Ecology, Global Warming Effects, Green Education   Tags:

What is Fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer caused by the presence of a pressurized fluid. Hydraulic fractures may form naturally, as in the case of veins or dikes, or may be man-made in order to release petroleum, natural gas, coal seam gas, or other substances for extraction, where the technique is often called fracking or hydrofracking.

This type of fracturing, known colloquially as a frack job (or frac job), is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations. The energy from the injection of a highly-pressurized fracking fluid, creates new channels in the rock which can increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of fossil fuels.

The EPA found that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals had been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, a small community in central Wyoming where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. Health officials last year advised them not to drink their water after the EPA found low levels hydrocarbons in their wells.

The practice is called hydraulic fracturing and involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to open fissures and improve the flow of oil or gas to the surface.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday for the first time that fracking — a controversial method of improving the productivity of oil and gas wells — may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution.

The industry has long contended that fracking is safe, but environmentalists and some residents who live near drilling sites say it has poisoned groundwater.

The EPA said its announcement is the first step in a process of opening up its findings for review by the public and other scientists.

The fracking occurred below the level of the drinking water aquifer and close to water wells, the EPA said. Elsewhere, drilling is more remote and fracking occurs much deeper than the level of groundwater that would normally be used.

“This is an important first indication there are potential problems with fracking that can impact domestic water wells. It’s I think a clarion call to industry to make sure they take a great deal of care in their drilling practices,” said Steve Jones with the Wyoming Outdoor Council.

Wyoming last year became one of the first states to require oil and gas companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in fracking. Colorado regulators are considering doing the same.

The public and industry representatives packed an 11-hour hearing on the issue in Denver on Monday. They all generally supported the proposal but the sticking point is whether trade secrets would have to be disclosed and how quickly the information would have to be turned over.

And while the EPA emphasized the Wyoming findings we’re highly localized, the report is likely to reverberate.

The issue has been highly contentious in New York, where some upstate residents and politicians argue that the gas industry will bring desperately needed jobs while others demand a ban on fracking to protect water supplies. New York regulators haven’t issued permits for gas drilling with high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale since they began an extensive environmental review in 2008.

The EPA began sampling water from Pavilion’s aquifer to find out how troublesome the water contamination was. Although the EPA has not put together an official interpretation of the raw data, the samples from about forty-two homes found concentrations of pollutants—some known carcinogens—at levels much higher than safe for public consumption. Here are the results as reported by Abraham Lustgarten of ProPublica:

  1. Sampling showed the presence of a solvent called 2-Butoxyethanol, which is commonly used in the fracking process. The samples did not turn up “contaminants such as nitrates and fertilizers that would have signaled that agricultural activities were to blame.”
  2. The presence of cancer-causing benzene was found “at 50 times that level that is considered safe for people, as well as phenols—another dangerous human carcinogen—acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel.”
  3. Well “samples were saturated with methane gas that matched the deep layers of natural gas being drilled for energy. The gas did not match the shallower methane that the gas industry says is naturally occurring in water, a signal that the contamination was related to drilling and was less likely to have come from drilling waste spilled above ground.”

Kate Sinding, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York City, said in an e-mail Thursday that the EPA in Wyoming is now recognizing what other experts and families in fracking communities have known for some time: “Fracking poses serious threats to safe drinking water.”

The practice of hydraulic fracturing has come under scrutiny internationally due to apparent concerns about the environmenthealth and safety, and has been suspended or banned in some countries.

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Posted by Fay B. Castro - December 13, 2011 at 3:51 am

Categories: Ecology   Tags: