When You Can’t Trust The Labels


By Dr. Ellen Kornmehl
Guest Blogger

We try to be informed consumers, pouring over ingredient labels and shying away from products that may be deleterious to health. But how reliable are those ingredient lists and promising claims of “safe” and “non-toxic?” As it turns out, not very reliable at all. A new study testing everyday household commercial items for chemicals linked to breast health, growth, and asthma shows that conventional products, as well as “safe, green” alternatives, contained 55 potentially harmful chemicals. The agents tested were hormone-or endocrine-disrupting compounds, with potential links to breast cancer, male infertility, and abnormal development, as well as chemicals associated with asthma.

Published in Environmental Health Perspectives by the Silent Spring Institute, a national research agency in Newton, MA, the study is the largest commercial product-testing survey of its kind. Products tested (see list here) included shampoos, sunscreens, cleaning agents, bedding, hand soap, laundry detergents, lipstick among 50 product types. The highest levels of phthalates, DEHP, DEP, BBP, used to soften plastics and regarded as relatively strong hormone disruptors, were present in vinyl household products, such as pillow protectors and shower curtains. Sunscreens and fragranced products — including air fresheners, dryer sheets, and perfume — had the largest number of target chemicals and some of the highest concentrations.

Phthalates are linked to concerns about children’s growth and development as well as reproduction and have been banned in children’s products in the EU since 2005 and regulated in the US since August 2008. Continue reading

Why To Exercise Today: Your Job May Be Toxic In More Ways Than One

We’ve heard recently about the ill effects of sitting too much; now iVillage has news here more specifically about the ill effects of desk jobs. Some might say the findings belong in “The Journal of Duh!” — How I love that phrase! Does anybody know where it originated? — but if you have a sedentary job you’re likelier to have lower levels of physical activity, particularly if you’re a woman. From iVillage:

The investigators found that full-time employed men in either active or sedentary jobs were more active than healthy unemployed men during the work week. In comparison, women with sedentary jobs were less physically active Monday through Friday compared to unemployed women.

The takeaway: Added efforts are needed to raise activity levels, especially among unemployed men and women in sedentary jobs, to improve health.

And just to add a dollop of fear to your motivation, there’s a scary headline on BU Today here about a School of Public Health study finding “Toxic Dust In Boston Office.” Yikes. So much the more reason to get the detox effects of exercise. From BU Today:

Banned chemicals once widely used in computers and other electronics and in the polyurethane foam padding in office chairs, furniture, and carpeting are likely to be found in offices throughout the United States. Flame retardants now banned internationally are widespread in offices around Boston, and a new BU School of Public Health study has found that the chemicals’ concentrations in office dust are linked to traces found on workers’ hands and in their blood.