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Wednesday
May042016

New Study Finds Parabens Can Harm Fetus

A study led by SUNY Downstate Medical Center's School of Public Health says that using personal care products with parabens during pregnancy may lead to adverse effects in newborns.

"The study found a link between women with higher levels of butyl paraben, which is commonly used as a preservative in cosmetics, and the following birth outcomes: shorter gestational age at birth, decreased birth weight, and increased odds of preterm birth," says Laura Geer, PhD, MHS, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate.

The antimicrobial compound, triclocarban, mainly added to soaps, was associated with shorter gestational age at birth. Another common chemical added to lotions and creams, propyl paraben, was associated with decreased body length at birth. The long-term consequences of this are not clear, and, Geer adds, "Findings must be reproduced in larger studies."

The study was a collaboration with SUNY Downstate's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and the Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute, directed by professor Rolf Halden, PhD, a noted expert in the study of antimicrobial chemicals. The findings are available online and will be published in a Special Issue "Emerging Contaminants" in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Dr. Geer says, "Our latest study adds to the growing body of evidence showing that endocrine-disrupting compounds can lead to developmental and reproductive problems in animals and in humans. Effects observed in previous studies mainly came from animal models only."

This study presents evidence of potentially adverse impacts in humans. Larger follow-up studies to confirm these findings are warranted. Geer suggests, "Based on this new evidence, the safety of use of these chemicals in our consumer products should be reassessed."

Regulations requiring removal of triclosan from various consumer care products have been in place since 2015 in the European Union, but broader regulatory action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not ensued. Various U.S. manufacturers have pledged to voluntarily remove triclosan from various hygiene-related products, while the state of Minnesota has passed a ban on use of triclosan in sanitizing or hand and body cleaning products beginning in 2017.

Dr. Geer concludes, "Our study provides further evidence of the importance of assessing the risks of having these additional chemicals in our consumer products. While small-scale changes in birth size may not be of clinical relevance or cause for concern in individual cases, subtle shifts in birth size or timing at the population-level would have major impacts on the risk for adverse birth outcomes."

Monday
Apr252016

New Study Finds Laundry Detergent Packets are Most Toxic

A new study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Central Ohio Poison Center found that exposure to laundry detergent packets is more dangerous to young children than exposure to other types of laundry and dishwasher detergent.

The study, published online today in Pediatrics, found that from January 2013 through December 2014 Poison Control Centers in the U.S. received 62,254 calls related to laundry and dishwasher detergent exposures among children younger than 6 years old. The study included calls about both traditional detergent and detergent packets and found that detergent packets accounted for 60 percent of all calls. Almost half (45 percent) of the calls for exposure to laundry detergent packets were referred to a health care facility for evaluation and treatment, significantly more than calls related to exposures to traditional laundry detergent (17 percent), traditional dishwasher detergent (four percent), or dishwasher detergent packets (five percent).

Incidents related to laundry detergent packets saw the biggest rise - increasing 17 percent over the two year study period. Poison control centers received more than 30 calls a day about children who had been exposed to a laundry detergent packet, which is about one call every 45 minutes.

In addition, the most serious clinical effects such as coma, trouble breathing, heart problems, and death, were only seen in children exposed to the chemicals in laundry detergent packets. The risks of having a clinical effect, a serious medical outcome, hospitalization, or intubation were significantly higher for children who had been exposed to the chemicals in a laundry detergent packet than for those exposed to any other type of laundry or dishwasher detergent. At least one child a day in the U.S. was admitted to the hospital due to a laundry detergent packet exposure. The two child deaths in this study were both associated with exposure to laundry detergent packets.

In an effort to reduce unintentional exposures to the contents of laundry detergent packets, ASTM published a voluntary Standard Safety Specification for Liquid Laundry Packets in 2015, but some experts feel it did not go far enough.

"This voluntary standard is a good first step, but it needs to be strengthened," said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, the senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "Unless this unacceptably high number of exposures declines dramatically, manufacturers need to continue to find ways to make this product and its packaging safer for children."

Experts recommend that families with children younger than 6 years old use traditional detergent instead of packets. "Many families don't realize how toxic these highly concentrated laundry detergent packets are," says Marcel J. Casavant, MD a co-author of the study, chief of toxicology at Nationwide Children's Hospital and medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. "Use traditional laundry detergent when you have young kids in your home. It isn't worth the risk when there is a safer and effective alternative available."

Parents and child caregivers can help children stay safer by following these tips: 

  • People who have young children that live in or visit their home should use traditional laundry detergent, which is much less toxic than laundry detergent packets.
  • Store all laundry detergent including packets up, away, and out of sight - in a locked cabinet is best for laundry packets.
  • Close laundry detergent packet packages or containers and put them away immediately after use.
  • Save the national Poison Help Line number (1-800-222-1222) in your cell phone and post it near your home phones.
Friday
Apr222016

Pregnant women in Brooklyn have highest levels of parabens

The results were published online in the journal Environment International, in an article titled, "Maternal and fetal exposure to parabens in a multiethnic urban U.S. population."

Parabens have been widely used in cosmetics and foods for decades, but in recent years have been found to disrupt the expression of hormones during influential times of development, possibly affecting fetal, child, and even adult health. The authors point out that recent studies have raised awareness for potential health effects, particularly during fetal development and in children younger than six to 12 months of age, a period when detoxification systems are still immature, "and thus leaving the exposed more vulnerable," notes senior author Rolf Halden, PhD, professor and director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University.

Article co-author Laura A. Geer, PhD, MHS, associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate, said:

"What we know from the study is that parabens are being transferred from pregnant women to their fetuses. This is problematic because parabens have demonstrated endocrine-disrupting potential in animal studies, leading to developmental and reproductive disorders. It is too early to know if these same effects can occur in humans, and if so, at what levels of exposure."

She adds, "I would not characterize these findings as alarming, but rather of concern, since we do not have relevant regulatory limits for these substances. The European Union countries set limits by volume per product, a good starting point. Limiting exposure to these substances is complicated because of their ubiquity in personal care and consumer products. Higher exposure levels in more vulnerable populations, such as in our study, gives further justification for us to answer the questions of what higher levels mean for health."

In a follow-up study, the authors are examining possible impacts on birth outcomes; results are forthcoming.

Source

Wednesday
Apr202016

Monsanto Chemical May Lead to Weight Gain

A New study by researchers at the University of Georgia says that exposure to a chemical manufactured by Monsanto called benzyl butyl phthalate may cause cells store more fat. 

"Phthalate exposure can be closely associated with the rise of different types of disease development," said the study's lead author Lei Yin, an assistant research scientist in the UGA College of Public Health's department of environmental health science.

Because levels of phthalates were found in human fluids in previous studies, the researchers wanted to see if a specific phthalate, benzyl butyl phthalate, or BBP, manufactured by Monsanto (source) had an effect on the accumulation of fat in cells. Their findings were published in the journal Toxicology in Vitro.

Benzyl butyl phthalate is used in the manufacturing of vinyl tile and can also be found as a plasticizer in polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is used in the manufacturing of conveyor belts, carpet, weather stripping and more. When BBP is added during the manufacturing of a product, it is not bound to the final product.  However, through the use and disposal of the product, BBP can be released into the environment.  BBP can be deposited on and taken up by crops for human and livestock consumption, resulting in its entry into the food chain. The biggest source of exposure to BBP is through foods. (Source)

The researchers used mouse cells to analyze how exposure to BBP affected the way oils and fats, known as lipids, accumulated within the cells.

"Obesity is one of the big issues in humans now, and of course genetic components can contribute to the development of obesity," said study co-author Xiaozhong "John" Yu, an assistant professor of environmental health science. "However, environmental exposure may also contribute to obesity."

Some phthalates have proven to cause reproductive toxicity at high levels of exposure, but the link between low-level exposure and BBP hadn't yet been thoroughly explored, Yin explained.

"It could be that some chemicals at a very low dose and over a long period time, which is known as chronic exposure, can cause more harmful diseases or effects," she said.

The researchers quantified lipid droplet accumulation using traditional staining approaches, in which the cells are stained and therefore can be visually assessed under a microscope, and a newer approach called cellomics high-content analysis. This high-content screening uses "image processing algorithms, computer machine learning and can measure the multiple parameters in a fast and objective way," Yin said.

The results of BBP's effects were compared with bisphenol A, or BPA, an environmental endocrine disruptor that is known for its role in adipogenesis, or how fat cells develop.

BBP caused a response in the cells that is similar to BPA: Both chemicals prompt the accumulation of lipid droplets. However, the droplets from BBP-treated cells were larger, something that suggests BBP exposure may lead to obesity.

Although the findings cannot be directly generalized to the human population--Yu notes the cells used were mouse cells and a "human is not a big mouse"--they do give an indication of a possible link between exposure to BBP and obesity, something that could affect human health.

Calling obesity research a very exciting area to be studying, Yin said she would like to explore the relationships between other environmental chemicals and obesity in future studies. She is also interested in learning if certain plant-based chemicals could counterbalance the negative effects of exposure to more harmful chemicals.

(Source

Wednesday
Apr132016

FTC Charges Cosmetic Companies Over "Natural" Claims

Four companies that market skin care products, shampoos, and sunscreens online have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they falsely claimed that their products are “all natural” or “100% natural,” despite the fact that they contain synthetic ingredients. The Commission has issued a complaint against a fifth company for making similar claims.

Under the proposed settlements, each of the four companies is barred from making similar misrepresentations in the future and must have competent and reliable evidence to substantiate any ingredient-related, environmental, or health claims it makes.

“‘All natural’ or ‘100 percent natural’ means just that -- no artificial ingredients or chemicals,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Companies should take a lesson from these cases.”

According to the FTC, each of the following companies made the all-natural claim in online ads:

  • Trans-India Products, Inc., doing business as ShiKai, based in Santa Rosa, California, markets “All Natural Hand and Body Lotion” and “All Natural Moisturizing Gel” both directly and through third-party websites including walgreens.com and vitacoast.com. The lotion contains Dimethicone, Ethyhexyl Glycerin, and Phenoxyethanol. The gel contains Phenoxyethanol.
  • ABS Consumer Products, LLC, doing business as EDEN BodyWorks, based in Memphis, Tennessee, markets haircare products on its own websites and at Walmart.com. It makes “all natural” claims for products including “Coconut Shea All Natural Styling Elixer” and “Jojoba Monoi All Natural Shampoo.” In reality, the products contain a range of synthetic ingredients such as Polyquaternium-37, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, and Polyquaternium-7.
  • Beyond Coastal, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, uses its website to sell its “Natural Sunscreen SPF 30,” describing it as “100% natural.” However, it also contains Dimethicone.
  • California Naturel, Inc., located in Sausalito, California, sells supposedly “all natural sunscreen” on its website, though the product contains Dimethicone. The Commission has issued a complaint alleging that California Naturel has made deceptive “all natural” claims in violation of Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act.

The proposed consent orders bar the four settling respondents from misrepresenting the following when advertising, promoting, or selling a product: 1) whether the product is all natural or 100 percent natural; 2) the extent to which the product contains any natural or synthetic components; 3) the ingredients or composition of a product; and 4) the environmental or health benefits of a product.

The orders require the respondents to have and rely on competent and reliable evidence to support any product claims they make. Some claims require scientific evidence, which is defined as tests, analyses, research, or studies that have been conducted and evaluated objectively by qualified individuals using procedures generally accepted in the profession to yield accurate and reliable results.

Source