Yesterday I had a visit from Gina, Cassie’s sister and her husband. Over a beautiful lunch in the garden Gina shared that she had just received the results of a test for toxins in her blood, and found that she had increased levels of lead. Living, like us, in a relatively unspoiled part of Australia, the only place she could think it cam from was the home grown vegetables she had grown. To help them along she had used potash. Careful checking found a small amount of lead in the potash, which, it seems, was taken up by her ‘organic’ vegetables.
The possibility of anyone being chem-free today seems to be getting farther away by the day as more and more reports come in. let’s for the moment assume that we we are meticulous with the sourcing of our food, that we drink good AlkaWay pure water, that we don’t obviously abuse our bodies with trashfood.. how about our clothes?
Our clothes, it seems, play major part on making our water sources toxic. Sarah Knapton, Science Editor for the Telegraph reports that the water from our washing machines is loaded with all sorts of nasties – and this is how our water is becoming polluted with hormone-disrupting chemicals!
Scientists have been at odds on how flame retardant compounds and chemicals used to make flexible plastics end up in the environment. factories are now closely regulated to prevent accidental or intentional spillages – so how are these nasties getting into our precious drinking water?
The levels of phthalates and retardants finding their way into the natural world is a worry. There is increasing evidence that they damage fertility and could even be the reason why male sperm counts have fallen dramatically since the 1940s.
Women with the highest concentrations of phthalates in their bodies are also more likely to suffer low libido and a study published this week by British researchers showed that the fertility of dogs has dropped since 1988, because they share the same environment to humans.
Now researchers at the University of Toronto believe they have found the answer to how they chemicals are polluting the natural world.
It seems human clothing can trap the chemicals in their fibres. We walk around, and our clothing, often electrically charged, (static) is a giant walking absorbent pad! On laundry day, the attracted and accumulated chemicals are released into the washing machine water, before being swept away into the sewerage system.
Here’s the problem: wastewater plants extract less than 20 per cent of the chemicals. Most will find their way into rivers and lakes.
Lead author Dr Miriam Diamond, from the Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences at Toronto, said:
“These results have implications regarding the role of clothing conveying chemicals with indoor sources to the outdoor environment. Our results suggest that physical and chemical properties of fabrics, as well as chemicals, account for chemical accumulation and release. “Clothing is unique in the indoor environment as it undergoes continual laundering. These results support the hypothesis that clothing acts as an efficient conveyer of (chemicals) from indoors to outdoors through accumulation from air and then release during laundering.”
Phthalates are used in everything from synthetic fragrances to plastic food containers, vinyl flooring, insect repellent, shower curtains and even steering wheels and dashboards. But they are not chemically bound to the plastics they are added to, so there’s a continuous release of them into the atmosphere. Flexible plastic tends to harden and become brittle over time when phthalates have leached out.
So I assume that being a conscious little consumer you are wearing as many natural fibre clothes as possible.
The Toronto study found that natural fibres were worse for trapping phthalates. Cotton picks up nearly double the level of phalates as polyester, 3475 ng/dm2 (billionth of a gram per 10cm squared) compared with 1950 ng/dm2 for the manmade fibre.
Along with fertility problems, studies in both animals and humans have also linked flame retardants to thyroid disorders, memory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, and advanced puberty. Phthalates have also been linked to diabetes.
How – exactly – do pthalates get into our clothes?
Dr Michael Warhurst, Executive Director of CHEM Trust said phthalates are found in household dust, which can also get onto clothes.
“Most people don’t realise quite how many hazardous chemicals you can find in normal house dust. We can reduce part of our exposures to problem chemicals by keeping our homes clean, but ultimately we need to get these chemicals out of our lives by them being banned from products in the first place”.
Health scares have led to some retardants like PBDEs being phased out in recent years but older products could still be coated in the chemicals. Many people keep sofas and beds for decades, while most offices did not replace chairs.
A new, triazine-based brominated flame retardant which has replaced polybrominated flame retardants is similar in structure to the PDBE’s and scientists have called for research into whether it is having the same health impact.
Two of the more commonly used flame retardants – tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) and tetrachlorobisphenol A (TCBPA) are used on circuit boards and externally on plastic casings for electronics. The University of Houston recently showed that they disrupted hormones and promoted obesity.
The team also believe that chemicals used in dry cleaning could also be left on clothes and transferred back into the environment.
The research was published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Learn more in the USA, UK, EU, Australia/NZ, Singapore, Canada
And.. don’t go! I have something else to add to this that might help.
We trialled an ozone generator on our water supply to our washing machine some 6 months ago. It was billed as obviating the need for detergent, which we thought would have been great, given that all our washing machine water goes into our septic system…
Unfortunately it didn’t really live up to the claims. My gardening clothes, with their red mud stains didn’t cooperate. They wanted DETERGENT!
Yet today I received a report on some studies carried out on the use of ozone to remove exactly what this article is all about – hormone disruptor chemicals. Ozone is an oxidizer, and it literally ‘cooks’ contaminants, rendering them down to their basic elements. So i am inclined to re-install our ozone generator not to displace detergents, but to break the chain of groundwater pollution this article discussed. Ozone requires very little energy to run, only works when you turn on the washing machine.. and it feels good to do it!
Things are changing. Widespread consumer demand for plastic products that are free of the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) has precipitated some significant positive changes in the way that food, beverage and water containers are manufactured. That’s the good news.
But a new study out of Germany has found that thousands of other potentially harmful chemicals are still leaching from plastic products into food and beverages, including an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC) known as di(2-ethylhexyl) fumarate, or DEHF, that is completely unregulated.
Martin Wagner and colleague, Jorg Oehlmann, from the Goethe University Frankfurt, learned this after conducting tests on 18 different bottled water products to look for the presence of EDCs. The team identified some 24,520 different chemicals present in the tested water.
But the biggest concern, and what appears to be the foundation of the study’s findings, was DEHF, a plasticizer chemical that is used to make plastic bottles more flexible. According to reports, DEHF was clearly identified in the tested water as the most consistent and obvious culprit causing anti-estrogenic activity. Despite trace amounts of more than 24,000 other potentially damaging chemicals, DEHF stood out as the only possible EDC capable of inducing this particular observed activity, a highly concerning observation.
The study’s published abstract explains that 13 of the 18 bottled water products tested exhibited “significant” anti-estrogenic activity, while 16 of the 18 samples were found to inhibit the body’s androgen receptors by an astounding 90 percent. Additionally, the other 24,520 chemical traces besides DEHF were also identified as exhibiting antagonistic activity, which means that they, too, are detrimental to the body’s hormonal system.
The Mystery Nasty.
Apparently DEHF is not alone in causing significant damage to the endocrine system. The team was unable to identify this chemical as being specifically anti-androgenic. This suggests that there is some other chemical, or chemical combination, being leached into bottled water that is interfering with the body’s chemical signaling system, which is, of course, responsible for hormone production and use within the body.“We confirmed the identity and biological activity of DEHF and additional isomers of dioctyl fumarate and maleate using authentic standards,” report the researchers. “Since DEHF is anti-estrogenic but not anti-androgenic we conclude that additional, yet unidentified EDCs must contribute to the antagonistic effect of bottled water.”
So while these specific findings concerning DEHF are groundbreaking, the overall conclusion to be drawn from this research is that far more study is needed to determine the types of chemicals that are being leeched from plastic into our food and water, not to mention the extent of this leeching. And since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the rest of the three-letter government agencies will surely never get around to conducting this important research, independent science will simply have to take up the charge.
You can read the full study abstract here:
I can clearly remember when polycarbonate water bottles were the best bottle to buy. It wasn’t so long ago! And now we are seeing results coming in on the effects.
PA in mothers’ urine linked to low birth weights in China
It appears that a pregnant woman’s exposure to BPA can increase the risk of delivering babies with low birth weights,
During the course of the Chinese study from 2012 to 2014, 452 mother-infant pairs were selected from Wuhan, the most populous city in Central China.
Urine samples were collected from the mothers at delivery and measured for bisphenol-A . Using birth weight data obtained from medical records, the researchers then evaluated the relationship between urinary BPA levels and low birth weight.
They found that mothers of newborns with lower birth weights had significantly higher BPA levels in their urine than the control mothers, according to the study published this month in Environment International.
They also found that the relationship between low birth weight and higher BPA levels was stronger among the female babies, suggesting female babies might be more susceptible to BPA than males.
The study was the first of its kind in China, and it certainly adds to growing evidence that fetal exposure to BPA might cause developmental problems.
BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that can act like estrogen in the body. Human and animal studies have linked the chemical to reproductive, behavioral and endocrine effects.
Even the most diligent mothers-to-be may find it challenging to avoid contact with BPA. It is ubiquitous—used to make polycarbonate plastics and commonly found in food and drink packaging, and in thermal cash register receipts.
The study doesn’t prove BPA caused the low birth weights. Low birth weight can happen for a number of different reasons.
Bu… it is concerning as babies with low birth weights may be more at risk for other health problems, such as increased susceptibility to disease and infection, or longer-term problems such as learning disabilities or delayed motor and social development.
And it isn’t the first study to link prenatal BPA exposure to impaired development. In 2013, findings from a Dutch study suggest that BPA exposure at levels commonly found in people may slow fetal growth.
In addition, a 2014 study linked high BPA levels in the placenta to lower birth weights.
As you are probably aware, we have a no-BPA policy at alkaway. We are in the front line, delivering water bottles and filters that are using every day, year in, year out. That’s why we spent the money on the most stringent testing in the world for the UltraStream; the EU safety certification tests. To our knowledge we are the ONLY water ionizer in the world to have this certification. Given that you may be spending thousands on a water ionizer, I strongly recommend that you ask for independent test proof of the product’s BPA status.