Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Toxic Tuesday: 2-butoxyethanol


Get to know the ingredients in your household cleaners.
By Stacy Peltier

What is it?
2-butoxyethanol has a plethora of unpronounceable names, and so is commonly abbreviated as simply BE or EGBE (for ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, if you must know). This organic compound can be found in the air, water, or soil, but most important is its solubility property. When 2-butoxyethanol is mixed with water or other organic solvents, it form a single layer – unlike a mixture of oil and water where the oil sits separately on top. It is usually found as a solvent in general surface cleaners, window cleaners, floor strippers, and spot and rust removers.

Why is it used in household cleaners?
EGBE is an inexpensive solvent that doesn’t evaporate easily. This, combined with its modest surfactant properties, makes it an easy ingredient for companies to use in basic household cleaners and degreasers.

How can it be toxic?
Mehhh, the severity of 2-butoxyethanol is still pretty questionable. Acute exposure can certainly cause irritation in the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory system, but most studies conclude that the general public has minimal health risks associated with EGBE. Most of the toxicity scare is based on the fact that it is in a chemical group called the “glycol ethers,” of which other members can cause reduced sperm counts in men and reproductive or birth defects in women. However, these effects due specifically to EGBE can only be found in tests conducted on animals – each of which shows a markedly harsher result than the same tests conducted on humans.

Environmental risk is also low since 2-butoxyethanol is biodegradable, has a low toxicity to aquatic organisms, does not bioaccumulate, and can decompose in the presence of air within a few days of exposure. The danger here may lie in landfills, where the ingredient could leach into groundwater. But once again, the known risks are minimal.

So, what can I do about it?
Although the health risks of this toxin are relatively low, it’s probably better to play it safe. Most harmful effects are caused by inhaling or ingesting the chemical, so always wear a mask and spray your cleaners in a well-ventilated room. Want to cut it out altogether? Clean mirrors and windows with newspaper and diluted vinegar and stick to simple, green cleaning products. Google search how to make your own formulas using natural household items like baking soda and essential oils.

References

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Natural Beauty Product that is Creating a Buzz!


Our Mission & Vision

We make people's lives better every day — naturally.

Burts Bees Mission & Vision

Burt's Bees is an "Earth Friendly, Natural Personal Care Company." We create natural, Earth-friendly personal care products formulated to help you maximize your well-being and that of the world around you.

Naturally, we're nothing but the good stuff.
There are ingredients that you will never find in any Burt's Bees product. Things like petroleum, which is not a renewable resource and can be toxic. Sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a harsh, aggressive ingredient used in most cleansing products like shampoo. And when was the last time you saw a farmer growing propylene glycol? Rather than loading our products up with harsh chemicals or unnecessary fillers, we offer you only the good stuff.

Naturally Good StuffWe believe that in order to make the world a nicer place to live, we need to start at home. That's why we support, and are actively involved in, several community efforts.Our efforts range from social responsibility to sustainability to overall well-being and the list is growing.You can learn more about what actions we take to reach our goals and how these choices are benefiting our consumers and our community by reading more in our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reports to see how we continue to work harder every year for the Greater Good. After many years of pioneering sustainable practices and leading the Natural Personal Care industry, we intend to rigorously measure our progress and have set ambitious, quantitative goals to better assess our achievements and understand our challenges.

We believe natural products should be 100% natural.

We're proud that over half of our 150+ products are 100% natural and we’re working hard to meet our goal of 100% natural formulas for all our products. Plus, you will never find any Sulfates, Parabens, Phthalates or Petrochemicals in any Burt's Bees products.

We believe companies should be transparent.

Burt's Bees CulturePersonal care and skin care products' manufacturers have the responsibility to fully disclose their ingredients so that consumers can make the most informed decisions. We list the percent natural on every product label. What's more, we strive to educate consumers — and the industry — about natural and keeping to the highest standards.We've worked hard to create products that are honest and authentic, just like us. They reflect the culture that really exists within our walls — not flashy or fancy, but highly dedicated to doing the right thing for our brand and our loyal consumers. Burt's Bees is a company that cares about its consumers, the environment and the community and, equally as important, we care about each other.

http://www.burtsbees.com/c/story/mission-vision/

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Recipes for Cleaning… the Natural Way!



Wanna use natural cleaners to make your home sparkle and shine, but don’t know how to start? Here are some great websites detailing some chemical-free ways to clean your home (and more!), with only a handful of non-toxic ingredients. Whether it’s washing your floors, countertops, tubs (you name it!), there’s a natural solution to all of your cleaning needs.

Check ‘em out!




Join the Fight Against Toxic Cleaners



If you could only change one thing to improve the health of your family, the environment, and yourself, what would it be? When it comes to picking chemical cleaners, the choice is clear – kick out the synthetic ones!
The vast majority of chemical cleaners sold on the market today are essentially petroleum-based products (hydrocarbons) that can easily become toxic if used improperly. Chlorinated hydrocarbons, for example, are so durable that they do not biodegrade, lasting forever in the environment. Yes, forever!1
As a matter of fact, concern about the safety of these compounds in the scientific community has been so great, that chlorinated hydrocarbons (and similar substances) were designated “Persistent Organic Pollutants” or POPs by the United Nations.2 These substances have been connected to severe hormonal, developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune disorders as well as cancer.3
To fight the continuing threat from synthetic cleaners, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was tasked with determining the safety of many synthetic ingredients commonly found in chemical cleaners today. However, citizens need to join in the responsibility of informing consumers about this issue. We all can do our part by choosing natural, healthy cleaning products and avoiding toxic, synthetic ones. Another step people can take is by contacting your representatives, asking for the strengthening of the Toxic Substance Control Act, and for the sufficient funding of the EPA.

Check out these links to learn more and do your part!



And contact pegspc@yahoo.com for more information on living in a less toxic home.

A New Market for Better Cleaners




Our topic as a class for this term focuses on the use and impact of chemical cleaners. One of the most important, but often overlooked, components of this topic deals with the economics of chemical cleaners.

The makers of petro-chemical based cleaners have fundamentally dominated the market for cleaning products since the industry’s inception. This has been particularly true in the manufacturing sector, where workers have had to cope with using harsh chemical cleaners to “rid their hands of grease, grime and oil.” The continued use of abrasive cleaners has had a clear effect on the health of workers and the environment, negatively impacting both.

Recently, however, a new family of natural, eco-friendly cleaners has been produced by a company called Wrenchers Body Products LLC – “the first company to introduce a botanical, natural skin cleanser for [industrial] applications.” These cleaners use organic extracts from ingredients such as soybeans and walnuts to provide a heavy-duty cleaner without compromising the health of individuals and the environment. So far, the company has experienced great success in the retail sector, with buyers and potential investors eagerly embracing the product. Clearly, the chemical cleaner market has signaled its approval for these innovative specialty cleaners!

To learn more about Wrenchers Body Products LLC, or its products, check out the following links and their website at:



Or contact Wrenchers Body Products LLC at:

Keeping Children Safe from Chemicals


There are many different chemical agents that we probably all have in our homes – detergents, flame retardants, pesticides or fertilizers, and various soaps and air fresheners. But do you know how the ingredients of these products (both those listed on the product label and those that aren’t) can affect your health, and the health of your kids?

The chemical ingredients found in many of the products above – triclosan, formaldehyde, and various phthalates (among others) – have become controversial due to studies by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) consistently demonstrating their ability to stunt normal biological development and cause numerous illnesses. Perhaps the most serious harm is done by the unlisted chemical ingredients of these products. Yes, you read that right, the “makers of popular household cleaners aren’t required to list all their ingredients on the label,” even though such “hidden ingredients can cause everything from asthma to reproductive problems.”

All is not lost though! There are many steps parents can take to help keep them and their children protected from potentially harmful products. Apart from calling your Senators and Representatives about these issues, the following article gives five simple suggestions for avoiding and replacing “dirty” cleaners. The choice is obvious – go natural! Check it out!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Greenwashing"

By Adriana Chepiga
So you are doing your homework on becoming a more Eco-conscious consumer. As time progresses it seems to be easier to find "green  friendly" products on the shelves of our grocery stores. Many common household labels are beginning to make new claims while also revamping their labels for a more Eco -friendly appeal. However do not let such companies take you for a fool, while you find yourself spending extra cash on supposedly "green products". The term is called "greenwashing" essentially it is a new marketing scheme companies use to gain favor of the environmentally conscious consumer.
Last year there was a 73% increase in products bought claiming to be "green"however researchers found that at least 95% of these products had over stated the degree of their "green" label.
As a consumer where does that leave us? One of our options is not only resourceful but is also money saving. A clean home can be achieved with simple everyday products that attain the same results as any household cleaner. Such as vinegar, lemon and baking soda. Other options take some extra research on what household products we buy. Look for a legitimate Eco labels such as EcoLogo and Green Seal. A great reference was sinsofgreenwashing.org, a link is listed below.
References


What the Label isn’t Telling You

Dangerous Chemicals in Household Products 

 By: Christina Hampson


Every year there are more than 7 million accidental poisonings, more than 3 out of 4 of these poisonings involve children aged 5 and under. Also, compared to air-pollution, household products are three times more likely to cause cancer. These facts don’t even take into account how bad some of these ingredients can be for our environment. There are many dangerous chemicals being used in unsafe ways in households throughout the world. In addition to the harmful effects that these ingredients have there are no laws that require manufacturers of cleaning products to reveal the ingredients in their products or to test the safety of these ingredients. This means that it is up to us consumers to educate ourselves about the hazards of these products so that we can make safe decisions on which items to use in our homes. The following are commonly found chemicals in household cleaning solutions and their adverse effects: 

• Phenols- common in disinfectants, poisonous to circulatory and respiratory systems.
 • Chlorinated phenols- common in toilet cleaners poisonous to circulatory and respiratory
 • Nonylphenol ethoxylate- a surfactant common in all-purpose cleaners and laundry detergents, biodegrades into even more toxins.
 • Formaldehyde- found in deodorizers, suspected carcinogen and respiratory irritant.
 • Petroleum solvents- common in floor cleaners, adverse effect on mucous membranes.
 • Diethylene glycol- common in window cleaners, nervous system depressant.
 • Perchloroethylene- spot remover, damages kidneys and liver.
 • Butyl cellosolve- found in all-purpose cleaners, window cleaners, and other cleaners, harmful to the nervous system, bone marrow, liver, and kidneys.
 • APEs- surfactant found in all-purpose cleaners, detergents, and disinfectants, endocrine disruptor (mimics human hormones in the body).
 • Styrene- found in metal cleansers and floor waxes, known carcinogen, endocrine disruptor, harmful to central nervous system, reproductive system and liver.
 • Organochlorines- common in bleaches, detergents, and degreasers, known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

 Obviously there are many more dangerous chemicals being used than the ones that are listed above. It is crucial that we as consumers take the time to educate ourselves and learn about the dangers of these household chemicals that we have been taught to trust and purchase throughout our lives. Recognizing labels that neglect to list off ingredients used should be viewed as a red flag that the manufacturer does not want the consumer to know what ingredients are in the product, and probably for good reason (if you knew what was it in you wouldn’t buy it). The more we learn about these toxins, the more obvious it becomes how dangerous they are to anyone who is exposed. Knowing that there are alternative options for cleaning solutions that are just as effective, but not harmful, is key in protecting our family and ourselves. Be wary of the products you use in your house.

 *Visit http://www.ecopolproject.blogspot.com/2012/07/economically-green-cleaning.html for more information on economically green cleaning.

 Sources:
 http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_279.cfm http://green.wikia.com/wiki/Toxins_in_Household_Cleaning_Products http://voices.yahoo.com/how-dangerous-household-cleaners-28288.html

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Toxic Tuesday: Phosphates

Get to know the ingredients in your household cleaners.
By Stacy Peltier

What is it?
A phosphate is a compound containing the element phosphorous, along with various salts and other minerals. It’s important to note straightaway that they are naturally-occurring and contribute many benefits to life and its various ecosystems. For example, phosphates make up the main minerals in our bones and teeth, play a key role in how the human body metabolizes, and are vital to photosynthesis in plants. In fact, there’s even a phosphorous nutrient cycle! But as with anything, too much can be a bad thing.

Why is it used in household cleaners?
Phosphates perform three critical functions in many household cleaners. First, the presence of phosphates can control the alkalinity of a cleaner by keeping its acidity level stable. Next, their presence softens water by "holding" or removing metal ions, which allows other components in the cleaning solution to work more effectively. Finally, phosphates trap and hold any dirts and oils found on surfaces - once they are suspended in the cleaning solution instead of attached to, say, a tabletop, the particles can be easily rinsed away. They are used most often in laundry and dishwasher detergents, although some states have successfully placed laws restricting the permissible amount.

How can it be toxic?
One word: eutrophication. And that's a pretty big word, so let's break it down. In ancient Greece, 'eu' means "well", 'trope' means "nourish," and '-ication' is roughly "the process of." So how can the instigation of a well-nourished environment be bad? Well, disposed phosphates work their way into the aquatic environment via sewage systems and overstimulate the growth of algae and other aquatic plants. This not only depletes normal oxygen levels but matures the lake ecosystem at an alarming rate... fish eventually die off and are replaced with scavenging critters. Although some may argue this is a natural process, what human pollution has done in tens of years would normally take our planet thousands of years to achieve.

So, what can I do about it?
Phosphate-free detergents (for both clothes and dishes) are finally starting to retain the helpful cleaning characteristics of phosphates without the harmful environmental side-effects. Before you make a purchase, check the label for zeolites, polycarboxylic acid, surfactants, or sodium carbonate  - any of these are greener alternatives to this potentially toxic ingredient. Many new detergents actually advertise the fact that they are "Phosphate-Free!" on the outer packaging of the product. Want to go big? Check out state legislation laws on these cleaners. Although many consumer detergents already have major restrictions in place, there is currently little to no laws addressing the use of phosphates in fertilizers and industrial-use detergents.

References

Friday, July 13, 2012

Economically Green Cleaning


Saving the world from the impact of harmful products and cleaning agents isn't as difficult as we think. The chemicals that we use everyday to clean our houses, cars, and clothes don't have to hurt our planet or our wallets. I believe consumers are driven buy their spending habits and if "becoming green" is affordable then they will incorporate it into their daily lifestyle. So how can the vast majority of the public make a difference well let's begin buy encouraging how affordable it is to go more "green" when purchasing cleaning products. Let's start with how truly simple and cheap it can be. Basic staples in many households like vinegar,  lemon, and baking soda can be insanely effective. Not only are these ingredients all natural but they each serve many multiple purposes and cleaning tasks. Three natural cleaning products that will clean your entire house right under your nose.

Baking Soda 

Baking soda can be used to scrub hard surfaces much the same way as commercial non-abrasive cleansers to clean bathtubs, sinks and toilets. And it makes a great deodorizer! place a box in the fridge or freezer to absorb odors, garbage cans and super smelly sneakers anywhere you need deodorizing action. Baking soda is actually one of the most versatile cleaners on the planet.

Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice is another all natural substance that can be used to clean your home. Lemon Juice can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. Lemon is a great substance to clean and shine brass and copper. Try mixing lemon juice with vinegar or baking soda to make cleaning pastes. Be aware that lemon juice can also act as a natural bleach. Use lemon peels through your garbage disposal to freshen up the drain and kitchen.





Vinegar

Vinegar actually cleans much like an all-purpose cleaner. All you need is to mix equal parts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and you have a solution that will clean the most areas in your home. Vinegar is a great  natural cleaning product as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer. Don't worry about your home smelling like vinegar. The smell disappears when it dries. Like lemon it will eat away at soap scum and hard water stains leaving them shiny and beautiful. Can be used as a fabric softener. This can be especially helpful for families with sensitive skin issues.Vinegar also has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent more effectively. You can also use vinegar to clean your washing machine.





Eco-Friendly Cleaning


           
    The intention of this blog is to encourage a more eco-friendly world through the education and encouragement of the people who inhabit it, namely – YOU. Specifically, we intend to encourage you to become eco-friendly through the use of environmentally friendly household cleaners. This is often referred to as Green Cleaning, which Wikipedia.com refers to as “using cleaning methods and products with environmentally friendly ingredients designed to preserve human health and environmental quality.” To illustrate the harmful effects of cleaners and the importance of using environmentally friendly cleaners, treehugger.com offers these staggering statistics:
Green Cleaning: By the Numbers
   17,000: the number of petrochemicals available for home use, only 30 percent of which have been tested for exposure to human health and the environment.  
   63: the number of synthetic chemical products found in the average American home, translating to roughly 10 gallons of harmful chemicals.  
   100: the number of times higher that indoor air pollution levels can be above outdoor air pollution levels, according to US EPA estimates.
   275: the number of active ingredients in antimicrobials that the EPA classifies as pesticides because they are designed to kill microbes.
   5 billion: the number of pounds of chemicals that the institutional cleaning industry uses each year.
   23: the average gallons of chemicals (that's 87 liters) that a janitor uses each year, 25 percent of which are hazardous.”

    Luckily, in this day and age, there are thousands and thousands of eco-friendly products available. These products range from the “Greenworks” line of household cleaners to thousands of products used with these cleaners, such as sponges and towels. Choosing eco-friendly cleaning products is just one step to a greener world. Beyond eco-friendly cleaning products, there are eco-friendly beauty products, grocery products, childcare products, and more. For those worried about the cost and effectiveness of the products, in addition to being eco-friendly, a lot of these products are also highly rated for their effectiveness and are sold at reasonable costs. These products are readily available for ordering online on websites such as http://www.ethicalsuperstore.com/products/ecover/ or in supermarkets such as Target and Wal-Mart.
    As I have shown, taking this small step to a greener world is not only easy for everyone to take part in, but it is cost-effective and healthy for the environment as well as the people in it.

-Aimee Engle

Works Cited

"Green Cleaning." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 07 Mar. 2012. Web. 10 July 2012. 
    <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_cleaning>.

"How to Go Green: Cleaning." TreeHugger. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 July 2012.
    <http://www.treehugger.com/htgg/how-to-go-green-cleaning.html>.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dishwasher and Laundry Detergent Pods

The new self contained dishwasher detergent pods may be convenient but what are the dangers to children? These new pods are colorful and squishy and look like candy and are just small enough to fit in a child’s mouth. Since the introduction of these new pods calls to local poison control centers is on the rise. The look size and feel of these pods are causing concern among parents and for good reason. The small pods are highly concentrated and if ingested produce rapid symptoms.  Most detergents contain phosphate and cause skin irritation and nausea and throat and mouth irritation if swallowed but not death. To prevent accidents with chemicals in your home follow these tips below.
1.     Make sure to childproof your home with door and cabinet locks. Pay particular attention to the bathroom and kitchen or anywhere else where more dangerous items may be stored.
2.     Ensure all poisons are stored up high and away – ideally in a locked cabinet above eye level of curious toddlers.
3.      Make sure you have the poison control number (1-800-222-1222) near every phone.
If you do come into contact with or have an accident follow these tips below.
1.  If someone splashes a household chemical in the eyes, rinse out the eyes for 15-20 minutes in the shower or under a faucet. Then call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. You can also call 911 or your local emergency ambulance number.
2.     If someone splashes a household chemical on the skin, take off the wet clothing and rinse the skin for 15-20 minutes in the shower or under a faucet. Then call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. You can also call 911 or your local emergency ambulance number.
3. If someone drinks a household chemical, give them half a glass of water to drink. Then call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. You can also call 911 or your local emergency ambulance number.
4. If someone inhaled a poisonous gas, quickly get the person to fresh air. Do not breath the fumes yourself. Open all the doors and windows wide. Call your poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. You can also call 911 or your local emergency ambulance number.
5. If someone is not breathing or won't wake up, call 911 or your local emergency ambulance number.







Monday, July 9, 2012

A Cleaner Choice


     People want a healthy and happy home, but what is the cost to us and the environment? We clean our homes to prevent disease and infection, and buy all kinds of chemical based cleaners to clean our homes. Are we as consumers aware of the risks that we take when we clean our homes? Is the convenience of a scrub-free cleaner worth our health and safety? The chemicals in everyday house cleaners can be of greater risk than it is reward.

     As the end users of these household cleaners, we need to educate ourselves about the products we use.  One of the most important things to know is that there are three categories that hazardous ingredients in household cleaners fall into. First, there are carcinogens which are known to cause cancer and or promote cancer growth; secondly, are endocrine disrupters which imitate human hormones and create issues with fertility and the immune system; and thirdly, are neurotoxins that directly targets brain activity. Ingredients in household cleaners account for the most common calls to the Poison Control Centers nationwide.

     It’s time to look into alternatives, create a cleaner and healthier environment starting with our homes. Alternatives are available we just need look for environmentally friendly products that are non-toxic and not poisonous.  As end users we need to be conscious of the products we use, and look beyond the results toxic household cleaners provide, because a clean home should be without consequence but peace of mind.


    For more information about the dangers of household cleaners and eco-friendlier cleaners check out this link: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_279.cfm


                   http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_279.cfm