Posts Tagged ‘mercury’

Safe Cosmetics

You might not realize that the make up we put on our faces or the hair and body products, sunscreens, and nail polish we use on a daily basis have a host of dangerous chemicals, endocrine disruptors and allergens like mercury, lead, parabans, pthalates, and others.   According to watchdog organization, Environmental Working Group, “On average, a woman puts 168 chemicals on her body each day.” In addition to the many known hazardous chemicals, there are many other synthetic compounds, like fragrances, without enough information to know whether they are safe or not because federal legislation regarding product safety hasn’t been updated in 75 years. The Environmental Working Group estimates that of the more than 10,000 chemical ingredients in personal care products, 89 percent have not undergone safety testing.

Are these chemicals necessary?

Given the known and unknown dangers of all these chemical additives, I think not! Who needs cherry-scented rubbing alcohol? Some American cosmetic companies sell the same products in Europe without the chemical additives. That’s because the European Union strictly regulates the extremely hazardous chemicals found in everyday products in the United States and has banned about 1,100 chemicals, while the FDA has banned only ten!

Safe Alternatives? Of course!

The average woman “eats” more than 6 pounds of lipstick over a lifetime, just one of many cosmetics used.  Fortunately now there are many lines of organic personal care products. Whole Foods Markets and independent natural food stores carry several, like Dr. Hauschka, Mychelle, Badger, Burt’s Bees.  Local farmer’s markets often sell homemade and all natural insect repellant, body scrubs and soaps.  CVS also carries Burt’s Bees.

Be sure to read the labels however, some products are “cleaner” than others and be wary of names too long to pronounce.  A knowledgeable sales person will be able to help you find the safest products.

Organic cosmetics and personal care products are not only better for your health, but better for the earth too!  When discarding them, fewer chemicals will go down the drain or in the trash, seeping into our valuable water supply and landfills.

For more information or to rate the toxicity of your personal care products, visit www.safecosmetics.org, which does an online safety assessment of 75,223 products.

 

Information from ewg.org and ecosalon.com.  

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Fish Is More Complicated Than You Think!

 

Fish is not a health food, according to Dr. Furhman, a board-certified family physician, NY Times best-selling author, nutritional researcher, and an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing.  He maintains, “If you eat fish regularly, your body is undoubtedly high in mercury, which can damage the heart and brain. Pregnant women may compromise their babies’ brain development by mercury exposure associated with eating fish, and eating more fish is also associated with increased breast cancer risk.”  He recommends to either avoid fish or eat it no more than once a week and choose those lowest in mercury such as flounder, scallops, trout, sole, squid, wild salmon or sardines.

Fish is a healthy and delicious alternative to meat and obviously some choices are safer than others.  Still, reading Dr. Furhman’s report is jarring.  I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website, which helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans and for consuming safe fish, to read their recommendations.

The Seafood Watch program categorizes fish into “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives”, and which ones to “Avoid”.

Their Super Green or “Best Choices” lists seafood that meets the following three criteria:

  • Has low levels of mercury
  • Provides at least 250 milligrams per day (mg/d) of omega-3s
  • Is classified as a Seafood Watch “Best Choice” (green)

Best Choice List includes:

  • Atlantic Mackerel (purse seine from Canada and the U.S.)
  • Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.)
  • Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)
  • Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)
  • Salmon, Canned (wild-caught, from Alaska)

Next Best choices:

  • Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)
  • Sablefish/Black Cod (from Alaska and Canadian Pacific)

Click here for the “Good Alternatives” and “Avoid” list, as well as a seafood search for detailed information regarding specific fish.  You can actually download seafood watch lists for your  region of the country.  

The “Best Choices” list isn’t very long.  Sadly, eating safe, nutritious food is getting harder.  Staying informed by reading information from trusted sources is one solution, eating local, organically grown whole food is another.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from:  peacefuldaily.com and

http://www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx

 

Recycling Batteries and Winter Bird Feeding

Continuing my series on subjects of interest to men, but obviously pertinent to all, below are two questions from a male reader.

Question:  What can I do with old batteries?  Is it necessary to recycle them? Alan C., Loon, NH

Answer:  In 1997 Congress mandated a mercury phase-out plan for all types of batteries. Some people think since they no longer pose as great a threat to the environment as before, they can simply be thrown away with your trash.  Some communities even recommend throwing them away.

Regardless of whether there is less mercury, it is important to recycle all single-use batteries –  AA’s, AAA’s, C, D and 9-volt.  The batteries still contain trace elements of mercury as well as other possibly toxic materials; they don’t biodegrade and they take up space in the landfill.  Any batteries from earlier than 1997 contain 10 times the amount of mercury in newer batteries and should be taken to hazardous waste collection in your town.

How do you recycle them?  Some towns accept single use batteries as household hazardous waste and many battery companies like Batteries Plus will take spent, disposable batteries for recycling free of charge.   Earth911.org is a great website for finding out how to recycle just about everything including batteries.  Go to “Recycling Guides/Electronics/Single Use Batteries/Recycling Locator” and enter your zip code to find locators near you.

Rechargeable batteries from cell phones, MP3 players and laptops, contain potentially toxic heavy metals and should never be thrown away with your trash.  Again, most communities have an outlet for recycling or disposal, but if not, go to www.call2recycle.org/program-info/.  Hope this helps!

Question:  I like to feed the birds.  Any suggestions for bird food other than seed?  How do you make seut?  Alan C., Loon, NH

Answer:  Bird feeding and bird watching are great entertainment, especially in winter!  Peanut butter, cornmeal, meal worms and fruits and fruit seeds can be food for birds.  Most kinds of beef fat, also called suet, can be safely fed to birds and is attractive especially to woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, jays and starlings.  Animal fat, a high-energy food, is easily digested and metabolized by many birds.  Beware – raw suet becomes rancid when temperatures are above freezing, so it should only be fed to birds in winter in a cold climate.

Below is an easy recipe from the Old Farmer’s Almanac for making your own suet.

Suet Cake

  • 2 parts melted fat (bacon fat, suet, or lard)
  • 2 parts yellow cornmeal
  • 1 part peanut butter

Mix all ingredients together and cook for a few minutes.  Pour into small containers (tuna fish cans are perfect), and refrigerate or freeze until needed. Mixture can also be stuffed into 1-inch holes drilled in small logs to hang from trees.  The recipe can be made all year long as long as you accumulate fat.  Fasten containers securely to trees or feeders.  Enjoy!

Information compiled from: http://environment.about.com/od/recycling/a/batteryrecycle.htm

http://www.almanac.com/content/bird-food-recipe-suet

http://www.allaboutbirds.org/page.aspx?pid=1180

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

What Are We Doing To Our Food Supply?

Today it seems that we have gone beyond the discussion about which foods are good for you and which aren’t, to which foods are poisonous, contaminated, or tainted!  Recently “Fish is not a Health Food” popped up in my email from one of my favorite (and reputable!) daily blogs, the gist of which was though the benefits of Omega-3 in fish are well-known, fish can no longer be considered a healthy food option due to the large amounts of mercury and other pollutants such as PCBs in them.  Mercury and PCBs cause damage to the heart and brain and in pregnant women can compromise their babies’ brain development.  If you eat fish regularly, your body most likely contains high amounts of mercury.  That’s a scary thought, especially when you think you are doing the right thing for your heart, brain and skin! Now recommendations are to avoid fish altogether or eat it no more than once a week. (When you do eat fish, choose the lowest mercury types like flounder, scallops, trout, sole, squid, wild salmon or sardines.)  Yet, factory-farmed chicken and beef raised in filthy, overcrowded, inhumane environments, injected with growth hormones and antibiotics, aren’t safe alternatives either.

fish baked with vegetables and herbs

fish baked with vegetables and herbs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, maybe it’s safer to eat more grains, but not rice! Two major reports from the US Food and Drug Administration and Consumer Reports magazine just came out that “focused on the worrisome amounts of arsenic in rice and popular rice-based processed foods”.  According to the Environmental Working Group, there is reason to be concerned.  They state that many rice-based foods and some fruit juices have arsenic levels much higher than is allowed in drinking water, and that the contamination does include the form of arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral, that poses a serious risk to our health.  Their recommendations are: to limit your rice consumption and try alternative grains such as quinoa, couscous, barley or bulgur; to rinse rice thoroughly before cooking and cook with a lot of water; and to limit buying products that list rice syrup as a sweetener.

Throw in GMO foods (over 80% of all processed foods contain GMOs) and pesticide-grown vegetables and fruits, and our choices for safe food are severely limited! We have a serious problem when we can’t eat the basics; food safety should be one of our inalienable rights.  Fortunately, locally grown and organic foods are a healthy and safe option, but it’s time for action greater than just switching to organic foods, which many people cannot afford, or eliminating the latest poisonous food from our diet. It’s time to clean up our water and demand change from our food growers and manufacturers.  Our future depends on it.

Some information compiled from www.enviroblog.org and http://www.peacefuldaily.com.