May 17th, 2017

Buyer Beware: BPA Could Still Be Lurking in Your Canned Food

Do you eat canned foods? A recent survey found that over half of American families eat canned fruit, vegetables, beans, soups, or meat/fish. About 40% of Americans use canned milk.

If you are one of the millions of Americans who eat canned foods there’s a good chance that you are still being exposed to the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA).

We’ve been hearing about the harmful effects of BPA over the past few years and many of us have been trying to avoid products with this toxic chemical. If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while you know that I’ve been writing about BPA issues for years and was even interviewed by ABC World News about BPA.

Bisphenol A, often called BPA, is one of the most widely used and thoroughly studied toxic chemicals. Overall, progress is being made in reducing the use of BPA in can linings, but more work is needed by the nation’s top retailers to reduce the use of BPA and find safer substitutes.

If you eat canned foods you could be exposed to BPA. Read more here #kickthecan Click To Tweet

Recent testing by the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) shows that BPA linings are still found in many brands of these commonly eaten canned food products.

BPA in canned food is harmful

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that negatively impacts our hormonal systems. It can also contribute to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and attention deficit disorder. Other studies have shown that BPA can migrate into food and then into people, raising concerns about low dose exposure.

Despite hundreds of scientific studies showing exposure to BPA is linked to significant health concerns – diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and cancer – it is still used in food cans that millions of Americans buy every day. BPA in can linings can migrate into the food stored inside the can and expose us to this toxic chemical.

New report shows BPA continues to be a problem in can linings

A little over a year ago a report was released finding that two out of three cans tested have BPA in the lining. The report took a look at cans of vegetables, fruits, soups, broth, gravy, milk and beans from Campbell’s, Del Monte, General Mills, Kroger, Albertsons and more. As a follow-up, CEH tested cans purchased in 2017 to determine whether can lining materials have changed since 2015.

The testing of more than 250 cans from eleven states shows that nearly 40% of the cans tested contain BPA, a dangerous chemical that is known to cause birth defects and is linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious health problems.

BPA-free could be just as dangerous

There is little publicly available information about the complete list of ingredients used in either BPA-containing linings or alternative linings. PVC is commonly used as an alternative lining and is a plastic made from vinyl chloride, a cancer-causing chemical.

In the testing, 19% of the can linings contained PVC.

  • Albertsons – 17% of the cans tested (12/69) contained PVC.
  • Kroger – 16% of the cans tested (12/73) contained PVC.
  • Dollar Tree –25% of the What you can docans tested (14/55) contain PVC.
  • 99 Cents Only — 17% of the cans tested (9/52) contain PVC

What you can do

  1. Stay away from canned foods when possible and opt for fresh and frozen alternatives.
  2. When purchasing canned food, look for labels that say “BPA-free” and “PVC-free”.
  3. When purchasing canned food, ask your store about BPA-free canned foods. Let your store know that you care about your health and you want only BPA-free products.
  4. Ask Kroger and Albertsons to “mind the store” and do the right thing to safeguard our health and food.

Are you concerned about BPA and BPA alternatives in your canned food? 

Many Canned Foods Still Contain BPA #mindthestore

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March 9th, 2017

It’s Time to Ditch Your Reusable Plastic Water Bottle

It's Time to Ditch Your Reusable Plastic Water Bottle Groovy Green LivinIt’s time! Line up your reusable plastic water bottles and please (pretty please) STOP using them.

I’ve been secretly cringing for years when I see someone drinking from a brightly colored, BPA-free reusable plastic water bottle. Reusable plastic water bottles are a dime a dozen at my gym, sit alongside yoga mats in my yoga studio and crowd the classroom in my son’s karate class. They are everywhere. And I get it. Plastic water bottles are easier to transport than glass or even stainless steel. They generally don’t dent or break and drinking from them is a breeze. Placing those conveniences aside, plastic water bottles come with a list of possible health hazards and the list isn’t pretty.

It's Time to Ditch Your Reusable Plastic Water Bottle Groovy Green Livin

Removing BPA from plastics was a good start, but it’s not enough

A few years ago we learned that BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical that’s been linked in lab studies to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Now we’re discovering that  “BPA-free” doesn’t mean it’s safe“. Once BPA was found to be toxic, retailers and brands began replacing it with substitutes that could be just as dangerous. Many manufacturers have replaced BPA with something called fluorene-9-bisphenol, or BHPF. In a recent study, it was found that BHPF has the potential to cause fertility problems.

When you buy a plastic water bottle it doesn’t come with a list of “ingredients” so it’s virtually impossible to know what they’re made from.

Time to ditch the plastic

The information is starting to stack up against plastic reusable water bottles. Even those companies that have phased out BPA could still be using a chemical that has almost the same negative health impact on our bodies-hormone disruption. As the evidence continues to mount showing that plastic water bottles could be dangerous why not be proactive and make the switch to stainless steel or glass water bottles?

A few of my favorite non-plastic reusable water bottles

I have a few favorite reusable water bottles to share. Take a peek HERE.

There’s another favorite reusable water bottle to add to the list. Klean Kanteen let me do a test run with their new insulated (cold drinks only) Reflect reusable water bottle. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and I love that it’s completely plastic free. The lid is made from bamboo and stainless steel, and the bottle is completely stainless with a silicone seal.

Do you avoid reusable plastic water bottles? How about BPA free products? 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our FREE Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you I may get a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. 
March 30th, 2016

Is BPA In Your Food Cans? New Report Says Yes!

Is BPA In Your Food Cans? New Report Says Yes!

There’s some bad news for those of us who thought BPA was a thing of the past.

A new report released today tested nearly 200 food can linings for the toxic chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA) and found that two out of three cans tested have the chemical in the lining. The report took a look at cans of vegetables, fruits, soups, broth, gravy, milks and beans from Campbell’s, Del Monte, General Mills, Kroger, Albertsons and more.

BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that negatively impacts our hormonal systems. It can also contribute to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, type-2 diabetes, obesity, asthma and attention deficit disorder. Other studies have shown that BPA can migrate into food and then into people, raising concerns about low dose exposure.

For the first time ever, this report also took a look at the replacement materials for BPA in can linings, and to what extent their safety has been studied.

Here are some of the report findings:

  • 100 percent of Campbell’s products sampled (15 of 15) contained BPA-based epoxy, while the company says they are making significant progress in its transition away from BPA.
  • 71 percent of sample Del Monte cans (10 of 14) tested positive for BPA-based epoxy resins.
  • 50 percent of sampled General Mills cans (six of 12, including Progresso) tested positive for BPA.
  • BPA was found in private-label cans sold at both Target and Walmart, the largest grocery retailer in the United States. In their private label products, 100 percent of Target cans sampled (five out of five) and 88 percent of Walmart cans sampled (seven out of eight) tested positive for BPA-based epoxy resins.

Some good news:

  • On the positive side, Amy’s Kitchen, Annie’s Homegrown (recently acquired by General Mills), Hain Celestial Group, and ConAgra have fully transitioned away from BPA and have disclosed the BPA alternatives they’re using. Eden Foods reported eliminating the use of BPA-based epoxy liners in 95 percent of its canned foods and stated that it is actively looking for alternatives. Whole Foods has clearly adopted the strongest policy of the retailers surveyed in the report. Whole Foods reports that store brand buyers are not currently accepting any new canned items with BPA in the lining material.
  • Upon learning about this report, Campbell Soup Company  agreed to switch to all BPA-Free packaging by 2017. While this is a step in the right direction we still don’t know what they’ll be using as a replacement liner. BPA-free isn’t enough.

What about the BPA alternatives?

The report found that retailers and brands that are phasing out BPA could be replacing it with substitutes that are just as toxic, if not worse. Unfortunately not much is known about the safety of these substitutes. Some of the retailers were lining the cans with a PVC-based copolymer that is made from a known human carcinogen. I think we can all agree that known and possible cancer causing materials don’t belong in a can liner that comes in contact with our food.

What can you do?

  • Consumers should choose fresh or frozen foods, or only purchase canned food from manufacturers and retailers that fully disclose the identity and safety of their can linings. Look for food packaged in other materials such as glass and Tetra Pak containers.
  • Demand that national brands, grocery stores, big box retailers and dollar stores eliminate and safely substitute BPA from all food packaging and label all chemicals used in can liners.
  • Join the national online campaign calling on Kroger and Campbell’s to eliminate and safely substitute BPA.

Campbell Soup Company’s decision to switch to all BPA-Free packaging by 2017 is a step in the right direction. Hopefully other canned food retailers will follow their lead.

The question now becomes what will they switch to and will it be safer than BPA? 


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.


 

 

March 3rd, 2015

6 Things in Your Home that Could Cause Cancer

6 Things in Your Home that Could Cause Cancer Groovy Green Livin

A person is more likely to die from heart disease than cancer, but cancer is closing in quickly and could take the lead.

According to a recent New York Times article, the most encouraging gains in the war against cancer come from taking steps to prevent this disease. We all know that not all cancers are preventable, but through some simple lifestyle changes we can sometimes lower our risk.

The home is an easy place to begin since there are several possible cancer-causing substances that might be lurking under your very own roof. 

Non-Stick Pots and Pans (Teflon)

Many homes are filled with nonstick pots and pans, which are loved for their ease and convenience when it comes to cooking and cleaning. Nonstick finishes have come under fire in recent years due to the toxic fumes emitted when the cookware is exposed to high heat. Most nonstick pots and pans are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a chemicals from the Perfluorinated chemical or Perfluorochemicals (PFC) family. Studies in humans found that workers with exposure to PFOA have higher risks of bladder and kidney cancersAnother study showed that PFCs have been linked to infertility in women.

Bottom Line: Ditch the Teflon.

Candles

Candles come in varying scents, colors, shapes and sizes. If you’re not careful about your candle purchase they could add nasty pollutants to your indoor air. Most of the candles on the market are made with paraffin wax, derived from petroleum, and scented with synthetic fragrances, also derived from petroleum. In a study by the American Chemical Society the researchers found that the petroleum based candles emitted varying levels of cancer-causing toluene and benzene, as well as other hydrocarbon chemicals called alkanes and alkenes, which are components of gasoline and can irritate respiratory tracts and trigger asthma.

Bottom Line: Time to replace those petroleum based candles with a safer alternative.

BPA 

For many years BPA has been on the minds of parents, consumers and public health advocates. I’ve been following the BPA issue closely and devoted much of my writing to this topic. I was even interviewed by ABC World News about the FDA’s decision not to ban BPA. There have been some wonderful victories surrounding BPA. The good news is that many companies are starting to listen and BPA is transitioning out. The bad or unsettling news is that even though a product is considered BPA-free the replacement could still be releasing high levels of other chemicals that mimic estrogen.

Bottom Line: Just say not to plastic as much as you can.

Radon

According to the National Cancer InstituteRadon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air.”  People who inhale high levels of radon are at an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Believe it our not radon is the second largest cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. Radon can enter your home through cracks in floors, walls, or foundations, and collect indoors.

Bottom Line: Test your home for radon. 

Household Cleaners and Cosmetics

There could be cancer-causing chemicals in your household cleaner and cosmetics. Seems crazy, right? Unfortunately our system is broken both of these industries are highly unregulated. This leaves it wide open for these toxins to land in our products. Remember Tide and 1,4 dioxane (a known carcinogen)?

Bottom Line: Become an avid label reader and find products that contain simple ingredients and avoid products that contain long chemical ingredients that you can’t pronounce (*update see comments for additional information). Best bet-make some of your own personal care and cleaning products at home.

Flame Retardants

Much of the furniture in our home is filled with flame retardants. It’s no secret flame retardants have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption and other serious health problems. The market place seems to be shifting as more and more retailers decide not to use toxic flame retardants, but as consumers we still need to be cautious.

Bottom Line: Let your dollars do the talking and seek out furniture retailers and manufacturers that commit to carrying furniture without toxic flame retardants.

How do you prevent cancer-causing chemicals from entering your home?

 


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photo credit: The House, Lately via photopin (license)

November 10th, 2014

Why You Should Never Put Plastic in the Dishwasher

Groovy Green Livin plastic in dishwasher

Have you ever accidentally opened your dishwasher in the middle of a cycle? It’s like an instant facial. The steam and heat emitted are enough to make you jump back and close the door quickly.

The water is hot so your dishes are cleaned with minimal elbow grease. Did you know the water must be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit and not more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit for the best cleaning and to prevent damage to the dishes? That’s hot water!

What do you put in your dishwasher?

We have a relatively new dishwasher and for some reason it seems smaller than our older version. I still do my best to jam as many dishes into the dishwasher as I possibly can for a single load. Everything from plates to glasses to flatware goes right in without much of a rinse.

Over the years I’ve really weaned myself off of plastic in the kitchen. I’ve tried hard to reduce the amount of plastic touching our food in any way. For the few plastic items still remaining, they get washed by hand.

My rule: never put anything plastic in the dishwasher. And here’s why….

Heat and plastic are a bad mix

Repeated wear and tear on plastic, including running plastic through the dishwasher, could cause BPA, Phthalates and other chemicals to leach out of the plastic when heated.

Hormone-disrupting chemicals leach from almost all plastics, even BPA-free plastics. Heating the plastic (stressing it) may cause more leaching of the chemicals. 

Phthalates

Phthalates are chemicals used as softeners or plasticizers in polyvinyl chloride (PVC, vinyl) products and can be found in hundreds of products: pre-2009 toys, wallpaper, cling wrap, shower curtains, plastic PVC containers, nail polish, perfume, blood bags, cosmetics, personal care products, shampoos, carpeting, wood finishes and insecticides (the list could go on and on).

Phthalates have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, reduce sperm counts and some preliminary studies show that they may be causing a slow and steady demasculinizing of men. Other studies have linked phthalates to liver cancer and breast cancer.

Unfortunately manufacturers aren’t required to list phthalates on products. Look out for “PVC,” “V” or the”3″ recycling code on the bottom of anything plastic.

BPA

As many of us know by now BPA is bad news. It’s a hormone-disrupting chemical that’s been linked in lab studies to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, type-2 diabetes, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

And if that wasn’t enough there’s more:  “BPA-free” doesn’t mean it’s safe“. As new alternatives to BPA are popping up all over the place we have little information about their impact on our health.

The Bottom line

Hormone-disrupting chemicals leach from almost all plastics, even BPA-free plastics.

Plastics are more likely to leach toxic chemicals when they’re heated or exposed to light.

I think I would rather hand wash plastics than risk those nasty chemicals leaching into my food.  How about you?

Are you ready to hand wash those plastic dishes?

 


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photo credit: Skakerman via photopin cc

November 5th, 2014

Softcup Menstrual Cup Review

 

Groovy Green Livin Softcup

Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Softcup. I did receive compensation. All opinions are my own.

Softcup has come in and out  of my life over the past few years and I have to admit that I’m glad it’s back again.

Softcup is a menstrual cup. Never heard of a menstrual cup? Softcup is a flexible cup, worn internally around your cervix (do you know where your cervix is?), that collects rather than absorbs menstrual flow. It replaces the need for tampons and pads if used properly.

I can feel all the cringing as you’re reading this. Stick with me-this is important on so many levels.

There are actually two Softcup options:

  1. Disposable which can be worn for up to 12 hours and is then discarded, and
  2. Reusable which can be worn for up to 12 hours and reused throughout one menstrual cycle.

I’m a fan of the reusable option.

Personal Benefits of SoftCup

Groovy Green Livin Softcup

I’ve put Softcup to the test during a workout and while downhill skiing. It can be worn during any activity including sports, swimming and while sleeping.

I started using a reusable Softcup a few years ago and the journey has been interesting. There were times when I went back to my organic tampons for no reason other than they were close by. But I keep returning to my reusable Softcup. It took a few cycles to get it right, but it’s so worth it. This month I’m feeling completely comfortable and can finally say that I have successfully greened my period.

Once Softcup is inserted properly you really can’t feel it. This isn’t the case with tampons-we always know when they’re around. Also, Softcup isn’t linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) and does not cause dryness or irritation.

Softcup doesn’t contain latex, silicone, phthalates, BPA, PVC or dioxins.

Environmental Benefits of Softcup

Fifty to 70 percent of American women use tampons. A typical woman can use anywhere between 8,000 to 17,000 tampons in her lifetime. The number varies quite a bit since every woman is unique and her cycle is different. The average woman throws away up to 300 pounds of feminine hygiene related products in a lifetime. That’s a tremendous amount of waste. Then there’s the plastic wrapper around the tampon box or pads and the paper or plastic packaging around every box and individual tampon or pad. I haven’t even mentioned the cardboard or plastic applicator. So much waste.

The process to make each and every tampon and pad also involves a lot of waste. The cotton alone is resource intensive as the farming of cotton requires large amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizer.

A final added Softcup bonus: For every box of Softcup you buy, Softcup will donate a reusable cup to a woman or girl in Africa. You can find out more about Project Dignity HERE.

Phew. You made it! Are you hooked or at least open to giving Softcup a try (or passing the info on to any women in your life)?

 


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 Disclosure: I received product and compensation from SoftCup for this post, but the opinions are my own. 

August 21st, 2014

Mom Detective Asks: Is BPA Lurking in Your Fleece?

Groovy Green Livin BPA Fleece

This piece was originally published over at Moms Clean Air Force.

When my oldest son was born he was showered with all sorts of wonderful gifts from friends and family. One of our favorite presents was a bright red fleece blanket with his name monogrammed in big white letters on one of the corners.

This adorable and durable blanket stayed with my son for many years. He slept with it, rolled around on it and chewed it while teething. After many washes and years gone by, it’s now tucked away in a “save” box somewhere deep within my attic.

Today, as I continue the tradition of giving fleece blankets to many of the new babies in my life, I wonder if these blankets are truly safe.

Could there possibly be bisphenol-A (BPA) lurking in those cuddly, soft gifts?

Is There BPA in Fleece?

Fleece is made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic soda bottles and other discarded plastic. That’s right-fleece is made from recycled plastic!

Here’s how the question of BPA (bisphenol A) in fleece comes into play. BPA is a chemical used in the production of plastics and many other products. BPA has been linked to a variety of health problems such as reproductive disorders, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Since fleece is made from plastic components, the question of BPA in our fleece garments becomes a valid concern.

There’s good news and caution for consumers.

You don’t have to worry about baby’s fleece — or your own — when it comes to BPA. As Dr. Sarah Vogel, author of Is It Safe? BPA and the Struggle to Define the Safety of Chemicals, explains:

BPA is not used in plastics used to make soda bottles.  The kind of plastic it’s used in, polycarbonate, is too hard for that purpose and too expensive. Polycarbonates are not recycled in most municipalities as they fall into category 7 which is ‘mixed’. So they end up in landfill and BPA has been detected in landfill leachate. 

The epoxy resins BPA is in are used to coat metals, like food cans.  BPA has been found in recycled cardboard –most likely because of its use in carbonless paper (like cash register receipts) that is in the recycled paper mix.  It would be quite challenging to remove it from the recycling process, I suspect.

I worry more about the food cans. There is evidence that you can significantly reduce exposure to BPA by removing food cans from the diet, which demonstrates the importance of that route of exposure.”

I decided to look towards the top sellers of fleece products for some answers: Patagonia and L.L. Bean. Both companies confirmed that they use post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic soda bottles to make their fleece.

Patagonia

Patagonia has many green initiatives in place — including recycling used soda bottles, unusable manufacturing waste and worn our garments (including their own) into polyester fibers to produce many of their clothes. One of my favorite Patagonia programs is something called Common Threads where they take back old outdoor garments (including their own!) for recycling into new fibers.

Good news: Patagonia confirmed that there is no BPA in their fleece.

L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean responded similarly when asked about BPA lurking in their fleece products.

“The majority of our Trail Model Fleece program contains up to 85% recycled materials, mostly old soda bottles. Our recycled materials do not contain any BPA at all.”

L.L. Bean confirmed there’s no BPA in their fleece. But as I suspected…

“All of our kids’ sleepwear is flame retardant as required by the US Federal government — all of the fabric in our kids’ sleepwear meets federal safety requirements for children’s sleepwear.”

Although there are many more makers of fleece products out there, a confirmation from both of these fleece clothing retailers is a good indication that the majority of fleece doesn’t contain BPA. 

The Environmental Impact of Fleece

Along with the good news that BPA isn’t hiding out in our fleece gear comes another concern about fleece and its impact on the environment.

study found that microscopic plastic debris from washing clothes is accumulating in the marine environment and could be entering the food chain. Some of our synthetic clothes are made of PET or polyethylene terephthalate. PET is a member of the polyester family of polymers, which are spun to make fabric which can release up to 1,900 tiny fibers each time they’re washed! PET does not biodegrade, and these microplastics are being ingested by marine life.

Fortunately BPA in fleece products doesn’t pose a problem, however there are plenty of unregulated toxic chemicals remaining in products found on the shelves of our stores.

Take action! It’s time to put the pressure on. It’s time to take the burden away from the consumer and place it where it belongs – with retailers and industry. We need legislation in place that will strengthen the way our government regulates toxic chemicals by requiring more thorough health testing of products BEFORE these chemicals end up in the bodies of our children.

If you agree parents shouldn’t need to be detectives or have a PhD in toxicology to know that their children are safe from toxic chemicals, please head over to Moms Clean Air Force to sign HERE.

photo credit: dan.danowski via photopin cc

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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