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New Data Shows Increased Triclosan Exposure

Monday, August 9th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, August 9, 2010) Two separate findings that showcase increased exposure and potential for exposure in humans to the toxic chemical triclosan add to the mounting evidence that the non-medical use of this chemical should be banned. Newly released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that levels of triclosan in humans have increased by 50% since 2004. Moreover, a study by the University of Toledo shows that triclosan and triclocarbon, a similar compound, can enter the food chain through use of contaminated water or fertilizer on agricultural crops. CDC’s updated National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals finds that the 50% increase in levels of triclosan is across all demographics in the U.S. population. Data was collected on the concentration of triclosan in urine. Affluent people and those over the age of 20 have the highest concentrations of triclosan in their urine. The study released by the University of Toledo, “Uptake of Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products by Soybean Plants from Soils Applied with Biosolids and Irrigated with Contaminated Water,” examines the potential for crops to take up contaminants such as triclosan from water or fertilizer. Conventional crops are often fertilized with sewage […]

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Lawsuit Seeks Timeline for FDA Action on Antibacterial Pesticide Triclosan

Friday, July 30th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, July 30, 2010) Adding to a campaign that Beyond Pesticides launched in 2004 to alert the public and pressure government to restrict the highly toxic antibacterial chemical triclosan -commonly found in antibacterial soaps and household and consumer products, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for failing to issue a final rule regulating the chemical. The lawsuit follows on the heels of two petitions filed by Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch in 2009 and 2010 with FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), respectively, to ban the chemical. Because of the widespread poisoning and environmental contamination caused by triclosan, the petitions cite numerous violations of statutory duties under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. The NRDC lawsuit adds yet another dimension to the legal violations involving agency malfeasance on triclosan by asking the court to impose a strict deadline for FDA to finalize a proposed rule that has been pending for 32 years and could ban many uses of triclosan and its chemical cousin triclocarban. […]

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Ask Your Local Retailers to Stop Selling Triclosan Products

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2010) Beyond Pesticides has drafted sample text (see below), and we need your help to deliver a letter to your local supermarket, cosmetics store or co-op asking them to stop selling products that contain triclosan. Hundreds of products containing the antibacterial chemical triclosan decorate the shelves of retail stores across the country. From hand soap and toothpastes, to toys and yoga mats, triclosan is everywhere. Product labels will read “triclosan,” “triclocarban” (a related compound found in bar soaps) or “Microban” (a formulation of triclosan used in plastics and fabrics). It is time to take action and demand that this endocrine disrupting chemical is removed from the products we use and love. When consumers demand more for their health and well-being, retailers and manufacturers of triclosan products must listen. Triclosan, which has a similar chemical structure as dioxin, is linked to various health and environmental problems. It is associated with skin irritation, has been shown to interfere with the body’s hormones, and has been linked to an increased risk of developing respiratory illness, or asthma, and cancer, as well as subtle effects on learning ability. Because the chemical goes down the drain, it wreaks havoc with the […]

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Triclosan Withdrawn as Food Contact Additive in Europe Following Action in U.S.

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, May 6, 2010) The European Commission has announced that triclosan has been formally withdrawn from the European list for use as a food contact additive; however, plastic materials that are intended to come in contact with food and placed on the market before November 2010 may still be sold until November 2011. The decision follows the European Union’s 2009 regulations to impose limits on the amount of triclosan contained in cosmetics. Ciba, the Swiss-based company that is a subsidiary of BASF, announced last year that they had withdrawn the application of triclosan as a food contact additive so that they could instead focus their sales in the personal hygiene, health care and medical device sector. The company declared this to be a “strategic business decision” and declared that triclosan use as as an additive in plastics intended to come into contact with food was no longer “appropriate.” In the U.S. in 2009, Ciba requested a voluntarily cancellation of the registrations for the technical grade triclosan regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and incorporated into plastics and textiles. Ciba continues to market triclosan for medical and personal care products, which are regulated by the U.S. Food and […]

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FDA’s New Triclosan Factsheet Questions Need But Plays Down Hazards

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, April 22, 2010) In a new consumer factsheet posted April 8, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attempts to moderate the position it took in a February 23, 2010 letter to Congress in which it said, “[E]xisting data raise valid concerns about the effects of repetitive daily human exposure to these antiseptic ingredients” and “FDA shares your concerns over the potential effects of triclosan and triclocarban as endocrine disruptors that has emerged since we issued the TFM [Tentative Final Monograph] in 1994.” Instead, in bureaucractic-speak FDA is now saying, “[T]riclosan is not currently known to be hazardous to humans.” Safety advocates say that the FDA’s latest statement creates public confusion as the triclosan market continues to grow and manufacturers in the soap and cosmetics industry daily push misleading advertising claims about the protection from bacteria attributed to the toxic ingredient triclosan. While equivocating on the science on triclosan’s adverse effects, FDA does question the efficacy of the widely marketed triclosan products with the statement, “At this time the agency does not have evidence that triclosan in antibacterial soaps and body washes provides any benefit over washing with regular soap and water.” The new FDA factsheet, featured […]

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Take Action: Tell FDA That Triclosan Is Too Hazardous to the Environment

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2010) On February 22, 2010 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a federal notice requesting data and information regarding the potential environmental impact of triclosan’s use in acne and antiplaque/antigingivitis products. The agency, in order to comply with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), must complete environmental assessments (EA) for active ingredients before they are included in the agency’s over-the-counter (OTC) drug regulation system. Triclosan, a controversial antibacterial agent found in hundreds of consumer products, from hand sanitizers to toys, is one of 13 chemicals being assessed by FDA for environmental impacts according to their proposed uses. According to FDA regulations, the agency must conduct EAs before chemicals are approved for use in OTC drug products. In this case, triclosan is being considered for use in acne and antiplaque/antigingivitis products. Even though this action is being taken, FDA has never been able to finalize and approve the use of triclosan in any OTC products, despite the proliferation of these products in the consumer marketplace. It appears that EAs for the vast majority of triclosan uses have been completed. Other FDA regulations on triclosan have not been updated since 1994 and much of the data […]

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Biomonitoring Data Links Brain Effects to Neurotoxic Chemical Exposure

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, February 9, 2010) In an innovative development that could transform the way Americans view the origins of learning and developmental disabilities, the national Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative (LDDI) released the first-ever biomonitoring report identifying toxic chemical pollution in people from the learning and developmental disability community. Mind, Disrupted: How Toxic Chemicals May Affect How We Think and Who We Are examines 61 toxic chemicals present in project participants in the context of rising rates of autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other learning and developmental disabilities.   In the U. S., 5-15% of children under age 18 are affected by learning and developmental disabilities. Reported cases of autism spectrum disorders have increased tenfold since the early 1990s. Based on current research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 in 110 eight-year-old children have autism in the United States. Mind, Disrupted measured levels of a set of neurotoxic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the participants’ bodies. A growing body of peer-reviewed scientific research, including animal and human studies, shows that these chemicals can disrupt the development and functioning of the brain and nervous system. Eleven of the twelve study participants had detectable levels of triclosan in […]

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Over 75 Groups Petition EPA to Ban Triclosan Uses Tied to Widespread Contamination

Friday, January 15th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, January 15, 2010) Yesterday, environmental and health groups petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban the use of the widely used antimicrobial pesticide triclosan, which is linked to endocrine disruption, cancer and antibiotic resistance and found in 75% of people tested in government biomonitoring studies. Over 75 groups, lead by Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch, say EPA must act to stop the use of a chemical now commonly found in soaps, toothpaste, deordorants, cosmetics, clothing, and plastic, with a nearly $1 billion market and growing. In their petition, the groups cite numerous statutes under which they believe the government must act to stop non-medical uses of triclosan, including laws regulating pesticide registration, use and residues, clean and safe drinking water, and endangered species. “Given its widespread environmental contamination and public health risk, EPA has a responsibility to ban household triclosan use in a marketplace where safer alternatives are available to manage bacteria,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “Scientific studies indicate that widespread use of triclosan causes a number of serious health and environmental problems,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “EPA needs to ban its use in non-medical […]

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Congressman Grills EPA and FDA for Lack of Action on Triclosan

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, January 6, 2010) The House Energy and Environment Subcommittee chairman asked federal regulators for an open discussion about the health and environmental impacts of two controversial chemicals- triclosan and triclocarban- commonly found in antimicrobial hand soaps and other consumer products. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is asking U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for answers to questions about triclosan and triclocarban. The synthetic antimicrobial chemicals are found in many soaps, toothpastes, deodorants and cosmetics. “Despite serious questions regarding the safety of these potentially dangerous products, these substances seem to exist in a regulatory black hole,” Rep. Markey said in a statement. “We must ensure that these products … kill germs without adversely impacting human health.” Read letter to EPA and FDA. In the letter to EPA, Rep. Markey questions whether the agency is reviewing existing data on the two chemicals, and if it has made a decision about further regulating them. He also asked if the agency has examined the impact of triclosan on wildlife, and whether it plans to evaluate the chemicals under its hormone-screening program, the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program. The lawmaker also pushed FDA on its plan for finalizing a […]

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Report Shows Overuse of Disinfectants Is Harmful

Monday, December 14th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, December 14, 2009) A new report links disinfectant chemicals with chronic illnesses and conditions such as asthma, hormone imbalance, and immune system problems. The report, Disinfectant Overkill: How Too Clean May Be Hazardous to Our Health, was released by the national environmental health group Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE), and cites more than 40 peer-reviewed reports and scientific studies that document the health impacts of chemicals found in household disinfectants. Chemicals reviewed in the report include chlorine bleach, ammonia, triclosan and triclocarban, ammonium quarternary compounds, and nano-silver. “Companies are working hard to convince consumers, and especially moms, that they need to regularly disinfect every surface in their homes to protect their families from illness. But that’s simply not true and it may not be healthy,” says WVE staff scientist and report author Alexandra Scranton. “We’re encouraging consumers to go back to basics for cleaning, with less of a focus on disinfection and more on non-toxic cleaners and a little elbow grease.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), frequent hand washing with hot water and regular soap is the best way to prevent infection and illness. “Antimicrobial chemicals available in the home today were […]

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Groups Petition to Suspend Sewage Sludge Distribution

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, September 30, 2009) The Center the Food Safety and the Resource Institute for Low Entropy Systems have petitioned the City of San Francisco and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to immediately suspend the SFPUC’s Compost Giveaway program because the compost is made with sewage sludge which contains toxic chemicals and hazardous materials. The petition, submitted last Wednesday, cites that the distribution of contaminated compost will spread toxic sludge to homeowners’ backyards, increasing the risk of health problems to children and the community. The SFPUC’s compost giveaway program distributes free compost as part of the commission’s recycling efforts to community gardens, school gardens and local residents. The compost is made of sewage sludge, derived as a by-product of wastewater and sewage treatment, and contains heavy metals, pathogens, pharmaceuticals, PCB’s, flame retardants and endocrine disruptors, such as the antibacterial triclosan. “San Franciscans may think they’re getting a gift from the city, but this is no gift. City residents could be at serious risk of poisoning from the application of sewage sludge to local crops and gardens,” said Paige Tomaselli, staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “With this petition, we’re strongly urging the Mayor to put an […]

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Canadian Medical Association Calls for Ban of Household Products Containing Triclosan

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, August 27, 2009) At its annual convention, the Canadian Medical Association called on the federal government to ban the sale of household antibacterial products such as those containing triclosan. The motion was proposed by Ottawa family physician Kapil Khatter, M.D., who is also president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. He says he can understand the appeal of antibacterial products, but in reality they do more harm than good. Strong scientific evidence suggests that pervasive use of triclosan poses imminent threats to human health and the environment, which is why Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch submitted an amended petition a month ago to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking to ban the use of the controversial pesticide triclosan for non-medical applications. The petition establishes that FDA’s allowance of triclosan in the retail market violates the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. The CMA resolution echoes concerns raised not only by Beyond Pesticides, but also by the American Medical Association (AMA) that date as far back as 2000, citing the lack of studies pertaining to the health and environmental effects of its widespread use. Because no data exists to support the need […]

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This School Year, Parents Encouraged to Fight Germs without Hazardous Antibacterials

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, August 19, 2009) As children return to school, health and environmental groups are encouraging parents to protect their children from harmful germs without using hazardous chemicals in lunch bags, school supplies, soaps and sanitizers. The dangers of and alternatives to using triclosan (often marketed as Microban) and the related compound triclocarban, are documented in new educational materials for parents. The factsheet, What’s the right answer to the germ question?, by Beyond Pesticides and Food & Water Watch, pulls together information from various scientific studies documenting the adverse impacts of triclosan on health and the environment, as well as antibiotic and antibacterial resistance. It also provides alternatives, cites Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for hand washing and disease prevention, and lists triclosan-free brands and retailers. Triclosan is associated with skin irritation or eczema, has been shown to interfere with the body’s hormones, and has been linked to an increased risk of developing respiratory illness, or asthma, and cancer, as well as subtle effects on learning ability. Because the chemical goes down the drain, it also wreaks havoc with the environment, converting to highly toxic dioxins and contaminating waterways and wildlife. Furthermore, by killing some, but not all bacteria, […]

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Groups File Petition to FDA to Ban Triclosan for Non-Medical Uses

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

On July 14, 2009, Beyond Pesticides and Food and Water Watch submitted an amended petition to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requiring that the agency ban the use of the controversial pesticide triclosan for non-medical applications on the basis that those uses violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act. Strong scientific evidence suggests that pervasive use of triclosan poses imminent threats to human health and the environment. “Numerous scientific studies and reports clearly indicate that in addition to its human health and environmental dangers, triclosan is not effective for many of its intended benefits and may actually be doing consumers more harm than good,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Even worse, is that current regulations on triclosan haven’t been updated since 1994 and much of the science used by the FDA to regulate the pesticide dates back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. The agency’s inconsideration of new scientific research on triclosan represents an egregious failure to properly protect the public against this dangerous pesticide.” Regulated by both the FDA and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), triclosan is commonly found in hand soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, laundry detergents, fabric […]

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Antibacterial Pesticide Triclosan Contaminates Dolphins

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, June 23, 2009) According to a study published in the August-September 2009 issue of the journal Environmental Pollution, the presence of triclosan, a widely-used antibacterial pesticide found in products from countertops to toothpaste, was detected in the in the blood of bottlenose dolphins. The study, “Occurrence of triclosan in plasma of wild Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and in their environment,” was the first to find triclosan in the blood of a marine mammal, suggesting that contamination from sewage systems is widespread. According to a synopsis by Environmental Health News, the study examined dolphins from rivers, an estuary, a harbor and a lagoon in South Carolina and Florida. In this study, wild bottlenose dolphins were live captured from several sites within an estuary in Charleston, SC and in the Indian River Lagoon, FL in 2005. Blood samples taken from 13 animals in each area revealed triclosan in 31 and 23 percent of the animals from the two sites, respectively, at levels ranging from 0.025 to 0.27 parts per billion. These levels are similar to what has been measured in the blood of humans. When introduced to the market in 1972, triclosan was confined to hospital and health care settings. Since […]

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New Test Detects Triclosan in Water

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, February 4, 2009) A new test for triclosan, developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), could help to expedite environmental monitoring of this widely used antibacterial chemical which has been found at high concentrations in rivers and other water resources. Triclosan is linked to a range of health and environmental effects, from skin irritation, bacterial resistance and endocrine disruption, to dioxin contamination and adverse impacts on fragile aquatic ecosystems. The new test called “magnetic particle enzyme immunoassay,” can detect triclosan at a concentration of 20 parts per trillion (ppt)-the equivalent of 1 ounce in 31 million tons. The research team at ARS evaluated the test by using it to detect triclosan and its derivative, methyl-triclosan, in river water, tap water and sewage samples from three municipal plants. They were able to detect triclosan below 20 ppt (the detection limit), indicating very low levels of triclosan in the collected samples. ARS chemist, Weilin L. Shelver, at the ARS Animal Metabolism-Agricultural Chemicals Research Unit in Fargo, N.D., developed the new triclosan test in collaboration with Jennifer Church, Lisa Kamp and Fernando Rubio, a research team at Abraxis, Inc., of Warminster, Pa. Ms. Shelver says […]

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New Report Finds High Concentrations of Toxic Contaminants in Sewage Sludge

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, January 28, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national sewage sludge survey identifies high concentrations of toxic contaminants with heavy metals, steroids and pharmaceuticals, including the antibacterials, triclocarban and triclosan. Despite the prevalence of these toxic chemicals in the environment and their potential adverse impacts to human health and the environment, EPA maintains that it is not appropriate to speculate on the significance of the results at this time. Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), Section 405(d) stipulates that EPA must identify and regulate toxic pollutants that may be present in biosolids (sewage sludge) at levels of concern for public health and the environment. The survey, “Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey” (TNSSS), sampled 74 selected waste water treatment plants in 35 states during 2006 to 2007. The survey, like its three predecessors, is conducted to determine which chemicals are present in sewage sludge and develop national estimates of their concentrations in order to assess whether exposures may be occurring and whether concentrations found may be of concern. The agency conducted analysis of sewage sludge samples for 145 compounds, including four anions (nitrite/nitrate, fluoride, water-extractable phosphorus), 28 metals, four polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, two semi-volatiles, 11 flame retardants, 72 […]

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Intersex Frogs More Common in Suburban Areas

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, April 10, 2008) Common frogs that live in suburban areas are more likely than their rural counterparts to develop reproductive abnormalities, according to David Skelly, PhD, professor of ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. This phenomenon becomes a serious concern as the frog’s mating season begins, leaving researchers to wonder: will frogs be clear on their role in the annual ritual? Research by Dr. Skelly, soon to be published, focuses on the common green frog, Rana clamitans, within the Connecticut River Valley. A total of 233 frogs were collected from various ponds and landscapes with the river valley and among them 13 percent have abnormalities occurring in their reproductive organs. In urban areas, 18 percent of the collected frogs are intersex, and in suburban areas 21 percent. Frogs collected from agricultural areas have the lowest rate of reproductive problems with just 7 percent classified as intersex. According to Dr. Skelly, the more suburban the land cover, the more likely the abnormalities. “This is the first evidence that I think anyone has provided that agriculture is doing anything but pushing those rates higher,” remarked Dr. Skelly of the intersex phenomena. In an attempt to explain […]

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Pharmaceuticals and Anti-Bacterials in Your Drinking Water

Monday, March 17th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2008) Not everything that goes down the drain can be removed by water treatment plants, which leaves some alarming contaminants in America’s drinking water. A five-month investigation by the Associated Press (AP) finds trace quantities of pharmaceuticals in the drinking water of 41 million Americans. Scientists fear that ingestion of these tiny amounts of drugs may pose health risks to the public, wildlife and aquatic organisms. The AP investigation surveyed the 50 largest cities in the country and a dozen other major water providers, as well as other small providers in each of the 50 states. A wide range of pharmaceuticals, whether administered to humans or to farm animals, are found in the water of 24 major metropolitan areas, and tests done in the watersheds of 35 major water providers shows 28 testing positive for pharmaceuticals. The levels of pharmaceuticals found in the water are at levels measured in the parts per billion or trillion, far below levels of medical use. The federal government has not set safety limits for drugs in drinking water. In fact, fewer than half of the 62 major water providers could say their water was tested. Water treatment plants are not […]

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Study Finds That Antibacterial Enhances Endocrine Disruption

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2008) Triclocarban, an antibacterial compound widely used as an additive to a range of household and personal care products including bar soaps, detergents, body washes, cleansing lotions, and wipes, has been found to have an amplification effect on the activity of natural hormones, which in turn can lead to adverse reproductive and developmental effects. In the study, published online November 29, 2007 in Endocrinology, researchers from University of California- Davis and Yale University investigated the endocrine disrupting properties of triclocarban and other polychlorinated diphenyl urea compounds by exposing human cells and rats to levels similar to those found in people. Triclocarban was found to have a synergistic interaction with the sex hormone, testosterone- present in both males and females. This interaction produced a positive, amplified biological effect, which is likely to hyperstimulate native sex hormones. This amplification of sex hormone activity occurs at the target cell and can result in developmental defects or decreased reproductive function. Researchers further explained that ovulation and ovarian function in females can be disrupted, while sperm quality can be decreased in males. The researchers also point out that the results of their study create a new category for endocrine disruptive substances […]

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Scientists Say Soap and Water Beat Antibacterials

Friday, January 26th, 2007

(Beyond Pesticides, January 26, 2007) With an annual introduction of 200 to 300 new anti-microbial products, scientists are saying that the most effective way to fight germs is the old fashioned way””soap and water. Amid a national trend of increasing germophobia, experts are saying soap and water are a better option than alcohol-based disinfectants and antibacterial soaps. In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration led a panel of experts and industry representatives to weigh and analyze different germ killing methods. The panel found “no firm scientific evidence that the flood of antimicrobial products we observe has any discernible benefit over the use of regular soap and water.“ Few people are aware that plain soap is an anti-microbial. It kills bacteria by making their cell membranes leak fluids. This coupled with the motion of scrubbing the hands together””which loosens microbes and makes them fall into the soapy solution and wash away””creates “one of the most critical control strategies” for germs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to Mike Richardson, an industry analyst at the Freedonia Group in Cleveland, consumers spend more than $200 million on anti-microbial products every year. With sanitizers being used on shopping […]

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