/Life

Don't be an all-you-can-eat-buffet for annoying critters again!

Banish Bugs With Our Recommended Insect Repellent Ingredients

Life

Summer is here! But that means so are the biting insects…. Ugh. Mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers, fleas, and biting flies seem impossible to avoid when the weather heats up. They're really annoying and they can post a pretty big health risk. Mosquitoes and ticks alone can transmit some scary diseases like Zika, Lyme, malaria, encephalitis, and dengue fever. And to make matters worse, a new CDC report shows the number of mosquito and tick-borne diseases are on the rise (1). To help protect yourself against these pesky insects, we're discussing the most effective insect repellent ingredients that are EPA registered (AKA safe and effective) and CDC recommended: DEET, picardian, and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

We know what you're thinking- synthetic chemicals are recommended?! In this case, the risk of disease is a bigger environmental health threat than using these two specific synthetic chemicals. Additionally, there have also been no scientific studies that show essential oils are effective in protecting against insect bites so we can't include them in our recommendations. You can try them and maybe they'll work for you, but there's no guarantee. If you really want our one DEET alternative, non-synthetic repellent recommendation, that has a transparent list of ingredients, and is scientifically proven to keep bugs away, stay tuned!

DEET

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is considered to be the "gold standard" of insect repellent. It's a good choice if you're outside all day in a high-insect are because it repels the most insects, including both mosquitoes and ticks, and lasts the longest amount of time (2). When applied correctly (make sure to read the label!), there are very few negative reactions from DEET. A product with a concentration of DEET between 20-30% can provide protection from insects for most of the day (3). DEET can be used while pregnant and on children older than two months and has not been found to be carcinogenic. Although some may see dermatitis or an allergic reaction from long-term exposure to high levels of DEET (2) and oral ingestion has been shown to have neurotoxic effects like seizures (4).

Picaridin

Picaridin (icardian) is another repellent ingredient that repels ticks and mosquitoes. It's been widely used in Europe and Australia for years with positive results. A product containing at least 20% picaridin has similar short-term results as DEET, although picaridin does not provide long-lasting protection as well as DEET and has to be reapplied more often (2). Picaridin has not been studied as thoroughly as DEET, but it does not seem to have any major negative health impacts. Although uncommon it can cause skin or eye irritation, so make sure to read the directions when using a product containing picaridin (5). We've become big fans of Ranger Ready Picaridin 20% Insect Repellent Mist!

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus

Oil of lemon eucalyptus (P-menthane-3,8-diol) is a natural oil extracted from the lemon-scented eucalyptus plant (6). It can be an appealing ingredient to people because it's an alternative to synthetic chemicals like DEET or picaridin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is great at repelling mosquitoes, flies and gnats, but not so great against ticks (2). Products containing at least 30% of oil of lemon eucalyptus have shown to be almost as effective as repelling mosquitoes as DEET, but it has to be applied much more frequently (6). While it is natural, it can irritate the eyes or skin and is not recommended for children under 3 (7). Just a quick note: lemon essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil are NOT the same thing as oil of lemon eucalyptus though, so make sure to look for that exact phrasing in any ingredient lists.

Since oil of lemon eucalyptus is EPA registered and a natural ingredient, we think it's a great synthetic-ingredient alternative! We love Murphy's Naturals Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Insect Repellent Spray. It uses 30% oil of lemon eucalyptus as a way to repel those annoying bugs and lists all of the ingredients (ethanol and water). It's super super hard to find a complete list of ingredients in insect repellent products, so we think this is a huge plus.

So which ingredient should I choose?

It depends! Are you in an area with a high amount of mosquitoes and ticks? Are you outdoors for the entire day or maybe just an hour? Do you want to avoid synthetic chemicals or are you okay with it? Are you traveling to a place that has a high rate of diseases like malaria or yellow fever? The EPA has a quiz you can take in order to find the best insect repellent for your needs.

We recommend to always read and completely follow the directions listed on any repellent product you use, and wash your hands after applying a repellent. Generally you want to apply repellent when you're outside while holding the product at least 6 inches away as you spray. While spraying repellent on your clothes is okay (although DEET shouldn't be sprayed on synthetic fabric), it's not a good idea to spray it under your clothes (8). Long sleeved shirts, pants, long socks, and closed toe shoes can reduce the risk of a bite because less skin is exposed.

Now that you're fully up-to-date on the best insect repellent ingredients you can go back to focusing on what really matters: barbecuing, swimming, beach trips, and all of fun activities that come with summer!


References:

1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6717e1.htm?s_cid=mm6717e1

2. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/prevention-of-arthropod-and-insect-bites-repellents-and-other-measures

3. https://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-guide-bug-repellents/ewg-repellent-guide

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=2506420

5. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/PicaridinGen.html

6. https://www.beyondpesticides.org/assets/media/documents/pesticides/factsheets/oillemoneucalyptus.pdf

7. https://www.cdc.gov/zika/prevention/prevent-mosquito-bites.html

8. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods

Life

Throwing a Party with Less Plastic

A healthier way to eat cake, drink beer, and celebrate

Parties are always great. You get to see friends, have a good time, and figure out how to eat delicious food off a paper plate while not spilling whatever may be in your cup. While the chips, cake, and booze may not be the healthiest, there are other things you might not be thinking about that harm our health. The biggest offender at parties usually is all the plastic. The plastic cups, the plastic utensils, the fun table cloths with Yoda's face on them are all made of plastic.

While there are many reasons to avoid plastic - it's not good for the world, it requires oil to make, it's hard to recycle if there has been food on it - one that people often don't usually think of is that single-use plastic can affect our health, both immediately and long term. The chemicals in the plastic cups, or even used to make paper cups and plates oil and water resistant, can easily seep into food and drinks. As it does that, it gets into our bodies as we consume the fun party foods and can interfere with the ways cells communicate with our bodies. This interference has been shown in various research projects to lead to things like obesity, fertility problems, temperature disregulation, and even cancers (1).

We are never going to be completely free from plastic. It's everywhere, and for certain things, it's really convenient and necessary. But, it isn't necessary as often as we normally use it. And, one way to lower the risk of health problems and send a message to companies that create unnecessary plastic waste at the same time is to buy and use fewer plastic products or products with excessive plastic packaging.With a few simple swaps, you can make the party healthier for your guests (and yourself) by limiting the amount of plastic you use:

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/ SOCIAL

Breast cancer has historically been known as a disease that only impacts "older" women. But the truth is that breast cancer is a complex disease that impacts people of all ages with varying outcomes for different communities. For example, one aggressive breast cancer subtype is more common in women younger than 40 years old, and more common in Black women.

Moreover, seventy percent of people with breast cancer have none of the known risk factors, such as late menopause, childbearing late in life, and family history of cancer. These risk factors are present in only 30 percent of breast cancer cases and there is growing scientific evidence that environmental exposures increase breast cancer risk.

As breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in the U.S., breast cancer is an urgent health crisis, and to address and end the epidemic, young people need to get involved and address environmental exposures and the root causes of the disease.

Because Health spoke with Breast Cancer Action (BCAction), a nonprofit committed to stopping breast cancer before it starts, about their work in reducing our involuntary exposures to toxics in the environment that are linked with breast cancer, and about how doing so is not only an act of environmental justice, but an act of racial justice as well.


Because Health: Can you tell me about Breast Cancer Action and what unique role you play in preventing breast cancer.

Tibby Reas Hinderlie, BCAction: While the mainstream breast cancer movement remains squarely focused on pink ribbons, "awareness" campaigns, and mammography screening, it fails to address the systemic and environmental issues at the heart of this epidemic.

BCAction is an activist, education, and advocacy organization, and we understand that systemic interventions are necessary in order to address the root causes of the disease and ensure that fewer people develop breast cancer, fewer people die from breast cancer, and no community bears a disproportionate burden from this disease. Our three programmatic priorities address the lack of transparency in pink ribbon marketing culture; issues of breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment; and primary prevention by exposing the root causes of breast cancer in our environmental policies.

Because Health: How do environmental exposures impact breast cancer risk?

BCAction: There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that toxic chemicals may increase our risk of developing the disease. In 2010, the President's Cancer Panel reported that "the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated [and] . . . the American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures."

There are over 85,000 synthetic chemicals on the market today. We are exposed to preservatives in our lipstick, flame retardants in our sofas, plasticizers in our water bottles, and pesticides on our fruits and vegetables, to name a few sources.

At BCAction we advocate for the precautionary principle of public health. These are guidelines for environmental decision making that call for us to determine safety based on the weight of the available evidence, because waiting for "absolute proof" is killing us. In the absence of scientific consensus, we need to adopt the highest standards, and take proactive steps to reduce our exposures to these toxins linked to increased breast cancer risk.

Because Health: How can we reduce our exposure to these environmental risks? What policies do we need to push for to ensure fewer people develop breast cancer in the future?

BCAction: We need systemic change if we are going to reduce our risk of environmental exposures, instead of relying on individual acts of risk reduction. Campaigns we've led that reflect this theory of change include our 2020 Think Before You Pink campaign, in which we demanded the Environmental Protection Agency stop environmental health rollbacks. We've also called for actions to dismantle the fossil fuel continuum, to include breaking free from plastics pollution, and we provide many educational and advocacy opportunities to phase out fossil fuel dependence.

We know that environmental justice is inextricable from health justice, and only large-scale systemic changes can address the root causes of this disease.

Because Health: You mentioned justice as part of your breast cancer work. How is breast cancer a social justice issue?

BCAction: Just as environmental factors have been largely ignored as possible risk factors for breast cancer, so have the complex issues of social inequities – political, economic and racial injustices. Disparities in breast cancer incidence, mortality, and survival are due to unequal burdens in who faces the forces of systemic oppression, institutionalized racism, and environmental injustices. That is, the extent and type of toxics we're exposed to often depends on where we live and work.

In our fact sheet Why We Must Stop Fossil Fuels, we show how chemicals like benzene, dioxins, polyaromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, and pesticides and herbicides are each produced along the fossil fuel continuum, and linked to increased breast cancer risk, and how Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities are disproportionately exposed to fossil fuel operations that produce these chemicals due to environmental racism.

Put simply – BIPOC communities bear the brunt of environmental exposures and are hit first and worst by chemical exposures like those produced by the fossil fuel continuum. These communities are therefore at increased risk for breast cancer due to environmental exposures. We know that racial bias in industrial zoning has led to communities of color being burdened with higher everyday exposures to pollution from fossil-fuel based industries, and that decades of racist urban planning practices have led to a greater concentration of highways, ports, and trainlines in communities of color.

Increased breast cancer risk may also be linked to the stress of racism and adverse childhood experiences, including living in segregated neighborhoods. In BCAction's recent podcast episode Stress, Racism, and the Breast Cancer Connection, former Executive Director Karuna Jaggar and Dr. Lauren Ellman discuss how chronic stress, including the toll of systemic racism, explains some of the health impacts like increased breast cancer risk—even decades later.

BCAction is currently the community partner in an ongoing study, Linking Neighborhood and Individual Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to Breast Cancer. This study seeks answers to questions like: can where you live affect your breast cancer risk? If so, how? Is there something about living in a racially segregated neighborhood that contributes to more aggressive forms of breast cancer?

Because Health: What would you like young people to know about breast cancer?

BCAction: There is nothing inevitable about breast cancer. Breast Cancer Action's badass, take-no-prisoners, truth-telling, unapologetic, passionate and intersectional methodology to addressing and ending this devastating disease draws on health justice, environmental justice, and racial justice. And we believe that together we can build a world where our lives and communities are not threatened by breast cancer, but it will take our collective action.

To join us, sign up for our mailing list or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Life

3 DIY Face Mask Recipes to Brighten, Hydrate, and Tone

Ditch the harsh chemicals, plastic packaging and make your own!

Whether it's too much sun in the summer or much needed hydration in the winter, a sheet face mask is a great way to give nutrients and an extra boost to your skin. Plus face masks are basically the definition of self care. But as fun as store-bought face masks are, they do have some downsides. Many commercially available sheet masks contain harsh preservatives like parabens and potentially harmful chemicals because there isn't enough regulation on what can actually go in beauty products. And they aren't really that great for the environment because of the plastic packaging and every face mask just gets thrown away, creating more garbage.

Luckily you can save money, give your skin some much needed pampering, and help the environment by making your own DIY face mask! Win, win, win! Our favorite DIY face mask recipes feature ingredients like citrus, honey, yogurt, avocado, matcha, and turmeric. Each of the ingredients are favorites among skin care experts and we've tested all of them ourselves. All three of our favorite recipes have only 2 simple ingredients that you likely already have on hand, so you can definitely try one of these tonight!

We suggest buying a reusable washable sheet face mask to get the same spa-ish feel as a single-use sheet face mask. Here are some silicone face mask covers, and another cloth one that are both reusable and washable.

Honey Orange Brightening Face Mask Recipe

Orange juice is full of vitamin C, which is a natural skin brightener and has many anti-aging properties (1). Honey is a natural exfoliator and raw honey especially provides great balancing and soothing properties (2). These ingredients in combination make for a great brightening mask that's great for skin that appears dull and damaged. It's especially great during the summer, when UV rays can wreak havoc on your skin.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Orange Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Honey

Instructions:

Mix the orange juice and honey in a small bowl and then apply and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with a lukewarm washcloth.


Super Green Hydration Face Mask

The creamy healthy fats in avocado provide some hydration super powers. Avocado is also an excellent source of Vitamin E and Vitamin C (3). Matcha green tea is packed with anti-aging and anti-inflammatory antioxidants (4, 5). When combined into a face mask, the texture is luxurious and provides a cooling and moisturizing effect that is addicting.

Ingredients:

  • ½ avocado, smashed until smooth
  • 1 tsp matcha

Instructions:

Mix the matcha into the avocado puree. You can also use an immersion blender if you want a smoother and fluffier texture. Apply the face mask and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with a lukewarm washcloth.


Turmeric Yogurt Toning Face Mask

Yogurt is a natural source of lactic acid that can gently help tone, brighten, and exfoliate your skin (6). Turmeric is antiinflammatory and the active compound, curcumin, has been shown to improve a multitude of skin conditions (7). This simple mask will help clarify your skin, while also increasing hydration and preparing your skin for the moisturizers or serums in your usual skincare routine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp plain yogurt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric

Instructions:

Stir the turmeric into the plain yogurt. Apply the mask and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with a lukewarm washcloth.



Sources

  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/8/866
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jocd.12058
  3. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408...
  4. https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/24/23/4277
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0021967303011336
  6. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2014.0261
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27213821/
Life

Does Your Makeup Have Teflon-Like Chemicals in It?

Why is there PFAS in makeup and is it bad for me?

Nowadays there are so many makeup options for us to choose from like waterproof mascara, dewy or matte foundations, smudge proof lipsticks, metallic eyeliners, and so much more. But how do companies get these products to have the perfect finish or such long lasting effects? One of the most common ways is to use chemicals like PFAS. PFAS or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are chemicals that are often called forever chemicals because they don't naturally break down in the environment and are associated with all sorts of health issues. Keep reading to learn more about what PFAS chemicals are, why they are in makeup, and how to buy makeup without PFAS!

What is PFAS?

PFAS is a group of thousands of chemicals that are used in many consumer products as well as industrial processes. PFAS is primarily used as a stain and oil repellent or a waterproofing agent so you can find it in food packaging, camping gear, waterproof clothing, nonstick cookware, paints, and personal care products (1,6). These chemicals have been found to cause a wide variety of health issues including high cholesterol, thyroid disease, hypertension, immunosuppression, hormonal imbalances, and different types of cancers (2,3). And because the chemical composition of the different PFAS chemicals are so strong it makes them really durable and long lasting in the body and in the environment. Many studies have found PFAS in breastmilk and found that the levels of PFAS in people's bodies is steadily on the rise (4).

And besides being harmful to our health, PFAS chemicals are also highly damaging to the environment (6). Due to contamination from industrial processes and consumer products, PFAS contaminated drinking water is a major concern. The average water treatment plant is unable to remove the PFAS from the water, allowing these chemicals to continue to pollute our waterways (5). But water isn't all that gets polluted. Our soil is also heavily impacted by PFAS contamination as well. Most of the contamination comes from farmlands reusing the sludge and water that comes from wastewater treatment plants that contain PFAS, which then infiltrates the soil and disturbs microbes and bacteria causing the soil to deteriorate (5). This can negatively affect the food currently growing in the soil and cause issues for growing food in the future as more of the soil deteriorates (5).

Clearly PFAS is bad for our health and the environment, so why is it put in our makeup?

PFAS in makeup

The makeup that you are most likely to find PFAS in is foundation, concealer, lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara. The reason it's in these products is because PFAS chemicals are great emulsifiers which keeps the products mixed together, stabilizers that prevent the product from breaking down, viscosity regulators that help change the texture of a product, and a great waterproofing agent (7). And in makeup these properties help to make a product smooth and conditioning for the skin, make it appear shiny, make it waterproof, and create a smoother texture for the product (8).

Ever since the 1950's, when PFAS was first created, the health and environmental effects of PFAS have been researched and more research comes out everyday as more PFAS like chemicals are created. On the other hand PFAS in makeup and how that affects our health still needs to be looked into more (9). Research has shown that products like lipstick and lipgloss that contain PFAS are much more likely to enter into the bloodstream compared to products like foundation because lipstick and lipgloss are so easy to accidentally ingest (7). There has also been evidence that putting cosmetic products containing PFAS around the eye area, where the skin is much thinner than the rest of the face, has a higher rate of absorption into the bloodstream (7,10,11). This means products like concealer, eyeliner, and mascara.

These studies show that there is some correlation between using cosmetics with PFAS and having PFAS within your body. And although not all products seem to pose a danger to our health, you have to remember that we might be ingesting and being exposed to PFAS in many other ways than just our makeup. PFAS is all around us in our drinking water, food packaging, clothes, household items, and more. So it may not seem like a big deal that a few of your makeup products have PFAS in them but the more PFAS builds up in your body the more risk there are for health issues associated with PFAS.

And if you thought PFAS in makeup wasn't a big enough issue, another concern is that not all brands are being transparent about it. A recent study found that many US cosmetic products contained PFAS and many of them did not disclaim it on the label. This means that cosmetic companies are purposely hiding the fact that they use PFAS in their products. This study also discussed that this issue is widespread throughout the entire cosmetics industry from drugstore makeup to high end brands (15,16). So now the real question is, how do we stay away from makeup with PFAS in it?

How to find makeup without PFAS

Finding PFAS free products can be difficult especially if the brand isn't upfront about it, but the first thing to do is check the ingredients list and look for any ingredients that have the word "fluoro" in it, that's usually a pretty good indication that there is some type of PFAS chemical in the product! You can also check EWG Skin Deep to see if your product is listed on the database and if it has PFAS in it!

Since you can't be sure if the ingredients list is accurate or not, another option is try natural or clean makeup brands. Often these brands have fewer chemical additives in them and ingredients are screened for potential health effects. Some clean beauty retailers are Sephora Clean, Target Clean, Credo Beauty, Follian, and Detox Market. And other stores like Walmart, Target, Rite Aid, CVS, Walgreens, and Amazon have all started to take action by looking for toxic chemicals in their beauty products (16). If you want to check out how some of your favorite stores handle toxic chemicals and their retailer report card, check out this link!

What Else Can You Do to Get PFAS out of Makeup?

Besides buying PFAS-free products and making choices with your money, another great thing to do is get involved in changing the policies around makeup. Right now there is very little legislation out there that tests for the safety of chemicals that are added to cosmetics. Only two states currently have regulations on PFAS in cosmetics, California and Maryland. A few other states have bills in the works but it could be years before they are passed (13). Compared to other places like the EU and Denmark, the US is very far behind when it comes to regulating PFAS (11,14). So by voting with your dollar, signing petitions, talking about the issue with your friends, and even emailing companies about your concerns, you have the power to try and shift the entire cosmetics industry to be cleaner and safer. Many companies have made the choice to make safer products for their customers, but there are still far too many companies who will not make that choice unless required to by better policies. If you want to read more about clean beauty legislation and how you can get involved in the issue, check out this article!

At the moment, there are hundreds of studies on the health impacts of PFAS chemicals. By limiting the number of interactions and exposures we have with PFAS the better! One easy way to do this is by getting rid of all of your makeup that contains PFAS. Getting new makeup is a blast and what could be better than supporting brands that care about your health and the health of the planet!


Sources

    1. Schultes, L., Vestergren, R., Volkova, K., Westberg, E., Jacobson, T., & P. Benskin, J. (2018). Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and fluorine mass balance in cosmetic products from the Swedish market: Implications for environmental emissions and human exposure. Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, 20(12), 1680–1690. https://doi.org/10.1039/C8EM00368H
    2. Sunderland, E. M., Hu, X. C., Dassuncao, C., Tokranov, A. K., Wagner, C. C., & Allen, J. G. (2019). A review of the pathways of human exposure to poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and present understanding of health effects. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 29(2), 131–147. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-018-0094-1
    3. Bell, E. M., De Guise, S., McCutcheon, J. R., Lei, Y., Levin, M., Li, B., Rusling, J. F., Lawrence, D. A., Cavallari, J. M., O'Connell, C., Javidi, B., Wang, X., & Ryu, H. (2021). Exposure, health effects, sensing, and remediation of the emerging PFAS contaminants – Scientific challenges and potential research directions. Science of The Total Environment, 780, 146399. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146399
    4. Zheng, G., Schreder, E., Dempsey, J. C., Uding, N., Chu, V., Andres, G., Sathyanarayana, S., & Salamova, A. (2021). Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Breast Milk: Concerning Trends for Current-Use PFAS. Environmental Science & Technology. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c06978
    5. Abunada, Z., Alazaiza, M. Y. D., & Bashir, M. J. K. (2020). An Overview of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Environment: Source, Fate, Risk and Regulations. Water, 12(12), 3590. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123590
    6. Abunada, Z., Alazaiza, M. Y. D., & Bashir, M. J. K. (2020). An Overview of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Environment: Source, Fate, Risk and Regulations. Water, 12(12), 3590. https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123590
    7. Thépaut, E., Dirven, H. A. A. M., Haug, L. S., Lindeman, B., Poothong, S., Andreassen, M., Hjertholm, H., & Husøy, T. (2021). Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in serum and associations with food consumption and use of personal care products in the Norwegian biomonitoring study from the EU project EuroMix. Environmental Research, 195, 110795. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2021.110795
    8. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas-cosmetics#:~:text=Per%2D%20and%20polyfluoroalkyl%20substances%20
    9. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/health-effects/overview.html
    10. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/teflon-in-beauty-products_n_5ab2b16be4b0decad04661b6
    11. Risk assessment of fluorinated substances in cosmetic products. (2018). Danish Environmental Protection Agency.
    12. https://safemakeupproject.com/natural-makeup/are-the-best-drugstore-makeup-products-safe/
    13. https://www.saferstates.org/toxic-chemicals/cleaning-cosmetics-and-construction/
    14. https://ec.europa.eu/environment/pdf/chemicals/2020/10/SWD_PFAS.pdf
    15. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.estlett.1c00240
    16. https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/15/health/makeup-toxic-chemicals-wellness/index.html
  • Life

    Flame Retardant Free Camping Tents

    Enjoy the great outdoors without the harmful chemicals

    Camping is such a great way to disconnect, relax, and enjoy being with friends and family in nature. As much as we love the idea of sleeping under the stars, at the end of the day you'll probably find us fast asleep in a tent. Having a tent provides a cozy sleeping space that is private and away from any mosquitos and other critters. Whether you're looking to replace an old tent or getting one for your first camping trip, you may want to consider a flame retardant free tent. You're probably thinking "Wait... flame retardants in tents?". Yep, that's right! Most tents are coated in chemical flame retardants. Once upon a time, tents used to be made of canvas that was coated in oil or wax, but this made tents more expensive to manufacture and required more upkeep. Recent textile innovations make tents lighter and more durable, but they're often also coated in flame retardants. While this may seem like a good thing, it doesn't really make sense anymore, especially given all the health effects associated with flame retardants (cancers, infertility, disrupting hormones, and lower IQ and hyperactivity in kids.

    Unsurprisingly, it turns out that camping in a flame retardant coated tent actually does increase your exposure to these harmful chemicals. A 2016 research study measured campers' exposure to flame retardants and found that after setting up their tents, they had 29 times as much of the chemicals on their hands afterwards. The study also showed the chemicals are inhaled while in the tent.

    The good news is that tent manufacturers have since stepped up and have been making tents without flame retardants, and there are more and more coming on the market every year. We rounded up these well-reviewed, easy to purchase, and flame retardant free camping tents that are available now. Pick one up if you're in the market for a tent and enjoy the great outdoors!


    🌱 all tents by these brands are flame retardant free. For other brands, only the models listed are flame retardant free.

    1. North Face: all tents
    2. Mountain Hardware: all tents
    3. Fjallraven: all tents
    4. REI Coop: Arete ASL 2 Tent, Half Dome SL 2+, 3+
    5. Diamond Brand Gear: Free Spirit tent
    6. Nemo: Dragonfly, Aurora, Chogori
    7. Teton Sports: Altos Tent (1, 2)
    Life

    Your Summer Guide to Water Safety

    How to Promote Fun and Prevent Drowning

    Summer has arrived! Cue the backyard BBQs, ice cream sandwiches (or DIY popsicles), and Will Smith jams. During long, hot days, water activities are basically a necessity for creating fun memories and staying cool. Unfortunately, water-related accidents are a leading cause of injury and death for young children (4). So to keep things fun this summer, let's talk about drowning prevention.

    Drowning happens in seconds and often quietly (1,3). Permanent disability can result even when drowning isn't fatal (3), since any prolonged oxygen disruption injures our brains. Though it can happen to anyone, drowning is the second most common cause of death for 1-4 year olds (3). Almost 90% of these incidents occur in home pools and hot tubs5,6 (and anything that collects water, even buckets, poses a risk) (3). To keep the children in your life safe and cool, here are 5 water safety tips as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, CDC, National Safety Council, Pool Safely, and Red Cross.

    1. Kids' water activities require close supervision at all times

    Most drowning incidents occur unsupervised when adults briefly step away or become distracted (4). For this reason, children need vigilant supervision by a designated adult whenever they're around water (4). We can appreciate a relaxing poolside novel or margarita, but the responsible adult/Water Watcher (7) needs to be completely free of alcohol impairment and any distractions (not even Insta). Consider water supervision to be like your greatest Netflix binge – your attention is totally focused, and you don't want to miss a thing. For young children the guiding principle is "touch supervision"– being within arm's reach at all times (3). 5-9 year olds are more likely to drown at public pools (4), so designate a supervising adult even when lifeguards are present (3).

    2. Modest safety measures make a massive difference

    Physical safety measures are imperative, especially when delightfully curious and unintentionally stealthy toddlers attempt to swim without you! Installing the right type of fence can reduce drowning risk by over 80% – 4-sided pool fences (completely isolating the pool) are far more effective than 3-sided property line fences (3). The safest fences measure at least 4 feet high, prevent climbing, and have self-latching, self-closing gates (3,7). Door alarms and rigid pool covers are also preventive, though their effectiveness is less studied (1). Always check that the pool you use has intact anti-entrapment drain covers (mandated by federal law) to prevent suction-related accidents (7). For portable pools, check out this specific safety guidance.

    3. Life jackets are way better than floaties

    Sadly those super cute floaty wings aren't designed for safety, according to the CDC, and should not replace life jackets (3) (on the upside, this means less flimsy plastic!). Young children and inexperienced swimmers should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacketwhenever near water (1,9). And, regardless of swimming ability, all children need USCG-approved life jackets if playing around lakes or the ocean (2). Life jackets are only effective if they fit well, so check the weight and size limits before using (9). Remember that nothing replaces close supervision! (To help start your life jacket search, we tracked down a more eco-friendly option.)

    4. Teach children swimming and water safety

    Learning to swim is crucial for water safety. We all benefit from learning how to swim, and swimming lessons can prevent drowning in 1-4 year olds (3). It's never too early (or too late!) to learn – YMCA and community centers often provide affordable lessons for all ages. (We get that communal activities are probably not your jam with the current Covid-19 situation, but, at some point, formal swim lessons could be a fun family activity.) Knowing how to swim does not make us "drown proof" though, so we still need to exercise caution with kids of any swimming ability (1). Teaching children not to climb over pool fences, swim without an adult, or play near pool drains is also crucial for preventing drowning incidents (7).

    5. Assess surroundings and swimming ability

    Being aware of location-specific water dangers and knowing a swimmer's ability can help discern which activities are safe. Every water activity presents an assortment of fun and risk. Case in point: sprinklers are a simple joy but also an understated toe hazard (been there…). Oceans, rivers, and lakes offer wilder adventure yet can even prove dangerous for expert swimmers – rip currents are an infamous threat in oceans, and lakes and rivers can have undertows (6). Older children and adolescents are more likely to drown in these natural bodies of water (3). Since alcohol can impair your ability to assess surroundings and react appropriately, avoid drinking while swimming or supervising others (7).

    Prevention first, but CPR can still save lives

    We hope you'll never ever need to use CPR...ever. Prevention with the above measures can massively reduce drowning risk for everyone, but CPR is invaluable during a drowning incident and can improve the likelihood of the drowning victim's survival (3). The American Heart Association provides in-person Family and Friends CPR courses, as well as socially distanced, at-home instruction with Family and Friends CPR DVD or Adult/Child CPR training kits (includes a training manikin and DVD – fun for the whole family!).

    With safe water play, we know your summer days will be full of adventure and excitement. Have fun!


    References

    1. https://www.aappublications.org/news/2019/03/15/drowning031519

    2. https://www.cdc.gov/safechild/drowning/

    3. https://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Water-Safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html

    4. https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/2020-Submersion-Report-4-29-20.pdf

    5. https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/pdfs/blk_media_SafetyBarrierGuidelinesResPools.pdf

    6. https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/drowning

    7. https://www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/

    8.https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/drowning-prevention-and-facts.html

    9.https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/water-safety/swim-safety.html

    Life

    Are Electric Cars Really Better than Conventional Vehicles?

    The environmental and health impacts of conventional and electric vehicles

    Thanks to the environmentalist movement and increasing innovation, electric cars are taking off! Just a few years ago you may not have seen many electric cars on the road, but because of the growing market and interest in finding a solution to the environmental damages of conventional cars, car manufacturers are making more and more electric vehicles. Now that these cars are getting more affordable, people interested in buying them are starting to wonder if they are really better for the environment compared to gasoline powered cars. Many are concerned with the batteries used in electric cars and how the electricity is generated. What if the electricity is generated from burning coal? Are electric cars really better for the environment and how about our health?

    To answer this question we need to break down the environmental damages of these different types of cars and also look into how they affect our health. Conventional vehicles are known for causing serious damages to human health through particle and gas emissions (3), but are there any health impacts of electric cars?

    What is the difference between electric and conventional vehicles?

    Before we get into the nitty gritty of the environmental and health differences between electric and conventional (combustion) cars, we should get into the actual differences between the cars themselves. Check out the chart below to read about the different types of vehicles on the market!

    Environmental and health concerns of combustion vehicles

    The biggest concern with conventional vehicles is what comes out of the tailpipe! Conventional vehicles are notorious for emitting tons of dangerous chemicals, some of which are carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and fine particulate matter (6). This chart breaks down the different tailpipe emissions and their environmental and health impacts.

    It's pretty clear that the environmental damages go hand in hand with the health concerns associated with conventional combustion vehicles. Besides the impacts from the emissions, the lifecycle of a car has other detrimental environmental effects. Since mining is needed to source materials to manufacture a car, large amounts of land degradation and a decrease in biodiversity can be attributed to cars. New landfills have had to be created in order to dispose of old vehicles (9).

    Other than the car itself, there are also emissions and health concerns that come from the gasoline needed to power conventional vehicles. There are several airborne contaminants and emissions from the machinery and vehicles used to extract, process, and transport the gasoline that can lead to similar health issues mentioned in the chart above. And besides the airborne emissions, the process of extracting oil from the Earth can be very messy and lead to water and land contamination (15). Different heavy metals are released into the air and soil affecting people who live directly in the area or allowing it to bioaccumulate in the surrounding plants and animals. Being exposed to crude oil or the heavy metals released from the extraction process can cause psychological disorders, blood disorders, reproductive and developmental issues, respiratory issues, and cancer (14).

    All of these issues and negative impacts that come along with conventional cars are the reason manufacturers and engineers created the electric vehicle. But there is still the burning question: are electric vehicles really that much better?

    Environmental and health concerns of electric vehicles

    Many scientists have done life cycle analyses of electric vehicles, and conclude that electric vehicles, whether they are fully electric or hybrids, are better for the environment than conventional cars (6,16). This is mainly because electric vehicles have no emissions coming out of the tailpipe. Besides the difference in tailpipe emissions, the two types of cars are relatively similar in terms of how they are built and then disposed of. The metals are mined, the parts are assembled, and eventually the car gets recycled or put into a landfill (6). However, one aspect conventional cars do not have to deal with is the recycling and disposal of electric batteries.

    The most common type of battery used in electric cars is a lithium-ion battery (12). This is the same type of batteries used in power tools, electronics, smartphones, and other common household products but just on a much bigger scale. Lithium batteries are made of lithium, cobalt, and nickel, all metals that are very water and energy intensive to extract, creating a concern for the long term sustainability of these batteries. The mining of cobalt also poses an ethical concern due to the lack of environmental safeguards, labor, health issues, and political uncertainty in the Dominican Republic of Congo, which supplies about 58% of the world's cobalt (10). As of right now lithium ion batteries are rarely recycled compared to other types of batteries on the market with some estimates at around a 5% or less recycling rate (13). In order for electric cars to be a completely sustainable option the rate of recycling needs to be much higher and the issues with the extraction of metals also needs to be more environmentally friendly and less of an ethical concern. Thankfully there are many organizations and government agencies working on solving these issues and working to create better recycling programs for these batteries (10).

    Another concern people have with buying an electric car is about where they are getting their power from. If your car is hooked up to an electrical grid powered by coal is the car still more environmentally friendly? The answer is: absolutely! Most electric cars still emit less emissions and require less energy overall even if they are being powered by a nonrenewable energy source (6,16). As of 2020 the U.S. had a majority of its energy needs met by nonrenewable resources such as natural gas which accounted for 40% of energy use, coal at 19%, and nuclear at 20%, while renewable resources accounted for only 20% of energy use (17). But thankfully energy sources like coal have been on the decline due to the country's transition to more renewable energy sources, meaning most electric vehicles in the upcoming future will be powered by green energy reducing their overall emissions even more! (17)

    Benefits to owning an electric vehicle

    Besides the benefit of cleaner air and a healthier planet, there are also a lot of financial benefits to owning an electric vehicle. Studies have found that in some circumstances, electric cars are much more cost-competitive than conventional cars when considering the long-term costs of ownership (8). In many states there are financial incentives to purchase an electric vehicle and depending on where you live, those incentives could take thousands of dollars off the initial purchasing price! Check out this link and see what the incentives are in your state. Data also shows that the larger the electric car and the more it is being driven, the more cost competitive the car is (8). Meaning that if you drive a lot and have a big family to haul around, an electric car would be a perfect fit!

    Another bonus is that because the electric car market has grown so much over the years many of the electric car models are in the same exact price range as conventional cars and because you won't have to buy gas, that's just extra savings! Gas prices are only going to go up as there is less and less gas to be drilled, so as time goes on electric cars will be astronomically cheaper than conventional vehicles to maintain and use (8). And speaking of cheaper, the prices of electric car batteries are expected to continue to decrease rapidly in the next few years. This means that the most expensive aspect of an electric car will be more affordable than ever, making electric cars a great option! (10)

    Plus, the availability of charging stations is increasing while at the same time the batteries are lasting longer and longer. The average electric car can go over 200 miles on a full charge which means you should easily be able to make it to another charging station or do your weekly routine without a problem. If you are concerned your area is lacking enough charging stations, check out maps in your area to see where the nearest charging stations are to make sure it won't be too much of a hassle for you.

    So what should you do?

    If you are in the market for a new car, think about getting an electric one. Whether you are buying a new or a slightly used electric car it will save you a lot of money down the road and is also a healthier option for you, the people around you, and the world!

    It would be great if we could all go out and buy an electric car, but we get that buying a new car isn't an option for a lot of people. But just because you can't buy the newest Tesla model, doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to minimize your emissions.

    1. Drive less!
    2. Take public transportation or ride a bike to work even just one day a week
    3. Be efficient with your driving. Do all errands in one day instead of spreading it out
    4. Carpool to work or school
    5. Get a smog check so your car is running efficiently and not releasing extra emissions



    Sources

    1. Ma, H., Balthasar, F., Tait, N., Riera-Palou, X., & Harrison, A. (2012). A new comparison between the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of battery electric vehicles and internal combustion vehicles. Energy Policy, 44, 160–173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2012.01.034
    2. Electric Vehicle Basics. (n.d.). Energy.Gov. Retrieved May 15, 2021, from https://www.energy.gov/eere/electricvehicles/electric-vehicle-basics
    3. https://www.epa.gov/transportation-air-pollution-and-climate-change/smog-soot-and-local-air-pollution
    4. https://gimletmedia.com/shows/howtosaveaplanet/94hblz9
    5. https://afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/fuel_cell.html
    6. https://ec.europa.eu/clima/sites/clima/files/transport/vehicles/docs/2020_study_main_report_en.pdf
    7. Manisalidis, I., Stavropoulou, E., Stavropoulos, A., & Bezirtzoglou, E. (2020). Environmental and Health Impacts of Air Pollution: A Review. Frontiers in Public Health, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2020.00014
    8. Weldon, P., Morrissey, P., & O'Mahony, M. (2018). Long-term cost of ownership comparative analysis between electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles. Sustainable Cities and Society, 39, 578–591. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scs.2018.02.024
    9. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/environmental-impact
    10. Simmons, D. R. (n.d.). ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. 8.
    11. https://www.epa.gov/no2-pollution/basic-information-about-no2
    12. Iclodean, C., Varga, B., Burnete, N., Cimerdean, D., & Jurchiş, B. (2017). Comparison of Different Battery Types for Electric Vehicles. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 252, 012058. https://doi.org/10.1088/1757-899X/252/1/012058
    13. Sonoc, A., Jeswiet, J., & Soo, V. K. (2015). Opportunities to Improve Recycling of Automotive Lithium Ion Batteries. Procedia CIRP, 29, 752–757. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.procir.2015.02.039
    14. Ramirez, M. I., Arevalo, A. P., Sotomayor, S., & Bailon-Moscoso, N. (2017). Contamination by oil crude extraction – Refinement and their effects on human health. Environmental Pollution, 231, 415–425. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2017.08.017
    15. Johnston, J. E., Lim, E., & Roh, H. (2019). Impact of upstream oil extraction and environmental public health: A review of the evidence. Science of The Total Environment, 657, 187–199. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.11.483
    16. https://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/downloads/T%26E%E2%80%99s%20EV%20life%20cycle%20analysis%20LCA.pdf
    17. https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/electricity/el...
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