Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Teflon Chemical Harming Turtles

The chemicals that keep food from sticking to frying pans are damaging the livers and immune systems of loggerhead turtles. This could also signal a danger for humans.

A team monitoring the blood plasma of loggerhead turtles along the U.S. East Coast consistently found significant levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), which are used as nonstick coatings in a wide variety of goods including cookware, furniture fabrics, carpets, food packaging, fire-fighting foams and cosmetics. They are known to be toxic to the liver, reproductive organs and immune systems.

Blood chemistry analyses of the PFC-contaminated loggerheads suggested damage to liver cells and the immune function suppression. This indicates that current environmental PFC exposures, at concentrations similar to those seen in human blood samples, are putting marine species at risk -- and may pose a similar danger to humans.

Dangers of Swimming Pool Chlorine

Researchers have determined how airborne contaminants are created when chlorine reacts with sweat and urine in indoor swimming pools. These “volatile disinfection byproducts” can cause respiratory irritation.

Standard tests for swimming pool water look for inorganic byproducts. This new research is the first to identify the presence of organic byproducts which become airborne and pose health concerns.

There have been many documented cases of people becoming ill after breathing contaminants at improperly maintained indoor swimming pools.

Latest "Healthy" Soda Swindle -- Pepsi Raw

Pepsi RawPepsi has created a new, supposedly healthier version of their brand of flavored sugar water, called Pepsi Raw.

Regular Pepsi contains ingredients such as fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial colors, phosphoric acid, caffeine and citric acid. Pepsi Raw, in comparison, uses ingredients like apple extract, caramel coloring, coffee leaf, tantaric acid from grapes, gum arabic from acacia trees, cane sugar and sparkling water. It has very slightly fewer calories -- about 10 calories less in a 300ml bottle.

For the moment, Pepsi Raw is only being served in select bars and clubs in parts of England, but a wider rollout is expected later this year.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lollipop Intended to Prevent Tooth Decay is No Sweet Deal

Thousands of orange-flavored lollipops, marketed as Dr. John's Herbal Candy, are currently rolling out of a factory in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The lollipops are infused with a natural ingredient found in licorice that kills the primary bacterium causing tooth decay, Streptococcus mutans.

However, a careful look at the company’s web site reveals that the lollipops are sweetened with the artificial sweetener Acesulfame-K (Ace-K). The use of Ace-K is not exactly being trumpeted by the producers of this “natural” cure, and no wonder.

Numerous prominent U.S. scientists opposed introduction of acesulfame-K as a sweetener, protesting that the safety testing was seriously flawed. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has repeatedly expressed concern that acesulfame-K is a potential carcinogen.

Somehow, I don’t think it’s worth developing cancer just to have cleaner teeth.

Latest Medical Insanity: Insecticide for Your Head

Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals, the makers of an insecticide-based treatment for head lice, have stopped promoting their product after a sharply worded warning from the FDA. The FDA’s warning follows years of controversy regarding shampoo and lotion treatments that contain the insecticide lindane. Lindane-based live treatments have been banned in California.

The FDA expressed concern advertising by the company which stated that treating head lice effectively requires two applications, several days apart. The FDA found that "extremely alarming given that retreatment with Lindane Shampoo can lead to increased exposure and possibly death."

More than 166,000 prescriptions for lindane treatments -- almost 10 percent of all prescriptions for head lice and scabies -- were written from January to November 2007.

Swimmers' Sunscreen Killing Off Coral

Sunscreen is killing coral reefs worldwide. Commonly found sunscreen ingredients -- such as paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone, and camphor derivatives -- can awaken dormant viruses in symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae, which live inside reef-building coral species.

The chemicals cause the viruses to replicate until their algae hosts explode. This spills the viruses into the surrounding seawater, where they infect coral communities. In addition, zooxanthellae provide coral with food through photosynthesis. Without them, the coral "bleaches" (turns white) and dies.

It is estimated that 4,000 to 6,000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers annually in oceans worldwide. Up to 10 percent of coral reefs are threatened by sunscreen-induced bleaching.