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Between brushing your teeth, shampooing your hair, putting on lipstick and slathering on sunscreen, you’re exposed to a staggering amount of chemicals in personal care products each day. And while you might not think that what you put on your body matters as much as what you put in it, remember that skin is the body’s largest organ, and it readily absorbs many chemicals—both healthy and unhealthy—into the bloodstream.

Luckily, the natural personal care category has exploded in the past decade, growing from a few select “hippie” brands sold in co-ops to a cornucopia of options that you can find at natural foods stores and online, and even in mainstream stores such as Target and Walgreens. These products have also become significantly more effective, more luxurious and easier to use in recent years, thanks to improved formulation techniques and consumer demand for safe alternatives to toxic chemicals.ImageImage

But to find safe skin care products, you have to look beyond buzzwords like natural and organic. Since no government regulations exist to govern the use of these terms, companies tack them onto products at will. Certifying agencies such as the Natural Products Association and retailers such as Whole Foods have developed their own standards for what they deem natural and safe. These are helpful guides, but to really assess a product, turn over the box, bottle or tube and scan the ingredients list.

Deciphering ingredient labels

When scrutinizing labels, follow a few guidelines. First, simpler is better. If a product has a long list of ingredients, many of which you can’t pronounce, chances are it contains chemicals you’d be better off avoiding. Next, look for botanical and mineral ingredients in lieu of chemicals. For a true botanical ingredient, labels will list the common name (such as green tea extract), followed by its Latin moniker in parentheses (Camellia sinensis). Statements such as “mint-scented” and “natural pine aroma” are most often artificial. And just like food labels, the closer to the beginning an ingredient is listed, the more predominant it is in the product. In other words, if you see a few herbs, oils or butters tagged on at the end, they’re likely present in miniscule amounts.



There are many acceptable, healthy ingredients with long or complex names. But without a chemistry degree, it can be tough to discern the good guys from the villains. Here’s a cheat sheet of the top personal care ingredients to avoid.


Parabens. Once ubiquitous in skin care, methyl-, propyl-, butyl- and other parabens ward off bacteria to preserve products’ shelf life. But these chemicals, which the skin absorbs rapidly, mimic estrogen, thus raising breast cancer risk, and can damage the male reproductive system, according to several studies. Research published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2004 found parabens present in all 20 breast cancer tumors tested. Since safer preservatives (such as sodium benzoate) exist, most natural companies ousted parabens long ago, and many mainstream brands have followed suit.

Fragrance. Fragrances are considered trade secrets, so manufacturers don’t have to disclose what they consist of, even though they can include a host of damaging chemicals. Along with irritating the skin and causing more serious allergic reactions, synthetic fragrances can contain phthalates, which are linked to hormone disruption, sperm damage and even premature puberty. A 2010 Campaign for Safe Cosmetics study discovered the phthalate diethyl phthalate (DEP) in 12 of 17 fragrance products tested, and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found DEP in 97 percent of Americans examined.

Oxybenzone. A popular chemical sunscreen that blocks both sunburn-inducing UVB and cancer-causing UVA rays, oxybenzone has estrogenic effects that can elevate cancer risk and cause birth defects. Animal studies have shown that oxybenzone alters the liver, kidneys and reproductive organs. It also triggers allergic reactions in some people. And like phthalates, oxybenzone lingers in the body: A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives in July 2008 found oxybenzone in 97 percent of the 2,500 urine samples tested. Mineral sunblocks with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offer natural, nontoxic and, according to many dermatologists, superior UVA-UVB protection.

PEG, ceteareth and polyethylene compounds. Ethoxylated chemicals are used as detergents, emulsifiers and solvents but can be contaminated with the byproduct 1,4-dioxide, which the Environmental Protection Agency lists as a probable carcinogen. According to the Food and Drug Administration, manufacturing processes have improved, thus decreasing the levels at which 1,4-dioxane exists in most products. But to stay on the safe side, avoid ingredients that have undergone ethoxylation, namely any PEG followed by a number and chemicals ending in –eth.

DMDM hydantoin and diazolinyl urea. These powerful antimicrobials and preservatives break down and release formaldehyde, which the World Health Organization classifies as a known human carcinogen. They also trigger allergic reactions, aggravate asthma and hinder the immune system.

Benzalkonium chloride. Several studies have linked this strong antimicrobial common in personal care and household cleaners to severe skin, respiratory and eye irritation. Benzalkonium chloride is thought to be especially troublesome for people with asthma or eczema. A study published in the journal Microbiology in January 2010 suggests continued use of products containing this potent germ fighter can foster bacterial resistance.

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). According to the National Toxicology Program’s Report on Carcinogens, 12th Edition (2011), BHA is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” This personal care preservative, also found in processed foods and food packaging, causes stomach cancers and ransacks sex hormones in rodents, according to research published in the journal Toxicology in March 2005.

Diethanolamine (DEA). This softening agent gives shampoos and lotions lather, but it can react with other chemicals to create the carcinogen nitrosodiethanolamine. Animal studies have linked DEA to organ damage; it’s also thought to be toxic to aquatic species.

To search for SAFE personal care products go to this website –>

Companies are allowed to use almost any ingredient they wish. The U.S. government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold. Our staff scientists compare the ingredients on personal care product labels and websites to information in nearly 60 toxicity and regulatory databases. Now in its eighth year, EWG’s Skin Deep database provides you with easy-to-navigate safety ratings for a wide range of products and ingredients on the market. At about one million page views per month, EWG’s Skin Deep is the world’s largest personal care product safety guide. – EWG.ORG

ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP aka: EWG created a core, integrated database of chemical hazards, regulatory status, and study availability by pooling the data of nearly 60 databases and sources from government agencies, industry panels, academic institutions, or other credible bodies. Collectively, these data sources detail more than 1,535 unique chemical classifications. EWG uses these databases to assess potential health hazards and data gaps for cosmetic ingredients.


here is a link to my FAVORITE ideas on science





Science fair ideas with websites:  click link –>Science Fair Websites

Test the effectiveness of Beano:

Extract DNA from fruit:

does packaging affect speed of fruit ripening?:

test for vitamin c:

alka selter dissolve rate:

what fabric burns the fastest:

paper towel absorption:

temperature & mold growth

stain remover on white cloth:

taco sauce penny cleaner:

iron in cereal:

invincible soap bubble:

water temperature & detergent effectiveness:

air & vitamin C:

dissolving rate of ibuprofin:

yeast air balloon:

yeast and sugar:

liver & enzymes:

are fingerprints heritable?

sugar substitutes & yeast

why do cut apples turn brown?

growing crystals

vinegar & rubbery bones

best vitamin c drink

vitamin c TONS OF IDEAS!!!!!!    !!!!!    !!!!

Nail Polish Ideas

what colors are in smarties (and other candy too!)

electric fruit (citrus, potato, carrot, pineapple)

coloring flowers – rate of transpiration

floating rice krispies – test different types of fabric for static electricity

fastest way to melt ice?



HOW TO DO Background Research:

How to do Background Research for Science Fair



Science Fair Timeline & research criteria

science fair Research Criteria



science fair – guided help – UPLOAD



Getting ordinary plastic bags to rot away like banana peels would be an environmental dream come true.

After all, we produce 500 billion a year worldwide and they take up to 1,000 years to decompose. They take up space in landfills, litter our streets and parks, pollute the oceans and kill the animals that eat them.

Now a Waterloo teenager has found a way to make plastic bags degrade faster — in three months, he figures.

Daniel Burd’s project won the top prize at the Canada-Wide Science Fair in Ottawa. He came back with a long list of awards, including a $10,000 prize, a $20,000 scholarship, and recognition that he has found a practical way to help the environment.

Daniel, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Waterloo Collegiate Institute, got the idea for his project from everyday life.

“Almost every week I have to do chores and when I open the closet door, I have this avalanche of plastic bags falling on top of me,” he said. “One day, I got tired of it and I wanted to know what other people are doing with these plastic bags.”

The answer: not much. So he decided to do something himself.

He knew plastic does eventually degrade, and figured microorganisms must be behind it. His goal was to isolate the microorganisms that can break down plastic — not an easy task because they don’t exist in high numbers in nature.

First, he ground plastic bags into a powder. Next, he used ordinary household chemicals, yeast and tap water to create a solution that would encourage microbe growth. To that, he added the plastic powder and dirt. Then the solution sat in a shaker at 30 degrees.

After three months of upping the concentration of plastic-eating microbes, Burd filtered out the remaining plastic powder and put his bacterial culture into three flasks with strips of plastic cut from grocery bags. As a control, he also added plastic to flasks containing boiled and therefore dead bacterial culture.

Six weeks later, he weighed the strips of plastic. The control strips were the same. But the ones that had been in the live bacterial culture weighed an average of 17 per cent less.

That wasn’t good enough for Burd. To identify the bacteria in his culture, he let them grow on agar plates and found he had four types of microbes. He tested those on more plastic strips and found only the second was capable of significant plastic degradation.

Next, Burd tried mixing his most effective strain with the others. He found strains one and two together produced a 32 per cent weight loss in his plastic strips. His theory is strain one helps strain two reproduce.

Tests to identify the strains found strain two was Sphingomonas bacteria and the helper was Pseudomonas.

A researcher in Ireland has found Pseudomonas is capable of degrading polystyrene, but as far as Burd and his teacher Mark Menhennet know — and they’ve looked — Burd’s research on polyethelene plastic bags is a first.

Next, Burd tested his strains’ effectiveness at different temperatures, concentrations and with the addition of sodium acetate as a ready source of carbon to help bacteria grow.

At 37 degrees and optimal bacterial concentration, with a bit of sodium acetate thrown in, Burd achieved 43 per cent degradation within six weeks.

The plastic he fished out then was visibly clearer and more brittle, and Burd guesses after six more weeks, it would be gone. He hasn’t tried that yet.

To see if his process would work on a larger scale, he tried it with five or six whole bags in a bucket with the bacterial culture. That worked too.

Industrial application should be easy, said Burd. “All you need is a fermenter . . . your growth medium, your microbes and your plastic bags.”

The inputs are cheap, maintaining the required temperature takes little energy because microbes produce heat as they work, and the only outputs are water and tiny levels of carbon dioxide — each microbe produces only 0.01 per cent of its own infinitesimal weight in carbon dioxide, said Burd



(CNN) — The chemistry of the world’s oceans is changing at a rate not seen for 65 million years, with far-reaching implications for marine biodiversity and food security, according to a new United Nations study released Thursday.

“Environmental Consequences of Ocean Acidification,” published by the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP),” warns that some sea organisms including coral and shellfish will find it increasingly difficult to survive, as acidification shrinks the minerals needed to form their skeletons.

Lead author of the report Carol Turley, from the UK’s Plymouth Marine Laboratory said in a statement: “We are seeing an overall negative impact from ocean acidification directly on organisms and on some key ecosystems that help provide food for billions. We need to start thinking about the risk to food security.”

Tropical reefs provide shelter and food for around a quarter of all known marine fish species, according to the U.N. report, while over one billion people rely on fish as a key source of protein.

Increasing acidification is likely to affect the growth and structural integrity of coral reef, the study says, and coupled with ocean warming could limit the habitats of crabs, mussels and other shellfish with knock-on effects up and down the food chain.

The report, unveiled during the latest round of U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, says that around a quarter of the world’s CO2 emissions are currently being absorbed by the oceans, where they are turned into carbonic acid.

Overall, pH levels in seas and oceans worldwide have fallen by an average of 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution. The report predicts that by the end of this century ocean acidity will have increased 150 percent, if emissions continue to rise at the current rate.

But scientists say there may well be winners and losers as acidification doesn’t affect all sea creatures in the same way.

Adult lobsters, for example, may increase their shell-building as pH levels fall, as might brittle stars — a close relation of the starfish — but at the cost of muscle formation.

“The ability, or inability, to build calcium-based skeletons may not be the only impact of acidification on the health and viability of an organism: brittle stars perhaps being a case in point,” Turley said in a statement.

“It is clearly not enough to look at a species. Scientists will need to study all parts of the life-cycle to see whether certain forms are more or less vulnerable.”

Scientists are more certain about the fate of photosynthetic organisms such as seagrasses, saying they are likely to benefit from rising acidification and that some creatures will simply adapt to the changing chemistry of the oceans.

The authors identify a range of measures which policymakers need to consider to stop pH levels falling further, including “rapid and substantial cuts” to CO2 emissions as well as assessing the vulnerability of communities which rely on marine resources.

Ocean acidification is yet another red flag being raised, carrying planetary health warnings about the uncontrolled growth in greenhouse gas emissions. It is a new and emerging piece in the scientific jigsaw puzzle, but one that is triggering rising concern.


coral that is in the process of dying 😦


Remember the miners in Chile that were trapped underground on August 5th? They’re still down there. Rescue workers continue to dig toward them while sending essential supplies down a 3.19 inch hole. Newsweek has an infographic illustrating what has been sent down and up this tiny access space. These items include water, an iPod, a tiny projector for entertainment, and blood and urine samples.  The miners have requested cigarettes and alcohol. Their request was denied

Newsweek has a fascinating short feature on the trapped Chilean miners, who despite being discovered weeks ago may not be freed until December.

Whats Eating YOU?!?!?

Do you have a nagging, gnawing feeling that …well, just a nagging, gnawing feeling? You should-odds are you’re being slowly devoured by one of these tiny, vicious parasites right this very second.


BIO: Fleas are tiny insects that just can’t live without blood. They eat more than 15 times their body weight in blood in a single day. That includes the blood of dogs, cats, rats, rabbits, and any other mammal that’s handy, including you. They’re also “Super Bugs”: Fleas can pull 160,000 times their own weight (the equivalent of a human pulling 24 million pounds) and can jump over 150 times their own size (the equivalent of a human jumping about 1,000 feet).

DANGER! In the right-or wrong-conditions, fleas are disease machines. They can transmit tapeworm to pets or humans, and can carry a number of diseases, including the blood parasite babesia, and the dreaded bubonic plague.Thankfully, they’re not nearly as bad as they were in the days before the vacuum cleaner. (Most eggs hatch in your carpet.) Image credit: Flickr user Dr. Hemmert.

EATIN’ YOU: Bedbugs

BIO: Tiny, painful, smelly, and disgusting, bedbugs are nocturnal, spending the day in walls, furniture, or in your bed. At night they crawl out of the mattress and suck your blood. And they can wait up to a year in that mattress between feedings.

DANGER! Their bites are often painful, but, thankfully, bedbugs are not known to transmit any diseases. Image credit: Flickr user PeterEdin (Tag Man).


BIO: Ticks are arachnids-not insects-and are related to spiders. There are no ticks that live solely on humans, but if there are no deer, cattle, birdsd, or reptiles handy, you’ll do. They have three life stages after hatching-larva, pupa, and adult-and each stage needs a “blood meal” before morphing into the next stage. Ticks use a hunting technique known as “questing”. That means that since they can’t hop or fly or run after prey, they wait around on grass or twigs for a host to come to them. How long will they wait? Years, possibly decades. And despite all that sitting they can leap into action the instant they sense a host coming by. One female tick can increase its body weight 200 times in a six-day feeding. Human equivalent: going from 170 pounds to 34,000 pounds in a week.

DANGER! Only mosquitoes transmit more diseases to humans than ticks do. Image credit: Flickr user Micah Taylor.

EATIN’ YOU: Chiggers

BIO: Chiggers are the blood-sucking, infant larva of mites, but before they can grow up, they must eat. They prefer rodents and lizards, but they’ll happily dine on you. These ravenous babies digest skin cells by spitting up powerful enzymes. Irritated skin cells react by building a hard mound around the tiny hole created by the enzymes, forming a “straw” (called astylostome) through which the chigger continues to suck your mushed skin.

DANGER! Chigger bites are possibly the most irritating and itchy bites in the world-and the sores can itch for weeks-but they’re not known to carry any diseases. Old wives’ tale: Putting nail polish over the hole will suffocate the submerged parasite. Wrong! Chigger do not burrow underneath the skin. If you have sores, you probably already scratched the chiggers off. Image credit: Flickr user Cabezalana.

EATIN’ YOU: Face mites

BIO: What’s that on your eyelid? It might be one of those microscopic mites. They live in the pores and the hair follicles of the face, especially around the nose and eyelashes. They plant themselves head-down on a pore or follicle, and happily live there feeding on sebaceous secretions and dead skin debris.

DANGER! Usually you wouldn’t notice them, but bad infestations can cause the face to become polluted by the excrement and and corpses of these invisible bugs. That and their eating of hair roots and oil glands may cause hair loss, rashes, and rough skin. They are not known to transmit diseases.

EATIN’ YOU: Head lice

BIO: These bloodsuckers live their entire lives on the human scalp and hair. They puncture your skin with special piercing/sucking mouthparts and feed two to six times a day. They’re particularly prevalent among children, who can spread them easily by sharing hats and combs, and by playing games such as “I’m gonna rub my lice-infested head against your head …because its fun!” (But personal hygiene is irrelevant-they’ll live on anybody.)

DANGER! The bites may itch, but head lice aren’t dangerous. Image credit: Flickr userEran Finkle.

EATIN’ YOU: Crab lice

BIO: Also permanent human residents, these larger lice live in the warmer, moister climes of pubic and armpit hair. They’re sluggish: If not disturbed, one can live its entire life within a half-inch of where it was born, but, like all lice, can be passed to other people through close contact. Not gross enough? Crab lice can also live in beards, moustaches, eyebrows, and eyelashes.

DANGER! Like head lice, you’re only in danger of embarrassment from crab lice.

EATIN’ YOU: Human liver fluke

BIO: This flatworm is contracted from eating infected fish, and primarily targets humans. They live in your bile ducts and liver tissue, as well as blood, and can grow up to an inch long and can live inside you for ten years.

DANGER! Symptoms can range from none …to death, for heavy infestations. (There have been cases where one person housed more than 20,000 of the parasites.) They are most prevalent in Asia, where raw and pickled fish are dietary staples. Image credit: Wikimedia user Flukeman.

EATIN’ YOU: Mosquitos

BIO: Contrary to popular myth, mosquitoes do not live on blood. They survive on nectar and other fluids sucked out of flowers. But females take a “blood meal”-they need protein to develop their eggs. You can’t hide: Mosquitos home in on their prey using specialized organs that can sense heat, carbon dioxide-which you just exhaled-and other gasses from up to 100 feet away.

DANGER! Mosquitoes traveling between hosts can transmit several diseases to humans, including malaria, sleeping sickness, and elephantiasis. Mosquitoes are the most deadly animal to humans on earth, causing more than 1,000,000 deaths a year.Image credit: Flickr user bogdog Dan.

  • 5 everyday chemicals linked to ailments including cancer, sexual problems, behavioral issues
  • The 5:      BPA , phthalates ,  PFOA,   formaldehyde ,  polybrominated diphenyl ethers ,  PDBEs
  • Tests reveal most of us now carry them in our bodies
  • Ways to reduce exposure

(CNN) — A growing body of research is linking five chemicals — among the most common in the world — to a host of ailments, including cancer, sexual problems and behavioral issues.

We encounter them every day — in plastic bottles, storage containers, food wrap, cans, cookware, appliances, carpets, shower curtains, clothes, personal care products, furniture, television sets, electronics, bedding, cushions and mattresses. In short, every room in almost every house in the United States is likely to contain at least one of these chemicals, many of which did not exist a century ago.

They are bisphenol A, or BPA; phthalates; PFOA; formaldehyde; and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PDBEs. Tests reveal most of us now carry them in our bodies, but are they putting our health — and the health of our children — in jeopardy?

Here’s what you should know about:

BPA – Bisphenol A

What it does: BPA is a building block of a lightweight, clear, heat-resistant and almost unbreakable plastic called polycarbonate. It’s also used in epoxy resins.

Where it’s found: Water bottles, baby bottles, reusable food containers, plastic tableware, infant feeding cups, linings of infant formula cans and other cans, jar lids, CDs, electrical and electronic equipment, dental sealants.

How we’re exposed: Eating food or drinking liquids stored in containers containing BPA. Infants and small children may also be exposed from hand to mouth contact with materials containing BPA. BPA also migrates from dental sealants into patients’ mouths. Fetuses are exposed in the womb by their mothers. Almost everyone has been exposed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found BPA in the urine of 93 percent of the people it tested.

Health effects: The American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group, says exposure is so low there are no ill health effects. A new five-year Kaiser Permanente study of Chinese factory workers found higher BPA exposure linked to reduced male sexual function. This research joins a growing body of research on animals that suggests BPA poses a potential cancer risk and may mimic the female hormone estrogen and disrupt the extremely sensitive chemical signals in the body called the endocrine system. According to the Food and Drug Administration, these studies suggest BPA could affect “the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and young children.”

Regulation: BPA is an Environmental Protection Agency “chemical of concern,” one of five substances the agency has targeted for increased scrutiny and potential new regulation. (The others are phthalates, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, PBDEs, and perfluorinated chemicals including PFOA.)

The Food and Drug Administration allows BPA in flexible food packaging.

What you can do to reduce exposure: Buy stainless steel bottles and glass food storage containers. If you buy plastic, check for the recycle number on the bottom. If there is a number 7, assume the container contains BPA unless it explicitly says otherwise. Switch to fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned. Other precautions include not microwaving or putting hot liquids in BPA plastic containers and throwing away baby bottles and feeding cups that are scratched.

In regards to BPA, check the bottles containing the products you buy. Always choose plastics with the recycling code 1, 2 or 5. Recycling codes 3 and 7 are more likely to contain bisphenol A or phthalates.

To eliminate phalates altogether, then you must read the ingredients. You can identify phthalates in some products by their chemical names, or abbreviations:

DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are often found in personal care products, including nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes and cologne, aftershave lotions, shampoos, hair gels and hand lotions. (BzBP, see below, is also in some personal care products.)
DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is used in PVC plastics, including some medical devices.
BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate) is used in some flooring, car products and personal care products.
DMP (dimethyl phthalate) is used in insect repellent and some plastics (as well as rocket propellant).

Another idea: be wary of products listing the word “fragrance” in their ingredients. This usually means a combination of compounds, most often phthatates which have been shown in recent studies to mimic certain hormones in the body and disrupt the endocrine system. Ingredients in fragrances are also known to cause severe allergies and to aggravate asthma.


What they do: This family of chemicals softens plastics. They also are used to bind chemicals together.

Where they’re found: Shampoos, conditioners, body sprays, hair sprays, perfumes, colognes, soap, nail polish, shower curtains, medical tubing, IV bags, vinyl flooring and wall coverings, food packaging and coatings on time-release pharmaceuticals.

How we’re exposed: Absorbed into the body through personal care products, ingested in drugs, on food, in water and dust. Infants can be exposed through infant care products like baby shampoos, lotions and powders. Fetuses are exposed in the womb. Virtually everyone is exposed to phthalates.

Health effects: A new study by the Mount Sinai Center for Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research found a statistical association between prenatal exposure to phthalates and incidence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder years later. Phthalates are considered endocrine disrupters, and studies have shown a statistical association between phthalate exposure and male sexual development. Research has also shown phthalates disrupt reproductive development of male laboratory animals.

Regulation: Phthalates are an EPA “chemical of concern.” The FDA allows for plastic containing phthalate in flexible food packaging. The U.S. government last year banned or restricted six phthalates for use in children’s toys and children’s products.

What you can do to reduce exposure: Avoid shampoos, conditioners and other personal care products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient. These may contain phthalates. (Companies are not required to disclose the ingredients in their scents, and the industry says this phthalate is safe.) The federal government recently ended one source of exposure, banning the sale of toys containing any of six phthalates.

PFOA — Perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C8)

What it does: PFOA is used to make Teflon and thousands of other nonstick and stain- and water-repellent products.

Where they’re found: PFOA is present in Teflon and other nonstick or stain- and water-repellent coatings as a trace impurity. These coatings are used on cookware, waterproof breathable clothing, furniture and carpets and in a myriad of industrial applications. PFOA can also be produced by the breakdown of these products.

How we’re exposed: Inhaling contaminated air, eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water. Some researchers say nonstick pans give off PFOA vapors, which contaminate food.

Health effects: Almost everyone has PFOA in his or her blood. PFOA causes cancer and developmental problems in laboratory animals. The EPA concludes research on PFOA is “suggestive of carcinogenicity but not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential.”

Regulation: PFOA is an EPA “chemical of concern.”

What you can do to reduce exposure: The EPA does not recommend any steps to reduce exposure to PFOA. You can reduce potential exposure by using stainless steel or cast iron cookware. If you use nonstick cookware, do not overheat, which releases toxic gas.


What it does: Formaldehyde is an ingredient in resins that act as a glue in the manufacture of pressed wood products.

Where it’s found: Pressed wood products such as particle board, plywood, paneling and fiberboard; also, glues and adhesives and durable press fabrics like drapes.

How we’re exposed: Breathing “off-gassing” from products containing formaldehyde. Car exhaust and cigarette smoke also contain formaldehyde.

Health effects: Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, causing cancers of the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract. Formaldehyde fumes can also cause nausea, skin irritation, watery eyes, or burning eyes, nose and throat.

What you can do to reduce exposure: Buying furniture free from formaldehyde eliminates much of the exposure we face from the chemical. One option to reduce “off-gassing”: purchase “exterior grade” pressed-wood products, which emit formaldehyde at significantly lower rates. If you have wood products containing formaldehyde, increase ventilation, reduce humidity with air conditioning or dehumidifiers and keep your home cool.

PBDEs – Polybrominated diethyl ethers

What they do: PBDEs are a group of chemicals used as flame retardants, meaning they reduce the chance of something catching fire and slow how fast it burns when it does catch fire.

Where they’re found: PBDEs are found in televisions, computers and wire insulation, and furniture foam. Over time, televisions and other products shed PBDEs, which accumulate in dust. More than 124 million pounds of PBDEs are produced annually worldwide and they do not break down easily.

How we’re exposed: Swallowing PBDE-contaminated dust and contact with this dust are the primary routes into our bodies, where they collect in fat tissue. We can also be exposed through food and water. Breast-feeding infants are exposed to PBDEs through their mother’s milk and have the highest exposure compared to their body weight, followed by infants and toddlers, according to the data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Levels in humans have been rising rapidly since PBDEs were introduced in the 1960s and ’70s.

Health effects: PBDEs accumulate in the body. Toxicology tests show PDBEs may damage the liver and kidneys and affect the brain and behavior, according to the EPA.

Regulation: In December, the EPA named PBDEs “chemicals of concern.”

What you can do to reduce exposure: Try to find products without PBDE flame retardants and be sure to sweep up dust.

a link to an article about toxic products & alternatives:

Did you know that there are over 80,000 chemicals used in the US and only a few hundred have been tested for safety?

I think what is so stunning about the study is that for so long environmentalists have been pooh-poohed for raising alarms over toxins and chemicals. Now here’s a panel of doctors  telling us we should be:

  • eating organic foods and free-range meats whenever possible
  • avoiding BPA and phthalates and drinking water from glass, stainless steel or safe plastic containers
  • not microwaving foods in plastic containers
  • filtering tap water
  • avoiding toys and foods containing endocrine disrupters
  • using databases like Use the Cosmetics Database and the Good Guide to research common products –   My favorite is
  • This is a good resource as well!

The BP oil spill that’s filling the news as well as the Gulf of Mexico is big. But understanding just how big has been difficult, until now. A new tool, created by Paul Rademacher, allows you to understand exactly how big the spill is, as well as overlay it over any other map to compare it to the size of familiar distances. You can see here that it is twice as wide as the distance between Washington, DC and Baltimore!

Link – via houstonist

When you’ve got a bargain, do you think about who’s paid for it?

When I buy clothing, I ALWAYS ask myself “is the cotton used to make this organic cotton?” If it isn’t organic, I follow up with a series of sub-questions tripping around “what permanently debilitating condition does the farmer who grew this have?” and “which pesticide gave it to him?”…..

Actually – – –  I don’t.

And nor, I suspect, do you.

The source, the origin, whether a farmer has a debilitating condition or if he got paid a fair price for his hard labor…that matters little when I’m clothes shopping. Pesticides?  The last thing on my mind when there is a 75% off sale!!!


Pesticides are toxic chemicals sprayed on crops to kill “pests”…or any other living thing  (humans included). Insecticides kill insects, herbicides kill weeds. So on. So forth.

Hazardous chemicals associated with global cotton production also kill fish and get into the drinking water. Chemicals are known to contaminate freshwater rivers in America, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Australia, Greece and West Africa.

Despite a ban across 62 countries and a pledge by its primary manufacturer, Bayer, to cease its distribution, a ‘persistent organic pollutant’ known as endosulfan is in widespread use on crops from cotton, soy, coffee, tea, and vegetables. Its ban is due to its high toxicity to humans (among other living organisms).

Wendy Richardson needs to blog more often. How else would I have found the U.K.-based Environmental Justice Foundation’s 2007 report, The Deadly Chemicals in Cotton? It’s a 40-pager, which may require more dedication than you currently have, but here is a sampling of the salient points, as outlined in the report’s Executive Summary.

  • Cotton is the world’s most important non-food agricultural commodity, yet it is responsible for the release of US$2 billion of chemical pesticides each year, within which at least US$819 million are considered toxic enough to be classified as hazardous by the World Health Organisation. Cotton accounts for 16% of global insecticide releases—more than any other single crop. Almost 1.0 kilogram of hazardous pesticides is applied for every hectare under cotton.
  • Between 1 and 3% of agricultural workers worldwide suffer from acute pesticide poisoning with at least 1 million requiring hospitalization each year, according to a report prepared jointly for the FAO, UNEP, and WHO. These figures equate to between 25 million and 77 million agricultural workers worldwide.
  • A single drop of the pesticide aldicarb, absorbed through the skin can kill an adult. Aldicarb is commonly used in cotton production and in 2003 almost 1 million kilos was applied to cotton grown in the USA. Aldicarb is also applied to cotton in 25 other countries worldwide.
  • Despite being particularly vulnerable to poisoning, child labourers throughout the world risk exposure to hazardous pesticides through participation in cotton production. In India and Uzbekistan children are directly involved in cotton pesticide application. While in Pakistan, Egypt, and Central Asia child labourers work in cotton fields either during or following the spraying season. Children are also often the first victims of pesticide poisonings, even if they do not participate to spraying, due to the proximity of their homes to cotton fields, or because of the re-use of empty pesticide containers.
  • Hazardous pesticides associated with global cotton production represent a substantial threat to global freshwater resources. Hazardous cotton pesticides are now known to contaminate rivers in USA, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Brazil, Australia, Greece and West Africa. In Brazil, the world’s 4th largest consumer of agrochemicals, researchers tested rainwater for the presence of pesticides. 19 different chemicals were identified of which 12 were applied to cotton within the study area.

Wendy, herself, speaking at her church in New Jersey, made a product-information tag you’d never find on a T-shirt at Old Navy:

Made of 100% Cotton
Harvested by children as young as 7 in Uzbekistan where unemployment is near 70% and cotton workers are paid less than $7/month.

Children who fail to meet quota or pick poor quality cotton are punished by scoldings and beatings.

The processing of the cotton required 1/3 pound of concentrated pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers and 744 gallons of water.

Cotton fabric was processed with formaldehyde to reduce wrinkles and bleached with chlorine producing dioxin, a known carcinogen. It was then colored blue using chemical dyes that contained toxic heavy metals including chrome, copper and zinc.

Sewn in Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest countries, by Chenda, a 19-year-old seamstress working 80-hour weeks at 5 cents per hour.

The “death-trap” textile factory Chenda worked in was cramped, hot, often over 100 degrees with no fans and very little ventilation. The two doors were kept locked.

This t-shirt will need to be washed frequently at high temperatures and require tumble-drying and ironing. 60% of the carbon emissions generated by this simple cotton t-shirt will come from the approximately 25 washes and machine dryings it will require over its lifetime.



On humans, endosulfan can cause “convulsions, psychiatric disturbances, epilepsy, paralysis, brain oedema, impaired memory and death.” Spend too much time around it – like cotton growers in India and West Africa – and you run the risk of immuno suppression, neurological disorder, birth defects, chromosomal abnormalities, and significantly decreased mental capacity.

Aldicarb, a nerve agent, is one of the most toxic pesticides applied to cotton. A teaspoon on the skin is enough to kill an adult. Yet it is the second most used pesticide in cotton production.

For you and I, there are few if any horrific side-effects to those who wear cotton grown using pesticides, though studies show that hazardous pesticides can be detected in cotton clothing. Instead, a person who works with pesticides in a far flung country will get it in the neck. And in the chest. And in the bowels. And on the skin. And in the blood.

Endosulfan aerially sprayed on cashew nut plantations caused high levels of children born with severe deformities. Kerala, India. Photo Down to Earth Magazine, 2001.

Up to 99% of the world’s cotton growers live and work in the developing world. Cotton is grown as a smallholder crop by the rural poor and few can afford the protective chemical suits pesticide manufacturers say should be used with their products. Even if a suit is acquired, working for ten hours in a field in 40-degree heat and humidity in what is effectively a plastic bag doesn’t make for a happy farmer.

According to the World Health Organisation, 1 – 5 million cases of pesticide poisoning occur every year. Of that, 20,000 agricultural workers die and over a million require hospitalisation. Over 200,000 commit suicide.

Other culprits in the pesticide family include monocotophos and deltamethrin. Disgustingly, the former was withdrawn from the US market in 1989 as it can cause paralysis in children, but is still widely used in developing countries!!!. The latter is another nerve agent used in over half the world’s cotton producing countries. Medical analysis in a South African village near cotton farms found traces of deltamethrin in human breast milk.

Carlitos, child of farmworkers, born with birth defects attributable to pesticides (PBP). Source: Sarasota/Manatee Farmworker Supporters

Your typical $30 t-shirt will earn a non-organic farmer 15 cents, 9 cents of which will have to go towards buying pesticides. Going organic and learning how to manage beneficial insects in the field (the ones who kill the insects nasty to cotton crops) will eliminate the need to spend that 9 cents. These farmers are also encouraged to grow farm system crops that not only help maintain a healthy biodiversity on the farm but offer another means to increase their incomes.

UPDATE: As of 2010 – Bayer has stopped producing Endosulphan.  A statement from Bayer “We stopped the manufacture of endosulfan because it was no longer financially viable. A more efficient, and safer, alternative has emerged and we are focusing on that.”

Which is what……?

“Genetically modified cotton.”

Colorful Jellyfish!!! :)

Jellies are more popularly known as jellyfish or sea jellies.

Medusa is another word for jellyfish.

These are free-swimming invertabrate marine creatures found in every ocean. Here’s a list of a few colorful and unique species of sea jellies.

Mediterranean Jellyfish (Cotylorhiza tuberculata)

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This large and colorful species is truly captivating and is also informally called Fried Egg Jellyfish. It is commonly found in the Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea and Adriatic Sea.

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It can grow up to 35 cm in bell diameter. Its mouth-arms bifurcate near its base and branches several times. This beautiful sea jelly’s synonyms include Medusa tuberculata, Cassiopea borbonica, Cephea tuberculata and Cotylorhiza microtuberculata.

Spotted Jellyfish (Mastigias papua)

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The zooplankton-eater Spotted Jelly is also called Lagoon Jelly and lives mainly in the southern Pacific Ocean. Instead of one single mouth, they appear to have several smaller mouth openings in its oral arms!!!!   YIKES!!!

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Spotted Jellies are sold in Japan as novelty pets. This species is believed to have a lifespan of 4 months – perfect for fickle pet owners 😉

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Australian Spotted Jellyfish (Phyllorhiza punctata)

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The elegant-looking Australian Spotted Jellyfish or the White-spotted Jellyfish is native to the southwestern Pacific. It can grow up to 62 cm in bell diameter but in 2007, a 72 cm. wide, perhaps the largest ever recorded, was found on Sunset Beach, North Carolina.

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It has been found in large numbers in Gulf of Mexico and has also been found in the waters off the Hawaiian. The Australian Spotted Jellyfish has a mild sting which can be cured with vinegar. Salt water can be used as a last resort.

Big Red (Tiburonia granrojo)

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The amazing Granrojo or Big Red, a new species of jellyfish can grow up to 1 meter in bell diameter and is found throughout the Pacific Ocean.

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It is one of the largest sea jellies and unusual in a number of ways. It lives at ocean depths of between 600 and 1500 meters. The entire jellyfish is deep red in color.

Flower Hat Jellyfish (Olindias formosa)

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The lovely and pretty Flower Hat Jelly is a rare species occurring primarily in waters off Brazil, Argentina and Japan. It is characterized by lustrous tentacles that coil and adhere to its rim when not in use.

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Its bell is translucent and pinstriped with opaque bands, making it easily recognizable. It can grow up to 15 cm or 6 inches in diameter and feeds on small fish. Its sting is non-lethal but painful.

Mauve Stinger (Pelagia noctiluca)

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The beautiful Mauve Stinger is widely distributed in all warm and temperate waters of the world’s oceans, including the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It is also found in the Pacific Ocean. Aside from mauve or pink, its color also varies from golden yellow to tan.

Image Source In an unprecedented event on November 21, 2007, an enormous 10-square-mile (26 km2) swarm of billions of these jellyfish wiped out a 100,000-fish salmon farm in Northern Ireland.

Nomurai’s Jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai)

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This large Japanese species called Nomurai’s Jellyfish is in the same size class as the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, the largest jellyfish in the world. It grows up to 2 meters or 6 feet 7 inches in diameter and weighs up to 220 kilograms or about 450 pounds. It is endemic to the Yellow Sea and East China Sea.

Compass Jellyfish (Chrysaora hysoscella)

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The fascinating Compass Jellyfish is a very common species that lives in coastal waters near the UK. It has a bell diameter of up to 30 cm.

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It has 24 tentacles that are arranged in eight groups of three. It is usually colored yellowish white, with some brown.

Stinging Sea Nettle (Chrysaora quinquecirrha)

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The Stinging Sea Nettle may refer to the Atlantic Sea Nettle or East Coast Sea Nettle, a common coastal species found along the west coast of North America from California to Alaska. Its sting is not particularly harmful but can cause moderate discomfort to any individual stung. The sting can be effectively neutralized by misting vinegar over the affected area. Sea nettles have become popular exhibits in many public aquariums, and have been instrumental in educating the public about the mysterious beauty of swimming jellyfishes.

Cannonball Jellyfish (Stomolophus meleagris)

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The Cannonball Jellyfish’s informal name is derived from its similarity to a cannonball in shape and size. Its dome-shaped bell can reach 25 cm or 10 inches in diameter and the rim is sometimes colored with brown pigment.

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Beneath its body is a cluster of oral arms that extend out around the mouth. These arms function as a way of propulsion and aid in catching prey. Cannonballs are prominent from North America’s eastern seaboard all the way down to Brazil.

Pacific Sea Nettle (Chrysaora fuscescens)

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This species is generally referred to as the Pacific Sea Nettle or the West Coast Sea Nettle commonly found in the Pacific Ocean. Diameter of the bell can be greater than 1 meter or 3 feet. The long, complicated, spiraling oral arms and the 24 tentacles may trail up to 4.6 meters or 15 feet behind the bell.

Purple Striped Jelly (Chrysaora colorata)

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The pretty Purple-striped Jelly exists primarily off the coast of California. This lovely sea jelly can grow up to 70 cm in bell diameter typically with a radial pattern of stripes. The tentacles vary with the age of the individual, consisting typically of eight marginal long dark arms, and four central frilly oral arms.