Wednesday, December 29, 2010

EPA Administrator Openly Reveals Risks Posed by Chemicals

EPA Administrator
Lisa Jackson
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson delivered a speech that is incredibly revealing about the risks and negative impact of chemicals in our environment. It's no wonder that an increasing number of people are developing multiple chemical sensitivities.

We, at Yes It's Organic, frequently receive calls from people who can't wear any clothing or use any bedding unless it's organic due to the chemicals in non-organic farming and/or manufacturing processes. Are these individuals a warning sign to the rest of us?

The following is an exact excerpted quote from the Administrator's speech.

"Right now, I want to talk about another issue that is central to everything from restoring public trust to protecting our children to growing our economy: understanding the risks posed by chemicals, and doing our utmost to make sure they are safe.

After World War II, the chemical industry in this country grew by leaps and bounds, earning the US an enviable reputation for innovation but also making chemicals pervasive in our lives. Everything from our cars, to the cell phones we all have in our pockets are constructed with plastics and chemical additives. The technological revolution that my two sons take for granted has done more than change the way we interact with each other – it’s made chemicals ubiquitous in our economy and products – as well as our environment and our bodies.

A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than a child from any other generation in our history. A 2005 study found 287 different chemicals in the cord blood of 10 newborn babies – chemicals from pesticides, fast food packaging, coal and gasoline emissions, and trash incineration. They were found in children in their most vulnerable stage. Our kids are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before we even give them solid food. Now, some chemicals may be risk-free at the levels we are seeing. I repeat: some chemical may be risk-free. But as more and more chemicals are found in our bodies and the environment, the public is understandably anxious and confused. Many are turning to government for assurance that chemicals have been assessed using the best available science, and that unacceptable risks haven’t been ignored.

Right now, we are failing to get this job done. Our oversight of the 21st century chemical industry is based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. It was an important step forward at the time – part of a number of environmental wins from the 1970s, like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, not to mention the formation of the EPA. But over the years, not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it’s supposed to regulate - it’s been proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects.

Manufacturers of existing chemicals aren’t required to develop the data on toxicity and exposure needed to assess potential risks and demonstrate to EPA that chemicals meet risk-based safety standards. EPA has tools to require the industry to conduct testing, but they are cumbersome and time-consuming. As a result, there are troubling gaps in the available data on many widely used chemicals in commerce.

On new chemicals, companies have no legal obligation to develop new information, only to supply data that may already exist.

As with existing chemicals, the burden of proof falls on EPA. Manufacturers aren’t required to show that sufficient data exist to fully assess a chemical’s risks. If EPA has adequate data, and wants to protect the public against known risks, the law creates obstacles to quick and effective action. Since 1976, EPA has issued regulations to control only five existing chemicals determined to present an unreasonable risk. Five from a total universe of almost 80,000 existing chemicals. In 1989, after years of study, EPA issued rules phasing out most uses of asbestos, an exhaustively studied substance that has taken an enormous toll on the health of Americans. Yet, a court overturned EPA’s rules because it had failed to clear the many hurdles for action under TSCA.

Today, advances in toxicology and analytical chemistry are revealing new pathways of exposure. There are subtle and troubling effects of chemicals on hormone systems, human reproduction, intellectual development and cognition. Every few weeks, we read about new potential threats: Bisphenol A, or BPA – a chemical that can affect brain development and has been linked to obesity and cancer – is in baby bottles; phthalate esters – which have been said to affect reproductive development – are in our medical devices; we see lead in toys; dioxins in fish; and the list goes on. Many states – including California – have stepped in to address these threats because they see inaction at the national level."

Source: Full Speech on EPA web site Delivered on 9/29/2009.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Organic Food for Thought - Inspirational Video by an 11 Year Old

Watch this video by Birke Baehr, an 11-year old. It's educational and entertaining. You'll enjoy it.

Birke is an eloquent speaker and provides insight into "What's Wrong with Our Food System" and what we should be supporting to move to a healthier food system. It's an encouraging and serious presentation accomplished with humor.

Birke Baehr is spreading the word about how our food is made, where it comes from, and what's in it. He presents a major source of our food - far-away food sources and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. He says keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture and outlines the case for organic and local food production. At age 11, he's planning a career as an organic farmer.



Here's the link to the source page:
Birke Baehr: What's Wrong with Our Food System, an inspiring video from TED.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harmony, A Movie about Prince Charles' Environmental Concerns for the Earth

Prince Charles has been one of the strongest world leaders for environmental concerns for the Earth for three decades (so far). His emphasis on climate change, the ozone layer, marine pollution, toxic waste, acid rain, and global warming has lead to searching for innovative solutions to these and many other issues.

Prince Charles feels an urgenct need to solve an environmental crisis which, unfortunately, has been getting worse. The movie's message is that we must live in Harmony with the Earth and nature.

He has worked side by side with a wide range of environmental activists, business innovators, architects, and heads of government.

He emphasizes:
  • The need to connect our own personal health with that of our planet,
  • Responsible business practices that integrate an awareness of the role and impact of business in the wider community,
  • Education of future generations so they grow up with an understanding of the harmony that must exist in our world,
  • Building our built environment with minimal environmental impact,
  • Food and farming produced in connection with and no harm to nature,
  • Sustainability must be the outcome of all actions of businesses, governments, and our personal lives.
Prince Charles has been using Organic farming on his own farm since 1985. He says, "If you think about it for a moment, nature never grows short of energy, she never produces toxic waste, she never eats into her reserve so that next time round she has less to work with. Nature's system works productively in a balanced, durable way, year after year after year."


Watch the movie here. (The movie was shown on NBC on November 19, 2010.)



And go to the Harmony movie website to learn more about global environmental concerns and actions in which we must all be involved in our daily lives.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pesticides in Food, Clothing, and Bedding: Why Children May be Especially Sensitive to Pesticides

In this blog, you'll find previous posts that discuss the dangers of pesticides and other toxins in our both our food and textile crops (those used for clothing and bedding, and other fabric uses such as furniture fabrics, draperies, curtains). These dangers are often reported by independent organizations long before the U.S. government takes action against them. This is most likely due to the huge financial influence over the government by corporations and their lobbying organizations.

However, even the government's own agencies and independent reports are coming out with notices about these dangers and recommendations to eliminate them, even though the recommendations are slow and far from enough.

It is imperative that we move to organic and sustainable agricultural systems. We can't do this soon enough.

The following is shown on the EPA's web site as of November 4, 2010 however it wasn't dated as to when it was posted. Although it specifically discusses pesticides in relation to food, we believe it equally applies to the toxin residues through fabrics in clothing and bedding. (A fuller discussion on this latter point is left for other posts.)

"Infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides for several reasons:
  • Their internal organs are still developing and maturing,
  • In relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water,
  • Certain behaviors - such as playing on floors or lawns or putting objects in their mouths - increase a child's exposure to pesticides used in homes and yards.
Effects of pesticides include:
  • Pesticides may harm a developing child by blocking the absorption of important food nutrients necessary for normal healthy growth.
  • Pesticides may cause harm if a child's excretory system is not fully developed and therefore the body may not fully remove pesticides.
  • There are "critical periods" in human development when exposure to a toxin can permanently alter the way an individual's biological system operates.
For these reasons, and as specifically required under the Food Quality Protection Act (1996), EPA carefully evaluates children's exposure to pesticide residues in and on foods they most commonly eat, i.e., apples and apple juice, orange juice, potatoes, tomatoes, soybean oil, sugar, eggs, pork, chicken and beef. EPA is also evaluating new and existing pesticides to ensure that they can be used with a reasonable certainty of no harm to adults as well as infants and children."

Source for above statements: EPA web site

In regard to the last statement about the EPA evaluations, we need to adopt the Precautionary Principle of testing and making sure no harm can be caused before toxins are introduced into our environment and bodies. There have been numerous cases of allowing pesticides for many years, and decades, before deciding they are harmful to us.

Since World War II, the U.S. and the world has been, unwittingly, involved in what is probably the largest human experiment in the history of humans in our large scale exposures to pesticides. [Note: The term "pesticides" includes insecticides (toxins against insects), herbicides (toxins against other plants considered weeds), and fungicides (toxins against fungus and mold).]

by Ed Mass
President and Founder of Yes It's Organic and Green Logo World

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Organic is the Key Word

Organic, as in organic food, organic clothing, and organic bedding, is promoting sustainable life on this planet.

I've been an environmentalist for over 45 years. My environmental interests are quite varied. My background is mechanical engineering and I was designing solar energy systems and super-insulated housing in the 1970s when President Carter was building it up. Then Reagan came along and axed all funding for it.

I started Yes It's Organic because I wanted to be involved with something I'm passionate about. With the growth, and increasing consciousness, of organic food over the last 35 years during which time I've been eating it, I thought the next growth trend to help stimulate and promote is in the organic and sustainable clothing and bedding arena.

We know that the number of people with multiple chemical sensitivities, allergies, and asthma are increasing at rapid rates. I believe a huge majority of this is due to the environmental toxins so prevalent in our air, food, and products that we wear and on which we sleep.

I get calls almost every week from someone with multiple chemical sensitivities that can't wear anything but organic or eco friendly clothing or use anything but organic or eco friendly bedding because these don't have the toxins from the farming and manufacturing processes. A lot of wrinkle resistant and stain resistant treatments have harmful chemicals which may even include formaldehyde. I think these people are the "canaries in the coal mines" warning the rest of us.

What do you think? Have you been aware of increasing sensitivities and allergies for yourself or others? Do you think it's environmentally related?

by Ed Mass
President and Founder of Yes It's Organic and Green Logo World

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pediatrics Journal Article Concludes Exposure to Pesticides May Contribute to ADHD

The study concludes: "These findings support the hypothesis that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence. Prospective studies are needed to establish whether this association is causal."

My Comments:
These conclusions come after the evidence is given that there is increased prevalence of ADHD where pesticide exposures are retained by childrens' bodies. Why do the authors say "may" contribute?

In looking at health from a perspective commonly found in Alternative Medicine (also called Biological Medicine, Complementary Medicine, Integrative Medicine), one becomes very aware that there are most often multiple causative factors that lead to ill health. Conventional Medicine (called Allopathic Medicine) often tries to find the one, single factor that leads to a specific illness. That may be a method to help our understanding of human health however it doesn't reflect the real world.

The impact that often arises from a search for a single causative factor of an illness is the discounting or totally ignoring a factor that may be one of many causative factors. These causative factors, when combined, have a synergistic effect, meaning that the sum of all these factors causes an effect that is greater than the individual effects of each factor alone. This sounds more complicated because it is. Our health and our world is more complicated than single causative factors of ill health.

Alternative Medicine including Alternative Dentistry (also called Biological Dentistry, Holistic Dentistry) look at the whole body as a system, not as pieces of a system. They are aware of multiple causative factors and the need to find all of them in order to move someone from ill health to good health. I'll stop at this point however, as you (the reader) are probably aware, there is much more to say on this subject.

Be sure to read the previous post on the President's Cancer Panel Report. Also keep reading (after my signature) for a press release from the Organic Trade Association that summarizes the findings of the above report and suggests actions to avoid risk to your children's health.

by Ed Mass
President and Founder of Yes It's Organic and Green Logo World

****************************************

Organic agriculture prohibits pesticides linked to risk of ADHD

Organic Trade Association (OTA) encourages consumers to choose organic fruits and vegetables
GREENFIELD, Mass. (May 17, 2010)—Following closely on the heels of the President’s Cancer Panel Report exhorting consumers to choose food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers , antibiotics, and growth hormones to help decrease their exposure to environmental chemicals that can increase their risk of contracting cancer, a study published in today’s issue of the journal Pediatrics concludes that exposure to organophosphate pesticides at levels common among U.S. children may contribute to the prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in these children.

“Studies have increasingly shown the importance of minimizing young children’s exposure to even low levels of chemical pesticides. This study adds to that wealth of knowledge and arms parents with information that helps them reduce their children’s pesticide intake,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director, pointing out that the use of organophosphates is prohibited in organic production.

The article reported findings from a study examining the association between urinary concentrations of metabolites of organophosphates and ADHD in children ages 8 to 15. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers led by Maryse Bouchard, a researcher in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Montreal, analyzed the levels of pesticide metabolites in the urine of 1,139 children and found children with above-average levels had roughly twice the odds of being diagnosed with ADHD.

As the largest study of this kind so far, it reminds consumers that organophosphates were originally developed for use in chemical warfare because they are known to be toxic to the nervous system. Organophosphate compounds are used in agriculture to kill pests.

“Organic food production and processing is the only system that uses certification and inspection to verify that these chemicals are not used,” Bushway added. “Those seeking to minimize their exposure to these chemicals can look for the USDA Organic label wherever they shop.”

The abstract of the paper published in the journal Pediatrics is accessible online.
For more information on organic, go to the Organic Trade Association’s consumer web site, www.organicitsworthit.org.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shopper's Guide to Food Pesticides from Environmental Working Group - New Report

The Environmental Working Group conducted a study of pesticides on a variety of fruits and vegetables. Here is a summary of their results.

Finding Healthier Food

You can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce, according to EWG calculations. When you eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’ll be exposed to an average of 10 pesticides a day. When you choose fresh produce from the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’ll consume fewer than 2 pesticides per day.

The Dirty Dozen

Of the 12 most contaminated foods, 7 are fruits: peaches, strawberries, apples, domestic blueberries, nectarines, cherries and imported grapes. Notable findings:
  • More than 96 percent of peaches tested positive for pesticides, followed by nectarines (95.1 percent) and apples (93.6 percent).
  • Nearly 86 percent of peaches contained 2 or more pesticide residues ‚ followed by apples (82.3 percent) and nectarines (80.6 percent).
  • Strawberries and domestic blueberries each had 13 pesticides detected on a single sample. Peaches and apples were second, with 9 pesticides on one sample.
  • Peaches had been treated with more pesticides than any other produce, registering combinations of up to 67 different chemicals. Strawberries were next, with 53 pesticides and apples with 47.
Celery, sweet bell peppers, spinach, kale, collard greens and potatoes are the vegetables most likely to retain pesticide contamination:
  • Some 95 percent all celery samples tested positive for pesticides, followed by imported cucumbers (84.5 percent) and potatoes (84.2 percent).
  • Nearly 85 percent of celery samples contained multiple pesticides, followed by sweet bell peppers (61.5 percent) and collard greens (53.2 percent).
  • A single celery was contaminated with 13 different chemicals, followed by kale (10), and collard greens, domestic green beans, spinach and lettuce (9).
  • Celery had been treated with as many as 67 pesticides, followed by sweet bell peppers (63) and kale (57).

The Clean Fifteen

The vegetables least likely to test positive for pesticides are onions, sweet corn, sweet peas, asparagus, cabbage, eggplant and sweet potatoes.
  • Asparagus, sweet corn, and onions had no detectable pesticide residues on 90 percent or more of samples.
  • More than four-fifths of cabbage samples (82.1 percent) had no detectible pesticides, followed by sweet peas (77.1 percent) and eggplant (75.4 percent).
  • Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on vegetables low in overall contamination. No samples of onions and corn showed more than one pesticide. Sweet potatoes showed multiple pesticides in 9.3 percent of samples.
  • The most contaminated single sample among the low-pesticide vegetables showed 4 different chemicals.
The fruits least likely to test positive for pesticide residues are avocados, pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, domestic cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit and honeydew.
  • Fewer than 10 percent of pineapple, mango, and avocado samples showed detectable, and fewer than one percent of samples had more than one pesticide residue.
  • Nearly 60 percent of honeydew melons had detectable pesticides but only 14.2 percent of samples contained more than one residue. Grapefruit had residues on 54.5 percent of samples, and 17.5 percent showed multiple pesticide residues. 

Why should I be concerned about pesticides?

As acknowledged by U.S. and international government agencies, different pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including:
  • Nervous system toxicity
  • Cancer
  • Hormone system effects
  • Skin, eye and lung irritation
Pesticides are unique among the chemicals we release into the environment. They are designed to kill living organisms -- insects, plants, and fungi that are considered "pests." Because they are toxic by design, many pesticides pose health dangers to people, risks that have been established by independent research scientists and physicians across the world.

Friday, May 7, 2010

President's Cancer Panel Report Essentially States Organic Foods and Grass Fed Livestock Are Healthier Choices

Yesterday, May 6, 2010, was a monumental news day for the organic industry. The President's Cancer Panel Report was released. It exhorts consumers to choose food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, and growth hormones to help decrease their exposure to environmental chemicals that can increase their risk of contracting cancer!

"Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications," according to the report, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now," submitted to President Obama by Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

In a letter to President Obama, the panel stated "The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation's productivity, and devastate American lives."

This landmark report by the prestigious scientific panel essentially recognizes, at the highest level, that organic foods are healthier and reduce your risk of cancer.

Just as important, organic clothing and bedding are better for our environment, which, of course, means for us as well, in that crops grown organically and used for fabrics dramatically reduce the toxins going into the air, water, and soil. I remember research conducted at a university I was attending in the 1970s that showed that air pollution could literally travel half way around the world.

The full report "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now" is available online.

The Organic Trade Association has issued a press release that may be of interest to you as well.

Ed Mass
President and Founder of Yes It's Organic

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Bamboo Furniture vs Wood Furniture

A friend asked what's the difference between bamboo furniture vs wood furniture? I told him the following.

If a tree is cut down to make you a table, you can have a beautiful desk, table, or bookcases.

However, the tree is dead. Someone must plant another tree to replenish the one taken for your table.

The new tree will be ready to make another table in about 10 to 100 years depending on the species.

If bamboo is cut down to make you a table, you can have a beautiful desk, table, or bookcases.

However, the Bamboo is still alive. It’s technically a "grass" like the grass in your back yard. It’s going to grow back without the need to be replanted. It naturally replenishes itself.

The Bamboo that regrows automatically will be ready to make another table in 3 to 4 years.

Bamboo is very strong and durable. The technology to make it into outstandingly beautiful furniture and flooring is well advanced. A lot of bamboo grows in China, Brazil and many other countries. The Chinese have a lot of experience, for a long time, with numerous uses of bamboo.

For example, in China, instead of metal for scaffolding to build multi-story buildings, they use bamboo for scaffolding up to 10 stories. It’s that strong. Bamboo is also used for hardball baseball bats. It's that strong.

After I explained the above to a friend who wasn't familiar with the many uses of bamboo today, said "Oh, you just explained it so idiots like me can finally 'get it.' Now I realize that the bamboo of today is not the ugly cheap looking stuff I remember from the 1970s. The use of bamboo is totally different than what I thought. Now when I look at the images of your bamboo furniture, I see it's beauty and can understand why it would be so strong, durable, and well made."

The above is a true discussion between us.

Ed Mass
President and Founder of Yes It's Organic

Friday, March 26, 2010

Organic Methods Being Used in Growing Vegetable and Herb Garden at the White House

Organic textiles for clothing and bedding go hand in hand with organic agriculture, including both plants and animals, for keeping toxins out of our air, water and soil. Organic agriculture is important for a healthy food system with greater nutritional content. Therefore, from time to time, this blog discusses organic food issues as well as organic textile issues.

For the first time ever, organic gardens have been planted at the White House and at the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture).

White House Garden

First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass tell the story of the first garden on White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden during World War II. Although it's not certified organic, it is being grown in the same way as an organic garden (see below).

White House Kitchen Garden Fact Sheet

LOCATION
The White House Kitchen Garden measures approximately 1100 square feet and is located on the west side of the South Lawn. It is visible from E Street, with a perfect southern exposure which provides a great deal of sun light.

SOIL
The soil was tested and was found to be in good shape, including trace elements. Amendments have been made to enrich the soil and rock dusts of lime, green sand, crab meal sourced from the Chesapeake Bay and White House compost have been added to improve the macro and micro nutrient balance. Only organic fertilizers and insect repellants will be used and lady bugs and praying mantises will be introduced to naturally control other insect populations. A honey bee hive has been set up nearby for pollination purposes.

PLANTS
The four-season herb, fruit and vegetable garden will feature 25 varieties of heirloom seeds planted in slightly raised beds using succession planting methods.

Read the full White House Kitchen Garden Fact Sheet

White House Kitchen Garden Diagram 4/9/2009

Friday, January 29, 2010

Let's Talk Bamboo for Sheets to Clothing to Furniture

A popular species of bamboo that is used for everything from clothing to flooring to furniture is Moso bamboo. Moso bamboo is the most valuable and sustainable species of bamboo in the world.

Amazingly, it regenerates over 100 feet in height in less than 6 months. In this time it grows to its full diameter. Yet it takes another 3 to 4 years for its stalk to mature into a hardness that can be utilized for production. Moso bamboo is one of the strongest building materials known, having been used for construction for over 5,000 years.

For greater detail, see our full length article on bamboo for clothing, sheets, and towels

Be sure to check out the variety we offer in our Sustainable Bamboo Furniture, our bamboo clothing, robes, sheets, and towels, and our blends of bamboo and Organic cotton clothing.