Healthy (and your mom) says don’t drink from the garden hose

We usually watch out for snakes in the garden. You don’t want to be caught unaware.

It turns out that the same could be said for your garden hose, which could be a snake in the grass when it comes to chemical pollution. Like most real snakes, it’s probably not mortally dangerous. But you need to know more about it, especially if you’re using your hose as a drinking spigot or to water an edible garden.

Healthy, known for testing common kids’ toys for lead, cadmium and other pollution, recently tested 179 garden products, including two types of garden hoses and four types of garden work gloves, for chemical contaminants and toxic metals.

Study shows a correlation between phthalate exposure and childhood obesity

Phthalates, chemicals commonly found in synthetic fragrances, body lotions and pliable plastic products, have been viewed with suspicion in recent years because they’ve been shown to act as endocrine disruptors.

Researchers at the Children’s Environmental Health Center at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York who decided to look more closely at the effects of phthalates have found an association with obesity in young children.

Help contain plastics by knowing your plastic containers

By Kelly Rondeau
Green Right Now

It’s the holiday season, and along with the many joys that are associated with this fun time of year – cooking, baking, parties with friends and family – comes a lurking environmental problem: Toxic chemicals in everyday plastics. Plastics that seem to be everywhere in our holiday midst — in the packaging of toys, the toys themselves, our food packaging, in our holiday leftover storage containers, in plastic wrap, in water bottles — and the list goes on.

Many valid health concerns have been raised about poisonous chemicals present in our everyday plastics, and the headlines about these toxins leaching into our food are frightening. A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation found, for instance, that food containers labeled as “microwave safe” leached BPA when heated. (See our report, “BPA turns up in ‘microwave safe’ products“.)

Consider natural beauty products and avoid hidden toxins

By Barbara Kessler

After the Environmental Working Group released research on toxins in beauty products showing that teen girls could be especially vulnerable (see our blog), we took a closer look at alternative beauty supplies. These products opt for botanicals and other natural and organic ingredients over the suspect synthetic chemicals — phthalates, parabens and made-made fragrances — that can lurk in your body butter and play games with your hormone or immune system.

The happy news: Natural products are gaining ground in stores. We found everything listed below at Main Street outlets like Target, Walgreens, Ulta,,, and Whole Foods. And the labels are getting quite explicit, many note when they’re paraben- and phthalate-free. While we can’t scientifically endorse the samplings below, we can say we have used most of them and found them to be effective — and as pampering and great-smelling — as many of their conventional cousins.

For teens, this smells like trouble

My tweener daughter has often patiently explained to me that there are “girly girls” and “Tom Boys” and variations in between. I guess she figures that in the century when I grew up that wasn’t the case, or possibly that my girlhood is so far gone, it can’t even be imagined! I need to be brought up to speed.

As her tutorial goes, “girly girls” – like her – need to dress girlishly and primp with lip gloss, cologne and smell-nice body lotions. Tom Boys, not so much.

As her mom, I want her to be a Shiny Happy Female, but my green side ends up questioning all this girlish goop-la.

Scientists have been sounding alarms about suspicious ingredients in shampoo, lotions and cosmetics for many years and being an obsessive label reader, I’ve tended to agree that it might be worthwhile to deconstruct these labels with their gazillion unpronounceable preservatives, sudsing agents, flavorings and fragrances.

Can a product containing PPG-2 hydroxyethlcoco/isostearmide be completely safe? Not being a chemist, I really don’t know, and I imagine that’s where a lot of us land: wary of this onslaught of chemicals, but without sufficient knowledge to sort it out.

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based watchdog organization concerned with toxins in our everyday lives, can help. You can gather info on the products you use by consulting the EWG database Skin Deep. The online tool – which includes some 25,000 products — can show you whether your body lotion, mascara or hair conditioner is rated as low, medium or high toxicity. It identifies the chemicals that are noxious; tells how they are potentially dangerous (carcinogen vs. skin irritant, say) and shows the level of research that’s been done.

Sugar and spice and toxins: teen girls exposed to chemicals in beauty products

By Barbara Kessler

Some not so pretty news out about cosmetics this week shows that teen girls tested for chemical exposure from beauty products had become human repositories of parabens, phthalates, triclosan and musks.

These chemicals, some of which are hormone disruptors or have been linked to cancer, turned up in the blood and urine of 20 teenage girls tested by the Environmental Working Group.

On average, the girls, ages 14-19, tested positive for 13 hormone-disrupting chemicals each. Parabens, commonly used as cosmetic preservatives, were detected in every girl tested.