the ecovangelist


Protecting your largest organ! June 24, 2011

Filed under: Around your body — theecovangelist @ 12:22 pm
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Now that summer is here and we’re all spending more time in the sun, it’s probably a good idea to review why it’s important to wear sunscreen and the FDA’s new guidelines.

Your skin, why you should protect it:

  • Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US
  • One out of five people will develop skin cancer in the US
  • One to two million Americans develop skin cancer every year

Earlier this month, the FDA released new sunscreen guidelines

Here’s a summary of the FDA’s main points:

  • Sunscreens can no longer be labeled as sunblock, waterproof or sweat proof; since according to the FDA, there is no such thing.
  • Sunscreens that protect against both UVA and UVB will now be labeled as broad-spectrum. 
  • In case you forgot the difference between UVA and UVB:
    • UVA-accounts for 95% of UV exposure; penetrates through skin deeply causing accelerated aging and wrinkling; initiates skin cancer; can penetrate through glass.
    • UVB-primary cause of skin cancer; burns the surface of your skin; can not penetrate through glass.
  • Water-resistant sunscreens are effective, but should be reapplied once out of the water.
  • Sunscreens should be reapplied every two hours.
  • Sunscreens with SPF 2-14 will be required to state that they have not been shown to prevent skin cancer.
  • Many companies have already started changing their labeling, but technically have until next summer to do so.

Applications (no pun intended):

  • While some of the ingredients in sunscreens have been in question, the benefit of using sunscreen outweighs any risk from the ingredients.
  • What’s the difference between SPF 15, 30 and 50?
    • SPF 15-blocks 92% of UVB rays
    • SPF 30-blocks 96.7% of UVB rays
    • SPF 50-blocks 98% of UVB rays
    • SPF 100-blocks 99% of UVB rays
  • Use SPF 15 for everyday use and at least SPF 30 or higher when in the sun for extended time.
  • Many think that just because they have darker pigmentation, they don’t need sunscreen. This is far from the truth. While having greater melanin does partially protect you from getting sunburned, people with darker pigmentation still need protection from UVA and UVB rays.
  • Even if you are wearing sunscreen, this does not fully protect you from the sun. So while in the sun be sure to wear a hat, long-sleeve shirts/pants and avoid prolonged time.
  • Limit sun exposure from 10AM-2PM, since suns rays are strongest during that period.

But I love my iphone…..can it really cause cancer? June 14, 2011

Filed under: Around your body — theecovangelist @ 1:28 am
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Unless you’re living under a rock, you must have heard about the recent hype linking cell phone use as a carcinogen.  I’ve been asked by several folks if this legit…or if it’s fear mongering tactics that the media has taken out of control. Honestly….I don’t know for sure. 

In one of my cancer courses we had an expert from the CDC tell us there was nothing to worry about with cell phones. However, when The World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) release a statement saying we should be worried, I take it seriously.

The IARC Press Release and Interphone Study both raise some concern.

Here is a brief summary about WHO/IARC’s conclusion in case you do not want to read the whole thing. 

  • WHO/IARC announced that mobile phones are now classified as 2B  carcinogenic hazard category. Which means “a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer…”
  • To put that into perspective, there are 5 cancer classifications, and cell phones are now in the same cancer group as DDT, HPV, Gasoline and pickled vegetables (now that’s a whole other blog post).
    • Group 1 Carcinogenic to humans
    • Group 2A Probably Carcinogenic to humans
    • Group 2B Possibly Carcinogenic to humans
    • Group 3 Not classifiable (ie need more data)
    • Group 4 Probably not carcinogenic to humans
  • There is some evidence linking glioma and acoustic neroma brain cancer.
  • Cell phones emit non-ionizing radiofrequency (RF), a form of electromagnetic radiation, which is what is under investigation for causing cancer.
  • If you would like more info, here is a nice fact sheet that the National Cancer Institute released: NCI FACTSHEET

My suggestion, take the precautionary principal.  Be a little cautious with your cell phone use until the WHO, the CDC, the phone manufactures understand the full scale effects of cell phone use on our bodies.

  • Try to always use a headset or hands free set, which have been shown to emit less radiation.  I personally use a wired headset and not a blue tooth, because blue tooth still emits radiation.
  • Turn your phone off when you go to sleep.
  • If you must leave it turned on, do not leave your phone in your bedroom while you are sleeping. Many people place their phones right next to their head on a side table or dresser, turned on….I know I use to.
  • Go old school, get a land line.  While you’re at home try to limit the use of your cell phone and use a land line.
  • Hold the cell phone away from your body.
  • According to IARC, a poor signal emits more radiation, so limit your use if you do not have a strong signal.
  • A moving phone emits more radiation….more reason to not use your phone while driving.
  • Research your next phone, here is a list of radiation emission from available cell phones Cell phone radiation level
  • Children should not use or play with cell phones.  Since their skulls are thinner, radiation penetrates deeper and faster then it would with adults.
There are several studies disputing what WHO/IARC have found. However the truth of the mater is brain cancer develops over a long period of time. Since there has been a boom in cell phone use only in the past 10 years we may not see the true effects for another 5-10 years. 

Earthquake….you ready? Your disaster kit checklist!! March 23, 2011

Filed under: Around your body — theecovangelist @ 2:35 am
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In light of the earthquake in Japan, I decided to dedicate this next post on what should be in your earthquake or disaster preparedness kit.  Since many of us are guilty of not having a disaster kit and/or plan, I urge all of you to spend an hour during your weekend and prepare a kit.  It’s Easy!!!  You probably already have majority of these items around your home. The key is to put them in a dedicated container and to devise a plan with your family.  Here is a list of items that should be in your earthquake/disaster kit.


All items should be placed in a large water-proof, plastic container that is easily accessible and preferably placed outside.


WaterOne gallon per person per day. Keep at least a 3-day supply and store in plastic bottles.

FoodCanned non-perishable food, 3-day supply.  High energy food that will not make you thirsty.  Try to avoid foods that require water to prepare them.


First Aid Kit

  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Bandage/dressing
  • Burn ointment
  • Over the counter medication: Pain-med, Aspirin, Anti-diarrhea
  • Prescription medications: inhaler, insulin, heart medication
  • Scissors
  • Latex gloves
  • Tweezers

Documents (copies of)

  • Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
  • Passports, social security cards, immunization records
  • Bank account and credit card numbers
  • Important telephone numbers
  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)

Blanket or Sleeping bag

Minimum of $100 cash since banks/ATMs shut down during disasters

Warm clothing and Rain gear



  • Battery-operated or hand crank radio
  • Heavy Duty gloves
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener
  • Pocket Knife
  • Flashlight
  • Signal flair
  • Batteries
  • Matches
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to cover broken windows)


Nice to have items but not essential

  • Battery operated lanterns
  • Dust Mask and Goggles
  • Family photos, to find missing people
  • Gas/camping/portable stove
  • Crowbar
  • Solar charger
  • Whistle


Also, if you would like to donate to the Red Cross for the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief fund, please click on the link below


Phthala…..Who? January 28, 2011

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Phthalates, what are they?

Phthalates, a chemical that can possibly cause infertility and decrease testosterone & sperm count….did that catch your attention?  Many of you have probably never heard of Phthalate Esters, but they are a class of chemicals we are constantly surrounded by and probably have in our bodies.

  • Phthalate esters are a group of chemicals used as a plasticizer in plastics and a solvent in personal care products.

Why are they used?

  • Phthalates are used in majority of cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, perfumes, conditioners and several other personal care products as a solvent.
  • They allow plastics to be more flexible, transparent and increase the longevity of plastic.
  • Phthalates are found in: cosmetics, shampoo, lotions, toys, cable wires, medication, paint, canned food, dental & medical materials, wood varnishes, food containers, floor tiles, PVC flooring and most plastic products.

How is it bad for me?

  • Due to their chemical properties and lack of covalent bonds, phthalates leach from plastics and solvents extremely easily. 
  • NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data shows that Phthalate were found in 78% of the 2541 sampled.
  • Studies are still being conducted to further understand phthalates but they may be linked to the following:
    • Infertility
    • Decreased sperm count
    • Cancer
    • Decreased pulmonary function
    • Asthma
    • Brain development in fetus and infants
    • Reproductive development
    • Endocrine and Thyroid disruption
    • Anti-androgen effects
    • Obesity and type II diabetes
  • Many argue that these health concerns are only seen at high levels of phthalate exposure. However, since phthalates are in several plastic products and cosmetics, the cumulative effect on our bodies can be rather high.

How does it get into my body?

  • Phthalates exposure comes from several routes such as ingestion, inhalation and dermal exposure.
  • Majority of exposure is primarily through dust and food ingestion.

What can I do?

  • Purchase lotions, shampoos, cosmetics and other personal care products that say phthalate free.  Unfortunately companies are not required to list phthalates in their ingredient list, so the only way to know if a product does not contain phthalates is if it states “phthalate free”
  • Dust & vacuum often, like several other chemicals, our exposure is through dust particles that contain them
  • Purchase toys that are phthalate free…especially chew toys
  • Limit your use of plastic, especially as food containers and use glass or stainless steal instead.

Current regulations

  • The European Union has banned/phased out phthalates in several products, especially toys.
  • The US EPA has phased out three phthalates, DEHP, BBP, and DBP.  However there are several other phthalates that are still commonly used in cosmetics, personal care products and toys.
  • Unfortunately there is little regulation on products that are imported from other countries into the US, so it is unknown what the phthalate content is.

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Flame Retardants ….the burning truth April 4, 2010

Filed under: Around your body — theecovangelist @ 9:33 am
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What are Flame Retardants?

Flame Retardants are commonly used to prevent the spread of fires. While chemical flame retardants have done an excellent job of protecting us from fires, low dose exposures have been linked to health concerns. Several types of chemical flame retardants such as octaBDE & pentaBDE have been banned in the US due to increasing health concerns. However Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDE, type DecaBDE is still in use, and is required by the state of California to be used on several products.

Why are Flame Retardants used?

The original intent of PBDEs was to prevent the spread of fires. This was more imperative when indoor smoking cigarettes was prevalent. With the decrease in smoking, the risk of home fires has reduced and an excess of PBDEs are unnecessary.

Health Concerns with PBDE:

PBDEs are of greatest concern for children and pregnant women. Limited human studies have been conducted on PBDEs. However, of the limited studies that have been done, they have shown that exposure to PBDEs, can possibly cause the following:

  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Decreased Fertility
  • Developmental, reduced IQ
  • Liver toxicity
  • Cancer (in animals studies)

How am I exposed to Flame Retardants?

    • Products sprayed with PBDEs
      • Sofas
      • Mattresses & other furniture
      • Carpet Padding
      • Children’s clothing
      • Computers , TVs & other Electronics
    • Food: Since PBDEs are overly used in our environment, they have found their way into the eco-system via disposal of chemicals – especially in marine life. People are now exposed to PBDEs through consumption of dairy, fish, beef and other high fatty foods.
    • Americans were found to have 20 times greater PBDE levels in their body, compared to Europeans.
    • PBDEs bioaccumulate, meaning they are largely resistant to environmental degradation/decomposition. Essentially, they survive in our environment and bodies for a very long time.


Children’s Clothing:

Currently majority of children’s pajamas have PBDEs incorporated in the fibers. If you want to purchase clothing that is PBDE free, look for labels that state they are flame retardant free

  • Organic sleepwear is often free of PBDEs
  • Some polyester fabrics are naturally fire resistant and do not require PBDEs
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require tight fitting sleepwear to be flame resistant

What Can I do?

    • Purchase Mattresses that are flame retardant free (options listed below)
      • Avoid furniture labeled as meeting California TB 117
    • Vacuum and dust often, since primary route of exposure is through inhaling dust
    • Keep windows and doors open for cross ventilation
    • Purchase flame retardant free children’s clothing
    • Limit consumption of high fatty foods such as beef, fish, butter
    • Wash your hands before eating or handling food
    • Install a Fire Detector to protect you from fires


Flame Retardant Free Mattresses

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