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Weird Wire

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Author: the Inkslinger

The night is coming. The veil that separates the world of the living from the realm of the dead now grows thin. Spirits gather and soon will cross this dark divide to fill shadowy streets and abandoned yards with visions of the ghastly, the ghostly, and the ghoulish. Can’t wait! But while we do, here’s some news of the strange and the weird to mark the world’s spookiest holiday and the one of the its oldest pagan traditions…

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is back in the news with word that the feds want to study this maelstrom of muck with an eye toward a possible clean-up. Those familiar with the incredibly disconcerting and wholly freakish twice-Texas-sized patch of floating trash, however, say that not only is cleanup pretty much impossible even conducting basic research is likely to prove vexing. How about we just take the zillions of dollars and man-hours we might spend here and devote them to preventing garbage from entering ocean ecosystems in the first place?

Halloween marks the boundary between summer and winter, or light and dark, an important annual milestone given the impact we’ve learned light can have on human health. Indeed studies have shown that people who work out-of-sync with natural day-night cycles are at risk for all kinds of maladies from depression to breast cancer. The impact is so great that the World Health Organization will declare in December that shift work is a “probable carcinogen.” In other words, the graveyard shift could actually put you there. I think it’s time to shift our 24/7 economy back to something a little more civilized.

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Finding Furniture

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Author: the Inkslinger

As someone who recently moved to a “new” house and is doing a bit of furnishing, I’ve been concerned about what those furnishings might do to our new home’s air quality. This excellent article from yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle shows why.

It’s something not a lot of people realize: home furnishings can be a prime source unhealthy formaldehyde, flame retardants, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other chemical bugaboos that get loose and pollute indoor environments. Things to watch out for range from out-gassing formaldehyde from pressed wood products to stain and fire-retardant treatments. Here’s a quick list of ways that my wife and I are trying to keep these things down to a minimum as we try to find a place to sit around here:

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Now THIS Is Scary…

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Author: the Inkslinger

Checking in for a quick second to forward this creepy article
from Seattle’s KOMO-TV about the spooky stuff lurking in Halloween costumery. Talk about things things that go boo in your body… Parents and everyone else be warned about these untreat-like tricks being played on our little boys and ghouls. We gotta think for ourselves and be precautionarily proactive on stuff like this so it doesn’t haunt us later. Don’t think just because it’s for sale that it’s safe. These deregulated days there are absolutely no guarantees. Caveat emptor.

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Exposed On the Radio

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Author: the Inkslinger

Last month’s issue of the Non-Toxic Times reviewed the new book from investigative journalist Mark Shapiro, Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What's at Stake for American Power. This is an important work not because it outlines the many ways Americans are being harmed by toxic products and the laissez-faire regulatory climate that places corporate protectionism ahead of consumer protections but becauase it addresses what this means for our economic future and American influence in the world.

Shapiro argues that in a world trending toward green, strong regulations based on the Precautionary Principle will serve a country well both ecologically and economically (as in Europe) and that those nations that don’t follow this path (as ours is currently refusing to do) won’t be able to compete in a global marketplace with higher environmental standards and so are destined to lose out in a big way. Excellent thesis and I totally agree. Ironically, in the long run, all these corporations that say regulations harm business and the economy are just shooting both in the foot.

All of which is a somewhat roundabout way of mentioning that Shapiro was on California’s KQED radio last week. The program is archived here for your auditory illumination . It’s very much worth listening to and the book is one everyone should read. Especially all these recalcitrant business types…

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Making Ourselves Sick

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Over the weekend, the Times of London reported on a study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine by the American Thoracic Society. The results are not surprising and speak for themselves.

“The relative risk rates of developing adult asthma in relation to exposure to cleaning products could account for as much as 15 per cent, or one in seven, of adult asthma cases.”

In fact, the study found that subjects who used household spray cleaners at least once a week increased their risk of developing asthma symptoms by an incredible 30 to 50 percent.

Singled out as particularly likely to trigger asthma were conventional glass cleaners, furniture sprays, and air fresheners, which typically contain chemicals like ammonia, chlorine-releasing agents and sodium hydroxide. Researchers suggested that it's significantly easier to get exposed to these and other chemicals when they're released into the air in spray form. This, of course, is something we've been concerned about for years. When we spray a cleaning product, a certain amount never makes it to the surface we're cleaning. Instead, it goes out into the air in the form of something called aerosols, super-tiny microscopic particles that are so lightweight they can stay suspended in the air for hours--the same air we then breathe.

Let's wake up before too many more people smell the spray cleaners.

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We Can Do This

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Author: the Inkslinger

We can, you know. It’s really not as hard as it looks.

I know, I know… You pick up the paper, read the headlines, and run screaming from the room in a blind war-fevered eco-panic so overwhelming the only way out you can see is to barricade the door, cut the cables, kill the lights, and hole up in the basement surrounded by soft pillows and a nice fluffy comforter with a case or two or ten of good merlot and that Sex in the City DVD set you got for Christmas but haven’t been able to watch because who’s got time for Carrie and the girls when dinner’s burning, the kids are screaming, the phone’s ringing and the nattering nabob on the evening news just said we have about ten minutes until humanity’s warranty on the whole operation expires?

But wait. Because there’s proof all around that we can do this. Kill the war and cool the world and not be so bush-wacked over it all. If you know what I mean… In fact, there are steps being taken in the right and better direction all the time. And some of them are pretty big. You just have to know where to look. I’d suggest right here…

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Pure Know How

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Author: the Inkslinger

Non-Toxic Times reader Patti Murphy wrote in about our recent article on parabens and we wanted to share what she had to say with y'all

We wholeheartedly endorse your concerns about parabens in everyday products. My own experience with breast cancer last year opened my eyes to the impact of this endocrine disrupter chemicals in the products I used everyday. This awareness started a process that has resulted in a new venture, Pure Know How. We publish a weekly on-line bulletin on the toxins in everyday cosmetic, personal care and household products. We also have an extensive Web site with resources, product reviews, a blog and archives. Our “fresh and friendly approach” to this important issue has been resonating with our subscribers - as indicated by the number of people who have signed up to receive the weekly e-bulletin and the feedback we’ve received. Check us out.

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All I Wanted Was Some “Fresh” Air

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A new study by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported in last week’s issue of Time Magazine found that 12 out of 14 air freshners purchased at a local Walgreens contained chemicals called phthalates. Time reports:

“Studies involving rat and human subjects have suggested that high exposures to certain kinds of phthalates can cause cancer, developmental and sex-hormone abnormalities (including decreased testosterone and sperm levels and malformed sex organs) in infants, and can affect fertility. In 2004, the European Union banned two types of phthalates in cosmetics and also bans the chemical in children's toys, as do 14 other countries. The first state bill to ban phthalates in children's toys in the U.S. is currently sitting on California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk, and he is expected to sign it this week.”

The fall out for the study so far: Managers at 111 Walgreens stores in Minnesota and thousands more nationwide removed three different varieties of air fresheners from their shelves over the weekend.

Study details here.

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Out of the In-Box

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Author: the Inkslinger

Time to empty out the in-box and see what riches the gods of information have deigned to deliver unto us upon the quivering wires…

Carbon labeling is coming to a product near you. And about time, too. We label for just about everything else under the sun but until now we’ve overlooked what’s by far the biggest elephant in the better shopping room. It’ll take ahwile for these labels to become ubiquitous, but this pachyderm is loose at last and there’s no closing the barn doors now.

By way of Treehugger comes this cool list from Coop America of 21 things you didn’t know you could recycle that’s definitely worth recycling here.

As a big tiger fan (and I’m not talking baseball), I’m encouraged by the news from India that a bunch of these big beautiful cats have just been discovered
in a mountainous jungle region some 30 years after experts thought they’d gone locally extinct. Proof that when we have the wisdom to leave well enough alone, Nature is quick to bounce back.

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