This image showed up somewhere on FB a few days ago, and I am finally getting around to posting it. There seem to be some connections between the Q posts and JFK, and perhaps this is another one of those.
The FREE LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP IS BACK for the month of July. Click and watch this video. Then go below this video and click the Registration Form and get your Lifetime membership. You will never be charged the $199 per year. You will just be put on the Auto-Asset order only for $127 per month. Watch this video for all the new tools and the Free Lifetime Membership Promotion available in July only.
According to a 2017 report1 by Monsanto (since merged with Bayer, which has retired the Monsanto name), “Glyphosate-based herbicides are supported by one of the most extensive worldwide human health and environmental effects databases ever compiled for a pesticide product. Comprehensive toxicological and environmental fate studies conducted over the last 40 years have time and again demonstrated the strong safety profile of this widely used herbicide.”
However, the so-called evidence supporting the human and environmental safety of the broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup is based on research conducted or paid for primarily by Monsanto itself, and internal documents2,3 obtained during legal discovery in lawsuits against the company reveal Monsanto never actually tested the Roundup formulation for carcinogenicity.
In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO) considered the global gold standard for carcinogenicity studies, reclassified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” (Class 2A),4,5 based on “limited evidence” showing the weed killer can cause Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer in humans, and “convincing evidence” linking it to cancer in animals.
That same year, following the IARC’s reclassification, California’s Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced glyphosate will be listed as a chemical known to cause cancer under Proposition 65, which requires consumer products with potential cancer-causing ingredients to bear warning labels.
Monsanto filed a lawsuit against OEHHA in January 2016 to stop the glyphosate/cancer classification, but a Fresno, California, superior court judge ruled on behalf of the OEHHA in February 2017.
Aside from its carcinogenic potential, independent research, untainted by the influence of Monsanto or the chemical industry as a whole, has also connected glyphosate-based herbicides with a growing list of disturbing health and environmental effects. For example, glyphosate has been shown to:
Affect your body’s ability to produce fully functioning proteins
Interfere with the function of cytochrome P450 enzymes (required for activation of vitamin D and the creation of nitric oxide and cholesterol sulfate)
Chelate important minerals
Disrupt sulfate synthesis and transport
Interfere with the synthesis of aromatic amino acids and methionine, resulting in folate and neurotransmitter shortages
Disrupt the human and animal gut microbiome by acting as an antibiotic
Destroy the gut lining, which can lead to symptoms of gluten intolerance
Impair methylation pathways
Inhibit pituitary release of thyroid stimulating hormone, which can lead to hypothyroidism6,7
Roundup Is More Toxic Than Glyphosate in Isolation
The highly respected Ramazzini Institute in Italy is presently working on a comprehensive, global glyphosate study8 to ascertain its carcinogenicity and chronic toxicity potential. The pilot phase9 has already revealed that daily ingestion of glyphosate at the acceptable daily dietary exposure level set by the EPA alters sexual development in rats, produces changes in the intestinal microbiome, and exhibits genotoxic effects.
What’s worse, tests10 conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), published just last month, reveal the Roundup formula is far more toxic than glyphosate alone. According to the NTP’s summary of the results, glyphosate formulations significantly alter the viability of human cells by disrupting the functionality of cell membranes. In layman’s terms, Roundup kills human cells.
While first-phase testing did not uncover evidence suggesting Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers are carcinogenic, it does show that the formulations are more toxic than glyphosate in isolation — and there’s already evidence showing glyphosate has carcinogenic potential. None of this bodes well for Bayer, which now owns Roundup.
First US Trial Over Roundup Carcinogenicity Has Begun
In the years since the IARC’s classification of glyphosate as probable human carcinogen, an estimated 4,000 individuals11 have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, claiming the weed killer caused their Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that starts in your white blood cells (lymphocytes), which are part of your immune system. More than 425 of them are currently pending in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.12
While the MDL procedure is similar to a class-action suit in that it consolidates pretrial proceedings, each case will get its own jury trial, and the outcomes will vary depending on the strength of the evidence in any given case. Internal documents obtained during the discovery process have been released by plaintiff attorneys, and have become known as “The Monsanto Papers.”13
The first cancer patient to actually get his day in court is Dewayne “Lee” Johnson,14,15,16 who was granted an expedited trial due to the fact that he’s nearing death. In July, his oncologist predicted he may have only six more months to live.17
Johnson — whose lawsuit was filed in state court rather than through an MDL in the hopes of a quicker resolution — is a 46-year-old husband and father of two who claims he used Roundup 20 to 40 times per year while working as a groundskeeper for the Benicia school district in California, from 2012 through late 2015.18
Sometimes this involved mixing and spraying hundreds of gallons of Roundup PRO at a time. Johnson was diagnosed with a type of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma called mycosis fungoides in August 2014. He told his doctor the rash he’d developed that summer would worsen after exposure to the herbicide. His lawsuit, filed in 2016 after he became too ill to work, accuses Monsanto of hiding the health hazards of Roundup. His court case, presided by Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos, began June 18, 2018.19
U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) has published the court and discovery documents relating to this particular case on its website.20 Jury selection began June 21. In an interview with Bloomberg,21 one of Johnson’s three attorneys, Timothy Litzenburg, likened Johnson’s trial to a “canary in the coal mine.” The outcome of his case can clearly have a significant impact on future trials, for better or worse.
Litzenburg told CNN,22 “Mr. Johnson is angry and is the most safety-oriented person I know. Right now, he is the bravest dude in America.” Litzenburg also represents more than 2,000 other patients diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma who believe their extensive use of Roundup contributed to their disease.
Linda Wells, Midwest organizing director for the Pesticide Action Network North America commented on the case saying,23 “Monsanto has purposefully deceived the public about the safety of its flagship herbicide Roundup for decades. If Johnson is successful at trial, it will be a huge shake-up for the entire pesticide industry.” Similarly, CNN noted, “There’s a lot riding on this case, which could set a legal precedent for thousands of cases to follow.”24
According to Bloomberg,25 Bayer “will probably assume Monsanto’s risk from the prolific litigation over glyphosate,” noting that as of August, Monsanto’s reserve fund for environmental and litigation liability totaled $277 million. While that sounds like a lot, it could turn out to be a mere drop in the bucket if damage amounts in each and every case start reaching into the millions.
Johnson’s case is expected to conclude by mid- to late July. A second case, this one in St. Louis is scheduled to go to trial in October.26 In a recent EcoWatch article, journalist and USRTK public interest researcher Carey Gillam writes:27
“Monsanto and allies in the agrochemical industry have blasted the litigation and the IARC classification as lacking in validity, countering that decades of safety studies prove that glyphosate does not cause cancer when used as designed. Monsanto has cited findings by the EPA and other regulatory authorities as backing its defense. The company can also point to an EPA draft risk assessment of glyphosate on its side,28which concluded that glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic.”
However, as mentioned earlier, part of the evidence that has emerged during discovery is that EPA colluded with Monsanto to protect its interests. A December 2016 meeting in which a scientific advisory panel re-analyzed the scientific evidence and evaluated the strength of the EPA’s decision to exonerate glyphosate concluded the agency had violated its own guidelines by discounting data from studies in which a positive cancer link was in fact found.29
Trial evidence also includes paper trails showing Monsanto ghostwrote articles that the EPA relied on when backing glyphosate’s safety. There’s also evidence that Monsanto suppressed publication of damaging data. As reported by Gillam, “Johnson’s attorneys say internal Monsanto documents show extensive ‘manipulation’ of the scientific record, and clearly improper and fraudulent interactions with regulators.”
At least 10 current and former Monsanto employees will be called to the stand to testify at Johnson’s trial. According to Brent Wisner, a key attorney on Johnson’s legal team who will deliver the opening and closing statements for the case, “We’re going to get them here. We have the goods. If the evidence we have is allowed in, Monsanto is in trouble.”
Bayer Unlikely to Rehabilitate or Outgrow Monsanto’s Sordid Reputation
Bayer seems to be betting on its ability to rehabilitate Monsanto’s products’ reputation simply by ditching the Monsanto name, but chances are they’ll fail. Worldwide, the fight against Monsanto is now turning to Bayer as its successor. A simple name swap cannot undo the damage done, and that still being perpetrated, by Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides under false pretenses.
Like Monsanto, Bayer is refusing to budge when it comes to the alleged safety of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and global concerns about rising glyphosate levels in human bodies. Between 1993 and 2016, prevalence of human exposure to glyphosate increased 500 percent, and the actual levels of the chemical found in individuals tested rose by a staggering 1,208 percent. As noted by Adrian Bebb, a Friends of the Earth Europe food and farming campaigner:30
“Bayer will become Monsanto in all but name unless it takes drastic measures to distance itself from the U.S. chemical giant’s controversial past. If it continues to peddle dangerous pesticides and unwanted GMOs then it will quickly find itself dealing with the same global resistance that Monsanto did.”
Similarly, Forbes commented on the Monsanto-Bayer merger predicting a less than smooth path forward for the new chemical behemoth:31
“Yes, Bayer introduced the world to Aspirin and Phenobarbital. But it also trademarked Heroin and, when it was IG Farben during World War II, used concentration camp prisoners as slave laborers and drug testers with disastrous results. Even with that context, there are two special challenges to onboarding leaders from Monsanto into Bayer:
1) Monsanto’s history as a private company and 2) the ‘toxicity’ of the Monsanto brand earned by its manufacture and marketing of DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, recombinant bovine growth hormones, genetically modified crops and seed patenting model and enforcement …
There’s every reason to expect Monsanto’s people to be more results-oriented and less caring, more hierarchical and more driven by authority than Bayer’s people. These are non-trivial cultural hurdles to overcome.”
Monsanto Sued for Deceptive Labeling, Marketing and Sale of Roundup
In addition to all of the civil lawsuits pending against Monsanto, Beyond Pesticides and the Organic Consumer’s Association also sued32 Monsanto on behalf of the general public in April 2017, charging Monsanto with deceptive labeling, marketing and sale of Roundup. This case is also still pending, and could turn into yet another black eye for Bayer.
According to the complaint, Monsanto “actively advertises and promotes its Roundup products as targeting an enzyme ‘found in plants but not in people or pets.’ These claims are false, misleading and deceptive.” The fact is the enzyme glyphosate targets is indeed found in both animals and humans, as it is found in our gut bacteria. While Monsanto tried to get the case dismissed, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly denied the motion,33 ruling34 that enough evidence had been presented to support the allegation.
Some of you may still recall a time when Monsanto advertised Roundup as “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly,” even going so far as to claim it “left the soil clean.” Those claims were finally laid to rest once the company was found guilty of false advertising, as the evidence showed the chemical is none of those things.
I believe the truth about Roundup’s impact on human health will eventually be recognized, and Roundup will go into history as one of the greatest, most dangerous con-jobs ever perpetrated by the chemical industry.
Most flu vaccines in the U.S. are grown in chicken eggs, but during the 2017 to 2018 flu season, a cell-based flu vaccine, Flucelvax, grown in dog kidney cells became available. This vaccine was licensed in 2012 and is approved for individuals aged 4 years and over. As the effectiveness of conventional flu shots continues to leave much to be desired, the new Flucelvax vaccine was touted as a new-and-improved version that would protect more people once flu season hit.
In reality, a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed the shot worked only a little bit better than the conventional flu shot in protecting seniors — which isn’t saying much. While flu vaccines overall had only 24 percent effectiveness in preventing flu-related hospitalizations in people aged 65 and older, the Flucelvax vaccine had an effectiveness rate of only 26.5 percent in that population.1
Flu Shot Grown in Kidney Cells No Better Than Flu Shot Grown in Eggs
Flucelvax, made by Seqirus, was supposed to offer advantages over egg-based flu vaccines, which are notoriously problematic. Because the egg-based vaccines must adapt while grown in eggs, they often acquire mutations that can hamper their effectiveness.2 In addition, according to Seqirus, the cell-cultured vaccine is superior because it doesn’t rely on egg availability, which could be affected by avian flu, and is grown in closed sterile bioreactors instead of in an open system.
Further, the manufacturing technology eliminates the need for antibiotics, which are sometimes used in egg-based vaccines manufacturing, and could potentially be rapidly produced during an outbreak or pandemic (whereas egg-based vaccines have only limited ability to respond to such demands).3 However, the end product failed to deliver where it matters most: effectiveness.
In March 2018, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that preliminary FDA data suggested Flucelvax worked about 20 percent better than the conventional egg-based vaccine. However, the final data suggested an even smaller benefit.
FDA analysts looked at medical records from 16 million people aged 65 and older covered by Medicare, including flu shots received and whether they ended up in the hospital due to the flu. As mentioned, the effectiveness of both vaccines was similar: 24 percent for the egg-based flu vaccine and 26.5 percent for the cell-based Flucelvax.
Why Egg-Based Vaccines Failed, and Cell-Based Vaccines May Be No Better
It’s been known for some time that growing flu vaccines in eggs may lead to problematic mutations that make them less effective against circulating flu viruses. Such was the case during the 2016 to 2017 flu season, when H3N2 viruses were prevalent. Writing in PNAS, researchers noted, “Human vaccine strains grown in eggs often possess adaptive mutations that increase viral attachment to chicken cells.”
They identified a mutation in the flu vaccine strain that produced antibodies that didn’t work well to neutralize the H3N2 viruses circulating that year.4 “These studies highlight the challenges associated with producing influenza vaccine antigens in eggs, while offering a potential explanation of why there was only moderate vaccine effectiveness during the 2016–2017 influenza season,” they noted. Likewise, according to a NEJM report:
“During the egg-based production process, the vaccine virus acquires amino acid changes that facilitate replication in eggs, notably changes in the hemagglutinin (HA) protein that mediates receptor binding. Since the influenza HA is the primary target of neutralizing antibodies, small modifications in this protein can cause antigenic changes in the virus and decrease vaccine effectiveness.
Egg adaptation has been postulated to contribute to low vaccine effectiveness, particularly with influenza A (H3N2) viruses [the type predicted to be most widely circulating this year].”5
Studies have repeatedly shown that flu shots have been from zero to less than 50 percent effective in preventing type A or B influenza over the past decade.6 Again during the 2017 to 2018 flu season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated the flu vaccine’s effectiveness to be only 25 percent against the H3N2 virus.7 The idea that cell-based vaccines would provide an answer to this problem, particularly among H3N2 strains, now appears to be overly optimistic.
Dr. John Treanor, a flu vaccine expert at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told STAT News in 2017, “There wasn’t convincing evidence that it [cell culture flu vaccine] was better so why would anyone spend extra money to buy that? … The business case was tough, and I think a lot of these enterprises did not make it partially because of that.”8 This was before the FDA data came in on the 2017 to 2018 season, which offered proof that the effectiveness was virtually identical to the conventional egg-based version.
Your Immune System’s Response to Flu Vaccine Can Make You More Susceptible to the Flu
The flu vaccine is described as the best tool to stay healthy during flu season despite years of dismal failure. There are many reasons why flu vaccines are often ineffective, starting with vaccine mismatches. Each year, health officials make educated guesses as to which influenza strains will be circulating in order to include them in that year’s vaccine. Often, the vaccines are not well matched to circulating viruses.
However, there’s more to it than this, in large part due to the complexity of your immune system and how it works. A term known as heterologous immunity describes the memory your immune system has of previous infections, which it allow it to respond to similar infections later. Sometimes this is a good thing, giving you protection from circulating diseases — but not always. As noted in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, heterologous immunity has two faces: protection and immunopathology:9
“Immunity to previously encountered viruses can alter responses to unrelated pathogens. This phenomenon, which is known as heterologous immunity, has been well established in animal model systems. Heterologous immunity appears to be relatively common and may be beneficial by boosting protective responses. However, heterologous reactivity can also result in severe immunopathology.”
This may help explain why flu vaccine may offer some level of protection against the viral strains included in the vaccine while simultaneously diminishing your ability to ward off infection by other influenza strains and other types of viral or bacterial infections. The reality is that vaccines may “have nonspecific effects on the ability of the immune system to handle other pathogens,” and these effects have not been evaluated, in large part, according to Trends in Immunology, because “current perception excludes such effects.”10
The strategy of annual flu vaccination may, in fact, be backfiring, leaving those who have been vaccinated annually less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.11
Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego even revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was even higher.12
Is Vitamin D a Better Option?
Despite its questionable effectiveness, we’re likely to see more cell-based flu vaccines rolled out. Already, there’s also a flu vaccine produced using genetically modified insect cells and one on the horizon manufactured in Nicotiana benthamiana, a type of tobacco plant known for its ability to make proteins at a high rate of speed.13 Yet, no one knows what the long-term effects of such vaccinations will be, or whether their purported benefits are truly worth the risk.
The Cochrane Collaboration concluded in 2014 that the NNT (number needed to treat) for the flu vaccine is 71.14 In other words, 71 people have to be vaccinated in order for a single case of influenza to be avoided. In a 2017 scientific review, on the other hand, the NNT for vitamin D was 33, meaning one person would be spared from acute respiratory infection such as the flu for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement.15
If health and safety were really the chief aim of public health officials, why not promote vitamin D testing and optimization, since vitamin D supplementation has been shown to cut your risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu, in half if you are vitamin D deficient?16,17
I believe sensible sun exposure is the ideal way to optimize your vitamin D. Taking a vitamin D3 supplement is only recommended in cases when you simply cannot obtain sufficient amounts of sensible sun exposure.
In the latter case, you may need 8,000 IUs of vitamin D3 per day (or more) in order to reach and maintain a clinically relevant level of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Both vitamin D and sun exposure, by the way, stimulate your immune system,18 which is a key to fighting off all sorts of infections, including the flu.
Focus on Boosting Your Immune System (Especially NK Cells) to Ward Off Flu
Natural killer (NK) cells are a specific type of white blood cell. They’re an important component of your cell-mediated (innate) immune system and are involved in both viral diseases and cancer. Researchers recently discovered that with enough NK cells in your system, you will not contract influenza.19 KLRD1 is a receptor gene found on the surface of NK cells, and the level of KLRD1 found in a person’s blood prior to exposure to the influenza virus was able to predict with 86 percent accuracy whether that individual would contract the flu.
Generally speaking, people whose immune cells consisted of 10 to 13 percent NK cells did not get the flu while those whose levels fell below 10 percent did. NK cells tend to lose functionality as you age, which explains why you may become more susceptible to the flu and other illnesses as you get older. However, you can absolutely counteract this decline and boost your NK cells (no matter what you age), by doing the following — none of which involves getting a flu vaccine:
Get regular exercise
In one study, moderate exercise improved NK cell function in cancer patients.20
Quitting smoking will also help, as smoking impairs NK cell function.21
Enzymatically modified rice bran (EMRB)
EMRB is produced by exposing rice bran fiber to enzymes isolated from the shiitake mushroom. In one 2013 study, a rice bran product called MGN-322 increased NK cell activity by as much as 84 percent in patients with multiple myeloma after three months of treatment.23 In an earlier study, old mice injected with EMRB had a fivefold increase in NK cell activity within two days.24
A relative of turmeric, known for its potent immune-boosting benefits, cardamom increases NK cell activity.25
Like cardamom, black pepper has also been shown to enhance the cytotoxic activity of NK cells and promote healthy immune function.26
Colostrum is milk produced within the first 24 to 48 hours of giving birth. Colostrum from cows is very similar to human colostrum, and colostrum products are typically derived from cows. The colostrum contains an array of immune and growth factors required by the offspring.
In a 2012 study on mice, oral administration of skimmed and concentrated bovine late colostrum was shown to activate the immune system and protect against influenza infection by boosting NK cell activity.27
Another 2014 animal study concluded that, “Colostrum supplementation enhanced NK cell cytotoxicity and improved the immune response to primary influenza virus infection in mice.” Colostrum-supplemented mice that did contract the flu also had less severe infection and a lower viral burden in the lungs compared to controls.28
An earlier study, published in 2007, found treatment with oral colostrum for two months prevented influenza infection three times more effectively than influenza vaccination.29 According to the authors, “Colostrum, both in healthy subjects and high-risk cardiovascular patients, is at least three times more effective than vaccination to prevent flu and is very cost-effective …”
Mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake and oyster mushrooms, also boost NK cell activity courtesy of beta-glucans, a polysaccharide known for its immune-boosting and cancer-fighting activities.30
Active hexose correlated compound (AHCC)
AHCC is a commercially available fermented mushroom extract that supports healthy immune function, primarily by enhancing NK cell activity. As noted in a paper published in the Natural Medicine Journal:31
“Supplementation studies with AHCC have demonstrated positive effects on immune function in humans and animal models, including decreased tumor formation, increased resistance to viral and bacterial infection; enhanced NK cell activity …
… increased T-cell proliferation, including altered T-cell activity; altered cytokine production … increased nitric oxide release by peritoneal cells; and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects …
Overall, AHCC has been suggested to enhance prognosis and quality of life in a variety of cancers, as well as to elicit potentially positive changes in cytokine production and lymphocyte populations — most notably increased NK cell activity.”
Beneficial bacteria found in traditionally fermented foods also boosts NK cell activity,32 and those with low NK cell levels tend to experience greater benefits from probiotic supplementation than those with healthy levels of NK cells.
Panax ginseng augments NK cell activity and boosts cytokine production that lowers inflammation via a polysaccharide called ginsan.33
Melatonin, a neurohormone produced by your pineal gland, is a well-recognized modulator of cancer risk that may also boost NK production. A 2005 paper discussed the immunoregulatory action of melatonin on your innate immune system, and that exogenous melatonin (melatonin supplementation) “augments NK cells and monocytes in both the bone marrow and the spleen with a latency of 7 to 14 days.”34
A major government report showing widespread contamination of U.S. water supplies with toxic chemicals was kept from the public for months in order to prevent a “potential public relations nightmare.”
The report, prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), not only showed widespread water contamination near military bases, chemical plants and elsewhere, but warned that the chemicals could harm human health at levels significantly lower than those deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).1
According to Politico, which obtained internal EPA emails released to the Union of Concerned Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act, a White House aide sent the following in an attempt to block the release of the study: “The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge …
… The impact to EPA and [the Department of Defense (DoD)] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”2
Millions of Americans at Risk From Teflon Chemicals in Drinking Water
The ATSDR report,3 finally released in June 2018 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), focuses on polyfluoroalkyl or perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFASs), which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), one of the highly toxic chemicals used in the production of the Teflon-coated fabrics, and a similar chemical, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).
In addition to nonstick cookware, PFASs have been used in everything from carpet and fabrics to coatings for paper and cardboard packaging to firefighting foams. Although most companies have stopped making PFOA and PFOS as their serious environmental and health risks have been uncovered, the chemicals are extremely persistent in the environment; they do not break down in water or soil and can be carried over great distances by wind or rain, according to ATSDR.
PFASs have been found in air, surface water, groundwater, drinking water, soil and food, and humans can be exposed via all of these sources. Aside from detailing widespread contamination with the chemicals, the report suggests the chemicals are dangerous at levels at least seven to 10 times lower than the EPA’s current ‘safety’ threshold. The EPA’s health advisory level for PFOA PFOS in drinking water is 70 parts per trillion ppt), but some environmental groups have long said that is still far too high.
The ATSDR report suggests that in order to protect public health, the levels should be 7 ppt for PFOS and 11 ppt for PFOA. According to a 2016 Harvard study, 16.5 million Americans have detectable levels of at least one kind of PFAS in their drinking water, and about 6 million Americans are drinking water that contains PFAS at or above the EPA safety level.4 If the EPA safety level were lowered according to ATSDR’s recommendation, it means far more Americans are actually at risk.
Serious Health Risks From PFAS-Contaminated Water
The highest concentration levels of PFAS were found in watersheds near industrial sites, military fire training areas and wastewater treatment plants, but private wells were also found to be contaminated. As for health risks, those related to PFASs continue to grow. In May 2015, more than 200 scientists from 40 countries signed the Madrid Statement, which warns about the harms of PFAS chemicals and documents the following potential health effects of exposure:5
Disruption of lipid metabolism, and the immune and endocrine systems
The ATSDR report further noted evidence of negative liver, cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, reproductive and developmental effects, while other studies have revealed subtle effects such as an increased risk of obesity in children when exposed in utero and lowered immune response.6 Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who had pressed the government to release ATSDR’s report “immediately,” noted that keeping the contamination information from affected families put their health at serious risk.
“Families who have been exposed to emerging contaminants in their drinking water have a right to know about any health impacts, and keeping such information from the public threatens the safety, health and vitality of communities across our country,” she said. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, also of New Hampshire, added that the study’s withholding was “an egregious example of politics interfering with the public’s right to know. … [I]t’s unconscionable that even the existence of this study has been withheld until now.”7
110 Million Americans Could Be Drinking PFAS-Contaminated Water
The EPA required testing for PFASs in public water supplies from 2013 to 2015, but only those with the highest concentrations were identified. Those with contamination of 10 to 90 ppt or less were not released, even though now it appears such levels could pose a serious health risk and the safe threshold for PFASs should actually be about 1 ppt.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) set out to determine how widespread the contamination really is — and found up to 110 million Americans drinking water from more than 1,500 U.S. drinking water systems could be at risk. According to EWG:8
“Eurofins Eaton Analytical, which analyzed a third of the nationwide water samples, found that 28 percent of the water utilities it tested contained PFAS chemicals at concentrations at or above 5 ppt. The percentage of samples with PFAS detections nearly doubled when the laboratory analyzed down to 2.5 ppt. Based on this data, EWG’s analysis suggests that up to 110 million Americans could have PFAS in their water.”
People living near former PFAS manufacturing plants and military bases have been particularly affected by the contamination, although it’s widespread across the U.S. For instance, on average, Vermont residents have PFOA blood levels of 10 micrograms per liter. Among residents of Bennington, former home to a Chemical Fabrics Corporation (ChemFab) plant, which manufactured Teflon-coated fiberglass fabrics, however, blood levels of 1,125 micrograms per liter have been detected.
Hundreds of wells in the area have also been contaminated, some found with more than 2,000 ppt of PFOA in the water. Residents worry not only for their long-term health but also for their financial futures. Aside from possibly being saddled with PFOA-related health care costs, their property values have taken a hit and the groundwater and soil contamination may prevent them from being able to sell their homes.
PFOA is already the subject of at least 3,500 personal injury claims against DuPont, which used PFOA to make Teflon for decades. One woman who developed kidney cancer after drinking PFOA-contaminated water was awarded $1.6 million in damages.9 Meanwhile, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, which purchased ChemFab, is in negotiations with the state of Vermont to provide alternative sources of drinking water for affected residents.
Residents of Belmont, Michigan, the site of an old dumping ground for Wolverine World Wide, a shoe company (maker of the well-known Hush Puppies brand, among others) that used 3M’s PFOS-containing fabric protector Scotchgard for waterproofing leather shoes, are in a similar situation. As in Vermont, area wells are testing positive for shocking levels of the toxic chemicals — 4,600 ppt for PFOA and 23,000 ppt for PFOS.
US Military Continues to Use PFAS-Containing Firefighting Foam
DoD has reported that at least 126 drinking water systems near military bases are contaminated with PFASs, due to their use in firefighting foam.10 However, although other countries are now using firefighting foam that does not contain these toxic chemicals, the U.S. military is not. As reported by Sharon Lerner, a reporting fellow at The Investigative Fund and an investigative journalist for The Intercept and other major media outlets:11
“[E]ven as the Army, Navy and Air Force have begun the slow process of addressing the contamination, which is expected to cost upwards of $2 billion, the Department of Defense isn’t abandoning this line of chemicals. While some of the precise formulations that caused the contamination are off the table, the U.S. military is in the midst of an expensive effort to replace older foam with a newer formulation that contains only slightly tweaked versions of the same problematic compounds …
Some of the studies showing the dangers of these persistent chemicals came from the manufacturers themselves … The new foam contains no PFOS and ‘little or no PFOA,’ according to an Air Force press release.12 Instead, it uses the closely related molecules that pose many of the same dangers …”
It’s important to understand that it’s not only PFOAs and PFOSs that are the problem. Hundreds of different PFAS compounds have been found in regions where firefighting foam is used, including shorter-chained replacement PFAS chemicals such as PFHxS, which the ATSDR report reveals has very similar concerns as other PFASs.
Unfortunately, the military is only attempting to clean up PFOA and PFOS contamination from drinking water and is not providing clean drinking water to residents in affected areas unless their water contains more than the EPA’s threshold of 70 ppt of PFOA and/or PFOS specifically. Further, there are more than 4,000 different PFASs, and scientists are only beginning to unravel their disturbing effects.13
How to Get PFASs Out of Your Drinking Water
Right now the full extent of PFAS contamination is unknown, but there’s a good chance your drinking water could be contaminated to some extent. The existence of chemicals like PFASs, which have no taste or smell, in drinking water is the reason I recommend virtually everyone should filter their water. However, be aware that most common water filters available in supermarkets will not remove PFASs.
You really need a high-quality carbon filtration system to do that. To be certain you’re getting the purest water you can, filter the water both at the point of entry and at the point of use. This means filtering all the water that comes into the house and then filtering again at the kitchen sink and shower. The New Jersey Drinking Water Quality Institute recommends using granulated activated carbon “or an equally efficient technology” to remove chemicals such as PFOA and PFOS from your drinking water.14
Activated carbon has been shown to remove up to 90 percent of these chemicals. If you know or suspect you have been regularly exposed to PFASs via your drinking water, it would be wise to not only implement the above filtering recommendations to limit future toxic exposures but also consider a detox program.
In addition, everyone would be well served by following the Madrid Statement’s recommendation to avoid products containing, or manufactured using, PFASs, which includes most that are stain-resistant, waterproof or nonstick.
It’s especially disconcerting that the U.S. agencies tasked with protecting the public’s health were the ones trying to keep this information private. It’s essential that Americans stay informed so they can take steps to get the chemicals out of their water or seek alternative drinking water sources if necessary.
As Olga Naidenko, senior science adviser for EWG, said in a news release, “This study confirms that the EPA’s guidelines for PFAS levels in drinking water woefully underestimate risks to human health … [and the EPA should publish results showing PFAS contamination at any level] so Americans across the country can take immediate steps to protect themselves and their families.”15
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