|(Natural News) It looks like multinational shoe giant Nike has finally crossed the line by scrapping a Betsy Ross American flag design it had introduced, simply because the patriotic colors and emblem triggered NFL kneeler and anti-American showboater Colin Kaepernick. According to reports, the hashtag #BoycottNike quickly went viral on Twitter following the decision, as…|
|(Natural News) The Poynter Institute, a non-profit school of journalism based in St. Petersburg, Florida that claims to champion “freedom of expression,” recently put forth an “index of unreliable news sites” that, as you might expect, is just another blacklist of mostly independent news outlets that dare to challenge the status quo – which means…|
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I’m not going to put the whole text here right now (I’ll place the title and a couple highlights below), but all of this is additional data that shows how everything put out to “put down” others (especially, it seems, President Trump), boomerangs, backfires, whatever. President Trump does appear to be a “Master Troller”, and it looks like they (the Dems involved) fell for it.
This just caught my inner eye, and wanted to share a bit of it. Found at RMN.
Another sort-of-related video is this one from Styx666 (entitled, “Trumps Master Plan Worked: AOC and Ilhan Omar are the Face of the Democrats, Now”).
[DJT Tweet that started this] “So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly… and the many terrible things they say about the United States must not be allowed to go unchallenged. If the Democrat Party wants to continue to condone such disgraceful behavior, then we look even more forward to seeing you at the ballot box in 2020!
“The tweets caused a firestorm in the media and in American politics, leading to a Monday evening press conference where “the squad” responded to Trump… Pelosi, the Democrat Speaker who had been battling with members of “the squad” before Trump’s tweets as Democrats even leaked internal polling data to Axios showing how toxic Ocasio-Cortez and Omar are to swing voters and came out swinging behind them against Trump… blasting the president…
“That was not enough of a response for the Democrats, who then planned a vote on a resolution on the floor of the House on Tuesday to bash Trump even more and officially label him a racist. The resolution, rolled out early Tuesday, officially called the tweets “racist”…
“…later on Tuesday afternoon, as the Democrats took up the resolution on the floor of the House and began debate on it, pandemonium ensued: The sitting Speaker of the House, Pelosi, joined the debate on the floor on the part of the Democrats, and launched into a tirade in which she accused President Trump of having made “racist” remarks.
“House rules in place since the days of former President Thomas Jefferson… preclude members from calling the president of the United States “racist.” As such, House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA)–who was leading the GOP side of the debate on the floor – jumped up to challenge Pelosi’s comments.”
For more on this soap opera, please go the Breitbart article.
From the time of the American Revolutionary War when the U.S. won independence from England, Americans have maintained some semblance of a military force. The first Army was initially disbanded except for a few dozen troops.
After taking office, President Washington urged Congress to establish an effective system for the military1 “on which the honor, safety and well-being of our country so evidently and essentially depend.” Throughout the 236 years since the end of the Revolutionary War the U.S. has formally declared war on few occasions: the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, WWI and WWII.2
However, the various branches of the U.S. military have assisted abroad more than 300 times.3 The goal of the U.S. Army, for instance, is to defend America from attack and protect vital national interests.4 To accomplish this, the U.S. maintains an armed service of more than 3.1 million men and women stationed in the U.S. and around the world.5 They protect 12,479 miles of coastline and 7,458.4 miles of water and land boundaries.6
The military maintains at least 400 bases found on every continent except Antarctica.7 In a post-Cold War era, America took on the role of mediator, negotiating conflicts to reduce tension and encourage stability around the world.
In a statement before Congress submitted by past U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and past assistant to the president for National Security Affairs Stephen Hadley, they said:8
“Over the past seventy years, Democratic and Republican administrations alike have understood that American security and prosperity at home are linked to economic and political health abroad, and that America does better when other countries have the incentive and the capacity to work alongside us in tackling global challenges …
The international order America built and led has not been perfect, but it has coincided with a period of security and prosperity unmatched in human history.”
China is currently expected to add military bases in areas where they have long-standing relationships, including Pakistan.9 Recently, British researchers from Durham University and Lancaster University find supporting the strength to defend the U.S. and their allies comes with a significant environmental cost.10
Study finds largest military also leaves carbon boot print
In a study published in Transactions of The Institute of British Geographers, researchers describe the enormous carbon boot-prints the U.S. military has been leaving around the world, relating the results of their research as a representation of a partial11 “yet robust picture of the geopolitical ecology of American imperialism.”
In an article entitled, “US Military Is a Bigger Polluter Than as Many as 140 Countries — Shrinking This War Machine Is a Must,” written by three of the researchers, they discuss the high levels of carbon emissions from military transports, saying:12
“Greenhouse gas emission accounting usually focuses on how much energy and fuel civilians use. But recent work, including our own, shows that the US military is one of the largest polluters in history, consuming more liquid fuels and emitting more climate-changing gases than most medium-sized countries.
If the US military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal.”
The study analyzed data retrieved from multiple Freedom of Information Act requests, looking at the U.S. military supply chains, and specifically hydrocarbon fuel purchases and distribution.
The U.S. Defense Logistics Agency Energy (DLA-E) was ultimately formed after the Vietnam War to consolidate logistics for every military branch, which the researchers characterized as “the invisible hand of imperialism.”13
“Every mode of warfighting requires its own unique hydrocarbon delivery system. The DLA-E is the bureaucratic apparatus mainly responsible for procurement and arranging delivery of hydrocarbons in this shifting geopolitical environment, and therefore controls the size and shape of the US military’s carbon boot-print.
Without the highly developed, professionalised logistics and military supply-chains, the US military’s reach, as well as its capacity to burn so much fuel, would be substantially impeded.”
While noting the environmental impact of hydrocarbon fuel emissions from the U.S. military is a significant contributor to climate change, the researchers suggested the only recourse was to shut off the engine protecting American’s and their allies around the world:14
“The only way to cool off the furnace is to turn it off, shuttering vast sections of the machine. This will have not only the immediate effect of reducing emissions in the here-and-now, but will also disincentivise the development of new hydrocarbon infrastructure that would be financed (in whatever unrecognised part) on the presumption of the US military as an always-willing buyer and consumer.
Opposing US military adventurism now is a critical strategy for disrupting the further construction of locked-in hydrocarbons for the future.”
Pollution near military bases at higher levels than EPA code
While military drills and exercises may be disruptive,15 and sometimes dangerous,16 without training and practice military men and women would not be prepared to defend freedoms, transport supplies, guard embassies and train search and rescue teams at home.17
However, the processes require a significant overhaul, especially for firefighters and surrounding communities. According to Military Times,18 the water near 126 military bases tested positive for harmful levels of perfluorinated compounds. These substances are ubiquitous and part of a large and ever-expanding group of chemicals widely used in everyday products.
The chemicals are used in clothes, carpet, cookware and firefighting foam to make it more effective19 but at the high cost of damaging the health of those who are exposed.20 PFAS is the abbreviation used for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, neither of which is a single chemical but each a member of a family of man-made compounds.21
A report provided to the House Armed Services Committee listed contamination at 401 active and closed bases in the U.S. Drinking water contamination was identified at 36 sites and more than 90 reported on-base or off-base groundwater or drinking water contamination where the source tested above the EPA’s acceptable level for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOAs).22
On military bases these chemicals are used in concentrated foam used to put out fires on aircraft. A statement by the deputy assistant secretary of defense for environment, safety and occupational health, Maureen Sullivan, indicated the Department of Defense was installing filters and distributing bottled water,23 in addition to other changes.
The DoD tested 2,668 groundwater wells finding 61% were at higher levels than the EPA’s recommended levels, which is no more than 70 parts per trillion. The guidelines established in 2016 were not enforceable; however, the DoD tested all locations and is currently working to comply with new standards.
Sullivan indicated24 it will not be a quick fix, as at least 12 water sources are provided by vendors or through a local utility and that since EPA guidelines are not enforceable, it becomes more difficult to make changes.
Sullivan estimates the cleanup for perfluorinated substances will add $2 billion to the costs of cleanup projects for which the military is responsible.25 The Air Force subsequently shifted all their bases from the legacy foam containing perfluorinated compounds26 to Phos-Chek 327 and retrofitted their fire trucks to accommodate the new product.28
Strategies needed to find acceptable alternatives
Perfluorinated compounds may be found in food packaging material, commercial household products, and drinking water, as well as in fish, animals and humans, where they have the ability to build up and persist over time.29
According to the EPA,30 they are capable of triggering reproductive and developmental disabilities, liver and kidney disorders and immunological effects in laboratory animals. They also cause tumors in animal studies as well as low infant birth weight and thyroid hormone disruption.
Authors of an opinion-editorial wrote:31 “There are few activities on Earth as environmentally catastrophic as waging war.” But, unfortunately, until it is possible to control the political stability of the world, the possibility of war is a reality many live with every day.
While most of the human race strives for world peace, it is essential strategies are put into place to find safe alternatives to fight fires and protect those who fall under the purview of the U.S. armed services.
What can you do to reduce your pollution footprint?
There are multiple factors contributing to rising pollution and declining health. Air, food and water pollution increase your risk of experiencing poor health. You may reduce your impact and take control of your health by making simple changes at home, which, taken together, may make a large impact on your local environment and overall health.
Plant some trees — Trees provide oxygen, improve air quality and conserve water while preserving the soil and supporting wildlife. Consider planting a few trees in your yard.32
Eat locally grown, organic produce and grass fed, pastured meat and dairy — The recent explosion of lab-created meat substitutes may be tempting if you believe it’s the lesser of two evils, as compared to concentrated animal feeding operations. However, fake food is never an answer and regenerative farming has been proven to restore ecosystems, promote health and reduce pollution.
Additionally, eating organically grown produce reduces your exposure to pesticides and insecticides and improves the soil in which it’s grown. Read more about regenerative farming practices in my past article, “Regenerative Farming: Restoring Soil Health and Saving Americans From Cancer, Chronic Disease.”
Drive less — Public transportation, walking, biking, carpooling and ride-sharing are all alternatives to hopping in your own car every day to go to work.33 It is important to also maintain your car by keeping the tires properly inflated to increase your fuel efficiency. This helps ensure the car is properly maintained, and it includes brakes and oil changes. Try to combine your trips when you’re out.
Take care of your clothing — According to clothing designer Eileen Fisher,34 who was honored for her environmental work at the 2015 Riverkeeper’s Annual Fishermen’s Ball,35 “The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world … second only to oil.”
Taking good care of what you purchase may affect the toll on your local environment. Read more in my past article, “Care What You Wear: The Benefits of Becoming Clothing Conscious.”
Produce less waste — It is sometimes easy to toss the garbage in the can and forget about where it ends up. Think about purchasing food in bulk and using your own reusable container.36 Reduce waste by planning your meals before going shopping and then freezing or reusing the extra.
When you have food waste, compost it and use it in your garden for rich fertilizer. If you live in a large city, you may be able to find a compost drop-off site. If your city doesn’t have such a system,37 consider starting a program with a local neighborhood garden.
Do a home energy audit — Conduct your own energy audit at home to help save money and reduce the amount of pollution you produce. Switch lights off when you leave the room and unplug your electronic devices when they’re not in use, especially your modem and routers to reduce the strength of electromagnetic fields in your home.
Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and install low-flow shower heads to save water and electricity. Steer clear of LED lights. While they may be more energy-efficient, they will also contribute to deteriorating vision, exacerbate chronic disease through mitochondrial dysfunction and impede quality sleep, as I discuss in a past article, “The Dangers of LED Lightbulbs.”
Treatments for medical problems have been used since the beginning of human civilization.1 While many illnesses were thought to be the work of supernatural forces, various ancient civilizations created unique systems for treating individuals using, among other things, herbal remedies.2
Despite a lack of scientific knowledge and use of modern technology, many of these early remedies were useful and are still currently used.3 The beginning of pharmacy practice goes back as far as the Middle Ages.4 However, the industry we know had its roots in the 19th century.
Since then, it has become one of the most profitable and influential industries.5 In the past, many drugs were discovered by accident or through the identification of an active ingredient used in traditional remedies.6
The pharmaceutical industry of the 21st century chooses a different approach, attempting to understand disease and infection at the molecular and physiological level and then targeting the development of drugs based on this knowledge.7
The marriage of experimentation and the Industrial Revolution was likely first undertaken by Merck in Germany as they moved toward the manufacturing and selling of alkaloids. As the industry and their profits grew, George Merck, founder of Merck, declared:8
“We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear. The better we remember it, the larger they have been.”
History of FDA commissioners and Big Pharma
Merck’s statement from 1950 continues to resonate within the industry as Big Pharma manufacturers, markets and sells medicines to the people and for the people, raking in profits that far outweigh the benefits most experience. This is counter to the role given to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to protect:9
“[The] public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.”
After leaving the top leadership position at the FDA, nine out of the last 10 commissioners in the past 33 years have gone on to work for pharmaceutical companies.
This stretch began when Arthur Hayes went on to join E.M. Pharmaceuticals in 1986 after resigning as commissioner in 1983.10 The last to join this group is the most recent FDA commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, who just announced he is joining Pfizer as a member of their board.11
Although none of these moves of past FDA Commissioners to pharmaceutical companies is illegal, the emerging pattern gives the perception of a revolving door, or an unstated agreement between the pharmaceutical industry and those who are charged with regulating the approval of their products.12
The single hold out who did not join any pharmaceutical company was David Kessler, who served as the FDA Commissioner from 1990 to 1997 under past President George W. Bush.13 Kessler went along to serve as the chair of the board of directors at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit nutritional watchdog organization.
He spoke to Quartz, saying he was worried the politicization of the FDA may be seen as a threat to independent, scientific analysis.14 He is not alone. Concerns were raised 34 years ago, in 1985 when the Chicago Tribune reported that Dr. Alexander Schmidt, commissioner under President Nixon, told state regulators:15
“We have more politicization of the agency than is either warranted by rational politics or good for the American people.”
Scott Gottlieb joins ranks with Pfizer
Gottlieb announced his move from FDA commissioner, which he resigned April 5, 2019,16 to the Pfizer board of directors June 27, 2019, on his Twitter account, posting:17
“I’m honored to be joining the board of directors of #Pfizer and working together with more than 90,000 Pfizer colleagues to promote medical innovation, advance patient care, and secure access to better healthcare outcomes for families around the world. @pfizer”
This announcement came just four days after he announced18 he was joining the advisory board at the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation. The NIHCM press release reported:19
“Gottlieb served under the Trump Administration as the 23rd Commissioner of Food and Drugs from 2017 to 2019, where he improved the efficiency of the regulatory process for novel drugs and medical devices and mobilized action on public health initiatives like teen nicotine use, opioid addiction and drug competition, and promoting affordable access to medicines.”
As Gottlieb splits his time between a nonprofit organization20 “dedicated to transforming health care through evidence and collaboration” and Pfizer pharmaceutical company whose mission is21 “to be the premier, innovative biopharmaceutical company,” it may be difficult to split his focus.
Pfizer gets inside scope on biosimilars
During his term at the FDA, Gottlieb pushed several policies intended to speed up drug approvals and use the power of the FDA22 to encourage greater use of biosimilars, or generic copied versions of more costly biologic drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases and some cancers.23
One manufacturer of biosimilar drugs is Pfizer, which had complained about perceived roadblocks to making these drugs more available. With Gottlieb on the board of directors at Pfizer, this may help the big company navigate the FDA rules and regulations more easily. Pfizer executive chairman and former CEO said in a statement:24
“Scott’s expertise in health care, public policy and the industry will be an asset to our company and enable our shareholders to continue to benefit from a Board representing a balance of experience, competencies and perspectives.”
Stat News25 reported in 2018 that board members were given cash retainers of $142,500 plus stock expected to be valued at $159,000 in 2019. Gottlieb will be serving on two board level committees, the Regulatory Compliance Committee and Science and Technology Committee.26
Pfizer is now moving more deeply into the treatment of cancer following the acquisition of Array BioPharma and a reorganization establishing businesses in medicine, consumer health care and innovative medicine.27
Sydney Wolfe, a founder of Public Citizen Health Research Group28 had expressed concern about the FDA commissioners ties to industry before Gottlieb joined the agency. Following the announcement Gottlieb would be joining Pfizer, Sidney Wolfe commented to Stat News:29
“This is classic and it’s not surprising. Philosophically, he’s returning to the ecosystem where he’s most comfortable. And he’ll get paid very well for it, too.”
CDC director resigns after conflict of interest revealed
While the FDA is currently in the spotlight, the CDC is not far behind. In 2002 Dr. Julie Gerberding was the first woman to be appointed as a director for the CDC.30 While there she overhauled the structure of the organization causing many of the senior scientists and leaders to leave, as she replaced them with those who had ties to the vaccine industry.
During her years at the CDC, the FDA approved the Gardasil vaccine for human papilloma virus vaccination manufactured by Merck. In 2009, Gerberding left the CDC and later became the president of Merck’s vaccine division.31
In early 2018, Alex Azar was appointed as the Secretary to Health in Human Services. Less than 48 hours later, he accepted the resignation from then CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald after it was revealed she purchased shares in tobacco, drug and food companies while serving as the head of the CDC.32
Her problems in the organization may have started with her unwillingness to address some aspects of the opioid crisis, but Politico33 reported her purchase of tobacco stock after starting at the CDC may have been the last straw.
Following her resignation, the World Mercury Project team, led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., issued a press release34 discussing Merck’s “statistical gimmicks” to conceal Gardasil risks, falsification of mumps vaccine data and the then upcoming merger between Bayer and Monsanto, which was subsequently granted after the companies agreed to sell $9 billion in assets.35
Pharmaceutical industry uses influence to protect interests
Pfizer may enlist Gottlieb’s help on more than biosimilar drugs. In late 2018, while Gottlieb was in office at the FDA and in what was seen as a slap in the face to President Trump, Pfizer announced it would increase the list prices on 41 different drugs in January 2019. This affected 10% of Pfizer’s portfolio, most of which increased 5%.36
Just eight days after Gottlieb announced his move to Pfizer, Trump promised an executive order to enable the U.S. government to pay lower prices for prescription drugs. The aim is at a “favored nations clause” placing a limit on the cost to the government for any medication not to be greater than the lowest cost to other nations or companies.37
The Affordable Care Act expanded coverage to an additional 16.9 million Americans who were previously uninsured, creating a larger pool of individuals with access to medication.38 However, while the industry had access to a greater number of individuals, there continues to be a push toward “understanding the characteristics of early adopters” of new medications. Researchers wrote:39
“The successful diffusion of new drugs is crucial for both pharmaceutical companies and patients — and of wider stakeholder concern, including for the funding of healthcare provision.”
Trump’s reference in his promised executive order to close the gap in a two-level pricing system for prescription medications is well-known to those who live on the Canadian border. In one evaluation of the 13 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, 45% of the combined revenue came from sales in the U.S. alone.40
This may be due in part to the difference in pricing. Dr. David Belk evaluated medications and pharmaceutical companies finding a vast difference in price per pill between the U.S. and Canada. For instance, Xarelto 20 mg is $14.37 per pill in the U.S. and $3.07 per pill in Canada.41
However, he points out the costs are in Canadian dollars and the prices for the U.S. are what the pharmacy pays for the drugs and not what the consumer pays, increasing the price difference. And in a look at the 2011 annual report from Pfizer,42 Belk finds on page 17 Pfizer reported $67.4 billion in revenues, $9.1 billion on research and development spending and $19 billion on marketing.
He compared some of these same factors in 13 major pharmaceutical companies finding the amount spent on marketing was about 60% more than what they spent on research.43
However, the pharmaceutical industry may be using the term “research” loosely. As Mariana Mazzucato, Ph.D., University College of London director for Innovation and Public Purpose44 discusses,45 78% of the patents approved by the FDA correspond to drugs currently on the market.46
In other words,47 the industry is no longer working toward the innovation of new drugs to treat illness, but instead is expending time and energy to extend patents and use other gimmicks to essentially release the same drug and maintain pricing.
Protecting your health may be more important than ever
It may be more important than ever to protect your health. Some of the simplest strategies are to eat a whole food diet, get at least eight hours of quality sleep, exercise daily and move consistently throughout the day. Steer clear of habits that may negatively impact your health, such as smoking and electromagnetic fields.
It is important to remember just small changes may reap big rewards, so don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of making changes. These links to some of my past articles will help provide tips and guidelines to get started.
- How to Make Fasting Easier, Safer and More Effective
- My Updated Nutrition Plan — Your Guide to Optimal Health
- Top 33 Tips to Optimize Your Sleep Routine
- Sitting Kills, Moving Heals
- Reduce EMF Exposure
Children experience greater exposure to chemicals pound-for-pound than adults and have an immature and porous blood-brain barrier, which allows greater chemical exposures to reach their developing brain. As a result, early exposures can have devastating, lifelong ramifications.
For example, as noted in the scientific review,1 “Neurobehavioral Effects of Developmental Toxicity,” published in the March 2014 issue of The Lancet, elevated fluoride exposure from drinking fluoridated water can contribute to a seven-point drop in a child’s IQ score,2 on average, and that’s just one of the thousands of chemicals children are exposed to on any given day.
As reported by c&en in 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists more than 85,000 chemicals found in the marketplace,3 and the list keeps getting longer. Of those, a mere 1% have been tested for safety.4
The Lancet paper identified 11 industrial chemicals known to disrupt brain development and cause brain damage, neurological abnormalities, reduced IQ and aggressiveness in children and, according to the authors:5
“We postulate that even more neurotoxicants remain undiscovered. To control the pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity, we propose a global prevention strategy.
Untested chemicals should not be presumed to be safe to brain development, and chemicals in existing use and all new chemicals must therefore be tested for developmental neurotoxicity. To coordinate these efforts and to accelerate translation of science into prevention, we propose the urgent formation of a new international clearinghouse.”
Despite legislation, EPA weakens stance on toxic chemicals
Alas, to this day, a truly comprehensive global prevention strategy to protect children from toxic chemicals has yet to be implemented. Ditto for efforts to increase protections within the U.S. In 2010, then-U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg announced he would introduce a safer chemicals bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).6 As reported by Safer Chemicals at the time:7
“In opening remarks, Senator Frank Lautenberg said ‘the American public is a living breathing repository for chemical substances,’ and that as a result of inadequate testing of toxic chemicals, children have become test subjects.
‘Our children should not be used as guinea pigs,’ said Senator Lautenberg … Senator Lautenberg said his new bill would give the EPA the tools it needs to protect the public from unsafe chemicals by requiring testing of all chemicals in commerce and collecting data about harm to human health before chemicals can be added to consumer products.”
The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act8 was signed into law June 22, 2016,9 thereby amending the TSCA. It requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to perform risk-based chemical assessments and “evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines.”
EPA is not protecting you and your family
Alas, by the time 2018 rolled around, it became clear the updated TSCA had accomplished nothing. As reported in an Environmental Defense Fund blog post, dated February 5, 2018:10
“Last August, Scott Pruitt announced that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would reverse course in its conduct of risk reviews of new chemicals under the reforms made in 2016 to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by the Lautenberg Act.
The changes will effectively return the program to its pre-Lautenberg state — under which few chemicals were subject to any conditions and even fewer to any testing requirements — or make it even weaker.”
The blog describes some of the political wranglings that led the EPA to reverse course under the influence of the American Chemistry Council. A December 19, 2017, article in The New York Times also reported on the rollback, stating:11
“The Environmental Protection Agency will indefinitely postpone bans on certain uses of three toxic chemicals found in consumer products, according to an update of the Trump administration’s regulatory plans.
Critics said the reversal demonstrated the agency’s increasing reluctance to use enforcement powers granted to it last year by Congress under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
E.P.A. Administrator Scott Pruitt is ‘blatantly ignoring Congress’s clear directive to the agency to better protect the health and safety of millions of Americans by more effectively regulating some of the most dangerous chemicals known to man,’ said Senator Tom Carper, Democrat of Delaware and the ranking minority member on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee.”
Neurotoxicity remains overlooked
Unfortunately, neurotoxicity tends to be largely overlooked because the effects are not as readily and visibly demonstrable as birth defects, for example. As noted in The Lancet paper:12
“David P Rall, former Director of the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, once noted that ‘if thalidomide had caused a ten-point loss of intelligence quotient (IQ) instead of obvious birth defects of the limbs, it would probably still be on the market.’
Many industrial chemicals marketed at present probably cause IQ deficits of far fewer than ten points and have therefore eluded detection so far, but their combined effects could have enormous consequences.”
To put it bluntly, children are being used as guinea pigs and virtual poison detection devices. Oftentimes, it’s only after decades of exposure that the effects become apparent, at which point countless children have already paid the price with their health.
While some sources of toxic exposure may be readily apparent, a vast majority is not. Most parents don’t consider the possibility of children’s toys, nursing pillows or car seats being a source of continuous toxic exposure, for example. Just how pervasive are the toxic exposures to our children? Read on to find out.
Lead exposure still rampant
Most recently, a June 26, 2019, article13 in The Guardian reports that “hundreds of thousands of children in the U.S. remain at risk of exposure to lead, which causes cognitive and behavioral deficits.” Of the 31 states that have reported statistics on the percentage of children with elevated lead levels, Louisiana and Kentucky are among the worst.14
As noted in this article, many older homes still contain lead-based paint. Anna Almendrala tells the story of a young mother whose 2-year-old son developed the habit of gumming the window sills.
Initial blood testing revealed her son, who was already diagnosed with autism, had a lead level of 24 micrograms per one-tenth liter of blood, “almost five times higher than the reference point the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses to recommend a lead intervention,” Almendrala writes.15
Further testing revealed his blood level was 49 mcg, nearly 10 times higher than the recommended intervention threshold. Lead abatement inside the home revealed “lead hotspots on the door frames, window sills, and in her son’s bedroom closet.”
This story may sound like an anomaly, as lead-based paint was banned for use in housing in 1978.16 However, there are many older homes, and few families ever consider it might contain toxic remnants from years past.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates as many as 24 million U.S. residences built before 1978 still contain lead hazards, and in June 2019 announced $330 million in grants will be distributed to clean up lead and other safety hazards in low-income housing communities.17 Almendrala writes:18
“When it comes to lead exposure in America, we still don’t have a clear picture of how many children are being exposed to the neurotoxin and where they are.
This leaves hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable to the dangers of lead, and compounds inequality in the form of cognitive and behavioral deficits that can hamper communities for generations. Experts say that it’s possible to eradicate lead from American infrastructure, but that we don’t prioritize it.
‘We are currently doing things backwards [by] using children’s blood as detectors of environmental contamination,’ said Dr Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who famously uncovered elevated levels of lead in her pediatric patients and linked it to a new water source in Flint, Michigan. ‘The screening that needs to happen is in the environment before children are ever exposed.’”
Nonorganic food supplies daily dose of poison
Our food supply has also become a notorious source for toxic exposures, ranging from herbicides and pesticides to antibiotics and food additives of questionable safety (having never undergone safety testing). For a list of some of the most common food additives to avoid, see “What Chemical Cocktail Is in Your Food?”
Tests have indeed confirmed that those who eat nonorganic foods as a general rule have far higher levels of toxins in their system.19 In 2015, Joseph E. Pizzorno, founding president of Bastyr University, told The Sydney Morning Herald that toxins appear to be a primary culprit in most chronic diseases, and that “Pesticides used on the food people eat are a better predictor of Type 2 diabetes than any other factor we have today.”20
David Bellinger, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, has expressed similar concerns. According to his estimates, published in 2012, based on a population of 25.5 million American children, 16,899,488 IQ points have been lost due to exposure to organophosphate pesticides. Another 22,947,450 IQ points have been lost to lead exposure, and an additional 284,580 IQ points have been lost from methylmercury exposure.21,22
Of these, pesticides and methylmercury are both found in our diet (fish and seafood being the primary route of exposure for mercury23), while drinking water is an increasingly common source of lead.
In 2015, a report24 by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics25 warned that mounting chemical exposures now represent a major threat to human health and reproduction, stating that “prenatal exposure to chemicals and poor health outcomes are increasingly evident.”
The CHAMACOS Study26,27 is among those showing that very small amounts of pesticides may be harmful, in this case to children’s brains. It followed hundreds of pregnant women living in Salinas Valley, California, an agricultural mecca that has had up to a half-million pounds of organophosphates sprayed in the region per year.
The children were followed through age 12 to assess the impact the pesticides had on their development. It turns out the impact was quite dramatic. Mothers’ exposure to organophosphates during pregnancy was associated with:28
- Shorter duration of pregnancy
- Poorer neonatal reflexes
- Lower IQ and poorer cognitive functioning in children
- Increased risk of attention problems in children
Brenda Eskenazi, chief investigator of the CHAMACOS study, also noted that the effects of combined chemical exposures need further attention, as we still know very little about the synergistic effects of different chemicals.29
Endocrine disrupting chemicals are everywhere
In 2015, an Endocrine Society task force also issued its second scientific statement30 on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, noting that the health effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals are such that everyone needs to take proactive steps to avoid them. The statement also calls for improved safety testing to determine which chemicals may cause problems.
As far back as 2002, a paper31 in Environmental Science & Technology warned that endocrine disrupting 4-nonylphenols (NPs) “are ubiquitous in food,” but that’s certainly not the only source. As noted by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:32
“A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to cause endocrine disruption, including pharmaceuticals, dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls, DDT and other pesticides, and plasticizers such as bisphenol A. Endocrine disruptors may be found in many everyday products — including plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.”
One class of endocrine disrupting chemicals, per- and poly- fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS),33 commonly used in a wide variety of products, including nonstick food wrappers and containers, are also pervasive in the U.S. food supply, and at levels far exceeding the advisory limit for PFOA and PFAS in drinking water (there are currently no limits in food).
The testing, conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, was performed in 2017 as part of its Total Diet Study34 and presented35 at the 2019 meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. PBS reported the findings, noting:36
“The levels in nearly half of the meat and fish tested were double or more the only currently existing federal advisory level for any kind of … PFAS. The level in the chocolate cake was higher: more than 250 times the only federal guidelines, which are for some PFAS in drinking water …
PFOS, an older form of PFAS no longer made in the U.S., turned up at levels ranging from 134 parts per trillion to 865 parts per trillion in tilapia, chicken, turkey, beef, cod, salmon, shrimp, lamb, catfish and hot dogs. Prepared chocolate cake tested at 17,640 parts per trillion of a kind of PFAS called PFPeA.
The FDA presentation also included what appeared to be previously unreported findings of PFAS levels — one spiking over 1,000 parts per trillion — in leafy green vegetables grown within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of an unspecified eastern U.S. PFAS plant and sold at a farmer’s market.”
Other common sources of daily toxic exposures
In truth, to create a comprehensive list of common toxic exposures, let alone a listing of all potential ones, would require far more space than can be afforded here. That said, here’s a sampling of toxic exposure routes you may not have thought of before.
To protect yourself and your family — especially your little ones — consider addressing some of these exposures; replacing them with nontoxic alternatives. You can read more by following the hyperlinks to previous articles, where I also provide suggestions for replacements.
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