Archive for February, 2009

A great website for kids to learn about greening our planet!

A great website for kids to learn about greening……

and check out

Nail Polish Dangers

Conventional nail polishes contain a veritable witch’s brew of chemicals, but safe, non-toxic alternatives are available.

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk     Are there any environmental or human health risks to using nail polish?
–Deborah Lynn, Milford, CT

Conventional nail polishes dispensed at most drugstores and nail salons contain a veritable witch’s brew of chemicals, including toluene, which has been linked to a wide range of health issues from simple headaches and eye, ear, nose and throat irritation to nervous system disorders and damage to the liver and kidneys
Another common yet toxic ingredient in conventional nail polish is a chemical plasticizer known as dibutyl phthalate (DBP). According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit research and advocacy organization that campaigns to educate consumers about the health risks of cosmetics, studies have linked DBP to underdeveloped genitals and other reproductive system problems in newborn boys.

As such, DBP is banned from cosmetics in the European Union but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has taken no such action, even though a recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found DBP and other toxic phthalates in the bloodstreams of every person they tested. Further, five percent of women tested who were of childbearing age (ages 20-40) had up to 45 times more of the chemicals in their bodies than researchers had expected to find.

EWG attributes the prevalence of DBP in young women to widespread use of nail polish. “Women of childbearing age should avoid all exposure to DBP when they’re considering becoming pregnant, when they’re pregnant, or when they’re nursing,” says Jane Houlihan, EWG’s Vice President for Research.
What are the Nail Polish Dangers
Luckily, safer nail polishes do exist and are readily available at natural health and beauty supply stores as well as from online outlets such as Natural Solutions and Infinite Health Resources. These products, from such makers as Honeybee Gardens, PeaceKeeper, Jerrie, Visage Naturel and Sante, rely on naturally occurring minerals and plant extracts to beautify nails without the need for toxic ingredients.

Major nail polish manufacturers are also now getting in on the act. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of organizations that includes EWG and the Breast Cancer Fund, Avon, Estee Lauder, Revlon and L’Oreal confirmed last year that they would begin removing DBP from products. And leading drugstore brand Sally Hansen has said it is reformulating all of its products to remove DBP and toluene as well as formaldehyde, which is also known to cause cancer and reproductive problems.

Exposure to toxic chemicals is not the only health concern associated with nail salons, where nail fungus and bacteria can lurk on the underside of any emery board. Women’s health advocate Tracee Cornforth suggests checking out a salon for cleanliness before signing up for services. She also says to make sure attendants disinfect all tools and equipment between customers, and even recommends bringing in one’s own manicure or pedicure kit so as to minimize the transmission of any unsightly or painful maladies.

CONTACTS: Environmental Working Group,; Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Natural Solutions,; Infinite Health Resources,;

GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at:, or e-mail: Read past columns at:

“Simple Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Family from Toxins in Our Everyday World”

“Simple Steps” Talk (Maida Galvez, MD, MPH and Rhonda Sherwood)
Parents Together, Greenwich Elementary Schools    Feb. 19th, 7 pm

Stanwich School, Greenwich    Feb. 24th, 8:30 am

Rye Elementary Schools    Mar. 10th, 9:30 am

Information from Westport’s Green Energy Task Force

This is a worthwhile website to  check out for events in Fairfield County and iearthplacesnow-31nformation from Westport’s Green Energy Task Force

“Girl Disrupted” Female Reproductive Health Concerns and Links to Hormone Disruptors

girl-disrupted3Another must read in simplified form. This is entitled “Girl Disrupted”


And check out this informative website — it also has information in Spanish!

We all have important people in our lives that we can help to inform and educate!

“Nothing will work unless you do“– Maya Angelou

A must read article for mothers and women of all ages!


Please read this pdf of new findings of the key outcomes of the Women’s Reproductive Health and the
Environment Workshop held at Commonweal in Bolinas, CA, January 2009.
are published in “Female reproductive disorders: The roles of endocrine disrupting com-
pounds and developmental timing.”

The workshop was co-sponsored by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment
(CHE), the University of Florida (UF) and the University of California, San Francisco’s Pro-
gram on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE). This event was co-chaired
by Dr. Louis Guillette at UF ( and Dr. Linda Giudice at PRHE
( Please contact these individuals for further information about this

Important information and website

An offshoot of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, Silent Spring, is the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, MA. This website is chock full of very important and clearly stated information on tips for avoiding toxins in your home, yard, cosmetic bag, food, schools…you get the drift…check it out!

Personal Carerotate-1

Safety experts have long cited the bathroom as one of the most treacherous rooms in a home. But wet, slippery surfaces and water heaters set too high aren’t the only dangers bathrooms pose; there you may be absorbing toxins from your shampoo, your deodorant, and even the steam from your shower.

* Read the labels of personal care products, taking care to avoid phthalates in particular. Phthalates are endocrine disrupting compounds that have been associated with cancer, impaired fertility, and male birth defects. They are found in hundreds of products, including shampoo, lotion, perfume, and cosmetics. The most common phthalates are dibutyl phthalate (DBP), diethyl phthalate (DEP), and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). Look for labels that say “phthalate-free” and ask retailers and manufacturers whether products are phthalate-free. To learn more, visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website or the Coming Clean website.
* Avoid wearing perfume and using other products with fragrance. Phthalates not only often appear as an ingredient in fragrance, but they also often hide behind the term “fragrance.” In one ironic example, the popular perfume Poison contains ingredients that have been linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and immunotoxicity, according to Skin Deep, the online cosmetic safety database. Fragrances also often include chemicals that are allergy triggers or irritants.
* Avoid using nail polish and hairspray, as they often contain phthalates. Dibutyl phthalate, for example, which is used to keep nail polish from chipping, has been found to increase the likelihood that laboratory animals will give birth to offspring with birth defects, especially of the male reproductive system. Other common ingredients in nail polish, such as toluene and xylene, are neurotoxins. If you do choose to wear nail polish and use hairspray, select brands with the least toxic ingredients, and remember to apply the polish and hairspray outside or in a well-ventilated area. If you frequent a nail salon, consider taking your own nail polish, one you know to be less toxic. For information about less toxic brands, visit Skin Deep, the online cosmetic safety database, or the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website.
* Avoid products whose content labels list placenta, placental extract, estrogen, or other hormones. Many personal care products—including cosmetics, shampoos, and styling aids—that are widely marketed to African Americans contain hormone-rich ingredients.
* Beware of deodorants and other personal care products that are marked “unscented”. The cosmetics industry is woefully unregulated, and companies often use reassuring labels that carry little meaning. Many of these products contain masking fragrances to cover up a chemical smell; these fragrances in turn may contain phthalates, which are endocrine disrupting compounds that have been associated with cancer, impaired fertility, and male birth defects. Look instead for products marked “fragrance-free.”
* Avoid personal care products that list parabens as ingredients. Identified as endocrine disrupting compounds, parabens have been found in the urine of almost everyone tested. These chemicals, which are commonly found in commercial products, are also often used as preservatives in cosmetics and such personal care products as deodorants, shampoos, conditioners, hair styling gels, shaving gels, and lotions. Common names for this class of chemicals include butyl paraben, ethyl paraben, methyl paraben, and propyl paraben.
* Learn which cosmetics companies eschew or are phasing out harmful chemicals. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is encouraging cosmetics companies whose products meet or exceed current European Union formulation standards to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. To learn more about the compact and other cosmetics-related issues, visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Think Before You Pink websites.
* Take shorter showers. During warm showers, you not only inhale airborne toxins from the water streaming over you, but you also open your pores to more easily absorb toxins from your personal care products. Keep your showers short and sweet. And if your water supply is highly chlorinated, you might consider a charcoal filter for your showerhead.

New Mount Sinai CEHC Website is launched!

Check out this fantastic new website filled with current information about the Children’s Environmental Health Center.

From the Program Director

“Children are not simply ‘little adults’. They are uniquely vulnerable to toxic exposures in the environment. Exposures in early life can affect human health over the entire life span. We need to find definitive answers about the relationship between toxic chemicals and health so we can protect our children now and in the future.”

Philip J. Landrigan


Dr. Philip J. Landrigan

Dr. Philip J. Landrigan

2nd Annual Greening Our Children Luncheon May 13, 2009

Mark your calendars for the 2nd annual Greening Our Children Luncheon to benefit Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center.

Greenwich Country Club, Greenwich CT
11:30am – 2:00 pm

Honorary Chairmen: Mary Richardson Kennedy and Robert F.Rhonda and Caroline Kennedy Jr.

Co Chairs  – Rhonda Sherwood and Caroline Kavetas

GOC Committee Member Launches Amazing Gluten Free Cookie Company!!!!

Jill Brack with Rhonda Sherwood at the launch of Glow at Shoprite 12/11/08

Jill Brack with Rhonda Sherwood at the launch of Glow at Shoprite 12/11/08

My dear friend and our enthusiastic committee member Jill Brack has lauched an amazing delicious line of gluten free cookies. I am totally in awe of her and her business. If you want to try a cookie to die for, this is it!!!  You can read what she says on her website:

Glow Gluten Free is the newest–and dare I say tastiest–bakery in the gluten free aisle.

Why are we here you ask? Well, out of necessity really.

When my daughter Stella and I were diagnosed with celiac disease we missed our favorite treats–Mrs. Fields, Tollhouse, Sprinkles? Oh, if only… so we tried every gluten-free cookie out there. Have you ever eaten cardboard? They were TERRIBLE! And most were high in calories and fat and had little to no nutritional value. I mean, how hard is it to make a gluten free cookie taste good? So we decided to try it ourselves.

Long story short, it turns out to be a lot harder than you think. I won’t bore you with how many cookies we threw out–let’s just say all that cookie carnage was worth it. Our recipe? That’s a secret. In fact, we’re so confident you’ll love our gluten free cookies, we’re already planning an early retirement. Seriously, they’re that good.

Why the name Glow? Well Crumbs was taken and Crumby sounds like–well you get the picture. So one day Stella was so happy to finally have a treat she could actually enjoy… she was literally glowing from head to toe. So there you have it. Try our delicious cookies. Whether you dig gluten or not, I bet you will GLOW from head to toe, too. Oh, and Mrs. Fields, eat your heart out!

Jill and Regi Brack at Shoprite in Norwalk debuting GLOW!

Jill and Regi Brack at Shoprite in Norwalk debuting GLOW!