Archive for October, 2009

Jill Brack’s Cookies are HOT!!! Featured in this week’s NEW YORK MAGAZINE!!!

New York Magazine October2009

Toxic Halloween Face Paint Report


Dear Friend:
I was recently quoted in an article from the Environmental News Service about the toxicity of face paints.  With Halloween around the corner, this article and the report it references are a reminder that we must remain ever vigilant in our efforts to protect our children from environmental toxins.  I wish you a happy and safe Halloween and, as always, welcome any comments or concerns.
Philip J. Landrigan, MD, MSc

ENS Logo
Toxic Face Paint Makes for Scary Halloween
Some children’s face paints contain lead, a neurotoxin that can harm the brain at low doses, according to new product tests documented in a report from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a national coalition of nonprofit health and environmental groups.

In some of the paints tested, the lab identified the heavy metals nickel, cobalt and chromium, which are skin allergens, even in products labeled “non-toxic” and “hypoallergenic.”

Because these metals are not listed on product labels, parents shopping for Halloween makeup have no way of knowing which products are safe. The only way to know if a cosmetic product contains lead or other heavy metals is to test the product at a laboratory, which the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics did for this report at a cost of $270.00 per sample.

“Parents should not have to worry that face paint contains lead and other hazardous substances,” said Lisa Archer, national coordinator of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund and a co-author of the report, “Pretty Scary.”

“Companies are not making the safest products possible for children, even though kids are particularly vulnerable to toxic exposures,” Archer said.

“Parents are stunned when they learn that these products made for kids have lead and other toxics in them. We don’t understand how our government is so lax, nor why the manufacturers are so negligent,” said Joan Blades, co-founder of Moms Rising, a coalition member and national advocacy organization focused on family health and economic security.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics sent 10 children’s face paints to an independent lab to test for heavy metals. The products were delivered, unopened, to Analytical Sciences, a laboratory in Petaluma, California.
The lab tests found:

  • All 10 of the children’s face paints tested contained lead at levels ranging from 0.05 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm).
  • Six out of 10 children’s face paints contained the potent skin allergens nickel, cobalt and/or chromium at levels ranging from 1.6 to 120 ppm – far exceeding industry safety recommendations of one ppm.
  • Snazaroo Face Paint, labeled as “non-toxic” and “hypoallergenic,” contained some of the highest levels of lead, nickel and cobalt found in the study.
“Lead is dangerous to the developing brains of children at any level. It is now widely accepted in the scientific community that there is no threshold level below which lead is safe,” said Phil Landrigan, M.D., director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that parents avoid using cosmetics on their children that could be contaminated with lead.

“Nickel, cobalt and chromium are top allergens in children. To have these contaminants in face paints is concerning because early-life exposures increase the chance that kids will have lifelong sensitization and develop contact dermatitis on the face,” said Bruce Brod, M.D., clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Currently, it is legal for face paints, lipsticks and other personal care products sold in the U.S. to contain unlimited amounts of lead without listing the substance on the label, the “Pretty Scary” report points out.

The coalition says the Food and Drug Administration, the agency responsible for cosmetic safety, “does little to ensure that cosmetics are safe and actually lacks the power to do so.”

“The FDA does not conduct routine testing of cosmetic products and does not have the authority to require companies to conduct pre-market safety assessments of their products or the ingredients in them,” the report states. “The FDA also does not require companies to list heavy metals or other harmful contaminants on product labels, even though they are commonly found in a wide array of personal care products.”

On its website, the FDA states, “The law says that color additives have to be approved by FDA for use in cosmetics, including color additives in face paints and other cosmetics that may be used around Halloween time. It also includes theatrical makeup.”

But the coalition contends that is not sufficient for safety and seeks a change in the law that would require companies to list lead on the ingredient label if it is present in the product.

“Lead and other hazardous chemicals have no place in face paints kids use for dress-up and play on Halloween or any other day of the year,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat. “Strengthening our cosmetics laws and providing ample resources are essential to ensure the FDA has the authority and tools it needs to protect the health of our children from chemicals in cosmetics.”

The cosmetics industry argues that cosmetics have such low lead levels that they are safe and contends that the colors in face paints must be approved and listed by the FDA.

John Bailey, chief scientist with the Personal Care Products Council, said Tuesday, “Although the report does not identify the specific color ingredients in the products tested, the trace levels of naturally occurring heavy metals reportedly found in the products are well below the allowable levels set by FDA for approved colors as not presenting a safety concern.”

“Although the report alleges that FDA does little to ensure the safety of these products, the agency does monitor face paints and has twice worked with manufacturers on recalls of face paint items when they were found to cause skin irritation and rashes,” Bailey said.

“Parents are advised to follow all directions on how to use and remove face paints, avoid products that indicate they are not to be used on children, and test products on your child’s arm a couple of days in advance to check for any potential allergic reaction,” Bailey advised. “If they follow these basic guidelines, parents can enjoy Halloween festivities with their children without unnecessary worry about the safety of these novelty products.”

Bailey suggests that parents read face paint product labels to ensure that the color ingredients in the product they intend to buy are approved by FDA.

But the coalition report says none of the four heavy metals found in the face paints was listed on product labels because they are contaminants and thus are exempt from labeling laws.

The coalition suggests that parents and youngsters choose costumes without face paint or masks, which can also be toxic and may impede vision and breathing, or make their own face paint from natural products and ingredients.

Bailey, however, disagrees. “Although CSC is recommending to parents that they should mix up their own children’s face paints, parents should note that since heavy metals are ubiquitous in food, water, air and other consumer products, there is no guarantee that homemade face paints are safer or as safe as those that may be purchased in stores,” he said.

Click here to read the report, “Pretty Scary.”

The FDA offers information on face paint safety and tips for safe use here.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.Toxic Halloween Face Pint

Lets Bring Back Clotheslines for the Environment!

Debate Follows Bills to Remove Clotheslines Bans


David Ahntholz for The New York Times

Jill Saylor used a petition to get the owner of the property where she lives in Canton, Ohio, to reverse a clothesline ban. “Pressure makes a difference,” she said.

Published: October 10, 2009

CANTON, Ohio — After taking a class that covered global warming last year, Jill Saylor decided to save energy by drying her laundry on a clothesline at her mobile home.

Skip to next paragraph


Clotheslines were common 30 years ago, when this woman in New York hung her laundry out.

Cheryl Senter for The New York Times

Mary Lou Sayer, who uses her dryer sparingly, hanging wet laundry indoors at her condominium in Concord, N.H.

“I figured trailer parks were the one place left where hanging your laundry was actually still allowed,” she said, standing in front of her tidy yellow mobile home on an impeccably manicured lawn.

But she was wrong. Like the majority of the 60 million people who now live in the country’s roughly 300,000 private communities, Ms. Saylor was forbidden to dry her laundry outside because many people viewed it as an eyesore, not unlike storing junk cars in driveways, and a marker of poverty that lowers property values.

In the last year, however, state lawmakers in Colorado, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont have overridden these local rules with legislation protecting the right to hang laundry outdoors, citing environmental concerns since clothes dryers use at least 6 percent of all household electricity consumption.

Florida and Utah already had such laws, and similar bills are being considered in Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon and Virginia, clothesline advocates say.

The new laws have provoked a debate. Proponents argue they should not be prohibited by their neighbors or local community agreements from saving on energy bills or acting in an environmentally minded way. Opponents say the laws lifting bans erode local property rights and undermine the autonomy of private communities.

“It’s already hard enough to sell a house in this economy,” said Frank Rathbun, a spokesman for the national Community Associations Institute, an advocacy and education organization in Alexandria, Va., for community associations. “And when it comes to clotheslines, it should be up to each community association, not state lawmakers, to set rules, much like it is with rules involving parking, architectural guidelines or pets.”

As much a cultural clash as a political and economic one, the issue is causing tensions as homeowners, landlords and property managers have traded nasty letters and threats of legal action.

“I think sheets dangling in the wind are beautiful if they’re helping the environment,” said Mary Lou Sayer, 88, who was told firmly by fellow residents at her condominium in Concord, N.H., that she could not hang her laundry outdoors after her daughter recently suggested she do so to save energy.

Richard Jacques, 63, president of the condominium’s board, said he moved to the community specifically for its strict regulations. “Those rules are why when I look out my window I now see birds, trees and flowers, not laundry,” he said.

Driven in part by the same nostalgia that has restored the popularity of canning and private vegetable gardens, the right-to-dry movement has spawned an eclectic coalition.

“The issue has brought together younger folks who are more pro-environment and very older folks who remember a time before clotheslines became synonymous with being too poor to afford a dryer,” said a Democratic lawmaker from Virginia, State Senator Linda T. Puller, who introduced a bill last session that would prohibit community associations in the state from restricting the use of “wind energy drying devices” — i.e., clotheslines.

At least eight states already limit the ability of homeowners associations to restrict the installation of solar-energy systems, and legal experts are debating whether clotheslines might qualify.

“It seems like such a mundane thing, hanging laundry, and yet it draws in all these questions about individual rights, private property, class, aesthetics, the environment,” said Steven Lake, a British filmmaker who is releasing a documentary next May called “Drying for Freedom,” about the clothesline debate in the United States.

The film follows the actual case of feuding neighbors in Verona, Miss., where the police say one man shot and killed another last year because he was tired of telling the man to stop hanging his laundry outside.

Jeanne Bridgforth, a real estate agent in Richmond, Va., said that while she had no personal opinion on clotheslines, most of her clients were not thrilled with the idea of seeing their neighbors’ underwear blowing in the breeze.

She recalled how she was unable to sell a beautifully restored Victorian home in the Church Hill neighborhood of Richmond because it looked out onto a neighbor’s laundry hanging from a second-story back porch. In June, the house went into foreclosure.

“Where does it end?” Ms. Bridgforth said of the legislative push to prevent housing associations from forbidding clotheslines.

Dwight Merriam, a lawyer from Hartford and an expert in zoning law, dismissed this concern.

“This is not some slippery slope toward government micromanaging of private agreements,” Mr. Merriam said, adding, however, that for these state laws to succeed they need to exempt existing agreements.

One of the biggest barriers to change, he said, is that most housing compacts that were written more than 30 or so years ago allow rules to be altered only if 80 percent to 100 percent of the association members attend a meeting and vote, which rarely happens.

Ms. Saylor, from the mobile home park, said, “Pressure makes a difference.” After a petition calling on the owner of the property where she lived to reverse the prohibition against line drying laundry, she said, the owner recently acquiesced.

But Alexander Lee, a lawyer in Concord, N.H., who runs a Web site, Project Laundry List to promote hanging clothes to dry, said the actual electricity consumption by dryers was probably three times as much as federal estimates because those estimates did not take into account actual use at laundromats and in multifamily homes.

Change promises to be slow, said Mr. Lee, 35. “There are a lot of kids these days who don’t even know what a clothespin is,” he said. “They think it’s a potato chip clip.”

Upcoming Darien Library Discussion “Green Intelligence: Creating Environments that Protect Human Health”

The Intelligent Color Choice for Fall: Green!

Written by Barbara T. on 10/01/2009 From the Darien CT Library website…

John Wargo

-John Wargo

Darien Library and Yale Club of Lower Fairfield County Speakers’ Series Present


Chair of Environmental Studies, Yale University

Green Intelligence: Creating Environments that Protect Human Health

Sunday, October 18 at 5:30 p.m.*

Darien Library is pleased to bring you this exciting and timely presentation and discussion with Yale Club of Lower Fairfield County Speakers’ Series. Please join us for this important event featuring Professor John Wargo, where he’ll talk about the risk of toxic exposures and the health threat, particularly on children. In his new book, Green Intelligence, he demonstrates that exposure to hazardous health-damaging chemicals is widespread and poorly regulated, and that knowledge of contamination and danger is often kept from a too-trusting public.

Most individuals carry in their tissues a combination of metals, pesticides, solvents, fire retardants, waterproofing agents, and by-products of fuel combustion and not surprisingly, many toxins are significantly more concentrated in the bodies of young children.

Pesticides. Nuclear testing. Vehicle emissions. U.S. military activity. Plastics. These are some of the specific examples of past and present exposures to identify weaknesses in our system and lessons we can apply to guard human health.

Professor Wargo’s sobering assessment of the impact of toxic chemicals on human health is frightening, but he also proposes clear solutions, and outlines practical protective measures and guidelines.

Professor Wargo was a guest this week on the Living on Earth radio show and podcast – click here to listen.

John Wargo is professor of environmental policy, risk analysis, and political science at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Department of Political Science at Yale University. He is Chair of the Environmental Studies Major in Yale College and has been an adviser to several EPA administrators and National Academy of Sciences Committees, theU.S. Congress, the U.N. World Health Organization, and Vice President Al Gore.

Here are more details about the October 18th program at the Library:

* – 4:30 p.m.  – Special behind-the-scenes Green Tour of our environmentally innovative Darien Library

– 5:30 p.m. – Presentation by Professor Wargo

– 6:15 p.m. – Q&A and reception

Additional parking for evening and weekend Library programs on Thorndal Circle (behind Nielsen’s.)

BPA in the womb shows link to kids behavior- a must read

Interesting NY Times Article On Anxiety

N.Y. Times Magazine | October 4, 2009

Understanding the Anxious Mind


Is the economy making you nervous? Or is it terrorism? Or could it be the way you’re hard-wired?

Greenwich Academy Pulls Up Rubber Mulch Playing Fields!!

Greenwich Academy wanted to take a proactive stance to protect its young students on the Academy school playgrounds. So, the school recently replaced the shredded tire rubber mulch surface of its five playgrounds with a new “environmentally sound” wood material called Fibar.
“We are glad that our girls will be playing in a setting that meets the highest environmental standards,” said Anne Juge, a school trustee and parent of a first grader.
The replacement came at considerable cost to the school — in the five figures — and follows a similar replacement by the Whitby School in the spring. Town playgrounds are also making the switch, said Bruce Spaman, Superintendent of Parks and Trees and are already “95 percent engineered wood fiber, similar to mulch,” he said.  Read More: October 4, 2009

Trade-In & Recycle Program For Laptops, Cell Phones, LCD Monitors, Digital Cameras, MP3 Players, Blu-Ray, Gaming Systems & More

This is an awesome program! Check it out!