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Buying Naughty or Nice?
A Toxic-Free Guide
  to the Holidays
ELECTRONICS   Flame Retardant Chemical-Free



                               The U.S produces 3.19 million tons
                               of toxic e-waste every year, creating
                               massive amounts of toxic waste
                               that ends up in landfills – here and
                               overseas, where it pollutes air and
                               water and poses severe dangers to
                               children and families. Flame
                               retardants are widely used in almost
                               all computers, printers, and TVs, yet
                               studies have linked these chemicals
                               with lower IQs, reduced fertility,
                               impacts on brain development in
                               infants and children, and other
                               serious health problems. Resist the
                               urge to buy the ―latest and greatest‖
                               new device (it’ll become obsolete
                               before you know it!), and instead,
                               learn ways to extend the life span of
                               your electronics from CEH. Parents
                               with kids itching for smart phones
                               can hand their old iPhone down
                               with these tips. For cheaper
                               electronics, nab great, refurbished
                               equipment from suppliers like
                               Techsoup.org.
PURSES   Lead-Free



                     Giving purses, wallets or other accessories
                     can be tricky, with all the styles, colors and
                     fashion trends one needs to take into
                     account. Now there’s another crucial factor:
                     the toxic poison lead. CEH is working to
                     eliminate the threat from lead-tainted
                     purses, but our recent testing shows that
                     the some stores (especially certain retailers,
                     like Forever 21) are still selling too many
                     lead-tainted products. Lead exposure has
                     been linked to higher rates of infertility in
                     women, and an increased risk of heart
                     attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure,
                     among other health problems. Scientists are
                     increasingly concerned that there is no safe
                     level of lead exposure, especially for
                     pregnant women and young children. To be
                     safer, avoid faux leather (plastic) purses
                     and bright colors, especially yellows and
                     reds.
TOYS   Phthalates-Free



Text or graphic          Lead-tainted toys are rare now thanks to
                         CEH’s work to expose lead threats from
                         toys and children’s products--which helped
                         create the first-ever national law banning
                         lead in all kids’ products. However, plastic
                         remains a key material in many toys, and
                         vinyl (PVC) is an especially nasty "poison
                         plastic‖ known for posing health risks from
                         production through use and disposal.
                         Phthalates are a class of chemicals
                         commonly found in vinyl (and some other
                         plastics) that have been linked to hormone
                         disrupting health problems like
                         infertility, abnormal reproductive
                         development, and others. Several major
                         retailers have committed to ending or
                         reducing the use of PVC in
                         products, especially products for
                         children, but there are still some
                         toys, backpacks, dolls and other kids’
                         products made with the toxic material.
CLOTHES     Pesticides-Free


                              Maybe you’re looking for a robe for Dad or
Text or graphic               pj’s for Mom. Whatever the item, many
                              consider cotton to be a safe, natural
                              material, but more than 10% of all
                              pesticides (and 25% of all insecticides)
                              applied worldwide are used to grow cotton.
                              These pesticides threaten the health of farm
                              workers, rural communities, and wildlife.
                              Studies have linked pesticides commonly
                              used on cotton to impacts on brain
                              development, lower birth weight, and
                              possible links to cancer, birth defects, and
                              asthma -- not to mention acute exposures
                              that lead to injuries and even deaths among
                              farm workers. Look for organic cotton or
                              other natural materials whenever possible.
FACE & BODY PRODUCTS   Triclosan-Free


                   Bath and body care products make a
Text or graphic    popular holiday gift basket, but many such
                   products contain a hormone-disrupting
                   antimicrobial called triclosan. Animal studies
                   have linked triclosan to decreased sperm
                   production and other health problems, and
                   the American Medical Association has
                   stated that the chemical could contribute to
                   the rise of disease-resistant bacteria and
                   advises the public to ―avoid the use of
                   antimicrobial agents in consumer products.‖
                   Organic is a trusted food label, but some
                   personal care companies are falsely using
                   the term "organic." Last year, CEH exposed
                   a rash of phony ―organic‖ labels on dozens
                   of hair and personal care products. For
                   example, the Organix brand of shampoos
                   and other products contains few or no
                   organic ingredients at all, yet uses
                   ingredients that health studies suggest may
                   be harmful. Be sure to check the ingredient
                   labels on organic products you buy: the
                   majority of ingredients should be organic,
                   and should exclude harmful chemicals like
                   triclosan (also sometimes listed as
                   triclocarbon, Irgasan DP 300, and Ster-
                   Zac).
JEWELRY     Lead & Cadmium-Free



                                  Thanks to our work over the past ten years,
Text or graphic                   CEH has seen a dramatic decline in
                                  problems from lead and cadmium-tainted
                                  jewelry. But some tainted items remain,
                                  especially inexpensive, imported jewelry.
                                  When shopping, avoid cheap metals and
                                  jewelry with vinyl cords.
COOKWARE          Polytetrafluoethylene (PTFE) & Perfluouric Acid
(PFOA) -free


                                         Giving the latest kitchen gadget is always
Text or graphic                          fun, but some cookware, like Teflon or other
                                         non-stick pans may contain
                                         polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and/or
                                         perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which have
                                         been linked to hazardous fumes and in
                                         animal studies have caused cancer and
                                         birth defects. Our guide to safer cookware
                                         can help make your kitchen the safest room
                                         in the house!
FOOD & CANDY      GMO & Lead-Free



                              Holiday giving often includes specialty
Text or graphic               foods, like Christmas cookies or the
                              dreaded fruitcake. This year, think about
                              making or buying foods produced without
                              pesticides or risky genetic engineering
                              (GMOs). Local Harvest and other groups
                              have resources on avoiding GMOs and
                              choosing local, organic foods.

                              As discussed in our recent post about
                              Thanksgiving, added sugars in the U.S. diet
                              are a major factor in many health care
                              problems, like diabetes and heart disease.
                              You can also avoid genetically modified
                              (GMO) foods, which pose risks of new
                              allergies and unexpected food toxins, by
                              avoiding processed foods with corn, soy,
                              sugar beets or canola. Consider alternatives
                              for this year's stocking stuffers or Hanukkah
                              gelt--substitute homemade low-sugar treats
                              or gift certificates for family activities, like
                              cooking together or going on hikes. If you
                              do buy chocolates, choose organic, fair-
                              trade brands like Tcho Organic, Endangered
                              Species, or Antidote.
Hormone Disruptors-Free



          Some people may opt to buy a nice,
          reusable water bottle for the yogi or athletic
          friend or family member in their life.
          Reusable bottles are a great way to be less
          wasteful, and most companies have
          eliminated the toxic, hormone disrupting
          chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) from their
          plastic bottles. Sadly, because of a
          regulatory "toxic shell game," we can't know
          if chemicals in plastic used in place of BPA
          might also disrupt our hormones and cause
          health problems, like birth defects and even
          cancer. Stick with glass or stainless steel
          bottles for the safer bet.
VOCs-Free


                     Crafting kits and art supplies are great
Text or graphic      presents for the creative kids and friends in
                     your life. Make sure to avoid strong glues
                     and markers—some can release volatile
                     organic compounds (VOCs), which can
                     cause eye & throat irritation, nausea, and
                     damage to the liver and nervous system. If
                     a product contains a specific health
                     warning, like ―harmful if swallowed‖, then
                     steer clear. Choose water-based products
                     rather than solvent-based products (solvent-
                     based products often have a strong
                     chemical smell).
Half of all paper consumed in the U.S. is for
paper to wrap and decorate gifts or
consumer products. Worse yet, wrapping
paper is often not recyclable, due to the
dyes and coatings often applied. Reuse old
gift bags, or try some creative, fun
alternatives (like a present scavenger hunt)
this year!
CEH has a sixteen-year track record of protecting communities from the health impacts of toxic pollution
and has previously uncovered lead and other toxic health threats to children from wood playground
structures, toys, vinyl baby bibs and lunchboxes, imported candies, children's jewelry, children's
medicines, and many other products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business
to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. In 2010, the San Francisco Business
Times bestowed its annual "Green Champion" award to CEH for its work to improve health and the
environment in the Bay Area and beyond.



        CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
        2201 Broadway, Suite 302 Oakland, CA 94612 Tel: 510-655-3900 www.ceh.org

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Gift guide 2012

  • 1. Buying Naughty or Nice? A Toxic-Free Guide to the Holidays
  • 2. ELECTRONICS Flame Retardant Chemical-Free The U.S produces 3.19 million tons of toxic e-waste every year, creating massive amounts of toxic waste that ends up in landfills – here and overseas, where it pollutes air and water and poses severe dangers to children and families. Flame retardants are widely used in almost all computers, printers, and TVs, yet studies have linked these chemicals with lower IQs, reduced fertility, impacts on brain development in infants and children, and other serious health problems. Resist the urge to buy the ―latest and greatest‖ new device (it’ll become obsolete before you know it!), and instead, learn ways to extend the life span of your electronics from CEH. Parents with kids itching for smart phones can hand their old iPhone down with these tips. For cheaper electronics, nab great, refurbished equipment from suppliers like Techsoup.org.
  • 3. PURSES Lead-Free Giving purses, wallets or other accessories can be tricky, with all the styles, colors and fashion trends one needs to take into account. Now there’s another crucial factor: the toxic poison lead. CEH is working to eliminate the threat from lead-tainted purses, but our recent testing shows that the some stores (especially certain retailers, like Forever 21) are still selling too many lead-tainted products. Lead exposure has been linked to higher rates of infertility in women, and an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure, among other health problems. Scientists are increasingly concerned that there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for pregnant women and young children. To be safer, avoid faux leather (plastic) purses and bright colors, especially yellows and reds.
  • 4. TOYS Phthalates-Free Text or graphic Lead-tainted toys are rare now thanks to CEH’s work to expose lead threats from toys and children’s products--which helped create the first-ever national law banning lead in all kids’ products. However, plastic remains a key material in many toys, and vinyl (PVC) is an especially nasty "poison plastic‖ known for posing health risks from production through use and disposal. Phthalates are a class of chemicals commonly found in vinyl (and some other plastics) that have been linked to hormone disrupting health problems like infertility, abnormal reproductive development, and others. Several major retailers have committed to ending or reducing the use of PVC in products, especially products for children, but there are still some toys, backpacks, dolls and other kids’ products made with the toxic material.
  • 5. CLOTHES Pesticides-Free Maybe you’re looking for a robe for Dad or Text or graphic pj’s for Mom. Whatever the item, many consider cotton to be a safe, natural material, but more than 10% of all pesticides (and 25% of all insecticides) applied worldwide are used to grow cotton. These pesticides threaten the health of farm workers, rural communities, and wildlife. Studies have linked pesticides commonly used on cotton to impacts on brain development, lower birth weight, and possible links to cancer, birth defects, and asthma -- not to mention acute exposures that lead to injuries and even deaths among farm workers. Look for organic cotton or other natural materials whenever possible.
  • 6. FACE & BODY PRODUCTS Triclosan-Free Bath and body care products make a Text or graphic popular holiday gift basket, but many such products contain a hormone-disrupting antimicrobial called triclosan. Animal studies have linked triclosan to decreased sperm production and other health problems, and the American Medical Association has stated that the chemical could contribute to the rise of disease-resistant bacteria and advises the public to ―avoid the use of antimicrobial agents in consumer products.‖ Organic is a trusted food label, but some personal care companies are falsely using the term "organic." Last year, CEH exposed a rash of phony ―organic‖ labels on dozens of hair and personal care products. For example, the Organix brand of shampoos and other products contains few or no organic ingredients at all, yet uses ingredients that health studies suggest may be harmful. Be sure to check the ingredient labels on organic products you buy: the majority of ingredients should be organic, and should exclude harmful chemicals like triclosan (also sometimes listed as triclocarbon, Irgasan DP 300, and Ster- Zac).
  • 7. JEWELRY Lead & Cadmium-Free Thanks to our work over the past ten years, Text or graphic CEH has seen a dramatic decline in problems from lead and cadmium-tainted jewelry. But some tainted items remain, especially inexpensive, imported jewelry. When shopping, avoid cheap metals and jewelry with vinyl cords.
  • 8. COOKWARE Polytetrafluoethylene (PTFE) & Perfluouric Acid (PFOA) -free Giving the latest kitchen gadget is always Text or graphic fun, but some cookware, like Teflon or other non-stick pans may contain polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and/or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which have been linked to hazardous fumes and in animal studies have caused cancer and birth defects. Our guide to safer cookware can help make your kitchen the safest room in the house!
  • 9. FOOD & CANDY GMO & Lead-Free Holiday giving often includes specialty Text or graphic foods, like Christmas cookies or the dreaded fruitcake. This year, think about making or buying foods produced without pesticides or risky genetic engineering (GMOs). Local Harvest and other groups have resources on avoiding GMOs and choosing local, organic foods. As discussed in our recent post about Thanksgiving, added sugars in the U.S. diet are a major factor in many health care problems, like diabetes and heart disease. You can also avoid genetically modified (GMO) foods, which pose risks of new allergies and unexpected food toxins, by avoiding processed foods with corn, soy, sugar beets or canola. Consider alternatives for this year's stocking stuffers or Hanukkah gelt--substitute homemade low-sugar treats or gift certificates for family activities, like cooking together or going on hikes. If you do buy chocolates, choose organic, fair- trade brands like Tcho Organic, Endangered Species, or Antidote.
  • 10. Hormone Disruptors-Free Some people may opt to buy a nice, reusable water bottle for the yogi or athletic friend or family member in their life. Reusable bottles are a great way to be less wasteful, and most companies have eliminated the toxic, hormone disrupting chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) from their plastic bottles. Sadly, because of a regulatory "toxic shell game," we can't know if chemicals in plastic used in place of BPA might also disrupt our hormones and cause health problems, like birth defects and even cancer. Stick with glass or stainless steel bottles for the safer bet.
  • 11. VOCs-Free Crafting kits and art supplies are great Text or graphic presents for the creative kids and friends in your life. Make sure to avoid strong glues and markers—some can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause eye & throat irritation, nausea, and damage to the liver and nervous system. If a product contains a specific health warning, like ―harmful if swallowed‖, then steer clear. Choose water-based products rather than solvent-based products (solvent- based products often have a strong chemical smell).
  • 12. Half of all paper consumed in the U.S. is for paper to wrap and decorate gifts or consumer products. Worse yet, wrapping paper is often not recyclable, due to the dyes and coatings often applied. Reuse old gift bags, or try some creative, fun alternatives (like a present scavenger hunt) this year!
  • 13. CEH has a sixteen-year track record of protecting communities from the health impacts of toxic pollution and has previously uncovered lead and other toxic health threats to children from wood playground structures, toys, vinyl baby bibs and lunchboxes, imported candies, children's jewelry, children's medicines, and many other products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. In 2010, the San Francisco Business Times bestowed its annual "Green Champion" award to CEH for its work to improve health and the environment in the Bay Area and beyond. CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH 2201 Broadway, Suite 302 Oakland, CA 94612 Tel: 510-655-3900 www.ceh.org