Chemicals Of Concern

Beverages and Water

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The Problem

We are exposed to certain types of chemicals that can be potentially harmful to our health, such as in our drinking water, soda, coffee, or juice. Although we cannot avoid drinking water, filtering it can make a significant difference in its quality. In addition to the beverages themselves, plastic bottles, cans, and bottle caps can contain carcinogens and endocrine disruptors that can leach into the product. By making safer choices at the grocery store, we can reduce our exposure to these chemicals.

Chemicals of Concern

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Tips to Protect Yourself and Future Generations

    • Avoid darker colored sodas that contain caramel coloring.
    • Filter tap water to purify water, save money, and reduce the amount of bottles being littered and thrown into landfills.

Center Store

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The Problem

Considering the largest part of the store is in fact the center store, it is especially important we don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of product within our reach. Many wheat and grain products that make their way to the shelves are sprayed with insecticides that have been identified as an endocrine disruptor, carcinogen, or in many cases… both. This is why choosing organic is the easiest way to make sure you are snacking safer.

Chemicals of Concern

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Tips to Protect Yourself and Future Generations

  • Non-GMO is not the same as organic. If something is organic, though, it must be free of GMOs.  
  • Check http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/ to see up to date pesticide residue levels on certain foods.

Refer to https://www.usda.gov to get up to date information on GMOs and pesticides.

Fruits and Vegetables

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The Problem

When we think about fruits and veggies, we typically think “healthy and wholesome”. However, most conventionally grown crops are sprayed with a variety of harmful synthetic pesticides, chemicals that are meant to protect the crop, but not our bodies. Luckily there are ways we can avoid our exposure to them on a regular basis.

Chemicals of Concern

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Tips to Protect Yourself and Future Generations

  • Buy organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Look for 5-digit PLU codes that start with a 9; this means the produce was organically grown.
  • Avoid canned fruits and vegetables – many canned products use a BPA lining. 
  • Check out Protect Our Breasts’ Fruit and Veggie Tip Card:

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Personal Care and Cosmetics

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The Problem

Personal care products and cosmetics make us feel beautiful and confident, but do we really know what we are putting on our bodies? Many personal care products contain numerous chemicals that have not been tested for their effects on human health. Although there is minimal regulation concerning chemicals in these products, we can opt to use safer alternative products whenever possible to reduce our exposure.

Chemicals of Concern

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Tips to Protect Yourself and Future Generations

  • Look for labels that say “paraben-free” and “phthalate-free”.
  • Look at the ingredient list on toothpastes and deodorants for triclosan.
  • Avoid antibacterial soaps that also often contain triclosan.
  • Choose mineral sunscreen with active ingredients such as zinc instead of chemical sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.
  • Look out for “fragrance” on labels to avoid phthalates.
  • Make sure to use nail polish that is “Toxic-Trio”-free and if you’re not sure that your favorite nail salon has “Toxic-Trio”-free colors, bring your own.
  • Save color cosmetics for special occasions only, encourage young girls to not wear lipstick.
  • Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database to search for how harmful your current personal care & cosmetic products are and to find safer alternative brands.

Textiles

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The Problem

Textiles is a huge blanket term for a variety of products made of different types of fibers, from shirts to blankets to rugs and more. Traditionally, textiles were created from animal or plant material. Nowadays, synthetic fibers and complex dying and treatment processes have become mainstream. With this explosion of new methods in textile production, increasing amounts of chemicals are being used – many of which have been found to have harmful effects, including endocrine disruption and cancer. 

Chemicals of Concern

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Tips to Protect Yourself and Future Generations

  • Look for fabrics and clothing with the GOTS Certification. This certification is the highest standard for organic textiles in the world. 

Check out PFAS Central’s list of products without PFAS, including rain gear and other apparel: https://pfascentral.org/pfas-free-products/

Cleaning Supplies

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The Problem

When thinking about cleaning supplies we tend to focus on what they’re helping us get rid of rather than on what they are introducing into our homes. Conventional cleaning products contain chemicals that once sprayed, wiped, or rinsed inside of your room, gradually turn into dust and have a long life, meaning that we continue to be exposed to the chemicals long after we’ve used them to “clean” our homes.

Chemicals of Concern

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Tips to Protect Yourself and Future Generations

  • Read product labels before buying cleaning supplies to avoid chemicals of concern. If the label is not complete, you can also check the product website.
  • Consult the EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for safer alternatives. 
  • DIY recipes: Make your own cleaning products with a few safe, simple ingredients like soap, water, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and borax. Aided by a little elbow grease and a coarse sponge for scrubbing, these cleaners can take care of most household cleaning needs. They can also help you to save lots of money wasted on unnecessary, specialized cleaners!
  • Look out for the following on cleaning labels:
    • Products labeled Danger or Poison → typically most hazardous
    • A warning label → moderately hazardous
    • Formulas with a Caution label → considered slightly toxic
  • Beside the signal word (such as Danger or Poison), there is usually a phrase that describes the nature of the hazard, such as “may cause skin irritation,” “flammable,” “vapors harmful,” or “may cause burns on contact.”
  • Choose products made with plant-based, instead of petroleum-based, ingredients.
  • Beware of unregulated “greenwash” claims on labels! Terms such as “natural” and “eco-friendly” DO NOT = safe unless the label also states that it is solvent-free, does not contain petroleum-based ingredients, phosphate-free, etc.

Meat, Fish, and Dairy

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The Problem

Meat, fish, and dairy are staple proteins in many of our diets. We eat them for their nutritional benefits and for their taste, but very few of us take into account that they’re also potentially exposing us to a variety of harmful chemicals. However, we can educate ourselves about them, and learn how to avoid exposure to these chemicals so that we can truly indulge in our favorite staples with peace of mind.

Chemicals of Concern

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Tips to Protect Yourself and Future Generations

  • Choose USDA certified organic meat and dairy.
  • Limit consumption of protein sources that are high in animal fat such as meats and high-fat dairy products to avoid dioxins.
  • Choose hormone-free dairy and meat products to avoid rBGH/rBST and zeranol.
  • Certifications such as Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership and Food Alliance Certified ensure that animals were raised humanely with enough space for natural behaviors and without growth hormones or antibiotics.
  • Avoid lunch meats, hot dogs, prepackaged smoked meats and chicken nuggets or look for “uncured” meats.
  • Buy farmed fish that are lower on the food chain, such as clams, oysters, sardines, and anchovies; for larger fish like salmon and sea bass, buy wild-raised. Limit consumption of fattier fish, like lake trout, or fish that are bottom dwellers, like wild catfish.
  • Download The Seafood Watch App to get the safest recommendations for seafood and sushi.
  • The International Research Agency on Cancer (IRAC) classified the consumption of processed meat as carcinogenic to humans and classified red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans.

Plastics and Packaging

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The Problem

It seems reasonable to question the ingredients contained in the food and drinks that we put into our bodies every day. However, we need to also consider the packaging that these products come in, especially when it is plastic. Certain plastics (polycarbonate, polystyrene, and polyvinyl chloride) have been known to leach toxic chemicals when heated. Beyond just food and drink packaging, these chemicals can be found in water bottles, containers, and food contact materials.

Chemicals of Concern

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Tips to Protect Yourself and Future Generations

  • Avoid plastics #3, #6, #7.
  • Be cautious of plastic containers labeled “BPA-Free”; these often replace BPA with BPF or BPS.
  • Choose glass or ceramic food containers, especially if you will be using them for reheating food.
  • Avoid covering food with plastic wrap when heating it. Use a ceramic plate or unbleached paper towel instead.
  • Cook with stainless steel or cast iron pans.
  • Avoid non-stick cooking surfaces.
  • Drink from a glass or stainless steel water bottle.
  • Avoid canned beverages and foods when possible – many cans contain a BPA lining.

 

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