News Round Up: Chemicals in Everyday Products (Triclosan, Sunscreens, and Greener Hospitals)

This week there’s been more news about various chemicals in products we all use everyday with our families. Of course, a thrust of this blog is how to limit this exposure as much as possible. But it is moving target, one with daily discoveries and an ever changing landscape of news and new research.

Over at Non-Toxic Kids I posted about Triclosan, a chemical in all those antibacterial products you see everywhere, ranging from toothpaste, to soap, keyboards, cosmetics, bedding, you name it. The Environmental Working Group just released an extensive report about Triclosan, and it the many health and environmental problems associated with it.

The New York Times shared a story about sunscreens, actually calling into question the work of the Environmental Working Group in the area of sunscreen safety. The chemical in question is oxybenzone, which is in most sunscreens, and it has been linked to endocrine disruption. Of course, there are many scientists saying this is not definitive, and more research has to be done. The EWG recommends using sunscreens that contain titanium and zinc oxide instead, but many folks are put off by the white residue it leaves. My philosophy is simply to follow the precautionary principle, and if there is the chance of harm, a little white residue is something I can handle.

When I imagine the amount of waste tossed at hospitals daily it is easy for me to get cynical about the environment. And I also think about all the plastic that is used to give blood, medicine, and to protect people from infection. Most of this plastic contains many chemicals that are increasingly concerning, such as PVC (vinyl), phthalates, and BPA. According to the Washington Post, hospitals are starting to green up their act. Many are being renovated with green and environmental health goals in mind, such as reducing waste and exposure to toxins. This is great news for the environment and for patients, let’s hope the trend spreads far and wide. Can you envision hospitals composting, having extensive recycling and conservations procedures, and green construction?

There’s some environmental health news for you to ponder today.

image: caraboo on Flikr under a Creative Common License

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